View of Douro River and vineyards from Casal de Loivos, Douro Valley, Portugal

How And When To Explore Portugal’s Douro Valley

The Douro valley in northern Portugal has more than just the perfect climate and soil for cultivating grapes and a wine-producing culture that dates back centuries. The undulating curves of the Douro wine region’s hillsides create a beautiful and dramatic landscape which changes with the seasons and is so special it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2001.

Even in winter, when the endless rows of terraced grape vines contain nothing more than dark gnarly stumps, the scenery is impressive. From April, the emerging leaves gradually transform the hills until they are covered with ribbons of green. By harvest time in September, a warm metallic colour scheme starts to take over with gold, copper and bronze tones decorating the slopes until early November.

Jump to:

Best time of year to visit the Douro Valley

Boat trips on the Douro River

Scenic train rides along the Douro River

Driving around the Douro wine region

Walking in the Douro

Cycling in the Douro

Day trips in the Douro

Where to stay in the Douro Valley

Douro wine region in February
Douro wine region in February

Best time of year to visit the Douro Valley

If you want a hands on experience of the Douro grape harvest, mid to late September is the time to come. You can pick grapes and even crush them by foot in some vineyards.

By late October and into November, the autumn colours are at their best – a great time for photographers to visit.

Come December and the olive harvest is underway, another important crop for this region.

Fancy joining in? Take a look at this Olive Picking and Wine Tasting One Day Tour.

Some of the major hotels and quintas have special Christmas and New Year programmes for the festive season.

While the Douro vineyards are not at their most impressive in late February and March, there are clouds of pink and white almond blossom to brighten up the hillsides. This is a great time of year to visit the Upper Douro and the area around Foz Côa, which gets far too hot in summer to do it justice.

If you’re interested in walking or cycling in the Douro, spring or autumn are the best times to come both in terms of colourful scenery and comfortable temperatures although there’s a risk of rainy days.

How to get around the Douro wine region

There are three main ways of exploring the Douro valley: by road, rail or river. If you have several hundred euros to spare you can also rent a helicopter but I’ll focus on the more affordable options here.

Boat trips on the Douro River

Douro river cruises can last from an hour to one or more days, with or without meals and vineyard visits. I haven’t yet experienced one of the longer journeys but the short boats trips I’ve done have been a delightful way to enjoy the landscape, especially the International Douro Natural Park, which lies beyond the Alto Douro wine region.

Some of the Douro day tours from Porto combine rail and river so you go one way by boat and return by train. Or vice versa. The scenery gets better once you get towards Mesão Frio and beyond Régua, which is towards the end of the journey unless you go to Pinhão.

Cruises from Porto can be quite busy and noisy, especially in peak season, so it might be preferable to make your way into the Douro wine region by other means and take a 1 or 2-hour boat trip while there, e.g. on a private sailing boat with a picnic on board or simply a shared wooden rabelo boat upstream.

Also note that longer cruises only operate between April and October and even the shorter ones will be weather dependent in winter.

If you want to book ahead, this is the type of 1-day cruise that’s generally on offer.

These full day small group tours from Porto include the opportunity to take a 1-hour boat trip from Pinhão as well as great views, winery tours and lunch.

Click to see more details and check availability.

If you feel like taking control and being even closer to the water, you can rent a boat or a kayak – Pinhão is a good place to do this. Magnifico Douro will give you a 5% discount of boat trips and kayak rentals with my code: JULIE5.

Click here to get help planning a personalised Douro Valley experience
Vineyards and quinta, Upper Douro, Portugal
Vineyards and wine estates cover the hillsides that rise up either side of the River Douro. This is the view from the train.

Scenic train rides along the Douro River

If you travel to the Douro by train, you can begin your journey at the beautiful São Bento station in Porto or any of the riverside stations and travel as far as Pocinho. One advantage that the train has over driving is that the train tracks often hug the banks of the Douro River. So close, in fact, that you can see people fishing.

The views become appealing after about an hour and most scenic as you approach Régua and continue further upstream. The scenery changes the further along the Douro you get and after a while, the quinta (wine estate) signs become further apart and the landscape more barren but still impressive.

Insider tip: If you board the train before Ferradosa, try to get a window seat on the right hand side of the train for the best views of the river, the hills and the wine estates through the rather grubby glass. Once the train crosses the river, you should switch to the left side of the carriage.

In the summer, there’s a special historical train which runs between Régua and Tua on Saturday afternoons with entertainment and light refreshments plus a little free time at Pinhão so you can stretch your legs and admire the beautiful azulejos that cover the station walls and maybe grab a glass of wine at one of the riverside cafés.

Insider tip: When searching the train website for timetables, don’t use the accents on place names, e.g. Porto – Sao Bento, not São Bento.

Carrying baskets of grapes, azulejo panel, Pinhão train station, Douro Valley
Carrying baskets of grapes, azulejo panel, Pinhão train station

Driving around the Douro wine region

If you choose to explore the Douro by car, especially if you head up into the hills, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the valley. Unless, of course, you’re the one behind the wheel, in which case you’ll need to keep your eyes firmly on the winding narrow roads.

Don’t let that put you off as you can always park up and admire the scenery from one of several viewpoints (miradouros) such as the Miradouro de Assumadouro, Casal de Loivos or Miradouro de São Leonardo da Galafura.

View from Casal de Loivos, Douro Valley, Portugal
View from Casal de Loivos, Douro Valley

If you have a car, you’ll also have more choice over which wine estates you pop into for tours and tastings, although you’ll need to be very careful not to actually drink much if you’re the driver. There are several themed routes, such as an olive oil route and a Cisterian route you can follow or mix and match the highlights to suit yourselves.

The three port wine routes explore the vineyards, viewpoints and monuments in the different wine regions of the Douro valley, namely Baixa Corgo (below the Corgo river), Cima Corgo (above the Corgo) and Douro Superior (Upper Douro).

For more information about the Douro wine villages route, check out my post: Exploring Portuguese wine villages in the Douro Valley.

The N222 between Pinhão and Régua was voted the World’s Best Drive in 2015. I’d also recommend the N101 from Régua through Mesão Frio in the direction of Amarante and the N322-3 between Pinhão and Alijó.

See this post for tips on How to Rent a car in Portugal and Avoid Sneaky Charges

Walking in the Douro

There are several walking trails within the Douro valley, some planned and marked out by the local councils, others provided by the wine estates themselves.

You can ask at the local tourist information office for route leaflets but to be honest, they are often less than helpful.

If you simply want to walk in the vineyards for up to a couple of hours, you’d be better off getting a map from one of the quintas (wine estates) or going through a tour operator.

Several tour companies offer self-guided or guided walks in the area ranging from half a day to multiple days – let me know if you’d like me to connect you with one of them. I’ll be sharing my experience of a week-long walking holiday soon…

Do bear in mind the weather conditions if you’re thinking of walking in the Douro Valley or the Alvão and International Douro national parks. In summer, it really isn’t advisable or pleasant because of the extreme temperatures and lack of shade and winter weather can be quite grim.

Cycling in the Douro

If you’re staying at one of the quintas (wine estates) in the area, they may have bikes for rent and be able to suggest suitable routes for you, or include a bike tour as part of their package.

It’s also possible to hire bikes for short periods from some of the tour operators in Regua and Pinhão. That said, unless they can suggest a safe, off-road route, I wouldn’t recommend this for novice cyclists planning to stick to the roads because of the traffic and hills. This is not the wine region for leisurely bike rides between wineries.

Note: I am not a confident cyclist so I am somewhat biased.

For more serious cyclists, there are specialist tour companies which cater to cyclists with or without their own bikes.

Check out this 7-day cycling tour of the Douro wine region.

Day trips in the Douro

If your budget is limited or you simply don’t fancy an organised tour, my guide to a do-it-yourself day in the Douro wine region gives you the information you need to see the highlights without the need for a car or a tour. There are several options for extending the experience if money isn’t so tight.

If you’d rather let someone else take care of the logistics and take you to some of the Douro’s best spots, a tour might be a good option. You can do full day trips, either private or small group, starting and ending in Porto if you only have one day to spare.

A standard day trip from Porto may include a stop in a town like Amarante oLamego and a wine tasting session at a winery. Others may focus more heavily on the wine and wineries with visits to two of them plus lunch at the renowned DOC Restaurant or on a quinta and perhaps a boat trip.

Most tours will involve wine tastings if not meetings with the wine makers and these can be tailored to you suit your interests. Read this post for more information about a luxury day in the Douro.

If you’re not that keen on port wine, these 1-day tours offer slightly different experiences including the chance to sample a different kind of Portuguese wine, vinho verde.

See more details and availability by clicking on an image

Stay overnight in the Douro wine region

My recommendation would be to spend at least one night within the valley to avoid a long, tiring journey and better appreciate the landscape, culture and gastronomy that this beautiful area has to offer.

This gives you greater flexibility and enables you to visit different wineries, villages and historical sites as well as take a boat trip, walk or have a picnic in the vineyards or simply relax and enjoy the views.

Ideally, you should try to find a room on a wine estate (quinta) but where you stay will depend on how you’re getting around. If you rent a car, you will have more options but even by public transport and with the help of local taxi services, you can find some special places to stay in the Douro.

Where to stay in the Douro Valley

Accommodation in and around Peso da Régua

While the town of Peso da Régua is not particularly inspiring, it has plenty of restaurants and a train station, making it a possible base, especially if you don’t have a car.

I loved Casa de São Domingos, which is just outside the centre of Régua but still within walking distance. The beautiful building is tastefully decorated with quality traditional furnishings. There’s a pool and breakfast is plentiful. Click to see prices, photos and availability.

Quinta da Pacheca is a €5 taxi ride from the train station and the historical building is surrounded by vineyards. They have bikes for guest use and an award-winning onsite restaurant. Once there, they have a range of wine and food-related activities so you may not wish to leave! Check prices and availability.

Quinta de Tourais is next door to Quinta da Pacheca and with only two rooms, the experience is quite different. This is a fully operational small scale winery with an arty character and plenty of personality. There’s a small rooftop pool and possible access to the kitchen but it would help to have a car if you stay here. Check photos and availability.

If you want the ultimate in luxury surrounded by vineyards, the Six Senses Douro is the place to be. With a wine library boasting 750 vintages, onsite spa, gourmet restaurant, yoga and wellness programmes and sumptuous rooms, it’s wise to factor in plenty of time at the hotel. A car would help if you want to be independent but transfers and tours can be arranged if you’d rather not drive. Check out the luxury options here.

Quinta do Vallado is delightful design hotel built from schist stone with tasteful, comfortable and clean modern rooms, onsite restaurant and outdoor pool. They offer cellar tours for guests and free parking. Some rooms have river views. Find a room with a view.

Accommodation in and around Pinhão

Another possible base with a few restaurant options and easy access to wineries and boat trips is the village of Pinhão, another 30 minutes upstream. It has a beautifully decorated train station and pleasant riverside area although the village itself is rather drab. It’s easy to overlook that when you see the views and if you don’t have a car, it’s an easy option.

If you have a car, or are happy to spend most of your time enjoying the spectacular views, vineyard walks, bikes, restaurant, pool and other facilities, Quinta Nova Luxury Wine House would be the perfect place to stay, assuming you’re lucky enough to find availability. They offer transfers to the train station so a lack of transport isn’t an issue. Check availability and prices.

If you crave 5-star luxury and would rather be next to the Douro River and able to walk to wineries and restaurants, The Vintage House Hotel is for you. Recently renovated, this 18th century building offers every comfort you’d expect and overlooks the famous river, as does the outdoor pool. Check prices and availability.

Quinta de la Rosa is technically within walking distance of Pinhão train station although I’d take a taxi if you have luggage. A working winery with privileged views of the Douro, especially from the restaurant and pool, they offer beautiful rooms and suites at a reasonable price. Check options and availability.

If you’re on a tighter budget and can handle a few steps to get to your self-catering apartment, Casas Botelho Elias offer studios, 1 and 2-bedroomed accommodation with a pleasant shared terrace or private balcony. Check options and availability.

These are just a few of the more conveniently-located places to stay in the Douro Valley. There are many other delightful properties to choose from but the key, especially in May and September, is always to book ahead.

My post about villages in the Douro has more suggestions for accommodation if you have transport.

Need my help with your Douro Valley experience?

Are you interested in exploring the Douro wine region? If you would like personalised help planning your itinerary or finding the right tour or accommodation, use the button below to tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll see how I can best support you:

Click here to get help planning your Douro Valley experience

 

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Best time and best way to visit the Douro Valley and Douro wine region in Portugal
Best ways to visit the Douro Valley

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means that I may receive a small commission if you use them to book a tour or accommodation. There is no extra cost to you – you’d simply be supporting my blog and enabling me to continue providing information like this for free.

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91 Comments

  1. I am planning a trip to duoro mid November… I know it is past harvest but is there still an opportunity to tour the vineyards, have lunch, take a walk? or do they close for the season?

    1. Hi Ali, Most of the vineyards are open year round to visitors – book ahead to be certain.

  2. Perfect thank you for your fast answer 🙂

  3. Hi Julie!
    Thank you for this amazing post, it’s been really helpful for planning our day trip to Douro Valley. Can you tell me if Google Map is right about the fact that it’d take approximately 1h30 to get to St Leonardo de Galafura from Porto (if we take the shortest itinerary, so highway A4 + N313) ? I know we have to calculate more time while driving in the hills in the Valley but I was wondering if that’s also the case with the A4. We have a dinner reservation in the Valley but we need to drive back to Porto after so we just want to make sure it won’t take us something like 5-6 hours to get home.
    Also, if we drive at a normal speed in a road like the N222, let’s say Google Map says it’s a 40 minutes drive between two quintas, do I need to multiply by 2 to get a good idea of the real time it’d take or it’s more/less than that?
    Thank you so much in advance!

    1. Hi Ariane, I’d always add a little extra to the estimates provided by Google but they’re not usually too far out. The A4 is fast-moving unless you hit traffic in Porto.

  4. Hi Julie. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. In this post, you mention taking a private sailboat with a picnic lunch. Do you have a specific tip on where to book such an excursion? We are driving to the valley from Porto and spending 3 days in the area, staying in several different quintas along the way, so I’d like to avoid getting on a boat that is packed with tourists on a day trip from Porto. The private sailboat tour sounds like something I would really enjoy. Any tips are appreciated! We are leaving on Tuesday 🙂

    1. Sending you an email, Chelsea 🙂

  5. Hi Julie,

    I’m going to be visiting Porto with a friend for a few days in August. We’re doing a day trip to Douro Valley and have a few quintas picked out as well as lunch at a quinta. We’re hoping to take the train to Regua and then taxi/uber between the quintas (all along the same side of the river on the way to Pinhao but not the side with the train) and then take the train back to Porto from Pinhao. Would you say that it’s fairly easy to get taxis/uber in this area?

    Thanks so much!

    Christina

    1. Uber works in Porto but not in the Douro. There are taxis waiting outside the train stations in Regua and Pinhão. Get a number from the one you use so you can call them to collect you (cheaper than having them wait) or ask the quinta to call one.

  6. Hi, I am planning 4-5 days in Porto and would love to visit the wine valley with my kids, 8, 10 yos. We would like to overnight 1-2 nights in the Douro Valley. Is Oct 7-15 too late to visit? I read your postings ( which btw are fantastic and helpful) that the harvest takes place at the end of September. I prefer not have to drive. Train or tours are great. What would you recommend? I am also going to explore the Galicia region of Spain for another week afterwards. So at some stage I need to rent a car. Are the mountain roads really narrow and dangerous? Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Victoria, early October is certainly not too late to visit although you may not catch the harvest. I’ve added some possible tours to this article since you commented, and some suggestions for places to stay so please take another look to see if anything helps.

      As for driving, the roads within the Douro are narrow and winding. If you can plan a route that sticks to main roads and motorways, driving is quite straightforward though.

  7. Julie; my wife and i are spending 3 days in late may on a quinta near lamego. we plan to take the train from regua to pocinho and perhaps lunch there. possible?? the next day we want to drive into the region. suggestions as to route and lunch along the way. love your blog!!!

  8. Nice review! bookmarked it for when I go there to contact you…

  9. Timely post Julie as we’re just planning a 3 or 4 day visit to Porto and Douro cruise in September when we go to Portugal for our grandson’s christening. Thanks for all the tips.

    1. You’re welcome, Sami. Let me know if you want any specific recommendations.

  10. Hi, we are three families (12 people) planning a two week trip to Portugal this Jul. The plan is to leave 3-4 days at the end for some relaxation. We thought about Douro Valley as an option rather than beech on south.
    Could you recommend some place where we can stay and relax and which would be central enough to do 1/2 day trips around the area (we have cars). We are ok just bout anything; hiking, wine testing, sight seeing …

  11. Hello, my wife and I will be visiting in late June. We’ll be in Porto/Douro region for 3-4 days. We would like to combine some time in Porto with perhaps one night staying overnight in Douro valley. Without a car, is there a particular town/area from which we could access several wineries in 1-2 days, without joining an actual tour (say, a small town with several wineries within walking distance of each other. We’re pretty physically able, so willing to do some walking/cycling if roads safe enough)? Thanks!

    1. Hi Adam, Pinhão would be a good option. I’m going to email you with more details.

  12. Hello! Thank you for your tips! My husband and I are traveling to Portugal with our 3 year old the last two weeks of April. We will be in Porto for 2 nights, then we were planning on driving to Braga or Guimaraes on our way to Quinta de la Rosa for 2 nights. Since we will be traveling with a toddler, would you suggest Braga or Guimaraes, or do you think it’s possible to do both?
    Also, I am starting to have doubts about staying in Douro Valley at all because we will be there at the end of April. Do you think it will be green enough to enjoy, especially with a 3 year old? Our other option is to just add an extra day to Porto. From Douro Valley, we were going to drive to Evora, with stops along the way to Guarda, Belmonte and Estremoz (since it’s a long drive anyway). Thanks in advance for your help.

    1. Hi Rosa, I would stick to just one of the cities on the way to the Douro, probably Guimarães. It will be generally green in the Douro Valley but the vines will only just be sprouting leaves. You should see some lovely wildflowers though. If you want to discuss your plans in more detail, you can always set up a Quick Query consultation with me: https://juliedawnfox.com/quick-query/

  13. Hi Julie, we are in the albufeira area for one month until early March but then have two weeks to explore Portugal or Spain before flying back to the uk from Lisbon. We have a car for the whole duration. We were planning to drive as follows: albufeira- Salamanca-Douro valley-Porto-Lisbon. Is this a good idea for 14 nights in March and how long should we stay in each area. Are we missing out on anything ?
    We are happy to stop in different hotels but would it be an idea to stay in about 4 or 5 places for 2 or 3 nights each. We love scenery and whilst we are looking forward to Lisbon and Porto we realise that getting around the cities may be difficult with a car. So maybe we should stay outside the cities and drive into the city. Any help would be really appreciated. Many thanks. Neil & Yvonne Johnson

    1. Hi Neil, Sending you an email…

  14. @Andy

    Where do you find such information about roads.
    The road from Porto to Pinhao is quite good!
    We traveled in September from Porto motorway in the direction of Via Real and from Via Real down towards Lamego and further longer route N222

  15. Hello Julie!
    Ill be in Porto for 2 full days (Su., 20.11. and Mo., 21.11.) and I would like to look at Douro valley one of these days.
    Since I’ve already booked a hotel in Porto for my stay, I do not want to stay overnight in Douro valley. Do you have any recommendations?
    At the moment, I’m torn between tour and renting a car. If I’m doing a tour, I’d like some kind of boat tour but also enough time to look at places. And the tour shouldnt be too expensive.
    I’m also thinking about renting a car but I’m unsure of where to rent it – I read somewhere that roads from, I think Porto to Pinhao are very bad and you should only rent in Pinhao?
    Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Andy, I think you’ll have a better and less stressful experience if you take a tour rather than go to the trouble of hiring a car. You’ll get to learn about the Douro Valley and be able to relax and enjoy the wine tasting sessions without worrying about having to drive on narrow windy roads, which are unavoidable once you’re in the wine region.

      This Small-Group Douro Valley Day Trip Including Lunch, Wine Tasting and Optional River Cruise offers great value for money in my opinion.

      1. I do, however, agree with Patrycja that the road from Porto to Peso da Régua is no problem at all. It’s driving in Porto that I hate!

  16. Thank you for this information about how to enjoy the Douro valley. It is good to know that bikes can be rented to enjoy the scenery. Something to consider would be to plan this activity before the commencement of the trip to ensure that there are bikes available.

    1. Author

      I agree. It’s always a good idea to plan ahead – I get lots of enquiries from people at the last minute and they can’t always get what they want, or have to pay extra because of limited availability. A little planning goes a long way 🙂

  17. Hi Julie, I think you’re right about making tough decisions. Maybe save Braga and Guimares for our next trip 🙂 Any insight on travelers who take the train in reverse, from pinhao to porto for a day trip? And yes, any connections you have to tour operators I would love to hear about!

    1. Author

      Hi Jennifer, I’ve sent you an email 🙂

  18. Hello Julie, I am visiting Duoro Valley for only one day, from Sept 30th morning until the next day mid-afternoon. I am looking to visit a few wineries on the 30th. What is your recommendation? Looking for views and good wine 🙂 Also a good restaraunt in maybe one of the wineries or around Pinhao – Regua. Thanks in advance!

    1. Author

      Hi Vadim, lots of wineries have great views including Quinta do Pôpa, Quinta da Panascal, Quinta do Seixo, Quinta das Carvalhas

      This restaurant should be good: http://www.castasepratos.com/

  19. Hi Julie, thanks for the insight! Your blogs have been super helpful while planning our Portugal trip. My boyfriend and I are spending three nights in the Douro Valley Oct 9-12, in a villa in Folgosa (with probably just a day trip to Porto, and maybe Braga and Guimares but that might be too much?) Thought I’d ask if you have any particular recommendations for the area? We’re wine enthusiasts and outdoor buffs and really want to explore historic wineries and get a deeper understanding of the valley.

    1. Author

      HI Jennifer, For the Douro itself, if you haven’t already seen this article about the wine villages, it might help: https://juliedawnfox.com/2013/09/17/douro-wine-villages/. I’d also recommend a guided walk, possibly with a picnic and even a private boat ride thrown in. Let me know if this appeals and I’ll connect you with the tour operator.

      Porto has more than enough to keep you occupied for a full day: https://juliedawnfox.com/2016/04/21/best-of-porto/ so I’d say that Braga and Guimarães would be another 1 day excursion. That said, you’d be missing out on the opportunity to get the deeper appreciation of the Douro that you say you want so although they are beautiful cities, I think you’ll have to make a decision as to where you are better off spending your time.

  20. Hi Julie,
    In September I plan with my boyfriend a trip to Portugal. We start in Lisbon and then we want to rent a car to go to Porto and then the Douro valley and back to Lisbon.

    The biggest problem I have with the planning of a trip through the Douro valley. Can you recommend anything in particular. Or maybe you have maps with ready-made routes. What interests us is surely nature, beautiful views and charming vineyards and maybe some sort of tasting 🙂

    Greetings from Poland 🙂

    1. Author

      Hi Patrycja, I’ll send you an email 🙂

  21. Hello Julie,
    We are visiting Douro Valley soon in September. Can you recommend any Quintas for wine tours and tastings? Also can you help me with some information on walking trails in Douro Valley.
    Thank you so much.

    1. Author

      Hi Akanksha, I’ll send you an email…

  22. Hello, we will be in Porto in September. We would like a tour of the valley, overnight preferably, hopefully not costing an arm and a leg but better than the typical cattle call tours. Any recommendations?

    1. Author

      Sending you an email…

  23. Hello, I will be in Duoro Valley September 5th – 8th, any recommendations for guide / Quinta tours? Also recommendations for self-guide walking tours – places not to miss? We will be driving there from Evora, thoughts on if we should stop at Parque Serra de Estrela?
    Thank you!

    1. Author

      Hi Colleen, I’m sending you an email…

  24. Hi Julie. I plan on driving to the Duoro from Porto on September 6 and/or 7 and then head to Lisbon. I understand that Lamego is having religious festivities on those days and that Viseu (which I understand is at least an hour away toward Lisbon) is having a festival. Do you know where I can get more info on eithwr event on those days? I would love to take a night or two for a great cultural experience or festive local atmosphere, but I am not sure which location would be better or whether it will be slow mid-week (tuesday or wednesday).

  25. Hi Julie! I am considering to visit the Douro Valley region for a self-guided day trip from Porto in August. Which scenic spots or towns in the region would you recommend that I visit?

    1. Author

      Hi Justin, If you’re doing it on your own as a day trip, the easiest thing to do would be to take the train from São Bento in Porto to Pinhão. From there, you can take a boat trip, visit wineries or take a transfer up to a viewpoint, possibly walking back downhill if that appeals to you. If it does, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with a company that can help with that.

      1. Any other town in Douro Valley which is easily accessible via public transport? Will be in Porto this early May for 5D4N.. planning to stay a night at Douro region and maybe a day trip to braga on the 4th day if it’s possible

        1. Hi Ivie, Régua and Pinhão are the easiest to get to. Take the train from Porto (approx 2.5 hours to Pinhão).

  26. Hi, Julie!
    Me and my boyfriend are planning a self guided walk in the Douro Valley from tomorrow. We arrive Pinhao tomorrow. Can you recommend a local tour operator who deliver maps and provides tips? Im getting a bit worried that it will be too hot for walking, do you have any thoughts on that?

    1. Author

      Hi Erika, I sent you an email 🙂

  27. Thanks for that, Julie. Yes, we do plan to go via the 101 and 222. It all sounds fabulous!

  28. Hi Julie, almost on our way to Lisbon, but a further quick request for suggestions! I asked you before about a stopover in Douro on way from Porto to Coimbra. We are booked in to Quinta da Rosa, Pinhao (sounds great) but are now going across to Aveiro before Coimbra. My husband is a bit concerned about the winding roads taking an absolute age but, should we see some more of the Douro beyond Pinhao/Favaios before leaving and should we continue as far as we can along Douro before hitting motorway to Aveiro, or take a minor road earlier because one or two have the ‘scenic’ green borders on our map?

    1. Author

      Hi Jayne, assuming you take the N101 and the N222 as you drive from Porto to Pinhão, you’ll get to see some rather spectacular scenery. It’s up to you, of course, but I think you’ll be fine with hitting the main roads on your way to Aveiro. The winding ones really do take forever so you’d be sacrificing time at your destination and I don’t think it’s necessary.

  29. Hi Julie, we plan a selfguided walking trip in the Douro Valley. Can you recommend a local tour operator who book the acommodations and deliever maps?

    1. Author

      Hi Jorge, I’ll send you an email 🙂

  30. Hello Julie. My partner and I are planning a trip to the Douro Valley in July. Ideally we would like to travel up the valley by train, from Porto, and base ourselves for four or five days in a nice hotel, with a pool, and fit in some visits to vineyards, river trips and walks. We’re currently looking at Pinhao where there seem to be great hotels, but am less clear that it’s possible to get to vineyards easily. What do you think about Pinhao for that type of trip? Can you suggest any alternative places to base ourselves. We could hire a car to get about, but find it more relaxing to be on a bus or a train – especially for wine tasting. Welcome any advice…!

    1. Hi Colin, we caught the train to Pinhao in 2012 and stayed at Quinta de la Rosa. Highly recommended. See my comments on here from Septmber 6 last year. Sue

      1. Thanks Sue – it does look good

  31. We are visiting Portugal in November. Is a drive still worth it or is it better visiting different towns in the north. Thanks.Michael

    1. Author

      Hi Michael, I’d say it’s worth a drive any time of year, unless it’s chucking it down with rain and your visibility is limited. The landscape is quite remarkable and most of the quintas offer wine tasting and tours year round.

  32. Thanks Julie, this info plus your blogs on Coimbra area I came across should enable me to sort out our 2 week trip in July between Lisbon and Porto. I’m right in thinking it never gets too hot in that area in summer to include some walking, aren’t I? Jayne

    1. Author

      No, Jayne. It’s hot everywhere in summer so walking is not the best idea. You might get away with it on the coast if there’s a breeze but there’ll probably no shade.

  33. Hi Julie, am already getting some good ideas about visiting the Douro from thr above. We are going to be in Porto in July (not the best I know!) and thought we might leave Porto to go to Coimbra via the Douro valley, spending one night somewhere along the way. Can we book a night at a quinta without getting involved in a wine tour? We’ve done quite a lot of that elsewhere and would rather concentrate on enjoying views and general feel of the area. Would leaving Porto one morning, ‘doing the valley’ (sorry) and aiming to arrive late pm the next day in Coimbra give us enough time? Jayne Riorden

    1. Author

      Hi Jayne, Yes, you can stay at any quinta with no obligation to participate in their wine tastings or tours. The question of time depends on what you want to see and do while in the Douro Valley but if you’ll be satisfied with scenic drives, stopping at viewpoints and maybe a village or town or two then yes, 1 overnight will allow you to do that. When driving from Porto, it’s worth leaving the A4 to take the N101 towards Mesão Frio. The roads are windy but the scenery is gorgeous. The N222 is also a great scenic road.

  34. my wife and i are going to be wandering portugal in may. plan 3 days in douro. is peso da regua a good base for day trips? thanks

    1. Author

      It’s probably the most convenient, in terms of transport and access to restaurants etc but not necessarily the prettiest option. Lamego is an attractive town and Pinhão is convenient, albeit small. If you have a car, you might want to stay at one of the quintas (wine producing estates).

      1. actually just getting ready to book at Quinta de Recião in the caretaker’s cottage. thanks

    2. We caught the train from Porto to Pinhao in June 2014 and stayed in Quinta de la Rosa. It was beautiful there. We could walk into the village for dinner, or eat at the Quinta, which had a lovely dinner for €25 a head, including wine. Pinhao was beautiful and we did some walks around the area too; the Quinta staff can help you with walking routes. It’s such a scenic spot, with amazing views of the Douro river and the views from the train are very beautiful.

      1. Author

        Hi Sue, thanks for the tip. I stayed in Pinhão last September, although not at Quinta da Rosa. It’s a beautiful part of the valley and next time, I will definitely be calling into the quinta.

  35. I have my heart set on stomping some grapes. We (5 adults) will be in Portugal (Lisbon, Douro) Sep 13 – Sep 20. What’s the best way to ensure we can stomp some grapes? We would love to stay at a Quinta/do a whole harevst day if possible but are also happy witha shorter stop over somewhere.

    1. Author

      Hang fire, Zoe. I’m writing a post about that at the moment. Should be ready in a day or two…

  36. Visiting the Duoro in May. Looking for a 2 day cruise where we can get off and visit along the way. Any particular cruises you recommend?

    1. Author

      Doura Azul have a good reputation but I don’t know if they have 2-day cruises. They’re more about week-long trips. http://www.cenarios.pt/ might be your best best. I can’t see any 2-day cruises but you could look at their Saturday/Sunday options and do one of each, perhaps, to create a 2-day trip. Otherwise, you’re looking at the shorter trips, usually departing from Regua / Pinhão.

  37. we are planning a trip to aporto and the douro valley in june. any must sees? we are hoping to drive some and use the train have you any advice?

    1. Author

      For scenic drives, the section between Mesão Frio and Peso da Regua is particularly stunning, as is the area around Pinhão, heading towards Favaios. make sure you do a vineyard tour at some point – there are many to choose from and if you end up staying in the Douro, it could well be on a wine estate. You should also visit at least one of the port wine cellars in Vila Nova da Gaia (across the river from the main city of Porto). For things to see and do in Porto, have a look at these articles: https://juliedawnfox.com/tag/porto/. If you want more detailed help with planning your trip, I offer various trip planning services so drop me an email to find out more ([email protected]).

  38. We are thinking about visiting Portugal and the Douro River Valley in particular in the month of September. Is there a better time of year to visit?

    1. Author

      Hi Judy, I’d say September is likely to be a great time to visit – in fact, I’m planning to be there myself. It’s harvest time so it should be colourful and you might be able to participate in the harvest if you want to. Check with the Quintas regarding their programmes at this time of year.

  39. Thank you for the information. I really want to visit the Douro Valley.

    What train station should we hop off when coming from Porto?

    Is there any good guide for one day train trip?

    Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Sam, you could get off at Regua to visit the Museum do Douro or take a boat trip. Pinhao is another popular stop with a pretty station and easy access to some of the wine estates and villages.

  40. Julie,

    Just came back from the Douro Valley. Loved it, and your tips and blogs gave us a bit of insider info. Really enjoyed the views from São Leonardo da Galafura. The drive back down which takes you to the damb crossing is pictoresque.

    Also the food at the DOC is lush (pricy but worth it).

    We will probably come back again.

    Thanks.

    1. Author

      Hi Stefan,

      Thanks for sharing the highlights of your Douro Valley trip. I’m really glad you enjoyed it and that you found my tips helpful. It’s definitely worth coming back for more!

  41. Hi Julie.
    Some advice please I understand that the douro river is closed from time to time by closed I mean the locks do you have any information on this ?? I think its around about March time as my Mum and dad have just returned from a non cruise cruise which didn’t go anywhere. Shame because from what I see here it is a fantastic place .

    Thanks Moira

    1. Author

      Hi Moira, I’m sorry to hear that your parents’ cruise was such a disappointment.
      Did the cruise company explain the problem to your mum and dad?

      1. Thank you for this. I have sent an email to the above and hope to get a reply. (fingers crossed) asking for the lock plan for the dates mum and dad were on the boat. No there was very little information given to them about why the boat couldn’t sail although we were lead to believe that the locks were closed until 29th March. I hope to find out if this is the case.

        Thank you once again for your help I just hope they are willing to give me the lock plan for the past few weeks.

        Thank you Moira

        1. Author

          You’re welcome. I hope you get to the bottom of it soon.

  42. We would like to visit the Douro next June to do some walks. The tour companies charge a lot of money just to supply you with maps. Is there any way we can obtain some maps of the walking trails that are in English, so we can organise our own accommodation and do some walks independently?

    1. Author

      Hi Sue, Sorry for the delayed response. It can be a bit tricky trying to get decent maps or information in English. If I find any pdfs, I’ll send you the links. Alternatively, some of the Quintas (wine estates) e.g. Quinta Nova and Quinta de la Rosa provide walking trails both on their property and in the area so that might be worth looking into.

      You could try contacting the tourist information office in Peso da Regua but I have no idea how helpful (or not) they will be:
      Telefone: 254312846
      Email: [email protected]

  43. The Douro Valley is one of the most picturesque places we’ve visited, and the vineyards and wine are a bonus. Can’t say enough good things about it. Guimaraes and Ponte do Lima are both worthy of a stop along the way. At least, we thought so. 🙂

    1. Author

      Aren’t they just?! Even more reason to keep going back for more 😉

  44. I absolutely loved the Douro Valley. We were lucky that it had been raining up until a week before our visit, so the vineyards were still very green.
    We drove through the Valley which had the benefit of sometimes driving right next to the water and sometimes way up on the hills. We got amazing views from different heights!

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