We were both born in Porto and currently use it as a base for our digital nomad lives (a lot less nomad with all that has been going on in the world). Getting from Porto to the Douro Valley is quite easy which means that over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of visiting it plenty of times. After a lot of time spent in the region, and a lot of research for our own trips, we’ve amassed the personal knowledge to create this complete travel guide on the best places to visit and the best things to do in the Douro Valley, Portugal.
- Why You Need to Visit the Douro Valley
- 26 Best Things to Do in the Douro Valley
- 1. Fall in Love With the Jaw-Dropping Viewpoints
- 2. Tour the Douro Valley in Style on a Tesla
- 3. Go Back In Time by Visiting the Old Villages
- 4. And Also Enjoy the City Life
- 5. Experience Life at an Eco-Village
- 6. Discover the Region by Boat
- 7. And Get Enamored by the Douro’s Tributaries
- 8. Hike Through the Valley’s Old Paths
- 9. Get Active at the Alvão Natural Park
- 10. Sleep in a Giant Wine Barrel
- 11. Take one of Portugal’s Most Iconic Trains
- 12. And Learn About the Tiles in Pinhão’s Railway Station
- 13. Climb Almost 1000 Steps to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Remedies
- 14. Get Your Culture On at One of the Douro Valley’s Museums
- 15. Try the World Famous Port Wine
- 16. And The Lesser Known Moscatel de Favaios
- 17. Uncover the Secrets of the Stunning Casa de Mateus
- 18. Visit one of the Oldest Quintas of the Douro Valley
- 19. And also Tour an Organic Local Quinta
- 20. Harvest the Grapes During the “Vindimas”
- 21. Experiment Some of the Other Famous Local Products
- 22. Relax Surrounded by the Stunning Views
- 23. Drive Through One of the World’s Best Roads
- 24. Have a Picnic in a Magical Setting
- 25. Try Delicious Portuguese Food
- 26. Go Further East into the Douro International Natural Park
- Visiting the Douro Valley: A Short Practical Guide
- Best Places to Visit in the Douro Valley
Why You Need to Visit the Douro Valley
If you’re a wine lover, you’ve probably heard about the Douro Valley due to the world-famous wines from the region, most notably the historic Port Wine. The Alto Douro Wine Region is a UNESCO World Heritage site in part due to the fact that wine has been produced in the area for more than two thousand years. That is indeed a long time to perfect the practice into some of the best wines you’ll ever taste in your lifetime. However, there are many other reasons to visit the Douro Valley, and as non-wine lovers ourselves, we can assure it from our own personal experience.
The Douro Valley is one of the most stunning places we’ve ever visited. The wine culture and tradition in the region have created a unique landscape, unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the world. Indeed, some of our favorite viewpoints in Portugal are located right in this region and after you see a picture or two of the terraced vineyards surrounding the Douro river, you’ll know you have to visit this area to see it with your own eyes.
The wine, the delicious food that goes with it, the breathtaking views, and the people that have helped create all of it over the years – there are many things to do in the Douro Valley, plenty to learn, and a lot to experience in this magical corner of the world.
The Alto Douro Wine Region is made of three subregions: Below Corgo, Above Corgo, and Upper Douro. This guide is mostly focused on the first two subregions because these are the ones we know best, but we’ve also included things to do in the Upper Douro region.
26 Best Things to Do in the Douro Valley
1. Fall in Love With the Jaw-Dropping Viewpoints
We’re preparing a unique article dedicated to the beautiful viewpoints in the Douro Valley because there are simply far too many to list on this post. In fact, one of the most difficult parts about traveling in this region of Portugal is not stopping every second to appreciate the beautiful views around you. Trust us, it’s a challenge! Over the years, a lot of investment has been made to create spaces to admire these treasures, and now there are countless viewpoints (some still don’t even have a name), each with its own charm.
Arguably, the most famous viewpoint in the region is São Leonardo da Galafura, located near Régua. What sets this viewpoint apart is its own unique setting that has been the inspiration for many writers and storytellers over the years, most notably the Portuguese poet Miguel Torga. It’s located in a beautiful park which means that there is plenty of space to appreciate the views, a small chapel, and even granite tables perfect for a shared meal in the most ravishing setting. This is a beautiful place to watch the sunset behind the mountains, as the light hits the vineyards and the river.
As for our favorite view, it’s the one you get from the Casal de Loivos viewpoint, located in a small hilltop town of the same name. From this viewpoint you can truly appreciate the magnitude of this region, the mosaic of the terraced vineyards all across the landscape, with the water at its center, the Douro river bending down by the charming town of Pinhão. After many visits, we honestly don’t believe that we’ll ever get tired of this view. Every time we go it’s a little different, we notice a new detail, or learn something new. This viewpoint serves as a window to a lot of this region’s history.
2. Tour the Douro Valley in Style on a Tesla
Neither of us takes a particular interest in cars, but we’ve been fascinated by Tesla’s unique models ever since we lived by the brand’s showroom in Lisbon. And there is indeed something fascinating about these cars. The futuristic feel is more than just looks, it’s indeed the result of years of work towards a more sustainable energy future.
We had the amazing experience of taking a stunning tour from Porto to the Douro Valley with Sérgio from Portugal EV Tours. The trip from Porto to the Douro Region was probably the most comfortable we’ve ever had (among many!) – so incredibly quiet and peaceful. The stunning and luxurious interiors of the Tesla Model X made us feel like we were in a spaceship, and the beauty of the landscapes in this region do feel out of this world.
Sérgio was a wonderful guide along the way, passionate about sharing all his knowledge regarding this magical region that’s dear to his heart. Most of the time we travel independently, but tours like these make us sometimes regret it. We learn so much and have unique experiences we wouldn’t have any other way – like traveling on a Tesla!
The tour we did included a visit to a local olive oil producer, a delicious lunch and tour of a beautiful Quinta, and even a boat trip from Pinhão, but you can check all the available tours online.
3. Go Back In Time by Visiting the Old Villages
The tradition of viticulture in the Douro Valley dates back to more than two thousand years ago, so it’s no surprise that this is a region filled with history. However, a lot has changed over the years, and especially as the valley has gained international recognition and noticeable growth in tourism. The wine-producing tradition remains the same, but every local you’ll come across will tell you that a lot has indeed changed just in the last few years: new hotels, new museums, plenty of new businesses developing in the region.
Nevertheless, there are still some corners of the valley, small villages by the Douro that remain almost untouched and feel almost like open-air museums of a bygone time for visitors like us. These are the villages where many of the older locals still live, in many ways the same way they always did. While it’s true that they’re gaining popularity, they remain authentic. Many of the locals we talked to are happy to receive visitors, as the investment makes it possible to preserve the history of these villages. Sustainable tourism is actually a great way for communities like these to thrive.
There are six recognized Wine Villages in the Douro Valley (Aldeias Vinhateiras do Douro, in Portuguese): Barcos, Favaios, Provesende, Salzedas, Trevões and Ucanha. But besides these six, there are plenty more to discover.
4. And Also Enjoy the City Life
We mentioned above that the Douro Valley has experienced a fast transformation in the last few years, and you can see it in the main cities of the region. In the middle of the historical villages and countless rows of vineyards, there are also modern and cosmopolitan cities that offer plenty of culture and entertainment.
Even if you stay in a charming village in the middle of the fields, you’ll always be close to all the amenities you need, plenty of museums and exhibitions, and also stores and services with everything you may need during your stay. The largest city in the region is Vila Real, complete with its own University, mall, and a thriving center with plenty of things to do. The other two main cities nearby are Peso da Régua and Lamego.
The Douro Valley is, of course, very close to Porto, one of the most magical cities in Europe (and we’re not just saying it because it’s our hometown)!
5. Experience Life at an Eco-Village
Traveling sustainably should be a concern of all travelers in this day and age. We are personally very aware of the bad consequences our love for travel can have on the planet, so we have found alternative ways to travel that reduce our carbon footprint. Many people still believe that doing so is inherently more expensive and less enjoyable, but that is definitely not the case, especially when you find options like the amazing Casa Agrícola da Levada, an Eco-Village in Vila Real.
The days we spent at Casa da Levada were some of the most magical we’ve ever had as travelers, even though they were spent in a city we know well and have visited plenty of times, we were able to learn so much from the people that run the accommodation.
Casa da Levada is a carbon-neutral territory located in Vila Real, close to the hustle and bustle of the city, but it’s its own little haven of peace, tranquility, and a celebration of nature. As you enter the gates, you immediately feel like you’ve entered a bit of a different world. Casa Agrícola da Levada truly feels like its own village, with its own rules, and even its own government. And right from the start, we felt at home.
The property boasts almost seven hectares (or seventeen acres) of gardens and forest on the side of the Corgo River. Besides the comfort of the accommodation itself, what sets Casa da Levada apart is the true commitment to environmental tourism. The care for nature is noticeable, but the attention to offering a fun and enjoyable stay is just as obvious. There are plenty of activities available in the village, and also plenty of information available if you want to venture out to the nearby regions.
6. Discover the Region by Boat
The Douro River is one of the major rivers of the Iberian Peninsula, and one of the main centers of economic development in Northern Portugal. Most notably, since the 18th century, the river was what allowed Port wine to become world-famous, as it was transported from the small valley to the world in the now traditional Rabelo boats.
This means that if you want to fully experience the Douro Valley, you’ll have to include a boat trip in your itinerary. As tourism in the region expands, there are plenty of options depending on your own personal preference, with different boats and routes available. We loved our boat tour from Pinhão (included in our Portugal EV Tour), which enabled us to see the terraced vineyards from a different perspective, and understand how much the region has changed over the years.
There are also cruises available, one, two, or three-day cruises that take you all the way from Porto to Peso da Régua. Even though this may seem like a very touristy option, is actually something many Portuguese people choose to do as well. I remember that when I was younger, my grandparents would often do this cruise during the Summer break, and it’s still something my grandfather remembers fondly.
7. And Get Enamored by the Douro’s Tributaries
While the Douro River is rightfully the protagonist of this story, its tributaries are not to be forgotten. In Portugal, the Douro River’s main tributaries are Varosa, Corgo, Távora, Torto, Tua, and Pinhão.
If you’re looking for hidden gems or alternative places to discover in the region, it might be a great idea to research the regions surrounding these tributaries. As tourism along the Douro river expanded, new options started appearing by these rivers as well. There’s actually a new network of viewpoints across the Tua Valley, and we were stunned by the incredible Ujo Viewpoint (Miradouro do Ujo) on one of our last trips to the region.
8. Hike Through the Valley’s Old Paths
Even though we’re not particularly experienced hikers, we absolutely love hiking, and some of the best travel memories we have are all about hiking. We’ll always remember the extraordinary landscapes we found hiking in Madeira, and the phenomenal feeling we got when we saw the Seven Rila Lakes in Bulgaria after a strenuous hike. The physical challenge enables us to turn off most of our concerns and connect with the marvelous nature around us. Hiking also allows us to see the places we’re visiting from a different perspective, and to notice details we wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
So when António got in touch with us to tell us about his project, Douro Walks, we gladly took on the challenge of hiking from the charming town of Pinhão up to the extraordinary Casal de Loivos Viewpoint, through the old paths once used to transport the grapes and the wine. The challenging uphill roads were a lesson on their own, as we wondered how the farmers were able to endure such hard conditions. António was very well informed about the region and eager to share his knowledge along the hike.
Taking a guided hiking tour of the Douro Valley is a wonderful way to appreciate and learn more about the history of this region while being active and discovering hidden gems no travel guide can mention.
9. Get Active at the Alvão Natural Park
The Alvão Natural Park is located very close to the Douro Valley and it’s the place to go if you’re in search of completely different landscapes from the ones you’ll find by the sides of the Douro river. The Park is mostly a granitic area and not the most famous park in the country, but it is a paradise for travelers who want to travel off the beaten path and discover unique places on their own.
The Alvão Natural Park’s best-known attractions are the Fisgas do Ermelo waterfalls, located by the historic village of the same name, but there’s much more to see, from rare plants to the typical fauna of this region (most notably the Iberian wolf). It’s also common to find the Maronesa cattle grazing. If you follow the Olo river you’ll also find small hidden waterfalls and lagoons, perfect for a dip during the Summer months. Most of these places are still secrets well kept among the locals, and not places you can easily find with your GPS but try searching for ‘Cascata de Agarez’ and ‘Cascata de Galegos da Serra’. There are also several hiking trails, with the most famous being PR3 Fisgas de Ermelo.
10. Sleep in a Giant Wine Barrel
We’ve slept in many many places over years of traveling, but we had never stayed in a place quite as unique as these giant wine barrels at Quinta da Pacheca. The setting, right in the middle of the vineyard’s 140-acre estate couldn’t be dreamier, but we were surprised by the beautiful design of the barrels themselves.
From the outside, the ten barrels make a stunning avenue that stands out from anywhere you look at it. But what completely sold us was the design on the inside. Every little detail is thought out to give you the most comfortable stay: from the round bed that follows the lines of the barrel, to the huge window that doubles as a wall, and the small window on top serving as a skylight. The space is small, but it appears as big as a wine barrel can be, and it feels quite spacious from the inside, with an added bonus of a private terrace with some of the most comfortable chairs we’ve ever tried. This takes glamping to a whole other level.
Quinta da Pacheca is one of the Douro Valley’s oldest and most celebrated Quintas, and the investment in developing world-class enotourism experiences is evident to anyone who visits. You can count on the classics: restaurants, a pool, a spa, a unique wine store. And then there’s a vast array of other experiences available whether you’re staying at the barrels or the main buildings – one of the most unique? Painting with wine at the Atelier D’Or.
11. Take one of Portugal’s Most Iconic Trains
The inauguration of the Douro Railway Line at the end of the 19th century completely changed the economy of the Douro Valley, first allowing for easier transportation of the wine to Porto and later to the neighboring country of Spain.
Today, the line is only active on the Portuguese side, from Porto to Pocinho, but still enables visitors to have an unforgettable experience, through one of the most beautiful regions of the world. With a total of 160km, most of them alongside the stunning Douro River, more than 20 tunnels and 30 bridges, this is not only one of the most beautiful ways to reach the region, but also one of the most affordable. The trip on the InterRegional train lasts a bit over three hours and costs less than 14€.
For a more touristic option, in the Summer you can truly go back in time riding the Douro Historical Train from Régua to Tua. The steam locomotive and five historical carriages run at the speed of yesteryear: 30km/h. Entertainment inside the train is included, with regional singers and musicians providing the soundtrack for this unforgettable experience.
12. And Learn About the Tiles in Pinhão’s Railway Station
If you’ve been to Portugal, you’ll know tiles (locally called ‘azulejos’) are not only part of the country’s history, but a unique way of telling the country’s history. You’ll find tiles everywhere, from churches to palaces, and, of course, train stations.
Crucial moments of the history of the Douro Valley, as well as the process of wine production itself, are illustrated in the 24 panels of tiles across the walls of the Pinhão Railway Station, making it the region’s most beautiful train station, and an open-air museum worth visiting.
13. Climb Almost 1000 Steps to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Remedies
The top of Mount St. Stephen had always been a place of local pilgrimage and catholic worship, but the construction of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Remedies that began in the 18th century in this location turned it into a national monument and the main symbol of the city of Lamego.
In total, the Sanctuary and its imposing staircase were more than two centuries under construction, and you can understand why when observing the details as you climb the steps and stop at each of the nine levels. Take the time to rest along the way, and marvel at the unique fountains, tiles, and pyramids. At the top, enjoy a view of the city and surrounding areas, and take some time to visit the interior of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Remedies.
14. Get Your Culture On at One of the Douro Valley’s Museums
The growth of tourism in the Douro Valley has also resulted in investment in the preservation and showcasing of the region’s history and culture. The development of a network of museums in the region has made it easier to learn about the area in a multisensory approach.
The Douro Museum, located in the center of Peso da Régua, is the perfect place to start your journey. Information about the Douro Valley and its territory from its origins to what we witness today is presented in an interactive way, and the museum itself has also become a center for culture among locals.
Besides this main one, there are many other smaller museums spread across the region, each presenting a specific facet of the Douro Valley.
15. Try the World Famous Port Wine
Port Wine is a symbol of Portuguese identity, and one of the best-known national products around the world. The main reason for this is the high quality of the wine and the unique way in which it has been produced for centuries. This sweet wine is only made in the Douro Valley, and you’ll find it everywhere you go in the region. Port Wine comes in several styles, so you’ll have plenty of different options to test and pair with the best desserts in the area.
16. And The Lesser Known Moscatel de Favaios
The Douro Valley is known for the production of Port Wine, but there are other unique productions of wine that stand out in the region: one of them is the Moscatel de Favaios, also one of the most emblematic Portuguese wines, although lesser-known internationally. Visit the little town of Favaios, one of the six recognized Wine Villages in the Douro Valley, and see the plantations of elegantly scented grapes (locally known as Galego Branco) that are turned into the sweet and aromatic Moscatel de Favaios.
Although very different from the production of Port Wine, you may also be interested to learn more about the cooperative way in which the Moscatel de Favaios is produced, and you can do so at the Adega Cooperativa de Favaios.
17. Uncover the Secrets of the Stunning Casa de Mateus
We frequently write about finding hidden gems on the blog, and we search for them many times at the expense of visiting more popular sights that we’re used to seeing on travel guides and info boards, but never truly dedicate the time to visiting them. Casa de Mateus, one of Vila Real’s most famous monuments, was one of those places for both of us. A place we’d heard of and passed by, but never took the time to visit until Inês from Casa Agrícola da Levada convinced us that it was very much worth going inside.
We were delighted from the moment we saw the exteriors of this amazing 18th-century manor house, reflected on the ornamental pond by the entrance, an exquisite water mirror. An informative guided tour of the interiors contemplated not only the history of the house through the centuries, but also briefed us on the efforts the Mateus Foundation (the current owner of Casa Mateus) are doing to this day in order to preserve historical materials and make them available to researchers. Casa de Mateus remains to this day as an important cultural center in the region, and it may be worth checking out if there are any events going on at the time of your visit.
However, if we had to choose our favorite part of Casa de Mateus, we would have to go with the stunning gardens, where we could’ve easily spent an entire day. During your visit, don’t miss the impressive cedar tree tunnel.
18. Visit one of the Oldest Quintas of the Douro Valley
Have you really been to the Douro Valley if you haven’t toured one of the local ‘Quintas’ where grapes are grown and wine is made? Well, of course, you have! However, you can only truly grasp the history of this wine-making region when you step into one of these Quintas, and actually get to talk with the people and families who have been producing wine for generations.
Quinta da Pacheca is one of the oldest Quintas in the region, and one of the best places to visit in the Douro Valley. The history of the estate dates back at least to the 18th century, but it’s everything but stuck in time. Through the years and successes in winemaking, Quinta da Pacheca has developed more and more its enotourism experiences. The winery and vineyards tour is incredibly insightful, while still remaining fun and entertaining. The tour ends with a wine tasting, and after all the explanations you’ll certainly end up with a new-found appreciation for the drink in your cup.
19. And also Tour an Organic Local Quinta
Tradition is one of the main emblems of the Douro Valley, but part of it has also adapted through the times, and proof of that is the growing number of projects dedicated to responsible and sustainable agricultural practices.
Quinta do Tedo prides itself on being certified organic, which also results in the higher quality of the wines, and protection of the soil. To learn more about their philosophy, you can take a full tour of Quinta do Tedo.
20. Harvest the Grapes During the “Vindimas”
If you visit the Douro Valley around September (harvesting time varies each year according to climate and other conditions), you can be part of the famous “Vindimas” and help produce delicious Port Wine with your own two feet. Once the grapes are handpicked and inspected by the winemaker, it’s time to place them in the lagares (wide granite tanks) and for them to be trotted by foot. This is a fun way to combine exercise and tourism because despite being fun, this is certainly not an easy experience. This incredibly labor-intensive process is crucial to ensure the best results.
Not every Quinta accepts tourists, but there are more and more options offering harvest experiences available.
21. Experiment Some of the Other Famous Local Products
Undoubtedly, the Douro Valley is best known for the production of world-famous wines, but there are other outstanding products in the region. One that stands out particularly is the delicious olive oil, as the region’s microclimate is particularly suitable for the growth of olive trees. The specificities of the soil result in a more consistent oil, with a more intense flavor.
We had a fun morning at the Olive Oil Museum in Casal de Loivos, where you can learn more about the way olive oil used to be produced using traditional mechanisms. At the end of the tour, as usual when traveling in the Douro Valley, a delicious tasting of local products is included.
22. Relax Surrounded by the Stunning Views
The Douro Valley is the perfect place to relax and enjoy incredible peaceful moments. If you really need to rest, spend some days at the Lamego Hotel & Life, where you’ll find plenty of opportunities to recharge batteries.
The outdoor pool is heated, with views of the wine terraces. There’s also an indoor pool, and our favorite part: a fantastic Life’s Spa that uses only natural products without any chemicals. One of the highlights of our stay was certainly our relaxation massage with Márcia.
There’s everything you may need inside the hotel to make your visit stress-free, including two restaurants – one outdoor, perfect for the Summer days. Its location in the city of Lamego is also incredibly convenient, especially if you’re traveling with kids.
23. Drive Through One of the World’s Best Roads
The national road N222, namely the part connecting Peso da Régua and Pinhão has been named the “World Best Driving Road”, at least by a study conducted by Avis. We can’t fully explain the mathematical formula, but the 93 bends over 27 kilometers of road are what makes it thrilling for drivers. However, for us, what truly stands out are the jaw-dropping views along the beautiful river. This is one road that is indeed a destination on its own, and one we’ll never get tired of.
24. Have a Picnic in a Magical Setting
Combine some of Portugal’s best attributes and enjoy a picnic in a magical setting in the Douro Valley. The fantastic weather, the delicious food, the wine, and of course, the scenery itself!
You can easily prepare it yourself, picking up food from the markets and stores across the region and choosing a garden or viewpoint to enjoy it from, or you can let others prepare a delicious picnic basket for you.
Nowadays, many hotels in the region offer picnics as an option, you can have them on their estate, or take them with you elsewhere. Picnics are extremely fun for us as food lovers, and they allow us to truly set back and enjoy the space we’re in. So many times when traveling, we’re rushing to eat a mediocre store-bought sandwich, so there’s something extra special to stop and actually enjoy some appetizing food in places that seem made for a painting.
25. Try Delicious Portuguese Food
If you love food but aren’t especially into the picnic idea, don’t worry – there are many amazing restaurants along the Douro Valley, where you’ll get to try some of the most famous Portuguese dishes.
There are restaurants for every budget, starting with small family-run restaurants that will cost you 5€-10€ per meal, to fancy Michelin guide restaurants that will cost you accordingly.
Fish and meat are still king in Portugal, but there are more and more options for vegetarians and vegans. There’s no real consensus on “best dishes” and with such a vast array of options, you’d need years living in Portugal to try everything, but some of our favorites are the famous alheira sausages, kid goat, and octopus. When in Portugal, you’ll need to try at least one of the many traditional cod dishes. Specific to this region, and if you’re a meat-eater, don’t miss the Mirandese steak and the Maronesa beef.
Sweets are also abundant, most made with eggs, almonds, and cinnamon, pairing perfectly with the sweet Porto wine.
26. Go Further East into the Douro International Natural Park
The Alto Douro Wine Region is made of three subregions: Below Corgo, Above Corgo and Upper Douro. Bordering this region to the East, you can also find the fantastic Douro International Natural Park, a place made for nature lovers and adventure seekers. It stretches along an area of about 122 kilometers or 86 500 hectares, and covers the border areas of Miranda do Douro, Mogadouro, Freixo de Espada à Cinta and Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, in the district of Guarda.
Hike the cliffs and slopes, marvel at the beautiful waterfalls, and stand at a historical border that separates Portugal and Spain. Visit the local villages and try learning some Mirandese, that is, as José Leite de Vasconcelos put it, “the language of the farms, of work, home, and love between the Mirandese”, unique to this region, and the only recognized regional language in Portugal.
The Natural Park is a protected area, very famous for birdwatching, as it’s the home to many endangered species, such as the Egyptian Vulture.
Visiting the Douro Valley: A Short Practical Guide
How To Get to The Douro Valley
As with most inland regions in Portugal, the best way to travel to and in the Douro Valley, still is, unfortunately using a car. This will give you plenty of freedom to roam, and as we mentioned above, the roads are absolutely stunning. Traveling by car is still a stress-free experience in the region – there’s plenty of space to park and not much traffic. Be aware of the winding and steep roads. If you don’t want to do the driving yourself, consider a tour such as the Portugal EV Tours we mentioned earlier, made unique by the use of modern electric cars.
Nevertheless, it’s still very much possible to visit the Douro Valley without a car. You can get to the region using public trains and buses, which are quite affordable. The train is an especially scenic option, as the Douro line connects Porto and Pocinho with a total travel time of around three and a half hours. Depending on what parts of the Douro Valley you want to see, you can do the whole line, or get out at Peso da Régua or Pinhão, for example. Buses are frequent to Régua and Vila Real from Porto.
Another scenic option is to get to the Douro Valley by river cruise. This is not the most affordable choice, but it will certainly be a trip to remember.
If you’re getting to Portugal by plane and landing Lisbon, we have a complete guide on the best ways to get from Lisbon to Porto, so that you can then head to the beautiful Douro Valley.
Best Time to Visit the Douro Valley
We’ve mentioned before that we’re not particularly fans of naming “the best time” to visit places, because we mostly don’t believe these lists ourselves. It all depends on what you’re looking for, and your preferred way of traveling. For us, the best time to visit the Douro Valley is whenever you can. This is a wonderful region all year-round.
If you want to visit the Douro Valley during the Vindimas, visit during the month of September, typically the harvest month. Depending on the weather, the harvest season may still continue in October. The weather is best during the Spring and Fall, as it can get incredibly warm during the Summer months, and very cold in the Winter.
Where to Stay in the Douro Valley
Nowadays there are plenty of accommodation options all around the Douro Valley, and though this remains one of the pricier regions of Portugal, there are options for every budget. Since the Douro Valley is a relatively small area, you don’t need to hop around between accommodations to be able to visit (though that is also an option if it’s what you prefer).
Choosing the location of your accommodation will also vary depending on your means of transportation. If you have a car, you don’t need to worry much about it, but if you’re relying on public transportation, it’s a good idea to stay near a town where most services are based: Vila Real, Peso da Régua, Pinhão, and Lamego are your best options.
These are the places we’ve personally stayed in the Douro Valley and recommend:
- Casa Agrícola da Levada: the Douro Valley’s only eco-village is made of several different apartments, as well as some private rooms. Located in Vila Real, in a perfect location if you don’t have a car.
- Casa da Azenha: a small family-run accommodation, with apartment options.
- Lamego Hotel & Life: a modern hotel with all the amenities you’ll need, and located in the town of Lamego.
- Quinta da Pacheca: one of the region’s oldest estates – a pricier option, but money you certainly won’t regret spending.
- Quinta de Beiredos: located a bit closer to Porto, this is a great option if you have a car. Apartments are very modern and incredibly comfortable.
Other famous accommodations in the region:
There are also plenty of accommodations in the region available on Airbnb. If you are considering using Airbnb to book your stays, you may be interested in using our link to sign up. You will get 35€ of credits to spend on the site, and we’ll get 20€ of credits after you complete your first booking.
Best Places to Visit in the Douro Valley
We may be biased considering we were born in Porto, but after many visits to the Douro Valley, it has truly become one of our favorite regions in the world.
The scenery is breathtaking, the food is delicious, and people are not only welcoming but also eager to tell you their story and their connection to this unique region. You certainly don’t need to be a wine lover to love the Douro region – take it from us, who are only now starting to taste it. Even though we don’t love wine, through our trips to the Douro, we have learned to fall in love with the process of making wine and celebrating the magical terraced vineyards where the grapes grow.
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