The Douro Valley could well be the most picturesque wine region of Europe. It is one of the top 5 most beautiful wine regions I have been to.
The Douro Valley was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 for its natural landscapes and cultural heritage related to winemaking.
The region has been producing wine for nearly 2,000 years.
In the 1700s, wine from this area was fortified with brandy so that it could be shipped to England without being spoiled.
This fortified wine became known as port wine.
In recent years, unfortified table wine-making has been overtaking the Douro Valley as a result of increased demand for dry reds.
DOC Douro dry red wines were inspired by Bordeaux. They tend to be deeply colored and full-bodied with a high level of ripe tannins and black fruit flavors. Douro Valley also produces white and rose wines.
How to Get to the Douro Valley?
Car, boat, train, or wine tour from Porto or Lisbon.
- A drive from Porto to Regua or Pinhão can take about 1.5 to 2 hours. There are tolls on A4/A24. Drive the most scenic route N-222, but be prepared for hairpin bends and winding roads.
- The train is easy to take from the São Bento or Campanha train stations in Porto. The train takes under 2 hours to Regua, and 2 hours 20 minutes to Pinhão. See my article Douro Valley from Porto by Train and the video below.
- Some companies offer boat tours up the Douro river.
- Take any wine tour from Porto. Most tours offer to pick up from your accommodation in Porto.
- Private transfer from Lisbon.
What is the Best Time to Visit the Douro Valley?
- April to October is a high season in the Douro Valley
- November to March is calmer. The winter months can be rainy and cold. Boat tours are limited during the wintertime. However, the rabelo boat tours from Pinhao still run.
- April and May are the most comfortable
- July and August can be very hot. Temperatures in the Douro Valley can be much higher than in the coastal city of Porto
- Leaves turn colors in late October and November
- Harvest is around the second part of September
Things to Do in the Douro Valley
- Get on a Douro river cruise in Pinhão
- Taste excellent Portuguese food in a restaurant with a view of the Douro Valley
- Taste DOC Douro wines at one of the renowned quintas
- Visit a port wine producer, e.g. Quinta da Bomfim
- Have a picnic at a winery with a view of the valley. Several wineries including Quinta do Seixo and Quinta da Roeda offers picnics like this.
- Stomp grapes in a granite lagare at a quinta. Quinta da Roeda has a special lagar for this experience.
- Go for a hike and picnic
- Visit Douro Valley Museum (Museu do Douro)
- Go kayaking
- Get on a wildlife tour
- Stay at a winery hotel
Douro Valley Grape Varieties
- Black: Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Cao
- White: Malvasia, Rabigato, Viosinho, Gouveio, Arinto
Food Pairing of Douro Valley Wines
- Dry reds: Beef, pasta, lamb, game
- Ruby port with chocolate, mature cheddar, and dates
- Tawny port with almond tarts, Manchego or Stilton cheeses
Which Wineries to Visit in the Douro Valley?
The most renowned wine estates (quintas) of the Douro Valley are located along the river between Regua and Pinhão within a couple of kilometers from the river.
You will need to call or email the wineries to arrange your tour or book your visit directly through getyourguide.com
Allow approximately 1.5 hours for each visit. It is important to correctly estimate the time to get to some quintas especially those further away from towns and up in the mountains as the roads may be quite difficult.
I plotted the location of popular quintas on the map of wineries in the Douro Valley.
Visit Douro Valley Wineries Without a Car
5 Best Douro Valley Wineries to Visit in Pinhao
Tip: You can get a discount on visits to some Douro Valley wineries including Quinta da Roeda – Croft and Quinta do Panascal and Quinta do Seixo – Sandeman with Porto Card.
Where to Stay in the Douro Valley?
If you have more than one day, I would advise you to stay a night or two at a hillside quinta, enjoy local hospitality, food, and wine, amazing views, walks among vineyards and olive trees, and the quiet of the valley.
Many quintas offer luxury accommodations and have gastronomic restaurants on-site.
At Quinta da Pacheca, you can stay in a huge luxurious wine vat/barrel with a view on vineyards.
Where to Stay in the Douro Valley
Douro Valley Wineries with Lodging
The Best Wine Hotels Near Porto
Guided Winery Tour and Wine Tasting with Cheese Pairing at Quinta da Pacheca, Douro ValleyQuinta da Pacheca, Lamego, Portugal
Wine Tour and Visit to the Wine Museum Centre at Quinta Nova, Douro ValleyQuinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo 5085-222 Covas do Douro Portugal
Douro Valley Wine Tours
If you don’t feel like driving around winding roads and booking your own winery visits, hop on one of the small group wine tours or a private wine tour from Porto.
Small group day tours would usually take you to a port producer and a table wine producer where you will be shown their wine-making process and taste all different wines. Most tours include traditional Portuguese lunch and an olive oil tasting. Many of these tours include the boat ride.
Private wine tours are an excellent choice when you want to go in your own pace, choose your activities, enjoy premium wines and a relaxed lunch at one of the gastronomic restaurants with a view.
A highlight of our stay was a 1-hour boat tour from Pinhao in a traditional “ravelo boat”. We saw the valley from the water and then stopped for lunch at DOC by Chef Rui Paola right on the Douro river, which was a fantastic experience.
Watch my video about the boat tour below.
Have a great tour!
If you are staying in Porto or visiting there do not miss the best wine bars of Porto.