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que ver en vila nova de gaia portugal

Things to do in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

Vila Nova de Gaia is a town in Portugal, located just opposite Porto. Due to its proximity to one of the most visited cities in the country and the easy walking connection to it through the Don Luis I Bridge, Vila Nova de Gaia has become a very popular destination. In this article, I come to tell you what to see in Vila Nova de Gaia and what the best things to do in Vila Nova de Gaia are.

You will have the opportunity to enjoy some of the best views of Porto, visit one or more wineries, eat delicious cod, or go to the coast to see a church built on a rock by the sea. I also recommend some hotels, and, at the end of the article, I have included a map in which I have pointed out all the places I recommend below.

Table of contents

Things to do in Vila Nova de Gaia

Want to know the best places to see in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal? Keep reading!

1. Stroll through Cais de Gaia

vila nova de gaia
Cais de Gaia
View to the Ribeira

Even if you’re only spending 2 days in Porto, or even one day in Porto, you must cross the Don Luis I Bridge to go to the other side of the river and walk through Cais de Gaia. From this walk along the banks of the Douro River, you will have one of the most beautiful views of Porto, especially the Ribeira area, I assure you! You can sit on a bench or go to a terrace to have a drink while you marvel at such a postcard.

🛏️ Our hotel in Porto was Trendy Flats Fontainhas and we liked it very much, I highly recommend it!

2. Sierra do Pilar Monastery

Sierra do Pilar Monastery
Sierra do Pilar Monastery

In Vila Nova de Gaia, one of the buildings that will attract your attention due to its location on a hill is the Monastery of Serra do Pilar. This 16th-century monastery is integrated into the area, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church and the cloister stand out. Just outside the building, you will find one of the best viewpoints in Porto. The views of the city and, above all, the Don Luis I Bridge are incredible.

Sierra do Pilar Monastery
View from the Monastery
Things to do in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
View of Porto

3. Visiting a winery in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

things to do in Vila Nova de Gaia
Bodega Cockburn’s

If Vila Nova de Gaia is famous for something, it is for its wine. An ideal way to know everything behind it is to visit one of the wineries located in the city. This way, you can learn all kinds of details about its production and, of course, do a tasting. Below, you can find the most popular winery visits:

4. Visit Rabbit of Bordalo II, one of the best things to do in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Half Rabbit
Half Rabbit

I’m sure you’ve already seen some pictures of this sculpture, and, without a doubt, Bordalo II’s Half Rabbit has become one of the most popular places to see in Vila Nova de Gaia. In case you didn’t know, Bordalo II is a sculptor who usually works with garbage in order to bring awareness about pollution and endangered species.

This is exactly what you will find in this striking yellow facade located in the city: a rabbit made of garbage remains. It is well worth a visit!

5. Book a 6 bridge cruise

don Luis I bridge

One of the main activities in Porto is to booking a cruise on the Douro River, which takes you to the six bridges of the city. It is a very pleasant activity since, from a boat, you can enjoy the views on both sides of the river while learning curious facts about these bridges. What some people don’t know is that taking this cruise from Vila Nova de Gaia is usually cheaper.

You can book your 6 bridge cruise here in advance. The tour is 50 minutes long and costs around $17.

6. Visit the WOW museums in Porto

Not long ago, WOW Porto (World of Wine) was inaugurated, a cultural district located in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal. In it, you will find a total of seven museums, restaurants, stores, and viewpoints. The museums are the following: The Wine Experience, The Chocolate Story, Pink Palace, Planet Cork, The Bridge Collection, Porto Region Across the Ages, and Porto Fashion & Fabric Museum. You can buy tickets to visit two, three, or five museums.

Although I found the price of admission to be somewhat expensive, I found the museums to be very fun and interactive. If you have several days in the city, it can be an interesting visit.

7. Watching the sunset from Cat Rock

viewpoints in porto
Roca de los Gatos

Vila Nova de Gaia is one of the best places to have a good view of Porto. I am talking about a place known as Pedra dos Gatinhos (Cats Rock). It is a rock located on a path that leaves from the avenue where the Monastery of Serra do Pilar is located. From this rock, you can enjoy a beautiful landscape with the Don Luis I Bridge as the protagonist.

Finding this rock is easy, but I want to warn you that climbing it is not so easy. You will have to climb it. For this reason, I do not recommend it if you go with small children or strollers.

🎟️ During your stay, be sure to take this free tour of Porto to get to know the city with a guide, one of the best free tours in Porto!

8. Take the Gaia cable car

Gaia Cable Car
Gaia Cable Car

Another of the most popular attractions in Vila Nova de Gaia (Portugal) is the Gaia Cable Car. It was inaugurated in 2011 and connects the south bank of the Douro with the upper area of this town. If you take it, you will save more than 50 meters of ascent. The ticket costs €7 (one way) or €10 (round trip), and the ride lasts five minutes. During the ride, you will have a nice view of the city.

If you don’t want to take the cable car, no problem, as you can walk up or down. However, if you have to go up, be prepared to climb many steps.

9. Visit Capela do Senhor da Pedra, one of the best things to do in Vila Nova de Gaia

things to do in Vila Nova de Gaia
Capela do Senhor da Pedra

The coast of Vila Nova de Gaia is one of the best places to see near Porto. I’m talking about the Capela do Senhor da Pedra, a church built on a rock on the coast itself. Specifically, it is located on Miramar Beach, in Arcozelo. Its origins date back to the seventeenth century, and what stands out most about it is that it has the Atlantic Ocean at its back.

The place is very curious; therefore, it is highly recommended to visit it, especially if you spend 3 days in Porto or more.

10. Relaxing on Jardim do Morro

things to do in vila nova de gaia
Jardim do Morro

In the upper part, you will find a small hill called Jardim de Morro. This is right next to the Don Luis I Bridge, so it will be one of the first places you will see when you get to this part of the river. It is a very popular park to go and sit and, above all, to watch the sunset. Next to it, you will have the top station of the Gaia Cable Car. Be sure to go to the viewpoint behind it.

11. Have a drink at the Beira-Rio Market.

Beira-Rio Market
Beira-Rio Market

On Ramos Pinto Avenue, and very close to most of the wineries, you will find the Beira-Rio Market. It is a good place to go for a drink when you are walking around Cais de Gaia. Its interior houses a wide variety of stalls where you can try all kinds of food, local and international.

12. Visit the Parish Church of Santa Marinha.

things to do in vila nova de gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia

Although it is a less popular visit, if you like to know the religious buildings of a place, you cannot miss the Parish Church of Santa Marinha, the work of Nicolas Nasoni. The church is in baroque style and has a single nave and a single tower. It is located very close to the Bordalo II rabbit and the wineries, so I am sure that, whether you want to or not, you will pass by it.

13. Watch the sunset from Madalena Beach.

If you want more coastline, an incredible plan is to go to Madalena Beach, located in Madalena. It is a sandy beach with some large rocks that has a beautiful wooden path, which you can walk quietly to get to know this place.

It is a perfect place to go to watch the sunset, since it is the time of day when this place looks the most beautiful. In addition, there are several bars where you can have a drink. I recommend the Daikiri Lounge Bar.

14. Eating codfish in one of its restaurants

Just as you must taste the famous Port wine, if you find yourself here, you should not miss a good cod. On the quay of Vila Nova de Gaia (Portugal), you will find many restaurants. Almost all of them serve cod. You can find it prepared in different ways. One of the most famous is Bacalhoeiro.

In my blog post about where to eat in Porto, you can find more restaurants located in Vila Nova de Gaia.

15. Guided tour of Vila Nova de Gaia

things to do in vila nova de gaia
Cais de Gaia

If you are one of those who prefer to sign up for a tour to learn the history behind each city, I recommend booking this organized tour in Vila Nova de Gaia. It is a guided tour of approximately 2 hours and a half in which you will visit the most important places of the town. Among other places, you will visit the Serra do Pilar Monastery, the Cais de Gaia, the Jardim do Morro, the Church of Santa Marinha, and the Beira-Rio Municipal Market.

The price of this guided tour is $30 and includes a visit to a Port wine cellar, where you will have the opportunity to taste two varieties.

🚌 Don’t know how to get from Porto airport to downtown? Check out my article on how to get from Porto airport to the city center. The best options are the metro or Uber.

Where to stay in Vila Nova de Gaia

view of porto from vila nova de gaia

The part of Vila Nova de Gaia closest to the Don Luis I Bridge is one of the best areas to stay in Porto. If you still do not have a hotel for your trip, do not hesitate to look at options in this town, as it has very interesting accommodations. Also, if you move away from the area closest to the pier, you will find quite cheap hotels.

Some of the best hotels for different budgets are:

  • $: Hostel Gaia Porto. This is a hotels with shared rooms and private rooms. You will be about a ten-minute walk from the Don Luis I Bridge.
  • $$: Serra do Pilar Porto Suites. This b&b has very good reviews, and I am sure you will have a very comfortable stay here. They offer double rooms, and every morning you will enjoy a buffet-style breakfast.
  • $$$: 7 Gaia Roaster Apartments. Here, you will find studios and apartments located very close to Gaia Pier. All have a small kitchenette. Even if you don’t stay here, don’t hesitate to go to their coffee shop, as they serve very good coffee.
  • $$$$: The Yeatman. This is one of the most charming hotels in Porto. It is also one of the most expensive! Few pockets can afford to stay here, but if you can, don’t hesitate. It has many facilities, but the best is its infinity pool overlooking the city.

Map of Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

In the following map, I have pointed out all the places to visit in this town mentioned in the article. This way, you can quickly see the location of each one of them. I have also marked the hotels that I have recommended.

Don’t miss my Portugal travel guide if you are going to visit other destinations in the country.

I hope this article about the best things to do in Vila Nova de Gaia has been very useful when organizing your visit to this town located just across the river from Porto. If you have any input or questions, feel free to leave a comment or write me an email. Enjoy your trip!

↠ Book free tours and guided visits on Civitatis or GetYourGuide. I always use these platforms to check what organized activities there are at my destination.

↠ To pay with card in foreign currency or withdraw money from ATMs, I always use this card (there are free and paid plans). It works the best!

↠ Traveling with travel insurance to a destination where you don’t have healthcare coverage is a must. Get your insurance 5% cheaper with this link.

↠ If you want to have cellphone data at your destination from the moment you land and don’t want to waste time, there is nothing like this eSIM. Use the code “comeamaviaja” for a 5% discount.

↠ Check out Booking’s offers, a platform I always use, as I always find very good options thanks to its search engine with filters.

↠ For destinations where I need to rent a car, I always check Discover Cars and Auto Europe search engines. I recommend them!

↠ If you still need to buy flights for your trip, there is no better search engine than Skyscanner (although I always recommend booking the flight on the company’s website).

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