The Douro Valley is one of the most beautiful areas you can visit in Portugal because the landscape that you will see is amazing. The hills are covered with vineyards, there are cozy villages & cities to be discovered and you can take a cruise which is one of the activities to do in the Douro Valley.
The Douro Valley guarantees a fantastic vacation, whether you visit it as a day trip from Porto or stay several days here, it is all possible. In this article, we share all our Douro Valley tips to help you prepare for your own trip to the Douro Valley. You can read things to do in Douro Valley, which two Quintas we recommend staying, nice places to eat, and much more.
Things to do in the Douro Valley
Douro Valley is suitable for every type of traveler because there are so many different things to do in Douro Valley. We have listed the best 10 activities you can do in the Douro Valley.
Tip: use the map of the Douro Valley below to see where the best things in the Douro Valley can be found. Click on the top right corner to enlarge the map. If you click on the star symbol next to the title you can save this map in your Google Maps account. In the folder, you can show or hide different categories. You can then use this map to navigate when you are at your destination.
Wine tasting Douro Valley
Of course, if you are in the Douro Valley you should do a wine tasting. This is for three reasons, firstly it is educational to learn how wine is produced, secondly, it is nice to be on-site at a Quinta (a wine farm) and take in the atmosphere and finally, you discover new wines that you can drink at home.
Many wine-tasting tours are offered. It can therefore be difficult to choose the most suitable wine tour. Based on our experience, we recommend the following three Douro Valley wine tours:
- Quinta do Valdalágea: we did this wine tour at the accommodation where we stayed. We liked to taste the wine at the place where we stayed. The nice thing about this place is that it is not touristy because the wine tour is set up very small and mainly for the guest of the Quinta and not for huge tourist groups. You are probably sitting here with your partner alone giving you a private tasting. It is also nice that when you stay here you can agree on a time slot. A package costs €20 / $20, €25 / $25, or €30 / $30. The price difference depends on which wine you taste and how old the port is.
- Quinta do Tedo: you pass this Quinta when you do the road trip Estrada Nacional 222. The nice thing about your visit to this Quinta is that you can find more famous brands from the Douro here. In addition to wine tasting, they also show the entire production process, most Quintas still grow the wine but do not have their machines to produce the wine. Packages are available in the price range of €14 / $14, €27 / $27, and €65 / $65. You can see the differences in detail via this link.
- Quinta Seara d’Ordens: this is a nice Quinta to visit because from here you have a beautiful view over the region. The road to the Quinta is also worth mentioning because you travel along the vineyards and are enchanted by the impressive view. There are various tours that you can book, but you must make a reservation in advance via the website. If you have followed several tours, you can also sit on the terrace of this Quinta and enjoy a glass of wine.
Road trip Douro Valley
There is nothing more fun than when you are in the Douro Valley driving by car on the narrow roads through the landscape and being surprised by the many views. For this reason, the Douro Valley is known as one of the best regions in Europe for road trips. There are several routes to be found, but there are two routes that we recommend, these are: Miradouro da Estrada Nacional 222 and Capela de Ordonho. In the map above, they are indicated by lines.
Miradouro da Estrada Nacional 222: this is a 226 km / 140 miles route on the EN222 that cuts through the Douro Valley, showing the highlights of the area. This route has been declared the best route in the world, we certainly liked the route, but we don’t think it is the best route in the world. It is best to drive the part from Peso de Regua to Pinhão, this is the most beautiful part and is also close to the other Douro Valley attractions. During this part of the route, you will drive along the river and go through a winding road along the hill. The best thing is to stop at various viewpoints and get out to enjoy the scenery. This route is 28 km / 17 miles and takes about 1 hour without stops.
Route Capela de Ordonho: you can combine this route well with the Miradouro da Estrada Nacional 222 because you drive from Pinhão to Peso de Regua via N322-2. During this route, you do not drive in the valley but in the hills, so your perspective is completely different. The best part is that there are several Quintas in this area that you can visit. We will tell you more about this in the next point. This route is not popular, we discovered it by chance but found it surprisingly nice. Check the map for exactly how to drive. The route is 62 km / 38 miles and takes about 2 hours without stopping.
Visit different quintas
If you do a wine tasting at one of the Quintas, you learn a lot about the local wine they produce there. Depending on how big a wine lover you are, you can follow one or more wine tours. If you are provided with one wine tour, you can still visit several Quintas. This is nice because they are often authentic buildings that are located on the hills where you have impressive views. You also often have to drive winding paths into the hills past vineyards. We recommend visiting the Quintas below. These are all located in the region, so you don’t spend too much time in the car. You will also pass a number of them while doing the two road trips.
- Quinta Seara d’Ordens: we also recommend this Quinta for taking a wine tour. The route to the Quinta is beautiful to drive, the entrance is iconic and once you arrive on the pebbles in the parking lot you will be enchanted by an authentic building.
- Quinta do Crasto: this is a large Quinta where you have an impressive view on the terrace. The nice thing about this Quinta is that you can take your swimming trunks with you and swim in the pool. Really great when it’s warm.
- Quinta das Peixotas: this Quinta is recommended to visit because you often feel as if you are going back in time for years. At some Quintas, the atmosphere has been lost due to all the innovation, modernization, and economic importance of tourists. If you want to visit an authentic Quinta, this is a must for you.
Best Quintas to stay in Douro Valley
Option 1 authentic and unique: Quinta do Valdalágea
We stayed at Quinta do Valdalagea and loved it. The location is excellent, you have a beautiful view over the valley. The rooms are neat, from your arrival to the moment you go the people always help you with a smile and the breakfast is extensive and delicious. If you want to stay at an authentic Quinta, you don’t have to look any further because this stay is excellent! Check prices and availability of Quinta do Valdalágea here.
Option 2 location & luxury: Quinta do Vallado Wine Hotel
Quinta do Vallado Wine Hotel is recommended for travelers who want to combine the authenticity of the winegrower with luxury. The entire Quinta has been renovated, there is a swimming pool outside and you have an impressive view over the vineyards. This Quinta is recommended for travelers who want a little more luxury compared to other Quintas. Check prices and availability of Quinta do Vallado here.
Discover what port tastes like
Most travelers go to the Douro Valley for wine tasting, we were no different. During our wine tours, we also tasted port which we had never done before, and are surprised at how delicious it is. Port is a fortified wine that is saltier than wine. If you buy a beginner’s package for the wine tour you will not get a port. For this you often have to book a standard package. This is worth it because you will discover a new drink.
We recommend taking the wine tour at Quinta do Valdalágea. Then go for package gold for €25 / $25 or premium for €30 / $30, these packages include a 30-year-old port. You can also taste a port at the other tours we recommend in this overview.
In the Douro Valley, you can visit several viewpoints, from these places you have an impressive view over the region. Our favorite is Viewpoint of São Leonardo de Galafura, but Miradouro de Adorigo, Miradouro de São Domingos and Miradouro de Valença do Douro are also recommended to visit.
Viewpoint of São Leonardo de Galafura is located at an old chapel where you have two different viewpoints upon arrival. You can see the east side of the valley at one vantage point and the south and west at the other. At many vantage points, you can only see part of the Douro Valley, but here you see a lot more.
Miradouro de São Domingos is also located near an old chapel and is great to visit because you have a 360-degree view, only the view is further from the river compared to São Leonardo de Galafura, here you have the feeling that you are more in the valley. Nevertheless, it is still worth visiting this viewpoint.
You pass Miradouro de Valença do Douro when you follow the Miradouro da Estrada Nacional 222. From the road at Quinta do Tedo it is a 5-minute drive to the viewpoint. The nice thing about this vantage point is that it is less high, so the perspective is different, it is also close to the road, so you can easily combine it.
You mainly visit the Douro Valley to discover the landscape, but also in this region there are nice villages such as Pinhão and Peso da Régua to visit, but the most beautiful place is without a doubt Lamego. Here you will find the important sights of the Douro Valley in terms of history, architecture, and culture. Lamego is not located along the river but a 20-minute drive inland, so the atmosphere here is completely different. The most beautiful thing you can visit in Lamego is the church, you can read more about this in the next point. Next to the church, you can visit the Lamego Museum, here you can see many impressive works of art, the most important piece being a palace chapel full of gold from the 18th century.
We liked the historic center of Lamego the most, this part runs from the museum to the church. In this part, you will find a beautiful avenue with large buildings with shops on both sides. You can also find several old churches and a castle there. The best thing is to walk around and enter the buildings. You can park your car at the tourism parking lot.
The Church of Lamego
The church of Lamego is one of the most beautiful churches in Portugal. When you walk in the historic center of Lamego you can see the church on the hill via the main street in the distance. The best thing is to walk from the center towards the church and climb the stairs. During this walk, you will pass fountains, small gardens, and statues. Once you arrive at the church you see how big the church really is. You can also visit the church for free from the inside only, to be honest, the outside is more beautiful than the inside but it is a small effort to walk in so judge for yourself.
Cruise Douro Valley
If you are in the Douro Valley you can take a cruise to enjoy the surroundings in a relaxed way. The best place to start a cruise is Pinhão. Most cruises sail west for 1 hour and then come back. The ticket is €20 / $20 per person and can be bought at the pier of Pinhão, where you will see various sales points.
Keep in mind that these cruises are very massive if you prefer to go on the water with your travel group, this is also possible, in this case, check out this link for going with a private yacht.
In Peso da Régua you will find the Douro Museum where you can learn everything about the history of the Douro Valley. You can see how the Douro Valley has been discovered over the years, what type of boats were used, how the wine export has been evaluated, and what the impact of the Douro Valley is on the rest of Portugal. There are also changing exhibitions, if you want to know more about this, you can visit the website of the Douro Museum to read more about it. A ticket costs €6 / $6 per person and can be purchased on-site. We did visit the museum ourselves from the outside because you can see an old boat outside. We did not go inside because we also went to Porto and Lisbon where we visited enough museums.
Old steam locomotives
Steam trains arrive daily from Porto that authentically show tourists the landscape. If you are in the Douro Valley you can admire it at Pinhão. Several trains can be seen daily, the most beautiful is when the steam locomotive goes over the bridge of Pinhão. If you also want to take a ride with the steam locomotive yourself, you can travel from Pinhão to Pocinho, this has been chosen by recognized travel organizations such as Lonely Planet as one of the most beautiful train routes in Europe. It is best to go to Pinhão in the morning and buy a ticket to Pocinho. Check via google on the spot Pinhão – Pocinho what the current travel times are. Driving time is 1 hour and tickets can be purchased on-site.
Tip: regardless of whether or not you are going to take a ride with the steam locomotive, a visit to Pinhão station is worth it as the station is decorated with beautiful colored tiles.
Douro Valley day trip from Porto
If you are in Porto for a weekend, it is nice to visit the Douro Valley with a tour. Most tours visit a Quinta where you get a tour and learn about the different wines. After that, you often go on a cruise to sail through the valley. The nice thing about this is that you can see a lot of the area in a relatively short period. We recommend this tour because you have two wine tastings at two Quintas instead of one.
It is best to book this tour a few weeks in advance, as this tour will be fully booked quickly as you visit more wine tastings. Only a few guests per day are allowed per Quinta because they want to keep it small-scale, if this is done in large groups it loses its charm. It is also good to book in advance because when you are doing a city trip in Porto you do have not much flexibility.
How many days do you need for the Douro Valley
It is difficult to advise on this because for one traveler 1 day is enough and they do it as a day trip from Porto to the Douro Valley, but there are also plenty of travelers who stay here for 5 to 7 days. There is plenty to do for several days, you will not get bored. Our advice is to plan 3 days where you are at least 2 full days in the Douro wine region. You need this time to discover this region at your leisure. Because the Douro Valley is not close to other places, it is also too much effort to visit it briefly. If you love wine, it is better to plan more than 3 days because you can visit more Quintas.
Best Quintas to stay in Douro Valley
The best thing when you are in the Douro Valley is to stay at a Quinta in Douro Valley, which is a winery. We stayed 3 nights at Quinta do Valdalágea and loved this. Upon arrival, you drive up the hills where you eventually arrive between all the vineyards at an old wine farm built in 1837. This is an unique place to stay and we recommend it to everyone. We liked it because you are in the countryside and the atmosphere of the Douro is different than when you are staying in a hotel, to be honest. In addition to Quinta do Valdalágea, we also recommend the Quinta below.
It is important to know that Quintas are not set up as large as hotels, which means that there are fewer rooms and are therefore fully booked quickly. Because these are unique accommodations we recommend reserving months in advance, you can easily do this via the links below.
We stayed at Quinta do Valdalagea and loved it. The location is excellent, you have a beautiful view over the valley. The rooms are neat, from your arrival to the moment you go the people always help you with a smile and the breakfast is extensive and delicious. If you want to stay at an authentic Quinta, you don’t have to look any further because this stay is excellent!
Quinta do Vallado Wine Hotel is recommended for travelers who want to combine the authenticity of the winegrower with luxury. The entire Quinta has been renovated, there is a swimming pool outside and you have an impressive view over the vineyards. This Quinta is recommended for travelers who want a little more luxury compared to other Quintas.
Where to eat in the Douro Valley
In the Douro Valley you can eat well, every afternoon and evening you can try a local wine. The Douro Valley is also a great place for people who do not love wine to eat at different restaurants, whether you’re at a Quinta in the hills or at a local restaurant along the water, you’ll find it all here. The tips we give are based on our experience and can therefore be found in the region of Peso da Régua.
For breakfast, it is best to use the service of the accommodation where you are staying. If like us, you stay at a Quinta, you can enjoy the view over the wine region on the terrace in the morning. It can be difficult to find something in the morning because most places were open at lunchtime. A good option is Galripo Brunch & Coffe, here you can order toast with avocado or mozzarella with tomatoes.
For lunch, you can have a hot meal or eat a lighter meal by ordering a sandwich or salad. We often had a hot meal in the afternoon so that we could eat lighter meals in the evening. Nice places to eat are Restaurante Novo in Lamego, Veladouro in Pinhão, and Terraçu’s Winery Restaurant in Covas do Douro. Restaurante Novo is a local eatery where you can order a different 3-course menu every day. We enjoyed Bacalhau here with potatoes and vegetables. Costs are €17 / $17 per person including drinks.
Veladouro is located on the water and is very popular due to its good location. You can order good fresh meal salads which costs €15 / $15 per person. Finally, Terraçu’s Winery Restaurant is the most special place where we ate, here you can enjoy different courses in the hills of the Douro at Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo. The best part of this place is the terrace under the trees overlooking the region. The disadvantage of a course menu is that you have to sit inside. If the weather is nice you can sit outside when you eat tapas, for this reason. In total it costs €25 / $25 per person for lunch. This is relatively expensive for Portugal but the experience is worth it.
For the dinner, we always ate in Peso da Régua because it was close to our accommodation. We ate at Jerinha (Jérere), Tasca da Quinta, and Don Peppo. Jerinha (Jérére) is a tapas bar where you can order good Portuguese tapas, such as gambas, good salads, asparagus, and different types of meat or fish. If you have a good meal in the afternoon, you don’t have to eat a lot more in the evening, it will cost €18 / $18 per person. Tasca da Quinta is a great place to eat, here you can order tapas and hot dishes. We ordered feijoada de cogumelos, this is a white bean dish with mushrooms. You spend a total of €10 / $10 per person here. Finally, we also had dinner at Don Peppo, this is a pizza restaurant. Here you ate and drank for about €15 / $15.
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Transport Douro Valley
The Douro Valley is a large area, it takes about 2 hours by car to cross the area. It is best to do everything by car because the sights are far from each other, they can be on the hill, making public transport not at all convenient to travel in the Douro Valley. You can easily rent a car for the Douro Valley via Rentalcars, this is a nice platform where you can easily find the best deals.
How to get to the Douro Valley
Douro Valley is a popular area to visit and it is not difficult to get to the Douro Valley from Porto. The Douro Valley is also easy to reach from places around Porto such as Braga and Peneda-Gerês National Park. If you are traveling through Portugal and you are coming from the south you will probably come from Monsanto which is inland or the region of Coimbra which is more along the coast between Porto and Lisbon.
If you are going to do the activities we recommend in this article, it is best to have a car when you are in the Douro Valley. If you do a road trip you already have a car, if you don’t have one yet you have to pick it up in Porto. Below you see an overview of the most popular places to reach the Douro wine region, for the sake of convenience we assume that you travel to Peso da Régua, which is located in the center of the Douro Valley.
- Porto to Douro Valley: 1 hour and 15 minutes | 115 km / 71 miles
- Braga to Douro Valley: 1 hour 20 minutes | 125 km / 77 miles
- Peneda-Gerês National Park to the Douro Valley: 2 hours 10 minutes | 135 km / 83 miles
- Monsanto to Douro Valley: 2 hours 45 minutes | 230 km / 140 miles
- Coimbra to Douro Valley: 1 hour and 50 minutes | 160 km / 99 miles
If you travel to Portugal by plane and you are looking for a car to rent, you can rent it through Rentalcars. We use Rentalcars when we want to travel by car to discover new destinations. They’re easy to use and book with.
Porto to Douro Valley by train
A popular and the best way to reach the Douro Valley from Porto is by train. The nice thing about this is that compared to a cruise you end up in Pocinho instead of Pinhão. Pocinho is located 2 hours inland, making the area increasingly rugged and impressive in terms of views. We recommend taking the train from Porto to the Douro Valley if you want a day trip and would rather be on the train than on the boat. If you travel from Porto to the Douro valley and then stay here for a few days and then go back by train, we do not recommend, for this it is better to rent a car.
From the train station in Porto Sao Bento, take the train to Pocinho. At 09:20 am there is one direct train every day that takes 3.5 hours. You will arrive at 12:38 pm and at 01:08 pm or 5:14 pm you can take a direct train back. A single ticket costs €13.55 / $13.55, which you can buy on-site at the station.
The best time to visit the Douro Valley
The Douro wine region is located in the northwest not far from the Spanish border. Because the Douro wine region is located in a valley, the weather here is often better than in surrounding areas. This is because the rain often falls on the hills, so you don’t notice it as much. Douro Valley is suitable to visit from March to November, during this period the temperature is pleasant and the plants are green, which is a lot more beautiful than when it is bare.
The spring (March to May) period and the autumn (September to November) period are the best periods and therefore the most popular, as it can sometimes get very hot during the summer months (June to August) which many travelers do not like. During the winter period, we advise against traveling to Portugal in general, because there is a lot of rain and temperatures are low.
In terms of temperatures, it is on average 20°C / 68°F in spring, 28°C / 82°F in summer, 19°C / 66°F in autumn, and 10°C / 50°F in winter.
We were in the Douro Valley in June and found the temperature very pleasant, we could enjoy long sunny days, and had no rain and the advantage was that we traveled before the summer holidays from the European schools that it was not busy.
Holiday Douro Valley frequently asked questions
1. Do you recommend visiting the Douro Valley as a day trip from Porto or spending more time in the Douro Valley?
This depends on how much time you have. If you are traveling through Portugal, it is best to stay a few days in the Douro valley. If you’re doing a city trip in Porto, it’s best to do a day trip, because you do not have more time. In that case, it is best to book a tour to discover the highlights of the Douro wine region in 1 day. This is cheaper than if you do it independently and it saves a lot of travel time. We recommend this tour from Porto because you have two different wine tastings and you will sail through the valley by boat, giving you a good picture of the area.
Want to see more in Portugal?
After your journey in the Douro Valley, you can go in different directions. You can go west to two nice cities Braga and Porto. Braga is a city where you can visit the most beautiful cathedral in Portugal. Porto is in our opinion the best city in Portugal, the historic center is beautiful to walk through. If you want to visit Portugal’s only national park, you can visit Peneda Gerês National Park in the north, where you can discover an impressive natural landscape. These are the most logical destinations to visit from Douro.
If you doing a road trip through Portugal and you have visited these places and you want to travel south then Monsanto which is centrally located in Portugal is worth visiting. Monsanto is a village on a mountain with 800 people that have been chosen by the government as one of the 12 most beautiful villages in Portugal. Everything here is still intact dating from the Middle Ages.
What do you think of the Douro Valley? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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