Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Douro Valley Portugal is the world’s oldest demarcated wine region. Nestled in Northern Portugal, the valley is known for its beautiful lookout points, charming villages and abundant wineries. About an hour from the city of Porto, the Douro wine region can easily be visited on a day trip or a long weekend trip while visiting Portugal. Viking River Cruises also offers an intimate longship journey through the Douro.
Table wine and port wine are produced here and shipped all over the world. Spend the day exploring vineyards, crushing grapes with your feet or sampling local wines. In addition to wine tasting, visitors can take a river cruise on the Douro River, go hiking and visit a natural park. Plus, be sure to explore the valley’s villages. Read about these activities, and more, with our roundup of the 6 best things to do in Douro Valley Portugal.
1. Visit a winery
A trip to Douro Valley would be incomplete without a visit to a winery. Quinta da Pacheca in Lamego sits in the heart of the Douro Valley. One of the region’s oldest wine estates, Quinta da Pacheca is a winery, hotel and olive producer all-in-one. Wine lovers can take a guided tour of the winery, book a tasting, go grape stomping, participate in an olive harvesting experience and more. The wine hotel features traditional guest rooms or for something a little more adventurous, guests can go glamping in huge wine barrels.
In addition, Quinta Nova is another hotel and winery that goes way back. Here, visitors can go wine tasting, take a wine-making class, enjoy a vineyard tour at sunset and order traditional Portuguese food at the winery restaurant. Plus, there is a museum associated with the winery that preserves its history.
Quinta do Seixo
Visit Quinta do Seixo for beautiful views over the valley. This winery is part of the Sandeman brand, a popular port wine producer. Here, visitors can have a picnic in the vineyard, take a guided tour of the estate or book a tasting. Quinta do Vale Meao is another famous winery. In the city of Vila Nova de Foz Côa, this winery is family-owned and a great place to learn about Douro Valley wine production.
2. Take a boat tour through the Douro River
One of the easiest ways to see the Douro Valley is from a boat trip down the Douro River, which stretches from the Soria Province in Spain to Porto. In fact, wine was traditionally carried down this river in Rabelo boats, long flat boats, recognizable by the long oar protruding from the back. The wine was then stored in Porto wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. Today, many boats make the same journey, this time carrying tourists as part of organized river cruises.
There are short boat trips that depart from Pinhão or longer ones that leave from Porto. Many tours include wine tasting and lunch. The longer tours from Porto typically make stops at some of the smaller villages along the river valley. Click here to select the right tour for you.
3. Go to a lookout
The Douro Valley is known for its amazing lookout points. São Leonardo da Galafura is one of the most famous lookouts. Here, visitors will be greeted by stunning views of terraced vineyards, rolling hills and the meandering Douro River. There is also a chapel and a picnic area.
São Salvador do Mundo is another breathtaking viewpoint. It’s perched at the top of a hill, and although you can drive up part of the way, you’ll have to walk the rest, but the views are certainly worth the walk. The Valeira Dam, open countryside, lush greenery, rugged slopes and the beautiful Douro River are all visible from the viewpoint.
The Miradouro de Casal de Loivos is another amazing place to soak up the Douro Valley’s natural beauty. It’s located near the village of Casal de Loivos and can be reached by car. From here, viewers can look over Pinhão, the Douro River and several wineries spanning the hillside.
4. Visit the Douro International Natural Park
Immerse yourself in the valley’s untouched nature while hiking in the Douro International Natural Park. This protected area is close to the Spanish border and features a deep river canyon, majestic cliffs, olive trees and many different animal species, including wolves, wild boar, cave bats and Egyptian vultures.
For panoramic views of the canyon, head to one of the park’s many beautiful viewpoints. Penedo Durão is the best viewpoint for birdwatching and Miradouro de Penha das Torres is a great place to see the sunrise. If you’re not sure where to start your adventure to the Douro International Natural Park, book a guided tour, such as this one with Ambieduc.
5. Visit the Douro Museum
Dive into the valley’s history at the Douro Museu or the Museu do Douro. Located in the small town of Régua, the museum is housed in a historic wine warehouse on the riverfront. Exhibits showcase the history of the wine-making industry in the Douro Valley, and its impact on the local community. In addition, you’ll learn about the geographical features of the valley and why these are so well suited for producing wine.
After exploring the museum, enjoy a glass of wine at the on-site wine bar. Visitors receive one complimentary glass of port or table wine with their ticket. For those based in Porto, the museum can be reached by train from the São Bento Station or through a boat tour from Porto.
6. Visit the small towns
When you’re not wine tasting or soaking up the views, explore the charming towns scattered throughout the valley. The town of Lamego boasts a beautiful historic chapel sitting atop a grand staircase. The chapel, called the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, was constructed between the 18th and 20th centuries. It features a variety of architectural styles, including Baroque, Romantic and Gothic. The outside of the chapel is decorated in stunning blue and white tiles, called azulejos. Lamego is also home to other historical sites and museums, located just down the hill from the chapel.
If you love azulejos, be sure to visit Pinhão train station, built in 1937. Pinhão is also centrally located, close to many of the most popular wineries, making it a convenient place to stop. There is also a historical train that stops in Pinhão. There is wine and often entertainment on the train.
The train departs from Peso da Régua, another popular town in the Douro Valley. Since many boat tours also depart here, there’s plenty to do for tourists. for example, walk along the Régua pier, check out the town’s churches and grab a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants.