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The Douro Valley is the oldest wine region in the world. Located in northern Portugal, it can be visited on a day trip from Porto or you can plan a longer stay here.

In this guide, we cover the best things to do in the Douro Valley, the best wineries to visit, where to have a gourmet meal with a view, and several great hotels and resorts to choose from.

Let’s get started.

Cool Facts about the Douro Valley

The Douro Valley wine region is the world’s oldest wine region. Winemaking in this region dates back 2,000 years, to a time when the Roman Empire ruled over this part of Europe.

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 in 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.

The Douro Valley wine region is also called the Alto Douro. Wine from the Alto Douro has a DOC classification (Denominacao c aquiggle second a squiggle de Origem Controlada), the highest wine classification in Portugal.

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 a UNESCO World Heritage Site, because of its long history of producing wine and unique terraced slopes.

National Highway 222 Douro Valley

The Douro Valley

Where is the Douro Valley?

The Douro Valley is located in northern Portugal, about 120 km/75 miles east of Porto. 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 Time to Visit the Douro Valley

In the Douro Valley, the weather is hot and dry in the summer and cool and wet in the winter.

The best time to visit the Douro Valley is during the grape harvest season, which occurs in September. The timing can vary from year to year, but the grapes are generally harvested in mid to late-September. Our visit was from September 29 to October 3 and we had just missed the grape harvest.

The months of May and October are very nice times to visit the Douro Valley, when the weather is pleasant and crowds are relatively low.

In the summer, the Douro Valley gets hot. Everything I read online listed average high temperatures of 26°C/79°F, but on the tours we took of the Douro Valley, we were told it’s not unusual for summertime temperatures to climb above 38°C/100°F.

During our visit at the end of September into October, the temperatures were 35°C/95°F, which we were told was not unusual for that time of year. Rainfall during the summer is extremely low, so you can also expect clear skies.

Winter tends to be cool and rainy. Most of the rain falls between October and January.

Douro Valley Vines October

In early October, the leaves are just beginning to change color.

How to Get to the Douro Valley

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, such as this tour that includes a visit to two wineries and a short cruise on the Douro River.

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.

How to Get around the Douro Valley

As stated, 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 Portugal

Best Things to Do in the Douro Valley

1. Visit the Wineries and Quintas

Without a doubt, visiting a winery or two is an essential experience to have in the Douro Valley.

Wineries range from huge estates that cater to large tour groups to smaller, family run quintas. Some sit right on the Douro River (such as Quinta de la Rosa) and others are located high in the hills (such as Quinta do Seixo).

At these wineries, you can take a tour (most tours last 1 to 2 hours), do a tasting, have lunch or dinner, and at some you can even spend the night.

Best Wineries in the Douro Valley

We spent several days exploring the Douro Valley. Here is a list of our favorite wineries in the Douro Valley. For the full list, plus a lot more information about each one, refer to our article Best Wineries in the Douro Valley.

Quinta do Tedo: Dine at Bistro Terrace, a restaurant run by two brothers who are Michelin-starred chefs and taste their exquisite port in the tasting room.

Quinta do Tedo Douro Valley

Quinta do Tedo

Quinta do Seixo: This is where Sandeman grows their grapes. It is a larger, more touristy winery but the views are incredible from its hilltop setting.

Sandeman Douro Valley

Quinta da Seixo

Quinta de la Rosa: Dine at Cozinha da Clara, an excellent gourmet restaurant with breathtaking views of the Douro River.

Quinta de la Rosa Douro Valley

Port tasting at Cozinha da Clara, Quinta de la Rosa

Quinta do Vallado: One of the oldest wine producers in Douro Valley, this is a great place to take a tour to learn more about the winemaking process in the Douro Valley.

Quinta de Santa Eufemia: This small, family run estate produces wonderful port. We loved the casual, laid-back atmosphere and the views from their outdoor terrace.

Quinta da Pacheca: This is a larger estate that produces fantastic port and table wines.

Quinta da Pacheca

Quinta da Pacheca

2. Cruise the Douro River

Taking a scenic cruise along the Douro River is one of the most popular things to do in the Douro Valley.

Douro River Portugal

Your options range from a short, 1-hour cruise on a rabelo to the almost full day cruise that runs from Porto to Pinhão.

Take your pick between this one-hour small group cruise, this one-hour private rabelo cruise, and this two-hour cruise, all of which leave from Pinhão.

On a hot summer day, this private yacht cruise is a good option as well and it gets fantastic reviews.

If you plan to visit the Douro Valley on a day trip from Porto, this tour includes a one-hour cruise of the Douro River.

3. Go for a Scenic Train Ride along the Douro River

Traveling by train to the Douro Valley is one of the most scenic ways to get here. The train travels along the Douro River, a journey that takes just over 2 hours. Once in Pinhão, you can rent a car to get around the Douro Valley.

4. See the Blue Tiles at Pinhão Train Station

The outside of the Pinhão train station is covered with beautiful azulejos, or blue and white tiles. 24 panels depict the production of port wine, including the grape harvest and scenes of the rabelo boats transporting the wine to Vila Nova de Gaia.

Pinhao Train Station Blue Tiles

Pinhao Train Station Azulejos

5. The Régua Metallic Bridge

This bridge, also called Ponte Metalica da Régua, spans the Douro River at Peso da Régua. It was originally constructed in the late 1800’s, under guidance of the Eiffel team.

More recently, it was converted into a pedestrian bridge. It’s worth a quick stroll across the bridge for views of the Douro River, if you will be in Peso da Régua (but I don’t think it is worth going out of your way to see this bridge).

Peso de Regua Bridges Douro Valley

The pedestrian bridge is to the left

6. Drive along National Highway 222

This comes up on several to-do lists in the Douro Valley. It is popular since it is known as being an incredibly scenic drive along the river.

National Highway 222 runs along the southern side of the Douro River. It twists and turns along the hilly slopes, at times diving down and running right alongside the river. We did not drive the entire stretch of this road, but our favorite section was near the Six Senses Douro Valley. Here is the view:

Things to Do in Douro Valley Portugal

Once you get east of Peso da Régua, the road runs right alongside the river, so it’s not as scenic of a drive as the portion of the road located west of Peso da Régua.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: There are also numerous viewpoints, or mirodouros, located along the roads in the Douro Valley. Some of the most popular are Miradouro de Nossa Senhora do Viso, Miradouro Sao Leonardo de Galafura, and Miradouro Sao Cristovao.

7. The Douro Museum

Learn about the history of wine making in the Douro Valley. This small museum is located in Peso da Régua and overall, we thought it was just okay. If you also have plans to visit Porto, we recommend visiting the Wine Experience, a museum that is part of the World of Wine (WOW). This museum is a lot more interesting and informative.

Douro Wine Museum Photo

Douro Wine Museum

8. Our Lady of Remedies Sanctuary

This church and shrine, also called Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, is located in Lamego. Climbing the steps of the Baroque staircase is the main reason for visiting Lamego. Like Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga, this shrine is an important pilgrimage location in Portugal.

There are 686 steps to climb, if you walk the full length of the staircases. For a small fee, you can enter the church to see its gold leaf altar and blue tile murals on the walls (no photography allowed) and climb the tower. It is free to climb the staircase.

Our Lady of Remedies Sanctuary Lamego

Our Lady of Remedies Sanctuary


Our Lady of Remedies Sanctuary

Lamego Steps Douro Valley

9. Castle of Lamego

This medieval castle sits on a hilltop in Lamego. It is free to enter and quick to visit.

For the best view, climb to the top of its one tower and then walk the castle walls.

The views are nice but not nearly as good as those that you will get from the drives to the quintas and wineries in the Douro Valley. If you are short on time, this is skippable but if you are here with kids, they may enjoy visiting the castle.

Lamego Castle

Lamego Castle


Lamego Castle View

The view from Lamego Castle

Best Things to Do in the Douro Valley: On a Map

How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each point of interest. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

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.

Portugal Travel Guide

Sample Douro Valley Itinerary

We spent four days in the Douro Valley, which gave us plenty of time to visit the wineries, visit Lamego, and have a day of rest and relaxation.

Here is our itinerary. You can easily shorten it by taking out the spa day (but I have to admit, that just may have been my favorite day).

Day 1: Travel from Porto to the Douro Valley. We had a rental car, so we visited Amarante, a small village, on the drive, spending about an hour in town. Once in the Douro Valley, we had lunch at Quinta do Tedo. After lunch, we visited Lamego and then checked into our hotel, the Six Senses Douro Valley.

Day 2: Spa day at the Six Senses. We usually are go go go when we travel but every so often, it is great to have a reset, a day of rest and relaxation. The Six Senses is amazing, and it was wonderful spending the day here, going to the spa, and topping it off with dinner at the hotel.

Day 3: We checked out of the Six Senses (we could only get a reservation for two nights) and checked into Quinta da Pousada (a lovely quinta in the hills above Peso da Régua). Afterwards, we visited Quinto do Seixo (Sandeman), had a late lunch at Quinta de la Rosa, and had a port tasting at Quinta da Roêda (Croft). We had dinner at Quinta da Pousada.

Day 4: We ate lunch at The River in Peso da Régua, toured Quinta do Vallado after lunch, and then visited Quinta de Santa Eufemia and Quinta da Pacheca for wine and port tastings. This got to be a bit rushed but it was our last afternoon so wanted to squeeze as much in as possible. I’m really glad we were able to visit these two wineries. We ended the day with dinner at the Six Senses.

Day 5: From the Douro Valley, we drove southeast, through Penedono and Serra Estrela Nature Park, ending in Belmonte.

When planning your itinerary, a typical day could go like this: tour a winery in the morning, make a reservation for lunch, and in the afternoon visit one to two wineries for another tour or tasting. Make a reservation for dinner. In two days, you can visit up to six wineries and have several great meals, so two full days allows you to experience quite a few places in the Douro Valley.

Pinhao Douro River Douro Valley

Pinhao and the Douro River

Where to Eat in the Douro Valley

Bistro Terrace at Quinta do Tedo. This small restaurant is run by two brothers who have earned a Michelin star. We ate lunch here which was amazing. 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. They are open for lunch and dinner. Get hours, see the menu, and make your reservation in advance on the official website.

Quinta da Tedo Bistro Terrace

Dining at Bistro Terrace

Cozinha da Clara at Quinta de la Rosa. If you want to dine on gourmet food with a view of the Douro River, have lunch or dinner at Cozinha da Clara. Tim dined on Iberian pork with asparagus and truffled mashed potatoes and I had the sea bass. Get hours, take a look at the menus, and make your reservations in advance on the Quinta de la Rosa website.

Quinta de la Rosa Lunch

Sea bass at Quinta de la Rosa

The River. Located in Peso da Régua, we ate lunch here and had a very nice experience. They were relatively quiet midday so it should be possible to have lunch here without a reservation. See the menu and make a reservation on The Fork.

The River Peso de Regua

The River


Octopus Douro Valley

Dining at The River

DOC – Chef Rui Paula. This Michelin-starred restaurant is located between Peso da Regua and Pinhao. It has a spectacular setting right on the Douro River. See photos of the restaurant, take a look at the menu, and make your reservation in advance on the official website.

Vale de Abraão Restaurant – Six Senses. This gourmet restaurant is part of the Six Senses. We ate dinner here two nights, dining on the outdoor terrace. The food and the setting were phenomenal, as was the service. You do not need to be a guest of the Six Senses to dine here but you will have to make a reservation in advance.

Six Senses Outdoor Dinner

Dining at the Six Senses

Where to Stay in the Douro Valley

There are A LOT of highly rated properties in the Douro Valley, ranging from luxury resorts like the Six Senses to small quintas and casas. You also have the option to stay at a winery like Quinta do Vallado or Quinta da Pacheca.

Six Senses. For the ultimate in luxury, look no farther than the Six Senses. This beautiful property is tucked away in the heart of the Douro Valley. From here, it is a short drive to Peso da Regua and many of the wineries. This newly renovated 19th century manor house has been converted into a spa retreat in the Douro Valley. It has a world class spa, a swimming pool, wine bar, several onsite restaurants, and impeccable service. We spent two nights here and would not hesitate to stay here again on our next visit to the Douro Valley.

Douro Valley Portugal

Six Senses


Six Senses Building

Six Senses

Quinta da Pousada. We spent two nights at this lovely quinta, a mid-range property that gets exceptional reviews. Quinta da Pousada is located in the hills above Peso da Régua (about a 15-minute drive). They offer a variety of double rooms plus a 2-bedroom apartment. We stayed in the apartment, which is in its own separate building. The views from the private patio are stunning and this makes a great pick for families who want a little extra space and access to a pool.

Quinta da Pousada Douro Valley

Quinta da Pousada. There are multiple buildings on this property. We stayed in the building with the orange roof which also has an outdoor terrace with gorgeous views. The apartment is the top level of that building. This photo was taken from near the main building of the property.


Quinta da Pousada Terrace

The terrace of our apartment.


Quinta da Pousada View

The view from our terrace.

Casa do Romezal. Spend the night in a Douro Valley house, surrounded by vines. This gorgeous property sits on a hilltop, offering breathtaking views of the Douro Valley. Take your pick from their standard rooms, deluxe suites, bungalows, and villas. This property gets exceptional reviews. Be aware that children are not allowed.

Quinta do Vallado Wine Hotel. Nestled amongst the vines at Quinta do Vallado, this modern hotel gets fantastic reviews. Rooms range from standard double rooms to suites. Enjoy the view from the panoramic swimming pool, walk the trails on the property, or visit the spa.

Hostel Douro Backpackers. If you are traveling on a budget, this hostel gets exceptional reviews. It is located in Pinhão, so it’s easily accessible by train.

The Wine House Hotel – Quinta da Pacheca. Stay in an oversized wine barrel nestled in the vines of Quinta da Pacheca. There are also traditional rooms available in the newly renovated 18th-century manor house.

Quinta da Pacheca Wine Barrels

The Wine House Hotel

Quinta de la Rosa. Quinta de la Rosa is one of the Douro Valley’s most famous wineries. Their onsite restaurant is amazing and they also run a small hotel which gets wonderful reviews.

The Vintage House. I had trouble narrowing down the list of properties in the Douro Valley (there are just so many cool properties that have high review scores). I couldn’t leave this beautiful property off of the list. Located in Pinhao, this is a former 18th-century wine estate that was converted into a luxury hotel. It sits right on the Douro River so the views from this property are fantastic.

Is the Douro Valley Worth Visiting?

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the oldest wine region in the world. Visiting the wineries and quintas to taste port wine and table wine tops the list of things to do here, but seeing the terraced slopes covered with vines, cruising the Douro River in a rabelo, and spending the night in a quinta all make a visit here very worthwhile. For wine aficionados, this is one of the best places to visit in Portugal.

Tim Croft Wine Tasting

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Can you visit the Douro Valley without a tour?

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.

How many days do I 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 at least two days and two nights in the Douro Valley. This allows you to visit a handful of wineries, spend the night in a quinta, visit Lamego, and dine at several spectacular restaurants.

Do I need a car to visit the Douro Valley?

A car is not absolutely necessary to visit the Douro Valley. There are many tours from Porto that take care of your transportation. You can also get around by train and by taxi. However, for the most freedom and flexibility, it is best to rent a car for your time in the Douro Valley, especially if you plan to spend more than one day here.

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 visit to the Douro Valley, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to 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.

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.

NAZARÉ: Nazaré is famous for its enormous waves, making it a top surfing destination in the world. Learn more about this coastal town in our Guide to Nazaré.

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


Douro Valley Travel Guide Portugal


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