Where to Stay in Vila Nova de Gaia
Five Star Luxury at The Yeatman Hotel
Other benefits of staying at The Yeatman include the world-class spa on site (not to mention the fitness centre plus outdoor and indoor pool). I spent one of my days in Porto at the Caudalie Vinothérapie® Spa for a relaxing full-body massage with cranial massage add on.
Our package at The Yeatman included afternoon tea in Dick’s Bar. The tower of treats accompanying the tea are fresh baked and take about 25 min to arrive after you are seated.
The Yeatman also features a two Michelin star rated restaurant. More on that later, but it’s useful to point out that if you stay at The Yeatman, you can avail of the amazing wine pairings with your tasting menu without worrying about having to drive back to your hotel.
We paid 285 EUR per night for a Superior Deluxe Panoramic Room (it was our anniversary after all!) in mid December. Our rate included daily breakfast, afternoon tea, and free parking.
Other Vila Nova de Gaia Hotels to Consider
Why Stay in Vila Nova de Gaia at a Glance
- The views of Porto Old Town
- Vila Nova de Gaia is Home to WOW (Porto’s World of Wine Experience)
- Convenience for visiting local Port houses
- Great dining options (including a 2 Michelin Star experience)
- It’s easier to get in and out of Vila Nova de Gaia than Porto Old Town with a car
- Good transit connections (metro and river taxi)
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for more ideas about where to travel in Portugal? Why not experience Lisbon for Christmas or spend a weekend in winter in the Algarve. Lisbon is full of cool secret places (consider taking a day trip to Queluz Palace) and great places to grab a coffee. Why not take a day trip to historic Tomar from Lisbon? You might consider embarking on a Setúbal wine tour for a day or a longer road trip to taste talha wines near Alqueva Lake in Alentejo. Maybe you’ll head to Central Portugal for the Obidos Chocolate Festival, a weekend in Aveiro (the “Venice of Portugal”) or a a whirlwind one day in Coimbra, Portugal’s historic university city. Did you know that Madeira is also part of Portugal? Madeira is full of surprises including great food. You won’t regret spending a long weekend in Madeira.
Why Stay in Vila Nova de Gaia in Detail
The Views of Porto Old Town
- The Wine Experience
- Planet Cork
- Porto Region Across the Ages
- The Chocolate Story
- The Bridge Collection
- Porto Fabric and Fashion Museum
- The Pink Palace
We started out at the The Wine Experience which was fun and interactive. I took a quiz to figure out what wine type I am. Touriga Francesa is my varietal.
We perused a room of fun artwork depicting different wines. The quizzes continued as we progressed through the WOW Porto Wine Experience.
My personality is a medium bodied red apparently. We got to identify different wine regions around the world just by looking at photos and walked through an exhibit of wine regions in Portugal.
We sniffed aromas that you might find in fine wines and sampled a Portuguese red wine to finish out the Wine Experience. I also learned at the WOW Porto Wine Experience that a 20L bottle of wine is a Nebuchadnezzar!
The second WOW Porto museum that we visited was the Bridge Collection. Adrian Bridge, founder and CEO of World of Wine enjoys collecting drinking vessels from antiquity to the present day.
The Bridge Collection features 1500+ drinking vessels from 9000 years ago through modern times and is organized by civilization. Bridge’s collection existed long before WOW.
A docent at the museum told us that many pieces were once on display at The Yeatman Hotel. The Bridge Collection museum gave Mr. Bridge the perfect opportunity to share his pieces with the world.
In fact, there is a video playing near the entrance to The Bridge Collection. The video changes each month and features Adrian Bridge discussing the history and significance of one of his pieces.
It’s impossible to see and read everything at The Bridge Collection exhibit unless you want to spend all day at WOW Porto. I recommend wandering around for an hour or two and honing in on the drinking vessels that catch your eye to learn more.
For example, we noticed a pair of engraved crystal chalices. One was from the aborted coronation of Edward VIII and a matching chalice engraved with the initials of Queen Elizabeth II. Fascinating!
We used the last pass from our 3 museum ticket to visit The Pink Palace. OMG, The Pink Palace experience is so much fun!
The Pink Palace at WOW Porto is dedicated to lovers of rosé wine. Sample 5 rosés while accompanied by what feels like a personal sommelier and photo taker.
Make sure to primp before you go since there are lots of photo ops. Also, make sure you don’t need to drive after your visit to the Pink Palace. The pours were quite generous.
Photo Ops include a Pink Cadillac, popping out of a champagne bottle, an upside down picnic, a pink ball pit, and a teeter-totter.
The Pink Palace made me feel like a kid again (or at least like a drunk college student!)
Vila Nova de Gaia is More Convenient for Visiting Porto’s Port Wine Cellars
Another advantage of staying in Vila Nova de Gaia is that you can sneak in a cheeky port tasting at the end of the day after a day trip. We made it back from our Porto day trip to Guimarães by about 5:30.
Many of the port houses are open to 7 pm. We dashed over to Taylor’s hoping to catch a tour before they closed.
We were too late for a tour (last entry was 6 pm) but the tasting room was still open. We sampled vintage port from 2005 and 2009.
The port was expensive and atmosphere is just ok. I don’t recommend visiting Taylor’s unless you are able to take the tour which includes a port tasting at the end.
After leaving Taylor’s we wandered by 3 Mais Arte in Porto and decided to poke our heads in. We are so glad that we did!
We found lots of cool art for sale and port tasting too. We had a nice chat with the owner as we sipped 6 different Niepoort port wines.
The tasting was great value too. We paid 6.50 EUR and 9.50 EUR for the 2 different tasting flights.
Vila Nova de Gaia has great dining options
The Yeatman Gastronomic Restaurant (2 Michelin Stars)
There is a 2 Michelin star-rated restaurant at The Yeatman Hotel. We splurged on a tasting menu with wine pairings at the Gastronomic Restaurant since it was our anniversary.
Our dining experience started with a glass of Portuguese sparkling wine in Dick’s Bar to toast our 25th anniversary. The first moments of our 2 Michelin star meal at the Gastronomic Restaurant at The Yeatman Hotel in Porto took place seated comfortably on a couch near an atmospheric fireplace.
We were offered some small snacks to start our meal including amberjack with nori and ginger, a soft-shell crab and bbq chicken.
We were then ushered to the chef’s table where we tried cuttlefish and Hollandaise sauce served by Chef Ricardo Costa. It was nice to get a peek being the scenes and meet the chef himself.
For the next moments of our dining experience at The Yeatman Gastronomic Restaurant, we were seated at a comfortable table next to the window overlooking the lights of Old Town Porto.
Oyster and caviar; eel, yogurt, and fois gras; codfish with chili and spring leaves; and Xerem, a type of soup made with corn meal were served in leisurely succession.
The next dish, a cardinal prawn, was a little tricky to tackle. I missed the instruction that I was supposed to squeeze the head to release the juices and then dip the tail into the juice. The cardinal prawn was tasty though once I figured it out.
We were then served bread with butter and olive oil as an interlude before our meat courses. Suckling pig and hare with red cabbage and beetroot rounded out the savory courses of our Michelin-starred tasting menu.
On to dessert! Desserts included ovos moles, “chocolate tripe”, and a persimmon with pistachio and saffron served with dry ice for dramatic effect.
Our digestion was aided by the chef’s infusion. When we saw it on the menu, we thought it might be liquor, but it was actually a tea.
Ricardo Costa’s chef’s infusion was served with mignardises (bite-sized desserts). We didn’t have any room for the small sweets so they packed some up for us to take back to our room.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: We love celebrating special occasions with Michelin-starred meals. Looking for restaurants to add to your bucket? Here are my top picks based on our personal experience:
Our gastronomic experience at The Yeatman cost 180 EUR per person. We opted for the more economical wine pairings (4 dry wines: 2 red and 2 white and 2 ports) for 90 EUR.
The Yeatman Selection would have cost twice that. The most memorable wine of the evening was a 1977 colheita, a tawny port made from a single vintage.
If you are looking for fine cuisine that is a bit more economical than The Yeatman Gastronomic Restaurant, I recommend dinner at DeCastro Gaia. DeCastro Gaia is located just below the rooftop bar in Espaço Porto Cruz, a restored 18th century building facing the Douro River.
We ordered black pudding and tempura beans to start. Octopus with beans plus pork and rice were delicious and filling. An 18 EUR bottle of local wine sweetened the deal along with spectacular views.
Our meal cost 65 EUR for the entire 2 course experience with wine and was a great value. We were even served a complimentary glass of chilled white port as we perused the menu.
Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau
If you are interested in trying a local specialty in a more touristy environment, check out Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau. We were drawn in by walls lined with old books and cod and cheese pies for sale.
We arrived just in time for an organ concert which added to the delightful experience. It cost 15 EUR for a salt cod and cheese snack and a glass of white port.
You can keep the glass and the paddle as a souvenir. Of course, our snack tasted even better since it was accompanied by fabulous organ music.
There are plenty of places to stop for a coffee and pastel de nata in Vila Nova de Gaia. We stopped at A Copo in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Prices tend to be cheaper when the restaurant is not located on the waterfront. A Copo is located down a small side street in Gaia and has a few outdoor tables.
Despite lacking a Douro River view, I found the surroundings to be very atmospheric with old tiled buildings lining both sides of the street.
It’s easier to get in and out of Vila Nova de Gaia than Porto Old Town with a car
Vila Nova de Gaia has good transit connections
You could also avail of the Douro River Taxi which is a fast and convenient way to get from Vila Nova de Gaia to Porto Old Town (and back again!) The Douro River Taxi costs 3 EUR per person for a one way trip.
The boat ride across the Douro takes less than 10 min. Don’t miss the great views from the Douro River Taxi! The boat is mostly covered, but there are small doorways at both ends where you can stand to take pictures.
We were the only ones on board so had the run of the boat. Disembark near the historic and picturesque rabelos in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Summing Up: Is Vila Nova de Gaia Worth Visiting?
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