What is the Douro Valley?
The Douro Valley is one of the most stunning areas of natural beauty in the whole of Portugal. It runs from Porto all the way across to the border of Spain, and is the oldest wine region in the world!
It is known for its amazing hillside vineyards that border the deep valley created by the Douro river. The warm summers, and countless hours of sunlight, also make it perfect for growing grapes and producing wine.
Experience a Wine Tour
One of the most popular things to do in the Douro Valley is to go on a wine tour. You can start these tours from Porto or book one yourself at one of the many wineries. (Like this one) You are taken to one of the traditional wine estates (Quintas) and learn about the production of wine, as well as enjoying wine tasting!
One of the Douro Valley’s main products is the Port wine, but there are plenty of other local wines to learn about too. If you visit during the harvest in September, you can actually participate in the harvest itself: a unique experience in Portugal.
Other things to do in the Douro Valley
Tasting and learning about the Douro wines are the most popular reason to visit the Douro Valley. However, its high vantage points and amazing nature make it absolute heaven for those who want to hike, do adventure sports, or go on a beautiful road trip.
Drive on Breathtaking Roads
We highly recommend hiring a car or a campervan in Portugal to explore all the amazing scenery the Douro Valley has on offer! Twisting roads snake their way up between vineyards and mountains to panoramic viewpoints across Portugal and Spain. We think this is one of the unique places to see in Europe!
An absolute must-do on your drive through the Douro Valley is to drive along the road ‘Miradouro da Estrada Nacional 222’: a road voted ‘World’s Best Drive’! It is a 226 km long road. However, the road’s best part has to be between the two towns Peso de Regua and Pinhao.
Make sure to keep your eye out for multiple amazing viewpoints. For example, São Leonardo da Galafura, the most famous viewpoint in the region, sitting above patterned vineyards and the Douro River.
Another great viewpoint is the ‘Double Viewpoint De Loivos’ located here.
The vineyards and hills surrounding the Douro River make it the perfect place for hiking! There are loads of hiking trails that snake their way around the valley for awesome views that can only be seen on foot. This is the perfect way to get into nature and enjoy the beauty of the region.
Tip: Temperatures can be very high in the summer, so it’s recommended to enjoy hiking in the cooler temperatures of the spring or the fall.
Discover the Douro River
The heart of the Douro valley is the great Douro River itself. The perfect way to enjoy the views from the water is by taking a boat trip, or by kayaking.
Many of the wine tours from Porto often include a boat tour. However, if you are doing a self-guided itinerary, there are many great options to enjoy the river. See all Douro tours here.
How to get to the Douro Valley
The best way to explore the Douro Valley is via car or campervan so that you can enjoy the spectacular roads and viewpoints. Better yet, the Douro Valley is only a short 1 hr 15-minute drive from Porto.
If you don’t have a car, there are other ways of reaching the Douro Valley. Take the famous train route from Porto to Regua. The train is direct and takes just under 2 hours, with incredible river views throughout.
The final option is to join an organized tour from Porto, which includes return transport. See all Douro tours here. However, these tours are often busy and have a set itinerary which means you’ll only see a small part of the region.
Best time to visit the Douro Valley
In order to see the landscape at its most luscious, visit during the spring months or in early autumn September/October. Because the region has its own micro-climate, it’s extremely hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
September is a really fun time to visit because of the harvesting season. However, it can be very busy, so make sure to book accommodation and tours well in advance.
Where to Stay in the Douro Valley
We stayed at Quinta do Monte Travesso, where we did a wine tour and camped overnight. However, there are hundreds of beautiful Quintas to stay at throughout the huge region, so the options are endless.
The terraced vineyards and estates are also surrounded by lots of beautiful Portuguese villages. These are home to traditional b&b’s which are great for a 2-night stay.
Tip: Depending on how far you want to travel, consider staying in the charming town of Vila Nova de Foz Côa. It is located close to the border of Spain.