When we think of the Douro, the idea of wine immediately comes to mind, as we are talking about the oldest demarcated wine region in Europe, officially created in 1756.
Not everything is wine, however, in the Douro. Although this has been the economic support of the region for centuries, it is worth remembering that we are talking about a region that is a UNESCO world heritage site. OK, even so, it is because of the wine, because all that scenery of terraces overlooking the Douro River and a secular system of cultivation of the vineyard that the region deserved the distinction of UNESCO. For this reason, the Douro is a region of exceptional beauty, to whom hardly anyone is indifferent, mainly because it is different from all other wine regions you know.
Besides wine, what other things can you do in the Douro? The best thing to do is to book with a tour operator, for a very simple reason: you can hardly go to the Douro and not drink wine. It will be good to have someone to drive for you and, especially, someone who knows the paths well. Contact our reservations team, through firstname.lastname@example.org. They will have the best solution for you. But what if you dare to go to the Douro on your own? What to do?
We leave here a short list of the 5 things not to miss in the Douro.
#1 Drive the EN222
What is so special about this national road, besides being considered, in 2015, as the best road in the world to drive? This road connects Vila Nova de Gaia, south of Porto, to the border with Spain, at the eastern end of the country, but the part that matters to us is that which connects Régua to Pinhão, the center of the region par excellence. There are about 20 Kms of road along the Douro where the pleasure of driving is combined with the beauty of the natural landscape. An indescribable feeling. And believe me, I do that almost daily in high season and I never get tired of driving there. In 2015, Avis created a contest to choose the best road to drive in the world and came up with a formula that combines surrounding natural beauty, 10 seconds in a straight line and 1 second in a curve. You can't go to the Douro and not drive or be driven here.
#2 Short cruise in the Douro
Right at the end of the route of the best road to drive in the world is the village of Pinhão, a picturesque and historic place, surrounded by the best wineries. From here, you can take a cruise on a typical rabelo boat, once with the function of transporting Douro wine down towards Porto and today converted into touristic boats. For an hour you may sail in the heart of the Douro, in a truly wonderful surrounding landscape where natural beauty blends with human intervention, in total harmony. There are several options to choose from, all at very attractive prices and any one of them will provide a memorable experience.
#3 Viewpoint of S. Cristóvão do Douro
You already know that the Douro is about wine but there is much more. What makes the difference between the Douro and the other wine regions in the world is the presence of an important river at its core, but also a landscape of altitude and rugged relief, which provides stunning and striking views. In the municipality of Sabrosa, a couple of hundred meters above the picturesque village of Pinhão, there is a viewpoint that offers breathtaking views over the Douro and the mouth of the Pinhão River, a tributary of the Douro. Follow Pinhão towards Sabrosa and cut right at the sign that says “S. Cristóvão do Douro ”. You will understand immediately where you have to stop. Other places with magnificent views are the viewpoints of Galafura, Casal de Loivos, São Domingos and S. Salvador do Mundo.
#4 Walking in the vineyards
We said that we wouldn’t include wine, but that doesn’t mean that we do not include the vineyards, where the wine comes from. Walking in the middle of the vineyards and understanding the different types, the different grape varieties, the state of ripeness of the grape, while the calm and comforting sound of nature surrounds us, is something you cannot miss. Many of our customers come with this idea in mind, for the memorable experience it represents. Many of the estates have specific tours and charge a small fee for a guided tour or an audio tour of their vineyards. Others, the smaller and more traditional ones, do not have an absolute rule in this regard and it is a pleasure and an honor for them that visitors have an interest and walk around in their vineyards.
#5 Eat locally
Speaking of northern Portugal and not talking about gastronomy is like “going to Rome and not seeing the Pope”, as a traditional Portuguese proverb says so well. The gastronomy of northern Portugal, and especially of the mainland regions, such as the Douro, is rich in flavours, aromas and traditions. If the presentation stands out, due to the delicious look that makes us grow water in our mouths and due to the abundant quantity, the flavour is something that is impossible to describe and only by tasting will we be able to discover for ourselves - and in the best way - all this wealth. Many of the wineries offer lunch, or even a picnic, on their farms, but there are plenty of places around the Douro, from the most refined to the more regional and traditional ones, where good food is the daily reality. Cabrito (young goat) and bacalhau (cod fish) are among the most popular dishes, but you’ll find out there is much more on offer, including sweet and rich desserts.
Our Douro tours provide any of these experiences described here, with the advantage ofbeing able to taste Douro wines and Port wine, while an experienced tour guide will be incharge of guiding you and driving you comfortably and safely. A day full of experiences thatwill certainly last in your memories.
Make your reservation here now and benefit from a 15% discount.