A guide to Portugal’s Douro Valley

The beautiful Duoro Valley is not to be missed / mat's eye - Flickr
8 July 2020, Emma Donaldson

The Douro Valley in Portugal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a highlight of any visit to Portugal. The area is most famous for its port and vinho verde (green wine) which is produced there, as well as a spectacular landscape and beautiful architecture. Whether you’re visiting for a few hours, a week, or even want to make the Douro Valley your home, here are some of the highlights and most useful information about the Douro Valley in Portugal.

Where is the Douro region in Portugal?

The Portuguese wine region of Douro is centered on the Douro River in the Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro region. Located in central-northern Portugal, the Douro Valley is sheltered by mountain ranges which provide stunning views in the region and located 60 miles (97 km) from the city of Porto. One of the best ways to visit the Douro Valley is by car but by no means the only option. One of the cheapest ways to travel from Porto to the Douro Valley is by train, a journey which is famous for its stunning views over the Douro river, well worth the 9,75 euro price tag.

Is Douro Valley worth visiting?

The Douro Valley is not to be missed and is well worth a visit. The reasons are endless: from retreats for wine lovers, beautiful river scenery and walks through the mountains, there is something for everyone in this stunning part of Portugal.

Things to do in the Douro Valley

For wine-lovers

One of the main attractions in the Douro Valley has to be its world-famous vineyards. Enjoy wine tastings, culinary experiences and Douro Valley tours from expert guides. Wine-loving visitors should choose the option of staying at rustic quintas, or rural estates surrounded by vineyards. These rustic county homes, often with the best views over the valley, have in many cases been converted into hotels and B&Bs specialising in the local culture and providing unique experiences for travellers.

River cruises

The region also offers river cruises and boat trips to suit your needs. Douro river cruises can last anything from an hour, just enough time to take in the beautiful surroundings, to one or more days, coming with the option of meals, drinks and vineyard visits included. For the more adventurous, you can even rent a boat or a kayak and explore the river at your own pace.

Enjoy the local cuisine

A word of advice: don’t visit the Douro Valley if you’re on a diet, as the local food is another part of the Douro Valley which is not to be missed. Mingle with the locals in traditional Portuguese bars or “tascas” where you’ll find local delicacies such as “bacalhau” (salt cod), roasted suckling pig and octopus salad on the menu, not to mention the local wine and port.

Take a hike and enjoy the views

The Douro region is also paradise for those who enjoy countryside walks and hikes. There are numerous hiking trails, many of which are marked out by wine estates so that you can combine your hike with some vineyard spotting. Choose to be your own guide or join a hiking tour, of which many options are available online and in the local tourist information office.

What is the best time to visit the Douro Valley?

The Douro Valley is beautiful all year round, however the average temperatures and weather vary greatly throughout the year. The best of the weather is between May and October, although the summer months of July and August can get very hot in the area. However, to be able to fully take advantage of the area, the idea time to visit the Douro Valley is during the harvest season when the vineyards are ready to crop and the colours are truly breathtaking.

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