Ask wine lovers for their favorite European destinations, and you’ll hear the likes of Champagne, Tuscany, Piedmont, and Bordeaux. Porto? Probably not. Though Portugal’s second largest city has been a major winemaking center for centuries, until now it has slipped under the radar as a global hot spot for traveling oenophiles.
Not anymore: On July 31, Porto celebrated the opening of the ambitious World of Wine in the city’s historic Port wine cellar district. One of the largest tourism projects to debut in Europe in 2020, the $117 million development is practically a Disneyland for wine lovers: Six museums explore everything from the history of wine to the role of cork to the world of chocolate; nine restaurants and bars offer fine dining, fast casual, Portuguese fare, seafood, and more; a scattering of shops, an exhibition gallery, event space, and even a wine school dot the complex, which will eventually cover nearly 600,000 square feet along the picturesque banks of the Douro River.
“Our goal at WOW is to help define Porto as a cultural destination through engaging educational experiences, telling the story not only of wine for which the city is world famous,” notes WOW founder and CEO Adrian Bridge. “For any visitor to Porto or Portugal, WOW should be on their list of things to do and see.”
Despite launching in the middle of the pandemic, Bridge is encouraged by response to the place so far. “We’re grateful to see that our opening has been met with overwhelming positivity. We continue to receive encouraging feedback not only from visitors, but also from the surrounding community of Porto, [which] has acknowledged … what World of Wine is doing for the culture and tourism economy of the city.”
Someday, wine travelers will take to the skies again, with pent-up energy for new spots. Porto’s center district is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city has been selected multiple times as a best European destination for visitors; World of Wine gives us one more reason to add the city to our burgeoning bucket list.