Once known as the “party staple of the 1970s” for producing port, Douro Valley is now one of the most popular European wine tasting destinations. Located in northern Portugal just along the banks of the Douro River itself, the valley is both silent and calm yet loud and bustling with life. From cruises up the river while visiting vineyards to exploring on both land and sea, Douro Valley is the perfect place for food and wine lovers alike. Here are some of our favorite spots in the valley.
Rota do Vinho do Porto
You can’t see Douro Valley without making a stop at the Rota do Vinho do Porto. Known as “the port wine route”, the vineyards are kept up by local wine authorities who help design your perfect tour. Its history dates back to as early as the 3rd century with remnants of stone and cask still found throughout the region. The mission of the Port and Douro Wines Institute (IVDP) is to “promote the quality and quantity of Port wines, regulate the production process, and protect the geographical indication of the Douro Region”.
Many choose to take the Port Wine Route, consisting of 54 small and large wine producers in Douro Valley. Guests can visit the winery and vines, taste or purchase wine, and try their hand at wine making themselves. The Gastronomic Route is also available which challenges restaurants to create the best combination of food and wine from the valley. To visit Rota do Vinho do Porto or schedule a tour for yourself, visit their website HERE.
There are many ways to experience the Douro Valley, including by boat or train. Cruises down the Douro River can last anywhere from one hour to a couple of days, including wine tasting stops along the way. Some of these tours are also partnered with the train so you can travel by both. Train tours begin in Porto at São Bento station and travel right along the river for some of the best views. We recommend getting a window seat so you can take in the river sights, vineyards and rolling green hills. You can even travel by boat or kayak to see the river at your own pace! To book a river tour and wine tasting package, visit the Get Your Guide website.
What would Douro Valley be without its amazing dining? From modern dishes to decadent wine lists, there are endless places to enjoy a beautiful dinner in the valley. Since opening in Folgosa in 2007, D.O.C. Restaurante has served the hip and stylish of Portugal. With an expansive menu including pasta fresca, risotto and more, D.O.C. uses only the freshest local ingredients and does sometimes run out so we recommend making a reservation on their website.
You might also travel down to Loureiro for a quiet dinner at Varanda da Régua right along the Douro River. This four-floor restaurant offers guests a beautiful view of both the river and vineyards as well as a great selection of local red wines. For a more romantic setting, we recommend Terra da Montanha in the historic town of Vila Real. Hidden away from the main streets, this cozy location is perfect for a couple’s night out.
The never-ending vineyards and stunning views of Douro Valley are enticing. Whether you prefer to explore the vineyards by boat or enjoy a romantic dinner along the river, this city is a must-see. We recommend visiting Douro Valley at the beginning of summer before the temperature becomes too hot, but winters are also fairly mild if you’re looking for a holiday escape. Already planning your trips for the new year? Check out our three reasons to visit Portugal in 2018!