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Your Guide to Portugal’s Wine Country • allé custom travel planning and travel inspiration

Welcome to the Douro Valley! The Douro Valley is the guts of Portugal’s wine nation. When you may be more acquainted with France’s Champagne region or Italy’s Chianti Street, Portugal’s Douro Valley is house to a few of Europe’s greatest wine, specifically their speciality Port, and just isn’t to be missed.

For over 2000 years, grapes have been harvested and wine has been produced within the Douro Valley. Winery boundaries have been laid in 1756, making this the oldest demarcated wine area on the planet.

However the Douro Valley is extra than simply house to fantastic wine. It’s considered one of Portugal’s most lovely natural areas, and a UNESCO World Heritage Website, for seasoned wine-lovers and novice wine-newbies alike to discover.

Where is the Douro Valley?

The Douro Valley or Douro region of Portugal lies on the Douro River in the Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro region. It’s situated in northern Portugal, close to the coast. The aptly named Porto metropolis is close by and a well-liked gateway for exploring the Douro Valley.

How do I get there?

There are a couple of methods to reach the Douro Valley. From Porto (which is a 3 hour drive from the capitol, Lisbon), you’ll be able to take a rental automotive, practice or day-tour to the Douro Valley.

By automotive, it’ll take 60-90 minutes to reach the Douro Valley and the drive along the N222 is claimed to be probably the most lovely on the planet. Veer off the N222, which runs alongside the river, from time to time to take in the views from above.

One other picturesque travel choice is to take the practice from Porto to Douro. The journey from Porto to Pinhão is beautiful and takes about three hours. Bonus tip: Sit on the right-hand aspect of the practice for the most effective views of the river and vineyards. In fact, should you don’t want to cope with navigating, longer practice rides or selecting stops, you possibly can all the time be a part of a day tour from Porto.

What to do within the Douro Valley

Take pleasure in wine experiences

Should you’re visiting the Douro Valley, you’re probably a wine connoisseur within the making. And the Douro Valley definitely gained’t disappoint when you’re wanting to study extra about wine and experience the production up shut and private.

Go to Quinta das Carvalhas (“quinta” is the normal Portuguese phrase for a rustic property) for his or her Guided Vineyard Tour. Study concerning the historical past of the Douro region and the production of wine at Quinta das Carvalhas via the eyes of one of many native staff who will walk you around the property. End your tour with a tasting paired with a cheese sampling.

For one thing actually distinctive, attempt Quinta Nova’s offering: Winemaker for a Day. For this special arms on expertise, not solely do you get to tour the the winery and vineyards however you truly get to create your personal wine mix. You’ll participate in blending, bottling, corking and labeling, and depart with a wine bottle of your personal creation. Bonus tip: Arrive early to uncover a number of the lovely walking trails around Quinta Nova.

Study more about wine with the Wine Course at Quinta da Pacheca. Guided by an oenologist, you’ll study concerning the technical elements of wine and dive deep into its research and creation. Take pleasure in a more thorough understanding as you pattern three Douro wines and three Port wines together with meals pairings.

Be a part of the harvest

In case you time your trip to the Douro Valley good (extra on that later), you’ll have the ability to take part on the annual harvest. There’s no better approach to immerse your self in Portugal’s wine tradition than by choosing and stomping on grapes!

At Quinta das Carvalhas, you’ll be able to take part within the Harvest Experience tour. You’ll take part in hand-picking grapes off the vine, a standard lunch on the roundhouse, a tour of the vineyard, lagarada (foot-treading of the grapes), and a wine tasting. How’s that for a full day wine expertise?

Observe: The harvest time modifications from yr to yr based mostly on weather, so it’s greatest to build in some flexibility on your trip if your heart is about on stomping grapes in the lovely Douro Valley.

Should you can’t make it for the grape harvest, why not be a part of the oil harvest? In addition to grapes, the Douro region can also be recognized for his or her olive manufacturing. Olive harvest takes place in the winter. So for those who occur to be visiting Portugal within the colder months, join in on harvesting olives and participating within the production of olive oil.

Take within the views

The first thing you’ll notice concerning the Douro Valley as you make your means there by practice or automotive is how beautiful it’s. This is the land of terraced vineyards, rolling hills and a ravishing river operating in between. Portugal’s seashores and cities typically get a lot of the love however the Douro Valley is claimed to be the nation’s crowned jewel by those within the know.

While in Douro, make sure to take within the view. A number of the greatest viewpoints embrace Ventozelo and the Miradouro São Leonardo da Galafura. For those who’re traveling by automotive, you’ll have the posh of stopping typically to admire extra of the natural panorama. As mentioned, the N222 was voted the most effective driving street on the earth, although the winding turns and cliff sides won’t be for everybody. However should you’re confident and experienced behind the wheel, you’ll be rewarded with a view that’s properly well worth the journey.

Another means to see one of the best of the Douro Valley? From above! Take flight with a helicopter tour of the Douro Valley for a view that’s actually out of this world. Depending in your price range and interests, you’ll be able to select a tour between 20 and 45 minutes that flies over Douro’s foremost sites, panorama or a tailored flight path with a cease for wine and food. Or set off in a scorching air balloon for even more beautiful aerial views of the Douro Valley, complete with a meal and wine tasting at an area quinta.

Boat down the Douro River

The satisfaction of the Douro Valley is the Douro River which runs proper by means of the center of it. So no trip to this part of Portugal can be full and not using a experience on the river. The Douro River is over 500 miles long and flows from the center of Spain, via Portugal, to the Atlantic Ocean. Again in the day, Port wine was floated down the river to be saved in cellars in Porto, so this river has a wealthy historical past within the area.

Nowadays, you’ll be able to experience the Douro River a number of methods. Hop aboard one of many luxury yachts for a day of personal boating, wine tastings and catered cuisine. Or ebook a number of nights on a river cruise that may permit you to spend extra time on the water. You may as well absorb water sports on the Douro River. Lease a canoe or kayak and paddle around the river and its many tributaries.

Go to a museum

Should you’re keen to study extra concerning the Douro Valley, ensure to cease in at the Douro Museum in Peso da Régua. Here you’ll study concerning the local tradition and historical past of the Douro Valley. Perceive the significance of native delicacies and wine, and the Port manufacturing course of through the years. Finish off your visit with a Port wine tasting – the easiest way to end off most activities within the Douro Valley.

Explore Parque Natural do Douro Internacional

Get off the crushed path and get again to nature by exploring the Parque Natural do Douro Internacional. This space of the Douro Valley is closer to the Spanish border and just isn’t as typically traversed, which suggests you might have this stretch of pure beauty to yourself. Take a river cruise, explore the driving routes or set out on one of many climbing trails.

Climb up to the Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios

For a special taste of life in the Douro Valley, you’ll need to visit Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios (Sanctuary of Our Woman of Cures) within the city of Lamego. This chapel, which took virtually 200 years to build, is located on prime of a hill and is a ravishing example of Baroque architecture. You possibly can drive to the chapel however most guests opt for the 600-step climb. Alongside the best way, you’ll see statues, fountains and other decor items on the staircases and terraces making the climb absolutely value it.

Bonus: Aspect journey to Porto

As Porto is the preferred gateway to the Douro Valley, it solely is sensible to spend a while in this northern Portuguese city. Porto is Portugal’s second largest metropolis, a historic centre of commerce and commerce, and greatest explored on foot. Stroll alongside Cais da Ribeira, Porto’s riverside, admire the Luís I Bridge, visit São Francisco Church and the Porto Cathedral, go underground to the Port wine cellars, and uncover the charming streets of Porto’s World Heritage metropolis middle.

What to eat and drink within the Douro Valley

In fact, you possibly can’t go to the Douro Valley with out planning to sample a number of the region’s famous Port wine. The production of robust and candy Port wine has been this space’s claim to fame for over 300 years.

At a typical tasting, you’ll take pleasure in a pattern of 4 kinds of Port varietals: ruby, tawny, white and a vintage. Your tasting guide will probably be in a position to walk you through the differences in production, grape and taste of every sort of Port wine. Take a look at this listing of Douro and Porto wineries that provide wine tastings, with many providing winery excursions as nicely.

As well as to its well-known Port wine, the Douro Valley also produces pink, white and rosé wines, in addition to speciality fortified and glowing wines. Wines distinctive to the Douro Valley embrace Moscatel do Douro, a fortified wine comparable to Port but using only Moscatel grapes, Espumante do Douro, a sparkling wine, and Colheita Tardia, a purple wine produced from mature grapes.

Nevertheless it’s not all about consuming in the Douro region; consuming is just as necessary. Northern Portuguese cuisine has had to step up its recreation to pair properly with the region’s well-known wines – and it has delivered. Heavy fare (assume numerous meats, fish and stews) is usually served right here. Well-known dishes embrace grilled bacalhau (salted cod), roasted suckling pig and octopus salad.

Luckily, most of the quintas that provide wine experiences also serve fantastic meals. Take a look at DOC Restaurante for Michelin-star dining with a view (get a seat on the terrace over the river). Head to Quinta do Panascal for a personal lunch in one among their wine rooms. Or picnic at trendy winehouse Quinta do Pôpa, complete with a picnic basket and a view to die for.

Where ought to I stay?

Whereas some favor to visit the Douro Valley on a day journey from Porto, for those who do determine to stay in a single day, you’ll be more than welcome. Most of the region’s quintas double as mattress and breakfasts. Get up to lovely rolling winery views, take part in wine production and tastings, and dine with locals – all without leaving your charming winehouse! There’s no higher means to immerse yourself in the Douro area than by staying at a standard quinta.

As well as to the quintas, there are also numerous inns and resorts within the Douro Valley. Most lodges can be situated in or close to the key Douro cities of Pinhão, Régua and Lamego. Some of our favourite places to keep in the Douro Valley embrace Quinta da Pacheca (the place you’ll be able to even sleep in a wine barrel!), Quinta do Vallado (with two picturesque wine lodge places to select from) and Quinta de la Rosa (a family-owned quinta with a brand new restaurant on-site).

When should I’m going?

Fortunately, there’s not a nasty time to visit the Douro Valley. There are all the time activities to do and lovely scenery to behold.

In the event you’re aiming to take part within the grape harvest, goal for mid to late September. This is additionally a lovely time of yr to hike or cycle in the region, as the autumnal colors are available and the weather begins to cool.

In the late fall, the orange and pink hues might be at their peak. And shortly after that, from December to February, the oil harvest shall be in full swing. Take part on the harvest and different vacation celebrations if visiting through the festive winter season.

Within the spring, you gained’t find a way to assist with the harvest but you’ll witness lovely blooms on the hillside. You’ll also see a lot of exercise in the vineyards as the employees prepare for the annual crop. With snug temperatures, spring is another pretty time to visit when you’d like to do extra outside exploring.

In the summer, anticipate vibrant sunny days and the temperatures that include them. Be certain to plan some breaks and time indoors when you’re visiting the Douro Valley in July or August.

How long do I want to go to?

While the Douro Valley may be visited on a day-trip from Porto, we advise dedicating a few days to this beautiful area. You possibly can journey by way of the world on a multi-day cruise or plan a street journey together with your rental automotive. In case you’re on the lookout for a soothing outing in nature, lovely views, delicious food and a chance to immerse yourself in wine nation, there actually is not any better place than the Douro Valley.

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