The Douro Valley
The birthplace of Port wine
Visiting the Douro Valley from Porto
The Douro Valley is a wine region of Portugal with more than two thousand years of existence. For centuries, grapes have been planted and harvested by hand on its steep terraces that end by the river. This valley represents one of the most beautiful landscapes in Portugal.
Several reasons confer the Alto Douro wine-growing region the title of World Heritage Site by UNESCO: its cultural importance, its fertile land and the particular climate, and the world-renowned quality of its wines.
It is also the oldest demarcated wine region in the world.
The Douro River originates in Spain, in Soria, where it is called the “Duero”, and flows into the Atlantic Ocean, on the coast of Matosinhos, very close to the center of Porto. Throughout its course, it crosses and joins the northeastern part of the Iberian Peninsula.
For the city of Porto, it is of special importance, as it has historically served as a promoter of trade flows, communicating the metropolis with several neighboring cities.
For the distribution of Port wine the river has been its main channel. Traditionally, it was through the waterway that the wine was transported from the Douro valley to the port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. Once aged, it is then marketed to the rest of the world.
This river trip was done decades ago in boats called rabelos, and you can still admire them in the Douro River by the Dom Luis Bridge or in front of the wineries. Today the grapes and wine are transported in small trucks that you can see moving around the Douro Valley, especially at the end of the summer, during the grape harvest season.
One question many visitors ask is about the types of wines that are produced? In the valley, not only port wine is made. The Douro Valley also produces some of the best red and white wines in Portugal and the world.
Visiting the Douro Valley from Porto
In Porto, you can visit the cellars, learn how the wines are produced, and conduct a tasting session. However, it is in the Douro Valley where you can live the whole experience: visit a “Quinta” (the Portuguese equivalent of estates, where grapes are grown), walk through its vineyards, enjoy the fantastic views, and taste the best wines of the region. It is something we highly recommend doing.
On a road with unique landscapes, it takes about an hour and a half by car. The only disadvantage is that you won’t be able to extend your tasting if you have to drive back.
Getting to the Douro Valley by train
You can take the train from Campanhã station to Peso da Régua (Regua station). The trip takes 2 hours each way and the ticket costs around 20€, depending on your choice.
Another terrific alternative, although more expensive than the regular train, is to get on the historic train in Peso da Régua, which goes to the area of Tua on the banks of the river in a steam locomotive built in 1925. See all the information on the official website. The disadvantage of this option is that the train arrives in the city center, and you have to find your way around the area.
Guided tours of the Douro Valley from Porto
You can also take a guided tour from Porto. Some companies use the bus, the train or even the river cruise. This alternative allows you to relax, better enjoy the experience and do the wine tasting without having to worry about driving back to Porto.
We have a sister company that sells such tours; find out more about our best-seller Douro Valley Wine Tour from Porto. It includes 2 Wineries, Tastings, River Cruise, and Lunch
Excursions to the Douro Valley from Porto
Tour of the Douro vineyards, Wine Tasting in 2 wineries, Lunch & Cruise
Wine tasting, boat ride, traditional lunch and spectacular views.
Boat ride in Peso da Régua
50 minute boat ride from Peso da Régua through the landscapes of the Douro Valley.