The locals simply call it Gaia but its full name is Vila Nova de Gaia and it’s located in the Vila Nova de Gaia Municipality in the Porto district in northern Portuga. More to the point, this city can be found just south of Porto. The thing that separates the both cities is the river Douro.
Known mostly as the place where the famous “lodges” where Port wine is stored, Gaia is also an old settlement, dating back to Roman times, when it was known as Cale. That means that it has many historical vestiges perfect for visiting tourists.
Vila Nova de Gaia, often referred to as Gaia, is a captivating city located in the Porto district in northern Portugal. Nestled just south of Porto, it's separated from the city by the Douro River. Gaia is renowned for its "lodges" where the world-famous Port wine is stored, making it a wine lover's paradise.
The city is steeped in history, dating back to Roman times when it was known as Cale. Today, it offers a blend of historical charm and modern amenities. The city is well-connected with excellent infrastructure, making it easily accessible by road and air. The Francisco de Sa Carneiro Airport is just 18km from the city center, providing convenient access for international visitors.
Gaia's location at the mouth of the Douro River makes it a prime spot for sailing enthusiasts. The river offers scenic sailing routes, with idyllic landscapes and charming settlements along the way. The city's coastline is adorned with 17 Blue Flag beaches, providing ample opportunities for relaxation and water sports.
The city's gastronomic scene is a delightful blend of traditional Portuguese flavors and fresh seafood. The local cuisine is complemented by the famous Porto wine, which can be sampled at the city's numerous wine lodges and museums.
Travel & Arrival
When planning a trip to Vila Nova de Gaia, keep in mind that the city has a privileged position at the mouth of the Douro River, near the city of Porto which is serviced by its own international airport. The airport Francisco de Sa Carneiro Airport is just 18km from the city center. Depending on the traffic, you can be in your hotel room in under 1 hour from touching down.
If you don’t mind driving cross-Europe or if you live close-by, driving into Vila Nova de Gaia might also be a nice alternative. Again, being close to the country’s capital ensures a good infrastructure, regardless of the direction you’re coming from. The A44 motorway runs directly through town and will be a great help in navigating through the countryside.
Avant & Apres Sail
For a city that wonb the Best European Destination in 2012, you can bet there are plenty of things to see and do in Vila Nova de Gaia. Keep in mind that this destination is first and foremost a wine lover’s paradise being the place where the famous Porto wine makers keep their cellars.
However, there are some architectural attractions you might not want to miss while on a trip here. Attractions like the Miradouro da Serra do Pillar, which offers great views of the city of Porto, especially at night, when the entire cityscape is illuminated, the Zoo Santo Inacio which is close to the city and houses a wide range of animal and bird species. Others will prefer a ride on the Teleferico de Gaia, a cable car ride that offers scenic views of the city, great for taking photos.
Wine lovers will definitely want to visit the Croft Porto Wine Lodges, where you can learn more about the famous local wine and also have a tasting. If that hasn’t quenched your thirst for Porto wine, try the Porto Sandeman wine museum.
Events & Actions
Yacht charter and sailing enthusiasts will surely want to sail up the Douro river. For that we recommend a river boat tour with one of our local yacht charter operators. Upriver from Vila Nova there are several other settlements worth sightseeing, apart from the idyllic landscape which is in itself worth the trip: Guimarães, Braga and Viana do Castelo are the main stops of the river tours.
Members of visiting yacht charter crews can also relish the fact that Gaia has the highest number of Blue Flag beaches from all the Portuguese municipalities. More precisely, there are 17 beaches for the 17km of coastline along the sea.
What are the must-visit spots in Vila Nova de Gaia?Apart from the famous wine lodges, Gaia offers several attractions. The Miradouro da Serra do Pillar offers stunning views of Porto, especially at night. The Zoo Santo Inacio is home to a wide range of animal and bird species, making it a great spot for family outings.
What are some recommended sailing routes from Gaia?Sailing up the Douro River is a popular choice. You can explore the idyllic landscapes and visit settlements like Guimarães, Braga, and Viana do Castelo.
What local dishes should I try in Gaia?Gaia's cuisine is a delightful blend of traditional Portuguese flavors and fresh seafood. Don't miss the opportunity to pair your meal with the famous Porto wine.
What is the best time to sail in Gaia?Gaia has a mild climate year-round, making it a suitable destination for sailing at any time. However, the summer months offer the best weather conditions.
What marine life can I expect to see in Gaia?While sailing in Gaia, you might spot a variety of seabirds. The waters around the city are also home to numerous species of fish.
Are there any local events or festivals that coincide with the sailing season?Gaia hosts several festivals throughout the year. The city's close proximity to Porto also allows visitors to partake in Porto's vibrant festival scene.
What are the anchoring and mooring facilities like in Gaia?Gaia offers modern anchoring and mooring facilities. The city's marina is well-equipped and provides a safe and secure place to anchor.
Can I hire a local guide for my sailing trip?Yes, there are several charter companies in Gaia that offer the services of experienced local skippers. They can guide you through the best sailing routes and share their knowledge of the region.