Cross the Ponte de Dom Luís I (Dom Luís I Bridge) from Ribeira and you’ll land in Vila Nova de Gaia, home to more than 50 Port Wine labels. Vila Nova de Gaia is one of Porto’s biggest draws, although it actually isn’t Porto at all. Gaia, as the locals call it, is a separate town with its own city hall, although it’s closely associated with Porto. When the Tripeiros (Portoenses) wish to extol the virtues of their own city (while diminishing those of Gaia) they proclaim that the best thing about Gaia is the view back to Porto. As far as panoramas are concerned, they’re absolutely right. You can’t beat the vistas from the southern bank of the Douro. For a birds-eye view of Gaia and Porto, trek on up to the Serra do Pilar, a massive 16th-century Augustinian monastery roosting atop a small summit, east of Ponte de Dom Luís I on the Gaia side. The monastery is closed, but you can access the terrace from a small access road at the southern end of the bridge.
Gaia’s claim to fame is the Port Wine Lodges. The lodges used to be in Porto, but the winemakers found the conditions better in Gaia and moved their lodges there. For more information on Port wine and the various lodges, take a peek at the Wine & Food section in this guide.
For some delectable fish, truck on over to São Pedro da Afurada, a small fishing village that’s a part of Gaia. Afurada is a cosy little spot near the base of the Ponte da Arrábida, the last bridge before the Douro empties out into the Atlantic. The village is accessible by bus or by a boat, and maintains some old fishing traditions. It’s a great place for lunch after wine tasting.