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Taking a Douro Valley day trip from Porto is one of the most popular ways visit the Douro wine region.

The Douro Valley sits to the east of Porto and it takes roughly an hour and a half to get here. This historic wine region produces port wine and table wines. With its terraced hillsides and lovely quintas dotting the landscape, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a joy to explore, even for those without a big interest in wine.

In this guide, we cover what you need to know to plan your day trip to the Douro Valley, both independently and by tour.

 

What is the Douro Valley?

The Douro Valley wine region, also called the Alto Douro, is the world’s oldest wine region. Archaeological evidence suggests winemaking in this region dates back to over 2,000 years ago.

The Douro River runs through this hilly, inland region of Portugal. Over hundreds of years, terraces have been constructed on the hillsides, giving the Douro Valley wine region its characteristic appearance of terraced slopes dotted with quintas and small towns.

The Douro Valley is the only wine region in the world that is legally allowed to produce port wine. Many of the grapes grown in the Douro Valley are turned into port, a fortified wine. This wine is usually sent down the Douro River to Porto where it is aged in the wine houses in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Where is the Douro Valley?

The Douro Valley is located in northern Portugal, about 120 km/75 miles east of Porto (by car it takes about an hour and a half to drive from Porto to the Douro Valley). This region is located along the hilly interior of mainland Portugal. The two main towns in this region are Pinhão and Peso da Régua.

Best Things to Do on a Douro Valley Day Trip

With one day in the Douro Valley, here is a list of the best things to do (see the full list in our Douro Valley Travel Guide):

  • Visit one or two wineries for wine tastings
  • Tour a winery
  • Have a gourmet lunch
  • Cruise the Douro River
  • Enjoy the views of the Douro River and terraced slopes

On a Douro Valley day trip, you have enough time to visit 2 to 3 wineries, have lunch, and do a short cruise on the Douro River.

Quinta do Tedo Douro Valley | Douro Valley day trip from Porto

Quinta do Tedo

How to Get to the Douro Valley from Porto

You can get to the Douro Valley by car, train, boat, and on a tour.

Having a car is the most convenient way to get to and around the Douro Valley. Unlike other parts of Portugal, it is challenging to get around the Douro Valley and to the wineries without a car.

If you don’t plan to rent a car to visit the Douro Valley, your next best option is to take a tour. There are a lot of tours that visit the Douro Valley on a day trip from Porto, which we will cover in more detail later in this guide.

Trains travel from Porto to Peso de Régua and Pinhão. It is a very scenic journey, with the train running alongside the Douro River. Tickets can be purchased on the Comboios de Portugal website.

By boat, you can travel from Porto to Pinhão, a journey that takes about 7 hours.

Pinhao Portugal | Douro Valley day trip from Porto

Pinhão, Portugal

How to Get Around the Douro Valley

The best way to get around the Douro Valley is by rental car. Since there is not much in the way of public transportation to get you to the quintas and wineries, having a car allows you to visit these wineries and travel on your own schedule.

Be prepared to drive a lot of narrow, winding roads. The main roads near Pinhão and Peso de Régua are wide roads that are easy to drive. To get to some wineries, you will drive up into the hills. These roads tend to be much narrower, sometimes just wide enough for one car in some spots, and very windy. However, these are also beautiful drives, with the views getting better the higher you go.

Douro Valley Day Trip: Best Tour Options

The easiest way to plan your Douro Valley day trip from Porto is to join a tour. These take care of your transportation, your reservations for wine tastings, and reservations for lunch. If you don’t have plans to rent a car and put in the work of planning the day trip, this is your best option for visiting the Douro Valley.

Another advantage of taking a tour is that you can taste as much wine as you like since you don’t have to drive between wineries or back to Porto.

On this full day tour from Porto, travel by bus, tour two wineries, have lunch in Peso da Régua, take a 1-hour cruise on the Douro River, and visit a viewpoint of the Douro Valley before returning to Porto. This is one of the most popular, highly rated tours of the Douro Valley and also one of the cheapest.

This tour gets near perfect reviews. It includes a visit to 2 small, family-operated wineries, a cruise on the Douro River, lunch at a family wine estate, and travel by luxury van.

This small group tour includes a visit to two premium wineries, a 45-minute cruise on the Douro River, and a three-course lunch. Travel by luxury van.

This is another small group tour that includes your transportation, visits to 2 wineries, a short cruise on the Douro River, and lunch at a winery.

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Douro Valley Day Trip by Cruise

For those who want to cruise the Douro River, you can travel to the Douro Valley by boat and then return by bus. This is a full day tour with most of your time spent on the boat.

Cruzeiros Douro offers a 1 day tour where you cruise from Porto to Pinhão (about 7 hours by boat), do a guided tour of a winery in Pinhão, and then return to Porto by bus.

Learn more here.

Douro Valley Day Trip: Self-Guided

By traveling independently, you have a lot more freedom to decide which wineries you want to visit and how to plan your day. It takes more work in the planning phase of your trip (we are here to make that easier for you 😉) but the reward is setting up your day exactly as you like it.

To visit the Douro Valley independently, you will need to rent a car for the day. There is not much in the way of public transportation here and the last I checked, Uber and Bolt aren’t operating in the Douro Valley.

Douro Valley Day Trip Itinerary

Here is a sample itinerary for a Douro Valley day trip by rental car:

Morning: Amarante or Winery in the Douro Valley

From Porto, it takes just under an hour and a half to drive from Porto to the Douro Valley. If you leave at 9:30 am, you will arrive in the region around 11 am, which is just about the time winery tours start for the day.

Amarante

On the drive, you will pass the tiny town of Amarante. This picturesque town is quick to visit with just a handful of things to see and do. Photographing Ponte de Sao Gonçalo, visiting the Church of Sao Gonçalo, and dining on a São Gonçalo pastry (a phallic shaped pastry) top the list of things to do here.

A visit here takes about an hour and is a good option for those who want to visit a Portuguese town and don’t mind giving up a little Douro Valley time.

Amarante Portugal | Douro Valley day trip from Porto

Amarante

 

São Gonçalo Pastry Amarante Portugal

São Gonçalo pastries in Amarante

Winery Tour

Your second option is to drive directly to the Douro Valley. Start your visit off with a tour of a winery.

Quinta do Vallado is one of the oldest wineries in the region and they offer tours throughout the day. On the tour, you learn about the long, fascinating history of Quinta do Vallado, see the old vines, tour the inside of the modern wine making facility, and do a wine and port tasting.

Quinta do Vallado Wine Barrels | Douro Valley day trip from Porto

Quinta do Vallado

 

Quinta do Vallado Wine Tasting

Quinta do Vallado wine tasting

Quinta da Pacheca is another option. This is another large, popular winery but the setting is gorgeous and their port is fantastic (one of our favorites that we tasted in the Douro Valley). See their website for tour options and to make a reservation.

Quinta da Pacheca View

Quinta da Pacheca

 

Quinta da Pacheca | Douro Valley day trip from Porto

Quinta da Pacheca

When making your reservation, note the start and end times of the tour, so you know when to make your lunch reservation.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: If you only have a day in the Douro Valley, I recommend making a reservation in advance for all of your tours and tastings. Without a reservation, you risk getting turned away if the winery is busy with tour groups.

Midday: Lunch

Sitting down to a gourmet lunch with spectacular views of the Douro Valley was one of our favorite experiences in the Douro Valley. We have two superb restaurants to recommend.

These dining experiences last 1.5 to 2 hours.

Bistro Terrace at Quinta do Tedo

This small restaurant overlooks the vineyard and Tedo River and it is run by Óscar Geadas and António Geadas, two brothers who were awarded a Michelin star in 2109. On the menu are fish, meat, and seafood dishes which can be paired with wine. Tim dined on beef cheeks that sat on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and I had a vegetable and mushroom dish. Both were extraordinary.

Bistro Terrace Quinta do Tedo

Bistro Terrace at Quinta do Tedo

 

Quinta da Tedo Bistro Terrace

Dining at the Bistro Terrace

We visited the tasting room after lunch for a port tasting. Make this reservation in advance as well.

Make your lunch reservation in advance here and your port tasting reservation in advance here.

Cozinha da Clara at Quinta de la Rosa

This is a larger restaurant than the Bistro Terrace at Quinta do Tedo but the food they serve is just as good. Cozinha da Clara overlooks the Douro River. Tim dined on Iberian pork with asparagus and truffled mashed potatoes and I had the sea bass. Everything was very good but the truffled mashed potatoes were simply amazing!!

For dessert, I did a port wine tasting and Tim opted for the chocolate tart. In total, our lunch took 2 hours.

Quinta de la Rosa Lunch

Sea bass at Quinta de la Rosa

 

Quinta de la Rosa | Douro Valley day trip from Porto

After lunch, you can tour the winery or move on to a new place.

Get hours, take a look at the menus, and make your reservations in advance on the Quinta de la Rosa website.

Portugal Travel Guide

Afternoon: More Wine Tastings

The downside of touring the Douro Valley independently is drinking and driving. The wine tastings and wine at lunch do add up, so if you are driving, you will have to forego some tastings or skip the wine at lunch.

In the afternoon, we have a few more wineries to recommend. You can visit one to two of these (or one already listed for the morning). If you choose one, you also have the option to add in a short cruise on the Douro River.

Quinta do Seixo

Quinta do Seixo has an extraordinary hilltop setting overlooking the terraced Douro Valley. The drive to get here is gorgeous. A narrow, winding road snakes its way up through the terraced slopes to the tasting room and winery, offering some of the best views you can get of the Douro Valley.

This is where the grapes are grown for Sandeman port wine.

Come in for a tasting or take a longer tour of the winery. Learn more about the tours and make your reservation in advance on the official website.

Quinta do Seixo | Douro Valley day trip from Porto

Quinta do Seixo

 

Sandeman Douro Valley

Quinta de Santa Eufemia

If you prefer to visit a smaller, less touristy winery, this is one to consider.

Quinta de Santa Eufemia is located in the hills above Peso da Régua. To get here, you will drive up narrow, winding roads and parking is a bit challenging.

This very small winery has a small tasting room and a beautiful tree covered patio with beautiful views over the Douro River. We did a tasting of their port wine, which were delicious.

Santa Eufemia Terrace

Quinta de Santa Eufemia View

The view from Quinta de Santa Eufemia

This winery has a relaxed, laid-back vibe to it and everyone who works here are extremely friendly and knowledgeable. The only downside is that they do not ship to the USA, since they are a smaller, less touristy winery. But you can take a bottle or two home in your luggage.

Make your tasting reservation in advance on their website.

Cruise on the Douro River

If you want to cruise the Douro River, you can take a 1-hour cruise on a Rabelo boat, a private tour on a Rabelo boat that gets excellent reviews, or take a private yacht cruise of the Douro River. The starting location for these tours is Pinhão.

Late Afternoon

In the late afternoon, return to Porto.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth day tripping to the Douro Valley from Porto?

For wine lovers, visiting the Douro Valley is worth it. Planning a Douro Valley day trip is easy to do and can be done by tour or independently. Tour several wineries, taste port wine and table wines, and have a gourmet lunch. This is a beautiful, historic region that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a nice break from sightseeing in Porto.

How much time do you need in the Douro Valley?

On the quickest of visits, the Douro Valley can be visited in a half to a full day, usually done as a day trip from Porto. This gives you just enough time to visit one or two wineries and add in an experience like a short cruise on the Douro River.

For a more complete experience, plan on spending several days and nights in the Douro Valley. This allows you to visit a handful of wineries, spend the night in a quinta, visit Lamego, cruise the Douro River, and dine at several spectacular restaurants.

Can you do the Douro Valley on your own?

Yes, it is very easy to visit the Douro Valley without taking a tour. If you have plans to rent a car, you can drive to several wineries, breaking up the day with a gourmet lunch. If you do not plan to rent a car, planning your day gets a little trickier, but it is possible to get around by train and by taxi. But for the best experience, plan on renting a car for your visit.

When are the grapes harvested in the Douro Valley?

The timing can vary from year to year, but grapes in the Douro Valley are generally harvested in mid to late-September. This is also the busiest time to visit the Douro Valley, so if you plan to visit the region in September, make your travel arrangements far in advance.

Douro Valley Vines October

Douro Valley in early October

Visit More Wine Regions Around the World

FRANCE: Spend 3 days on the Alsace Wine Route, visiting small towns like Colmar, Eguisheim, and Ribeauville.
FRANCE: Spend 10 days in the French Riviera and Provence.
ITALY: Tour the hill towns of Tuscany and visit Montepulciano, San Gimignano, and Pienza. Get the full list of things to do in our Tuscany Bucket List.
AUSTRALIA: Go wine tasting in Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale.
NEW ZEALAND: Visit New Zealand’s largest wine region, the Marlborough Wine Region on the South Island.
CHILE: Visit the wine regions around Santiago, Chile.
ARGENTINA: Explore the wine regions around Mendoza, Argentina.


If you have any questions about how to plan your Douro Valley day trip from Porto, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Portugal

DOURO VALLEY: Get started with our Douro Valley Travel Guide, which covers the essential things to know when planning a trip to this wine region. We also have a guide to 8 Wineries to Visit in the Douro Valley.

PORTO: Get started with our Porto Travel Guide, which lists where to eat, where to stay, and has lots of helpful tips for visiting Porto. We cover the best things to do in Porto in our Porto Bucket List. In our Guide to the Wine Cellars in Gaia, get recommendations on which wine cellars to visit and how to plan your time. See the best of Porto in our 2 Days in Porto Itinerary.

BRAGA & GUIMARÃES: These two towns are located in northern Portugal and make a great day trip from Porto. Plan your visit with our guides to Braga and Bom Jesus do Monte and medieval town of Guimarães.

BEST OF PORTUGAL: In our article Best Things to Do in Portugal, we list 25 amazing things to see and do in Portugal.

PORTUGAL ITINERARIES: If you are just beginning to plan your Portugal itinerary, take a look at our 10 Day Portugal Itinerary for five different ways to spend 10 days in Portugal. We also have a detailed 10 day itinerary that includes Lisbon, Porto, and the Algarve.

We have TONS more information about Portugal in our Portugal Travel Guide, including Lisbon, Sintra, Porto, the Algarve, and the Douro Valley.

Douro Valley Day Trip from Porto Portugal

 

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