8 Local Insider Tips To Know Before Visiting WOW Porto
8 Local Insider Tips To Know Before Visiting WOW Porto
The WOW Cultural District in Porto is one of most ambitious city projects in years turning an old warehouse area in the historic district of Vila Nova de Gaia into a spanning modern complex with 7 unique museums and a plethora of restaurants and cafes. Even if you don’t plan on going to any museums or restaurants, it’s still worth a visit to WOW Porto just for the panoramic view of the Porto and the Duoro River.
Since it should, undoubtedly, be on the list for during your visit to Porto, here is a curated list of my tips, hacks, and recommendation to make the most out of your visit.
1. Use The Fork
This is an no-brainer so read closely. Before I go out to eat in Porto, or really anywhere in Europe, I have a look on The Fork for special offers and special menus. It doesn’t cost anything and there’s always a bunch of restaurants with 30-50% off the menu. I’ve found offers at restaurants at WOW before, so definitely check before you go.
Make a reservation on the site and the offer is automatically noted when you dine and pay. If you’ve never used it before, save this code 83EBDDE8 and use it on your first booking and you’ll get 50€ off your next reservation. They have a loyalty program that I’ve broken down here so that it’s easy to understand. Check it out and then come back here. No-brainer.
There are some really nice restaurants with great atmosphere and views, so you definitely will want to plan to have a meal here when you visit.
2. Buy All Your Gifts and Souvenirs At The Museum Gift Shops
I love museum gift shops and the ones at WOW Porto have to be some of my favorite I’ve ever visited. It’s basically a curated selection of products relevant to the museum it accompanies and the best Portugal has to offer. Don’t waste your time buying souvenirs in the center of Porto. You’ll just get a bunch of mass-produced and cheap trinkets.
Trust me on this and do your shopping for yourself and people at home here. The best part is you can visit all the gift shops even if you don’t visit the museums.
3. Buy Your Tinned Fish At Companhia das Conservas
If you didn’t know already, you’ll learn soon enough that buying canned fish (I prefer the octopus) is the perfect Portuguese souvenir. These are not the canned tuna you find in groceries stores at home. It’s a whole thing here and most are wrapped in beautifully designed paper or colorful tinned cans. Honestly, you’ll probably never eat them at home because they are too pretty to open up. And neither will the people you get these gifts for.
There’s a colorful shop called Companhia das Conservas right by the main ticket desk at WOW that sells a large selection of beautiful canned products for a lot less than stores like Casa Oriental and O Mundo Fantástico das Sardinhas Portuguesas.
4. Do A Port Wine and Chocolate Tasting
It’s just one of those natural and harmonious pairings for chocolate lovers. But don’t skip out just because you don’t have a sweet tooth. You can order a pairing combo of Vinte Vinte chocolate and some port wine at the Vinte Vinte cafe attached to the Chocolate Story museum or you can sign up for the pairing workshops to go in depth into how to taste and pair chocolate and Port.
This is one of amongst the many different workshops and classes offered at WOW Porto and The Wine School. You can find tickets here.
5. Grab A Coffee And Enjoy The View
The main courtyard at WOW Porto opens up to panoramic views of Porto and the Duoro River. As long as it’s not raining, I recommend grabbing a coffee and pastry from The Coffee House and then taking it over to the courtyard to take in the views over the terracotta rooftops extending towards the river.
I’ve been to the Coffee House in Lisbon and the one at the Mercado Bolhao and it’s one of my favorite coffee shops in Portugal, so it’s awesome that I can get their coffee while visit WOW Porto.
6. Do A Half Day And Break Up Your Visit
You can definitely get a good feel for WOW Porto in a half day, but you definitely won’t be able to visit everything. And that’s ok too. Having done it, I personally think a full day at WOW Porto is exhausting. There are 7 different museums, a bunch of restaurants and a bunch of shops. Visiting everything takes time and unless you’re just breezing through the museums, I wouldn’t do more than 2 museums in a day. 3 max.
Buy one of the multi-museum passes and then pick 1 or 2 museums and pair that with lunch or coffee.
If you really are going to do a full day, at least wear comfortable shoes and break up your visit with stops at a cafe, restaurant or some of the shops. Don’t just rush from museum to museum.
7. Buy The 3 or 5 Museum Pass
If you are staying longer in Porto and really like museums, get the 5 museum pass. As of April 2023, it’s 65€ and it’s valid for 5 different museums over 3 months.
For everyone else the 3 museum pass is what I’d recommend. For 45€, you can visit 3 museum. For that I’d suggest this game plan:
1) Pink Palace if you like Rosé (you get 5 different pours and a souvenir wine glass) and taking selfies.
2) The Chocolate Story or the Wine Experience for an interactive way to learn about how chocolate or wine is made
3) One of the other four museums to experience a museum you probably won’t find elsewhere. Portugal exports 65% of the cork in the world, so Planet Cork if you’re interested in that. The Porto Fashion & Fabric museum if you’re into fashion. The Porto Across The Ages Museum if you want to learn about Porto’s History. And last, but not least, the Bridge Collection, which is probably the biggest public collection of drinking vessels in the world as well as a history of drinking through the ages.
If you still can’t decide, read my in-depth walk through of all 7 museums so you can decide for yourself.
8. Watch Out For Special Events
This is a bonus tip. Check out their events calendar for special workshops, classes and events, especially if you happen to be in Porto longer. And keep an eye out for the holidays events as well. In December, WOW Porto puts on a Christmas market.
While you’re busy planning your trip to Porto, why not let the wanderlust take over and waste some time browsing through my 386 item bucket list for more travel ideas.
Updated on October 24, 2023