Visiting Porto’s Historic Port Lodges
Porto’s acclaimed port lodges, or port cellars/warehouses, are all located on the southern bank of the Douro River in the riverfront area of Vila Nova de Gaia, referred to locally as Gaia, technically another town, completely devoted to the port wine trade. This is where all the port wine production of the Douro Valley comes to mature and to age for years. There are 18 different port wine companies in this area, many dating back to the 1700s, and easily identified by the large billboards and the large letters on their red tile roofs marking their presence. Three of the most popular port lodges are Taylor, Graham’s and Ferreira.
Touring the Port lodges is the number one tourist activity in this city and you’ll find the Port lodges closest to the river will be the most crowded, as the “6 Bridges Cruise” often include free tastings there with their cruise tickets. As such, it’s best to visit the Port lodges located “above the tourist fray”.
Originally founded in 1820 by two Scottish families, Graham’s now belongs to the Symington family, who recently gave the facility a 2.5 million euro facelift, and won a “Best of Wine Tourism” award. Its tours also receive the best customer reviews. The lodge is located at Rua do Agro and is open Monday-Friday from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, with the last tour beginning at 5:30 pm. From November to March the last tour is at 5:00 pm. Tours are by reservation only, which means that boat cruisers can’t just walk in for a free tasting, and last about 30 minutes. If offers 3 types of tastings, the price varying according to the age of the ports tasted. Graham’s opens April-October from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm with last visit at 5:30 pm, and from November-March it closes at 5:30 pm, with last visit at 5:00. Visits, starting at 15€, are by reservations only, so email email@example.com, book online, or call (+351) 223 776 490 to reserve your visit to this classic Port lodge.
Its Vinum wine bar (run by the Sagardi Group), serving tapas, and its restaurant has some of the best views in the city and very worth your time.
Sits the furthest from the river and the bridge, at the top of Gaia, a steep climb. Here visitors can explore on their own with an audio guide, at their own pace. There are no personal guides, so there is no need for a prior booking. The self-guided tour and tasting of 2 ports costs €12. The lodge, founded in 1692, opens April-November from 10:00 am to 7:30 pm, with the last entry at 6:00 pm. From December-March it’s open until 6:30 pm, with last entry at 5:00 pm. From December-March it opens from 10:00-6:30 with last entry at 5:00. Reservations are not required for the audio tour. Tickets are 15€. Private tours are available. For reservations, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (+351) 223 772 973.
Some visitors choose to have lunch at Taylor’s adjacent Barão de Fladgate restaurant, which boasts an outdoor terrace with stunning city and Dom Luis bridge views. It serves a fixed price menu along with a la carte offerings. This is a favorite of port expert Roy Hersch of For the Love of Port.
This port house, founded in 1751, located at the end of the riverfront promenade at Avenida Ramos Pinto, 70, gives an interesting tour accompanied by classical music. Cost of the tours depend on the number of ports tasted. The Classic visit is 12€ and includes a visit to the museum and tasting of two ports. The Casa Ferreirinha visit is 16€ and includes a guided tour of the cellars, ending with a taste of three Douro red wines, not ports. The Dona Antónia visit is priced at 22€ and ends with a tasting of five Ferreira Porto Wines. The Porto Vintage visit is 40€. This lodge is open daily from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm and from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. For reservations, email email@example.com, or call (+351) 223 746 106 or (+351) 937 850 33.
Opened in the 1890s, Cockburn’s has one of the largest collections of oak barrels and wooden vats in the historic area at Rua Serpa Pinto, 346, home of Cockburn’s Special Reserve. Part of the Symington Family of wineries, they are open daily from 9:30 am 6:00 pm from April through October, closing at 5:30 pm from November through March. The 97 hectares vineyards, mostly southfacing, are at Quinta dos Canais in the upper Douro Valley. The Symington Family has declared 2016 as a Vintage Port year, only the 4th time since 2000. Visits are 15€. For reservations, call (+351) 913 007 950, book online, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cellars of the oldest active producer of Port wines, this year celebrating their 430th anniversary, can be found at Rua Barão de Forrester, 412. Open daily at 10:00 am, the tour includes a tasting of three special Port wines for 12€. During the winter months you can enjoy your Port in front of the warmth of the fireplace and in the summer you can enjoy your Port of the terrace. Reserve your tour online, or email email@example.com to arrange a visit.
The House of Sandeman sits next to the river in Vila Nova de Gaia at Largo Miguel Bombarda, 3, a historic building dating back more than 200 years. Classic Tours are 12€ , the 1790 Tour is 22€ and the 100 Years Old Tawnies Tour is 40€, tasting 10-40 Year Old Tawny Portos. Open from March to October are from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm daily, and from November-February in the mornings from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm and in the afternoons from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. The Sandeman Terrace is open March-October daily from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a visit, or call (+351) 223 740 534.
This Port lodge near the riverfront along Avenida Diogo Leite, holds fado performances nightly starting at 6:30 pm from March to October. Tastings and fado cost 21€ and is bookable online. The Standard Tour (12€) and Premium Tour (15€) and tastings are given in four languages; English, Spanish, French or Portuguese, with the first tour, in English, starting at 10:00 am. Tours last about 30 minutes and end with a tastings of either 2 or 3 ports. Reserve online, email email@example.com or call them at (+351) 916 113 451.
The Douro River Taxi, inspired by the traditional Rabelas, is the quickest and easiest way to get to Gaia to tour the Port Lodges. Tickets are 3€ each way and can be purchsed at the dock. Can be busy during the summer, so we recommend buying your tickets online. Daily crossings are every 15 minutes from 10:00 am to sunset.