How to Plan an Unforgettable Trip to the Douro Valley

April 2, 2024


The Douro Valley, with its beautiful vineyard-terraced hills cradling the winding Douro River, is a magnificent gem in Portugal. Most visitors are drawn to this area for the delicious wine and port produced in the region. However, driving through this incredible landscape, you'll be in awe of the views and fall in love with its charming villages as well. In this article, I'll share tips for planning a trip to the Douro Valley, as well as a sample itinerary to give you ideas for your next holiday. 

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The Douro 

Located roughly 60 miles (96 km) east of Porto, the Douro is the region which surrounds the mighty Douro River (Rio Douro) in northern Portugal. The Douro River is one of the largest rivers on the Iberian Peninsula, starting in Spain and meandering west across Portugal until it flows into the Atlantic Ocean in Porto.

The Douro's steep hills are lined with terraced vineyards and dotted with quintas (estates) stretching as far as the eye can see. Pair that with the deep blue river as it winds through the mountains and you'll understand why the Douro is one of the prettiest spots on Earth.  

Douro Valley Portugal

Pro Tip: Be sure to pronounce "Douro" correctly. In the Portuguese & English spellings, O is before U. So, it's pronounced like "door-o" not like "dware-o". In Spanish, the river is called Río Duero (pronounced like "dware-o"). Perhaps this explains why I've heard it mispronounced in Portuguese or English? 

Douro Wine Region

The Douro region is one of the world's oldest demarcated wine regions (since 1756) and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you're a wine-lover, it's likely you've sampled a wine from the Douro at some point in your life. I'd tried a few over the years, which is what drove me to plan a trip to the Douro Valley.

Douro River view Quinta do Seixo

The Douro region's wine and port are protected under Portugal's Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) and registered as a Protected Designation of Origin under EU and UK law. These systems are designed to protect designation of origin for various products such as fruit, wine, cheese, butter, etc.

As a result, port - a Portuguese fortified wine - can only legally be produced from grapes grown and processed in the demarcated Douro region. Any other "port" that you try from elsewhere is just a "port-style wine", not a true port wine.

When to Visit the Douro Valley

As with other places in Portugal, your preference when it comes to weather and crowds will determine the best time of year for you to visit the Douro region. 

Weather in Douro

Many agree that the spring and autumn months are the perfect time of year to visit the Douro Valley as far as weather goes. Winters are cold and summers are HOT, so the shoulder months - April, May, September, October - are generally the most pleasant.

We visited at the beginning of October (2023). Our days were sunny and temperatures were quite warm, with highs reaching ~85°F / 30°C. Nights and mornings were much cooler though, usually in the 60s°F / upper-teens Celsius.

Most Affordable and Least Crowded Time of Year

Winter wins this category. The weather in the Douro is the least pleasant during the winter, with gray, rainy skies and cold temperatures. As a result, the area is much emptier which prompts hotels to give massive discounts during these months. Since it's less crowded, winemakers may also have more time to spend with you and you may find you have a better experience.

Consider the Harvest

Although visiting during the harvest (September) would be an interesting experience - getting to see the machines working and maybe stomp on some grapes - it's a crowded and busy time of year. If you want to go during this time, you'll need to be very organized and book months in advance. 

How Many Days in Douro Valley?

Given the number of wineries, towns to explore, and great restaurants to try, you could easily spend weeks discovering hidden gems in the Douro Valley. Alternatively, you could just pop in for a taste of the region on a day trip from Porto.

If you have room in your itinerary, I'd recommend spending a least 2-3 days in the Douro Valley. Spending a couple of days will give you the chance to explore in a more relaxed way, stopping to soak in the views instead of rushing from place to place. Plus, Douro's charming small towns offer a warm welcome and a peaceful atmosphere that are hard to resist.

Getting to the Douro Valley

Getting to the Douro Valley is part of the fun as the scenery is one of the reasons why it's such a spectacular place to visit. 

View at Quinta do Seixo

Driving to the Douro Valley

Given the bucolic location of the Douro Valley, traveling there by car is the easiest way. Driving your own vehicle allows you the flexibility to stop at viewpoints, grab a bite to eat in a small town, and to set your schedule however you want. 

The Douro Valley was our first stop on a longer Portugal road trip from Porto to Lisbon, so it was worth it for us to rent a car (we used Expedia). If you only have a day, you might consider booking a day tour from Porto instead. Check out my Porto article for Douro Valley day trip options.

Pro Tip: Many roads in the Douro region are quite narrow and winding, with little visibility around the curves. It's a bit of an adventure just driving around the area.

Train to the Douro Valley

If you're planning to stay in one of the towns, taking the train from Porto to the Douro region is also a good option. The train offers magnificent views as it snakes through the valley and saves you the hassle of renting a car if you plan to return to Porto afterwards.

The Linha do Douro departs from Porto's São Bento Railway Station and ends in Pocinho. The entire journey takes 3.5 hours, one-way and stops in popular towns, such as Régua, Pinhão.

Key Things to Know When Planning a Trip to the Douro Valley

In order to fully enjoy a trip to the Douro Valley, advance preparation is key. In the past decade or so, wine tourism in the Douro, and Portugal in general, has soared. Thus, it's important to get the pieces of your trip organized and booked as early as possible. 

Book Your Accommodations Early

If you're visiting the Douro Valley during peak or shoulder seasons, plan to book your accommodations months in advance. You may even need to book up to a year in advance to find availability at some of the smaller quintas and wine hotels.

What is a Quinta A rural estate or manor in continental Portugal. The term is also used for agricultural estates, such as vineyards, orchards, and olive groves.

The Douro region has a wide variety of places to stay, from the ultra-luxurious Six Senses Douro Valley to cozy bed & breakfasts with local hospitality. You could even sleep in a giant wine barrel at Quinta da Pacheca

Places to Stay in the Douro Valley

During our three nights in the Douro Valley, we divided our time between a luxury hotel and a bed & breakfast. Both stays were amazing in different ways and I'm glad we had both experiences. As a result, I'd highly recommend either of the places where we stayed.

The Vintage House

First, we spent one night at The Vintage House, a luxurious 5-star hotel right on the Douro River in Pinhão. Our room was elegant and comfortable, with an incredible terrace overlooking the river. The property has a beautiful swimming pool along the river, plus a bar and restaurant. Parking is included and easy to drive in. 

The Vintage House room
Terrace at The Vintage House

The town of Pinhão is the perfect place to stay in Douro. It's easy to reach by car or train and is situated on a picturesque spot along the Douro River. Plus, the town has a lot of wineries and restaurants nearby, some even within walking distance of the Vintage House.

Pinhão Bridge
Quinta da Travessa

For two nights, we stayed in Quinta da Travessa, a charming bed & breakfast run by a lovely Portuguese family in Covelinhas. Christina and her family welcomed us and made us feel right at home. During our stay, we ate breakfasts as well as dinners at the property. Christina's delicious homemade meals were a highlight of the overall experience.

Our room with a private bathroom was cozy and beautifully decorated in a farmhouse style. The quinta has been in Christina's family for generations and they've worked to renovate it over the years. The countryside views from the estate are beautiful and they even have a small swimming pool. 

Quinta da Travessa room
Quinta da Travessa decor
Swimming pool at Quinta da Travessa

Unlike Pinhão, Covelinhas is a sleepy village with not a lot of restaurants or things to do, but it's quiet and a peaceful spot to relax. The road to get there is curvy and in some places, only wide enough for one-way traffic on a two-way road. The train also stops in Covelinhas, but it's a bit of a walk to the town from the station. 

Douro Valley Accommodations Map

Use the map below to begin searching for the perfect place to stay in the Douro Valley. Because there are so many towns, you'll need to drag and zoom in and out to see the entire area.  

Decide Whether or Not to Book a Day Tour

Although I enjoy planning my own itinerary, I appreciate that sometimes it's nice to have someone else do it. If you book a tour, you'll alleviate some of the pressure to pre-book winery tours yourself.

Where to Find Douro Tours

Though most Douro Valley tours you'll find on Viator leave from Porto, you can find a few which begin in Douro. Or, you could consider booking directly with a local company, such as Luxury Douro Tours. They seem to have a variety of vintage car tour options available and customize the tour to fit your budget.


Book Winery Tours & Tastings in Advance

If you do not book a day tour in Douro, you should definitely research which wineries you'd like to visit and book your tours in advance. Although some wineries allow walk-in tastings, some do not and most prefer if you book in advance regardless.

We booked our tours for beginning of October a couple weeks in advance of our visit. Only a few of the vineyards I contacted were already fully booked by that time, so we still had plenty of options.

Scheduling Tip: Most tours last ~60-90 minutes, including the tasting at the end. Be sure to leave plenty of time between your visits as you schedule them so you aren't feeling rushed during your tastings. Also, the drive between places sometimes takes longer than Google approximates. 

How to Book Winery Visits from Abroad

Although many Douro wineries have websites where you can book a tour online, I found it easier to contact the property directly via email. If you book online, you usually have to pre-select and pay for your tasting online (non-refundable). 

If you arrange your tour by email, usually you only arrange the time for your group and can choose your tasting once you arrange at the vineyard. I preferred this method since I had no idea before visiting Portugal which ports I'd want to taste. 

Pro Tip: If you have any accessibility concerns, be sure to mention them when you book the tour. Many of the tours involve walking, standing, and climbing steps or hills. Wineries may be able to make accommodations if they know about your situation in advance.

Consider Your Luggage Space

As you prepare for your trip and think about packing, keep in mind that you'll want to have extra luggage space to bring home some wine and port with you.

We left room in our suitcases on the way to Portugal, plus packed bubble wrap, specifically for our wine purchases. Our friends actually bought a separate wine suitcase for theirs. I'm happy to report that all of our bottles survived the journey back to Hong Kong.

3-Day Douro Valley Itinerary

During our trip to Portugal, we spent three days in the beautiful Douro Valley, which I think was a great amount of time. In this section, I'll share our 3-day Douro Valley itinerary. Hopefully this itinerary will give you an idea of how we spaced out our days and which places we enjoyed the most on our trip. 

Day 1 - From Porto to the Douro Valley

Our Douro Valley adventure began in Porto, where we rented a car. From Porto, it was a quick drive (~1 hour) to our first stop - the town of Amarante. Then, we continued until we reached Pinhão, where we stayed for the first night. 

During our first couple of days in the Douro Valley, we were still traveling with our friends (another couple), which made the experience even better.

Renting a Car in Porto

If you're planning to explore the Douro Valley by car, the best way to do it is to rent a car in Porto. After our experience, I'd say the best place to collect the car is most likely the Porto Airport.

We picked up our rental car from one of the Hertz pickup locations in town. It did not go smoothly, as we waited for 2+ hours to collect our car, which put us behind schedule. Because of the smaller location, it seems they did not have all of the cars (our smaller midrange model, in particular) ready to go at the pickup time.

Once we got the car, however, it was smooth sailing out of Porto.

A Short Stop in Amarante

Our first stop of the day was Amarante, a beautiful village set along the River Tâmega. This historic town is the hometown of São Gonçalo - Portugal's very own St. Valentine - and some make pilgrimages in the hopes of finding true love

Parking in Amarante

Since picking up our rental car took longer than anticipated and we had a lunch reservation, we could only stop in Amarante for about 20 minutes. You can find plenty of parking around town. We parked in the Estacionamento Tribunal (location on Google Maps). From there, it was a quick ~5-min walk to the town center.

Amarante Architecture

Although we didn't have time to tour Amarante's sights, we admired the beautiful baroque facade of the São Gonçalo Church and Monastery (Igreja e Mosteiro de São Gonçalo).

Amarante Portugal

Another sight to admire in Amarante is the rebuilt Roman bridge - Ponte de São Gonçalo. Originally built in the 13th century, the bridge collapsed in a flood in 1763 and was rebuilt in 1790. The São Gonçalo Bridge played an instrumental role in the town's defense against the French in 1809 as it allowed residents to flee while troops held them off. Unfortunately, the French retaliated by burning much of the city.

Sweets from Confeitaria da Ponte

Another reason to visit Amarante is to sample its well-known sweets and cakes. Until we ran out of time, we'd planned to enjoy these with a cup of coffee at Confeitaria da Ponte, a riverside cafe, while soaking in the views. Instead, we grabbed a box of treats for takeaway.

Sweets in Amarante

Driving to the Douro Valley

After our stop in Amarante, we continued our journey to the Douro Valley. Running late, we chose the most direct route on Google. As a result, we ended up on an adventurous, curvy road for part of the journey. However, the views were incredible. 

Luckily, we arrived only a few minutes late for our 2:30 pm lunch reservation at Quinta de La Rosa.

Quinta de La Rosa

Situated on the banks of the Douro River, just outside of Pinhão, Quinta de La Rosa is a Single Quinta winery known for its premium wines and ports. The estate also welcomes visitors to its hotel and restaurant. 

Lunch at Cozinha de Clara

One way to experience a winery without the full tour is to eat at its restaurant. Quinta de La Rosa's restaurant - Cozinha de Clara - serves delicious regional cuisine in a gorgeous setting. 

Lunch at Cozinha de Clara

Sitting at a table overlooking the Douro River and vineyard-covered mountains, the setting was picture-perfect. After the meal, we ordered a port wine tasting flight from Quinta de La Rosa for dessert. 

View at Quinta de La Rosa
Port flight at Quinta de La Rosa

Pro Tip: Highly recommend booking in advance and requesting a table outside on the terrace if the weather is nice during your visit.

Want to Stay at Quinta de La Rosa?

If you're looking to stay at a family-owned winery, then the hotel at Quinta de La Rosa might be the perfect spot for you. The rooms are simple, yet lovely with beautiful hardwood floors. Room views of the Douro River and the vineyards are magnificent. Click here to see photos and find more information.

The Vintage House, Pinhão

After our late lunch, we popped over to The Vintage House in Pinhão to quickly check in before our next tour. Parking was easy and since our evening activities were within walking distance of the hotel, we left our car in the lot for the night.

Quinta do Bomfim (Dow's)

Only a 2-min walk from The Vintage House, Quinta do Bomfim is part of the Symington Family Estates, a massive family business that is one of the world's leading producers of premium port and a top Portuguese wine producer.

Not only does the Symington Family own and run four well-recognized port houses - Dow's, Graham's, Warre's, and Cockburn's - but they have a vast portfolio of Douro wines as well. They own 26 Quintas in the Douro Valley, making them a leading vineyard owner in the region. 

Tour of Quinta do Bomfim

Originally acquired by George Warre for Dow’s in 1896, Quinta do Bomfim gets its name from "Vale do Bomfim" or "well-placed valley", which refers to the area surrounding Pinhão. In 1912, Andrew James Symington became a partner in Dow's and used Quinta do Bomfim as his family home in the Douro Valley. 

For over a century, the terraced vineyards at Quinta do Bomfim have yielded delicious Dow's Vintage Ports. All of the grapes harvested at the property are processed at the on-site winery in modern lagares - the tanks used for crushing grapes. At Bomfim, they use stainless steel automated lagares rather than the traditional foot-stomping method for crushing the grapes.

Treading tanks at Quinta do Bomfim
Dow's Vintage Port Tastings at Bomfim

The last tour of the day at 5:30 pm worked perfectly into our schedule and afterwards we enjoyed our tastings. In order to try a wider variety, Jeremy and I ordered different flights and shared them. Given that Quinta do Bomfim is known for Dow's Vintage Ports, we ordered flights focused on those ports: 

  •  Dow's LBV, Dow's 1994 Vintage, Dow's 30-year Old Tawny
  • Dow's Tawny Ports (10, 20, 30, 40 Year) 
Dow's Vintage Port Tasting at Bomfim
Dinner at Bomfim 1896

Later that night, we walked back over to Bomfim to eat at their on-site restaurant, Bomfim 1896. The food is inspired by traditional Douro cuisine and focuses on large chimneys and wood-fired ovens. While the dishes we had were tasty, overall, the restaurant was overpriced and not our favorite.

Bomfim 1896 dinner

Honestly, I think the wine list soured the experience for our group from the beginning. On the website, the wine list shows a wide range at different price points. When we got to the restaurant, however, most of the bottles on the list were €100+. Since we'd already had a lot of wine that day, we ordered a cheaper bottle (~€40) and it was not great. Given that we were in a wine region, I expected to be able to order a decent bottle of wine without it costing what we'd pay in Hong Kong! 

Day 2 - A Day of Tours and Tastings

On our second day in the Douro Valley, we continued to visit wineries in the area around Pinhão. Our friend volunteered to drive so we left our car at the hotel and the four of us set out in their rental car. 

Breakfast with a River View at The Vintage House 

Before our first winery tour, we enjoyed a lovey morning at The Vintage House, starting with breakfast. It was a gorgeous morning and we lucked into a seat out on the veranda with a great view. The breakfast buffet spread at the Vintage House had lots of tasty options from which to choose.

Quinta da Roêda (Croft)

Our first tour of the day began at 11:30 am at Quinta da Roêda, Croft's Douro Valley estate which is about a mile (1.7 km) outside of Pinhão. It's a large estate and its parking lot and tasting room are designed to accommodate buses and large groups.

The visitors' center is housed in the former stables of the Quinta da Roêda, which have been restored in the traditional Douro style. Vaulted ceilings give the room an impressive, spacious feel and make it a nice place to taste the property's vintage ports and olive oils.

Tasting room at Quinta da Roêda

Outside, the terrace is a gem and great spot for a picnic or for taking photos. This hilly, sprawling estate is lined with vineyards and olive trees and is about as picture-perfect as it gets. 

View at Quinta da Roêda
Tour at Quinta da Roêda

During the tour, we walked around the property, admiring the beautiful landscape, as we learned about the vineyard's history. The Croft family acquired Quinta da Roêda in 1889 and today, it's still the main source of wine for Croft Vintage Ports.

One of the tour's highlights is seeing the lagares. Unlike at Bomfim, Quinta da Roêda uses traditional granite lagares and workers still stomp on the grapes to crush them. If you visit during the harvest, you can even reserve a spot to help. 

Treading tanks at CROFT Quinta da Roêda
Croft Vintage Port Tasting at Quinta da Roêda

After the tour, we sampled a range of CROFT Vintage Ports in the tasting room. Jeremy and I chose the Wine Lover and the Connoisseur tastings and shared them. While the ports were good, they were not my favorites of the day and we didn't buy any to take home. 

Croft Vintage Port Tasting

If you're looking to mix things up, you can also try a couple of port cocktails at Quinta da Roêda. Our tasting had the Croft Pink & Tonic included and it came in a can. That made it handy to take with us and we ended up drinking ours a few days later. It was actually pretty tasty, like an alcoholic soda.

Lunch at Pão D'Ouro

If you're looking for a casual place to grab a quick and affordable bite in Pinhão, I highly recommend stopping at Pão D'Ouro. On Google, it's listed as a pastry shop, and they do have some delicious-looking pastries, but we found the sandwiches to be quite tasty. When we visited, it was packed with locals rather than tourists - always the sign of a good place! 

Quinta do Seixo (Sandeman)

After lunch, we crossed the Douro River and drove ~10 minutes to reach Quinta do Seixo - the vineyards for the House of Sandeman. The estate's driveway is a steep, narrow path so it takes a few minutes to reach the actual visitors' center.  Once you reach the parking area, you'll be in awe of the stunning views.

View of Sandeman sign Quinta do Seixo
Tour at Quinta do Seixo

Our 2:00 pm tour began once the full group arrived. After a couple of tours, they all start to blend together so the snarky, dry wit of our guide at Quinta do Seixo was a welcome surprise. 

Throughout the tour, our guide told us a bit about the history of Sandeman and the Quinta do Seixo vineyards. Plus, we got a look at the winery's facilities, including the modern treading tanks (lagares) and the wine cellars.  

Treading tanks at Quinta do Seixo
Tasting at Quinta do Seixo

Afterwards, we enjoyed the Vau Vintage flight in the beautiful tasting room overlooking the magnificent vineyard views. We thoroughly enjoyed the Sandeman Vintage Ports and bought one to take home with us.

Vau Vintage tasting at Sandeman

Quinta do Pôpa

Quinta do Pôpa, our last stop that day, is a small, family-run winery about 10 minutes further east of Quinta do Seixo. Perched on the hillside overlooking the valley, the fantastic views, delicious wines, and friendly staff make it a great stop in the Douro Valley.

View at Quinta do Pôpa

We hadn't booked this one in advance, but called earlier that day to see if they could fit us in. Although we couldn't join a tour, they told us to stop by after 4:00 pm and we could do a tasting. That worked perfectly for us as we all felt that two tours in one day was plenty. 

Tasting at Quinta do Pôpa 

Since the winery is smaller, I felt the welcome we received was warmer and more personalized than at the larger estates we visited. We even met one of the owners, who poured our tasting and told us about the wines. For me, that made the experience that much better overall.

Tasting at Quinta do Pôpa

Unlike many of the other wineries we'd visited, Quinta do Pôpa focuses more on non-fortified wines. We quite enjoyed their bold red wines and bought home a 2018 Vinhas Velhas. The cheese and charcuterie board was also quite delicious. 

Charcuterie board at Quinta do Pôpa

Saying Goodbye To Our Friends

Once we finished our tasting, we headed back to The Vintage House to say goodbye to our friends and collect our car. There, we parted ways as they were heading home and we continued on our Portugal road trip for another week.

Quinta da Travessa

After picking up our car, we headed east to Covelinhas, a sleepy village on the Douro River. When we arrived at Quinta da Travessa, a small bed & breakfast run by a local Portuguese family, Christina welcomed us warmly and showed us to our room. Normally, her husband welcomes visitors as well but he was injured during our visit and taking it easy.

View of Covelinhas

The estate's house has a common room, swimming pool, and patio where guests can relax. After checking in, I attempted to make friends with the cute cats wandering around the property but they were a bit skittish.

Dinner at Quinta da Travessa

A few days before we arrived, Christina reached out to ask if we'd like to have dinner (€25 per person) at Quinta da Travessa in addition to the breakfast which is already included. Since the village doesn't have much going on, we said yes, and it was an excellent decision!

At mealtimes, Christina sets up tables in the dining room for each guest/family staying there and you have your assigned table for your stay. Christina and her staff prepare each meal during the day, taking into consideration guests' dietary requirements. During dinner, Christina's son and daughter-in-law helped serve guests the meal.

Kitchen at Quinta da Travessa
Dining room at Quinta da Travessa

The first night, we had a delicious chicken curry for the main. However, she also made several appetizers and a large salad. After paying a fortune for meals at restaurants the day before, we were shocked at how much food was included in our dinners at Quinta da Travessa. 

Quinta da Travessa curry

Day 3 - Exploring Douro's Towns

During our third day in the Douro Valley, we explored some of the towns in the region, in addition to a winery tour. It was nice to have one day that was mostly unscheduled and to take it at a more relaxed pace.

Breakfast at Quinta da Travessa

Beginning the day, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Quinta da Travessa. A nice selection of fruits, meats, cheeses, breads, and homemade jams were laid out on the buffet. However, Christina prepared eggs and coffee fresh for us when we arrived. 

Breakfast buffet at Quinta da Travessa
Breakfast at Quinta da Travessa

During breakfast, she gave us some recommendations for places to see in the region since our itinerary wasn't set yet. With a destination in mind, we set off to enjoy a beautiful drive.

Lamego

One of Christina's recommendations was to visit the town of Lamego, about 20 km (12.5 mi) southwest of Covelinhas. Inhabited since before the Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, Lamego has a rich history and its city center is worth a visit. 

Lamego historic center
Castle of Lamego

Unlike some regions you'll visit, the Douro Valley doesn't have a lot of castles and fortresses. But in Lamego, you can find one! Perched upon the highest hill in the city, the Castle of Lamego (Castelo de Lamego) is a medieval fortress originally built in the 12th century. 

Lamego castle

To get there, we parked in a lot called Parking Lamego just off Av. 5 de Outubro. Then, we made our way up the small, winding streets towards the castle. It's a bit of a climb, but not too steep.

From the top of the castle walls, you'll have excellent views of Lamego and the surrounding countryside. 

Views of Lamego
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies

By the time we reached Lamego, we only had a short amount of time to spend in the town. As a result, we missed the main attraction that most people come to see in Lamego - the incredible terraced stairway leading up to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies (Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios).

Roughly 600 stairs zigzag up the hill before reaching the beautiful twin-towered 18th-century church. Lined by massive trees, the staircase's terraces are adorned with azulejos, fountains, urns, and statues. It looks incredible on the website and I wish we'd had a chance to see it.

Lamego Cathedral

Another sight we missed in Lamego was its cathedral - Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral (Sé Catedral de Nossa Senhora da Assunção) or simply, the Lamego Cathedral (Sé de Lamego)

Although built in the 12th century in the Gothic style, not much is left of the original structure except the square base of the belfry. Many changes were made in the 16th and 18th centuries, including a Renaissance cloister. Biblical frescoes by 18th-century Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni may look familiar if you've already visited Porto.

Peso da Régua

Making our way back north, we stopped for lunch in Peso da Régua (or, Régua, for short). At the western edge of the Alto Douro, the demarcated port-wine region, Régua is the region's largest riverside town

During the 18th century, it became a major port city. Port-wine from the Douro region was transported from Régua to Vila Nova de Gaia via traditional boats (barcos rabelos). Upon reaching Gaia, the wine was left to age in the local port wine lodges.

Peso da Régua bridges

The town has more of a "city" feel to it than most of the Douro Valley towns and is quite active. We didn't spend much time in the town, but stopped to admire the views of the Régua bridges. 

Lunch at Manel da Aninhas

Just across the Ponte da Régua, we stopped for lunch at a cozy, local spot called Manel da Aninhas. Being a Saturday during lunchtime, it was quite crowded and many people seemed to be regulars. However, the staff welcomed us warmly and the chef even came out to tell us the lunch options in English. 

Because it was so busy, the food took a while to come out, but when it did, it was delicious and the portions were HUGE! Not to mention, the prices were much lower than what we'd been paying on our trip so far. I'd highly recommend stopping in for a meal if you're in Régua.

Lunch at Manel da Aninhas

Quinta do Vallado

Our only winery booking of the day was at Quinta do Vallado at 2:30 pm. Unfortunately, we were a bit late due to lunch lasting longer than anticipated. Luckily, staff helped us catch up to the group and we joined the tour.

Located on the banks Corgo River, Quinta do Vallado was built in 1716 and is one of the oldest farms in the Douro Valley. The farm belonged to the family of Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, known as “Ferreirinha”, a famous Portuguese businesswoman who introduced innovations to the Portuguese wine world. Her great-grandchildren still manage the estate to this day.

Although Quinta do Vallado produces port wine, it's also well-known for its non-fortified wine.   

Tour at Quinta do Vallado

The tour at Quinta do Vallado took us all over the property. First, we saw one of the barrel rooms, then climbed up the road next to the vineyards as the guide told us about the property.

Barrels at Quinta do Vallado

Quinta do Vallado inherited around 10 ha (25 acres) of old vines, the oldest planted in 1929. As was the practice at the time, several varietals were planted on the same plot. Today, that's known as a "field blend". In 2014, Quinta do Vallado began switching to organic farming, limiting the use of pesticides and herbicides. Now, two-thirds of the old vines are farmed organically.

Grapes in treading tank at Quinta do Vallado

Next, we entered the production facilities and got to see the treading tanks (lagares), one of which still had grapes in it and the scent was incredible. Then, we moved on to the giant steel fermentation tanks. Workers were busy with production at this winery and it was interesting to watch them as well as peer into the giant steep tanks.

Tanks at Quinta do Vallado

At the end, they took us down into the cellar where the wine is aged. Then, we moved onto our tasting.

Cellar at Quinta do Vallado
Tasting at Quinta do Vallado

For the tasting at Quinta do Vallado, the entire group (~25 people) sat at a long table as the guide led the tasting. Although less intimate than getting our own table, it was nice to have an expert telling us about each wine as we tasted them.

Wine Tasting at Quinta do Vallado

We quite enjoyed all of the wines, including the port wine. As a result, we bought a bottle of Touriga Nacional and a 20-year Tawny Port to take home with us. 

Want to Stay at Quinta do Vallado?

If you'd like to stay on a winery property with gorgeous vineyard views, then you might enjoy the Wine Hotel at Quinta do Vallado

Since 2005, they've welcomed guests to stay in the original manor house of Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira. In 2012, they expanded the hotel and constructed a modern, shale building designed by architect Francisco Vieira de Campos, who also renovated the property's cellar. The estate also has a swimming pool, spa, and restaurant for guests to enjoy.

Afternoon Coffee in Régua

After our tour, we stopped in Régua for a quick espresso at Alameda Café. The cafe is located in a large square - Jardim da Alameda dos Capitães - on a hilltop that overlooks the town and has lovely views. 

Coffee in Régua

Quinta da Travessa

After our coffee, we headed back to Covelinhas for sunset and to relax and enjoy the evening. Dinner that night was a traditional Portuguese duck rice - perhaps the best I've ever had! 

Quinta da Travessa duck rice

The next morning, after another delicious breakfast, we said good-bye to the Douro Valley and continued our Portugal road trip. 

*Next stop, Coimbra! Check out the next article - 5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Coimbra, Portugal.*

Final Thoughts

As you can see, Portugal's Douro Valley is a beautiful region to visit. Even though you can get a taste of it in a day, I think spending a few days relaxing and soaking in the peaceful atmosphere is worth it. And with a bit of advance preparation and booking, you can just sit back, sip some wine, and enjoy the views when you're there.

Happy travels!


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3 Days in Portugal's Douro Valley
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