Douro Valley: Portugal’s Best Kept Secret

When I was researching on other places to see while visiting Porto and Northern Portugal, Douro Valley kept popping up. I wasn’t really sure what to expect since I know no one who has been here before so I consulted a few of my favorite travel blogs. Turns out everyone who has been here only has beautiful things to say about it. I concluded that I need to see it myself.

Whenever I ask people who have been to Portugal, they say they’ve only been to Lisbon. Portugal is not only Lisbon. I can count with only one hand the people that I personally know who has been to Porto and all of them have not visited Douro. *Big sigh*

This has to change! Join me as I show you how I did it, why you should visit and a my suggestions in exploring this magnificent wine region.

Douro iphone shot

The jaw dropping view of Douro Valley

How I did it

After traveling for so long, do-it-yourself excursions was always my way to go. However, when I asked the people at my hostel in Porto, they didn’t recommend me doing it myself as it’s a bit of a hassle to go to the wine estates. So I told them I want to join their guided tour. There was a little bit of a problem: they only conduct the tour with a minimum of two guests and I was the only one signed up for the tour. Shocking.

I was already thinking of ways on how I was going to make it happen. Luckily a girl at the hostel and a guest from another hotel signed up a few days after and that Sunday the three of us were off to see the Valley. The timing was just perfect since Sundays in Porto is like being in a ghost town. Sunday is the best day to visit the region.

Traveling during low season

There are pros and cons in traveling during low season. One was that I almost didn’t make it to see this stunning region. Another was since it’s winter, the vineyards won’t be as pretty as they are during summers. But I’m a forever optimist and always try to see the positive side in every challenge. The miracle to this was that since it was only the three of us, we had a private tour. This worked out perfectly for me since I’m not a fan of tour buses and large groups. Another was even though it was still astonishingly beautiful because of its microclimate. The weather is nice all year round.

Why You Should Visit

1. Wine

Douro Wines

In Douro it’s always wine o’clock

The Douro Valley region is where the Port and Douro wines come from. The valley enjoys a microclimate that makes it the perfect place to cultivate olives, almonds and grapes. Aside from the stunning scenery that will delight your eyes on your visit, wine tasting in the vineyards are a must try while in here.

Port and Douro wines are two of the best wines I’ve tasted. Since discovering Douro wine, I always try to drink Douro wine while in Europe. Unfortunately, they’re not widely distributed which I think makes it even more special. It also comes with its own wine glass. I love it!  If you come visit, you’ll be sure of the quality.

2. Lovely Vineyards

Quinta in Douro Valley

How can you not love that scenery?

No doubt, Douro valley is one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world. It is also the home of the most beautiful vineyards with the the famous Portuguese trademark: orange roofs.

In our tour we visited two beautiful vineyards: Quinta do Pego and Quinta de La Rosa. There are of course a lot more quintas in the region. What I like about these two vineyards is their impressive list of award winning wines. Not only that, we were on a private tour as well and we took our time to enjoy and savor all the wines that we tasted.

3. The Prettiest Train Station

Pinhao Train Station

Our trip also included a visit to the beautiful Pinhão Railway Station. The first thing that one will notice about this station are its tiles. The colorful tiles artistically showed the importance of the station in history. For more than a hundred years, the station served not only a transport site for people but also for the import and export of goods mainly Port wine.

4. Cost

Tain Station Tiles

The tour cost me Eur 60 ($80) for an almost private tour on a visit to the beautiful region including wine tastings and incredible lunch overlooking the valley. Truly an amazing value for money.

Suggestions and Other Worthy Alternatives

Douro River

I haven’t written anything on this blog that I haven’t personally tried. However, I did thought about other ways where one can do the trip to enjoy this site.

Road trip: If you’re traveling as a couple or as a group or even solo, you can rent a car and drive to the north to Régua since you will need a car to get to those vineyards. This is great as you can stop at whichever point you like.

Cruise: The Douro Valley is not meant for a one day tour. One would need a few days to enjoy and savor the sights, taste and smell of the region and what better way to do it than to cruise.

Train Ride: If you’d rather do public transportation, train is the way to go. You would have to get a train all the way to Pinhão. Just ask any local in Porto and they’ll be sure to help. You would also need an accommodation before hand and ask the quinta to pick you up at the station (if possible). It’s also supposed to be one of the most beautiful train rides in Europe. I can imagine that’s a fact.

Another Reason Why I Love Portugal

I’ve done all sorts of travel- from budget travel all the way to luxury travel. Now that I’ve had some experience, I can say that I have found the travel that I truly enjoy and which I’ve done most of my time with my long-term travel, which is flashpacking. The meaning of which is a backpacker with style and a higher budget. 

No doubt I do have a budget in my travels that allowed me to travel for so long but I also would not want to be deprived of missing a World Heritage Site tour. For me the joy is finding and sharing places with exceptional value for money. Clearly, Portugal is one of those few countries and I hope you don’t miss out on one of their best kept secrets.

A special note to my Portuguese Readers

Muito Obrigado for the wonderful emails, for reading and for spreading my last post. I can’t thank everyone enough for all the kind messages and invitations. I write knowing that people like you read what I have to say. Abraços para todos! :)

To having Portugal on one of the top places to visit,

Anna

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Author:Anna

Globetrotter

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