The Douro Valley region is one of Portugal’s treasures. The protagonist, which includes three UNESCO world heritage sites, is its natural environment, which exists in perfect harmony with human activity.
It is this natural environment that provides us with wine and invites us to delve into its history admiring the land on which the centennial vines are grown. To feel the level of dedication and care that the artisanal cultivation process has preserved. We are in the perfect place to explore wineries, allow ourselves to become engulfed by the smell of the barrels and unearth unforgettable flavours.
One of the best ways to visit the region is by train, a route that explores landscapes full of vineyards and runs only metres from the Douro River. From Pocinho to Peso da Régua, careful not to leave out the historic centre of Porto, this journey offers a unique combination of nostalgia, nature, flavour, and sensations.
Other trains out of Porto can also take passengers along the same route, which is known as the Linha do Douro (Douro Line) and can even be combined with boat trips aboard one of the numerous ships that traverse the Douro River. From June through October, a tourist train takes passengers through a portion of this route, providing an alternative way to get a closer look at the unique landscapes. Regardless of what mode of transportation is chosen, visitors should be ready to enjoy the cascade of vineyards imbedded into the steep hillsides of the Douro River, spectacular meanders, stately villas, medieval towns, and unique landscapes.
Stopping in Peso da Régua is worthwhile, as it is one of the most important towns along the banks of the river, surrounded by stunning nature and marked by the history of wine. The biggest city in the region, it was converted into an important centre for the storage and distribution of the region’s famous wines in the 18th century. This city is home to the Museo do Douro (the Douro Museum), which is situated in an emblematic 18th-century building. The centre objective is to transmit the identity of the region, as well as recover activities associated with the wine industry, promoting winegrowing and cultural tourism.
When discussing the Douro region, one cannot leave out the historic quarter of Porto. This beautiful city, constructed along the riverbanks, is one of the most highly valued tourist destinations in Europe. With a historic centre declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, much of its charm lies in the contrasts. A perfect mix of the traditional and modern urban architecture, Porto’s narrow alleyways run alongside wide stately avenues.
When it comes to the wine industry, the city’s famous hallmark can be found on the opposite shore of the Douro River, in Vila Nova de Gaia. This riverbank, home to famous wineries of the 17th century that delight visitors today, is also where commercial activity for Porto’s wines is concentrated.
And, if there is time to spare, there are still many indispensible corners to be explored throughout the region, like Vale do Rio Côa. This area, one of great natural wealth, is home to the outdoor Prehistoric Rock Art Collection, which represents a unique example of man’s first representations of symbolic creation, as well as the beginning of a cultural development that dates back to Palaeolithic times.