Visit the Douro Valley

Douro

Wine tasting, picture-postcard landscapes and charming villages: would you like to discover all the facets of the Douro Valley? Here’s everything you need to know for an out-of-the-ordinary stay!

The birthplace of Port wine, the Douro Valley amazes visitors with its terraced vineyards, wild gorges and charming Portuguese villages. It’s a destination of choice for bon vivants who like to combine heritage discovery with wine tasting.

Whether you’re traveling alone, as a couple, with family or friends, you’ll find plenty of activities to help you discover the region from a whole new angle. Hiking, cellar tours, outdoor sports, table wine tasting, cruises… the choice is yours! In this article, you’ll find all the information you need to know to visit the Douro Valley and make your vacation a success.

The Douro Valley, cradle of Portuguese wine

Douro

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Located in northern Portugal, the Douro Valley owes its fame to its sumptuous vineyards, which stretch out in terraces around the river. In the upper Douro, between Peso da Regua and the Spanish border, vines are grown to produce Port, a blended wine as famous as it is sophisticated. The lower Douro valley, near Porto, is home to vinho verde, a wine that favors youth and freshness.

The Douro Valley is an ideal destination for wine enthusiasts (or simply food lovers). It offers the opportunity to discover the diversity of Portuguese wines, learn more about their history, admire the vineyards along the Douro, meet the small producers… and finally take part in unforgettable tastings! And, of course, don’t forget the delicious local cuisine: after all, port and vinho verde are also there to accompany it…

The Douro Valley: splendid scenery and unique folklore

Douro

Photo credit: Shutterstock – patrik-polasek

Writer Miguel Torga described the valley as a « geological poem ». And it has to be said that, in addition to its wine-growing heritage, the region also boasts some extremely beautiful landscapes! They have been sculpted by man since ancient times. Terraced vineyards, rabelos swaying on the Douro, quaint villages, forests and palaces all add up to a picture postcard. All in all, you’re immersed in an exceptional terroir, typical Portugal as you rarely see it.

A visit to the Douro Valley means discovering Portuguese wine and immersing yourself in a unique folklore, flirting with both Spanish and Portuguese roots. Dance, language, music: this remote region has a unique culture, an atmosphere found nowhere else. But staying in the valley also means stopping off at one of the many lookout points to admire the canyons and vineyards that resemble rice paddies. It’s not for nothing that this is one of Portugal’s most famous road trip destinations!

How to visit the Douro Valley

With its palace

Douro

Photo credit: Shutterstock – AnnaTamila

  • Price: between €10 and €95
  • Profile: for gourmets and wine lovers
  • Season: year-round
  • Benefits of this activity: discover the diverse flavours of wine and local cuisine.

It would be unthinkable to visit the Douro Valley without tasting port and Portuguese cuisine. And just as well, there are plenty of activities focusing on oenology and gastronomy! Visit cellars and vineyards, enjoy a panoramic picnic, taste table wines…

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to paying tribute to local wines and typical Douro Valley dishes. Make the most of it!

Guided tour

Vallée Douro

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  • Price: between €20 and €95
  • Profile: for those who want to learn more about the region
  • Season: year-round
  • The best part of this activity: a guided tour of the Douro Valley in all its complexity!

To take full advantage of all the Douro Valley has to offer, why not book a guided tour? Whether it lasts 1 h 30 or takes all day, this activity will enable you to learn more about the region’s history and culture. Not forgetting the discovery of the valley’s most beautiful landscapes, including views of the Douro Gorge.

Budding oenologists can visit a vineyard and take part in a wine tasting. And for those with a sweet tooth, some tours include a meal. This is your chance to discover the local cuisine!

Hiking or biking

visiter vallée douro

Photo credit: Shutterstock – LuisAlmeidaDuarte

  • Price: between €70 and €240
  • Profile: for sports enthusiasts and nature lovers
  • Season: year-round
  • Benefits of this activity: discover the Douro Valley off the beaten track

Immerse yourself in the Douro Valley’s wine trails on a hike, trek or bike ride. You’ll discover the region’s treasures: centuries-old villages, vineyards, rivers, belvederes… By booking such an activity in the Douro Valley, you’re sure not to miss a single must-see, while taking the organizational burden off your shoulders.

Even more so if you’re traveling in a group… All you have to do is let yourself be guided! In a few words, these activities offer a timeless escape during your stay.

As the water flows

visiter vallée douro

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  • Price: between €70 and €460
  • Profile: for couples looking for a romantic activity, or simply for those who want to let themselves be carried along by the current.
  • Season: year-round
  • Bonus: discover the Douro Valley from another angle…

Many activities in the Douro Valley allow you to discover the region by water… These excursions or cruises can follow the Douro, or one of the many rivers that flow through the valley. Some of these activities give you the opportunity to climb aboard typical boats, such as the wooden ones once used to transport barrels of wine. A poetic trip that will remain engraved in your mind…

Those looking for a sporting challenge can climb aboard a kayak. In this way, they can combine a sporting activity with discovering the valley! A unique adventure for families and groups of friends alike.

By road

visiter vallée douro

Photo credit: Shutterstock – hbpro

  • Price: between €65 and €450
  • Profile: for those who want to drink and drive!
  • Season: year-round
  • The best thing about this activity: discover the valley’s beautiful roads and stop off at all the must-see places, whatever the distance.

If you’d like to visit the Douro Valley wineries and take part in tastings… driving is not recommended! You can book a day or half-day excursion by car, jeep, 4×4 or bus. This way, you can cover long distances and not miss any of the region’s must-sees!

For those in search of adventure, some companies offer vans and motorhomes for hire. This is an ideal option for discovering the Douro Valley at your own pace, off the beaten track.

How to get to the Douro Valley

Driving to the Douro Valley

An ideal road trip destination, the Douro Valley is best visited by car. There’s a good chance you’ll set off from Porto, home to a well-connected train station and airport. But make sure you take the right route! To enjoy the region’s most beautiful landscapes, start by taking the freeway to the town of Via Real. Then take the Regua road to Quinta do Tedo, Pinhao and Tua. In this way, you’ll really be driving along the valley!

If you’re not traveling with your own car, you can rent a car in Porto, or even a motorhome or van.

Book an excursion to the Douro Valley

If you don’t have a car, you can book an excursion from Porto. As mentioned above, you can visit the Douro Valley by car, jeep, 4×4, bus or boat.

It’s the ideal way to enjoy all the region has to offer, without any headaches.

Take the train to the Douro Valley

You can also take the train to Regua. We particularly recommend this option if you’re planning a cruise. If you take the boat in Porto, most of the journey will be rather uninteresting! Embark in Regua and get straight to the point.

Finally, you can take the Linha do Doura, a historic train still pulled by a steam locomotive. You can leave from the center of Porto and reach Pocinho in 3 h 30 for less than €13.30. Considered one of the most beautiful train lines in Europe, the Linha do Doura offers a picturesque and magical experience!

Are combined tours available?

la vallée du Douro

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Olga Gavrilova

Almost every activity in the Douro Valley can be combined with a tasting or culinary experience.

You’ll also find activities that combine heritage and sport. These usually last a full day and are often the most expensive. For example, some excursions include a hike, a panoramic picnic, and finally a visit to a winery with table wine tasting. Enough to embrace every facet of the Douro Valley!

Good addresses

Accommodation

You’ll find numerous hotels and guesthouses along the Douro. Some stand out for the quality of their service and their idyllic setting. One example is The Vintage House. Located in Pinhao, it offers rooms with beautiful terraces overlooking the river. Alternatively, the Quinta do Tedo is located between Rega and Pinhao, in magnificent surroundings. What’s more, its restaurant is delicious.

You can also sleep in Porto. You’ll find accommodation to suit every taste and budget. Airbnb in the heart of the historic center, youth hostels, hotels… it’s all possible! You can also use a hotel comparator to find the one best suited to your needs.

Restaurants

It would be a shame to visit the Douro Valley without enjoying its restaurants. You can pass through the doors of Rabelo, a restaurant in an ideal setting on the banks of the Douro. You’ll eat there for between €35 and €55. An excellent address for a taste of local cuisine!

Do you have a higher budget (€50 to €70 per person)? Head to the Chef Rui Paula restaurant for delicious gourmet dishes on the banks of the river.

Finally, if you’re looking for a budget restaurant, head to Adega Rio Douro. For around ten euros, you can enjoy an authentic setting and a delicious meal. It’s also an opportunity to listen to Fado in a typical atmosphere… Make sure you book ahead!

Spotlights

Lamego

Sanctuary of Notre-Dame des Remédiés in Lamego – Photo credit: Shutterstock – ESB Professional

As we’ve seen throughout this article, the Douro Valley is about much more than vineyards. It also boasts some superb towns and villages: Via Real and its palaces (casa de Mateus, casa de Diogo Cão, etc.), Pesó da Regua and the Douro Museum, Lamego and its charming cellars, Miranda do Douro and its Celtic roots… Between cathedrals, churches, sanctuaries and monasteries, the valley’s religious heritage is extremely rich.

Don’t miss beautiful Pinhão, perhaps the most typical town in the Douro Valley. Visit its railway station and discover its vineyards and historic wineries.

The valley also abounds in belvederes, offering incredible views over the region. We recommend stopping off at Miradouro de São Domingos and Miradouro de Casal de Loivos.