The Douro Valley in Portugal is renowned not only for its exceptional wines but also for the breathtaking beauty of its landscapes, terraced vineyards, winding rivers, and charming villages.
The region offers some of the most scenic and picturesque roads, making it a delightful destination for road trips. In this article, I suggest a couple of scenic drives in the Douro Valley combining captivating views, unforgettable driving experience and wine tastings.
N222 - The Douro Wine Route
Often recognized as one of the most beautiful roads in the world, the National Road 222 (N222) follows the Douro River from its mouth in Vila Nova de Gaia close to Porto, to Almendra near Vila Nova de Foz Coa almost at the Spanish border,
The road goes through the south bank of the river Douro, which is the opposite side to where the Douro Valley train runs.
The N222 road is often called the Douro Wine Route as some of its most beautiful parts located between Peso da Régua and Pinhão, where you can find many of the Douro Valley wineries.
Between Peso da Régua and Pinhão, the road runs by the river and is quite flat but with some bends. I did not count, but the apparently, exactly 93 bends.
As you approach Pinhão, the road ascends into the mountains, unveiling a breathtaking spectacle of the Douro River and its terraced landscapes from an elevated vantage point. This climb provides an awe-inspiring panoramic view, allowing you to appreciate the beauty of the region from above. It’s a moment that captures the essence of the Douro Valley’s stunning scenery, making the journey to Pinhão a truly memorable and picturesque experience.
Just before you reach Pinhão the road ascends into the mountains, unveiling a breathtaking views of the Douro River and its terraced landscapes. There are countless photo opportunities along N222 in the direction of the town of São João de Pesqueira.
You can stop at various viewpoints including these:
N222 is a two lane undivided road. You have to look out when taking turns as the road may have quite many trucks especially during the harvest season. The N222 road is free of tolls.
Wineries to visit next to N222:
Quinta do Tedo is very easy to access as it is right on N222. You can drop in for a tasting or book a wine tour with them.
Quinta do Popa is right on N222 as well. Make sure to ask for appointment before arrival.
Ventozelo Hotel & Quinta offers tastings by prior appointment. There is also a restaurant and a wine bar on site.
See more on the Map of Douro Valley Wineries.
Excellent stays near road N222:
Restaurants along N222:
N323 - from Sabrosa to Pinhão
N 323 is one of the ways to reach Pinhão from the north when driving from Porto.
I usually make a pitstop in the village of Sabrosa, mingle with locals while having a coffee and a pastel de nata and continue on to the drive with the most dramatic landscapes and sharp turns.
The road has many bends, so you have to stay alert, but the views are incredible from here. There are several viewpoints with equipped parking places where you can stop for a minute and embrace the beauty.
With a quick detour, stop at the village of Provesende and walk its quiet old streets.
Wineries to visit next to N323:
Quinta do Portal. They also have a beautiful and modern restaurant onsite.
Excellent stays near road N323:
N323-3 from Favaios to Pinhão
National road N323-3 runs for the wine village of Favaios famous for its sweet nectar-like Moscatel wines, to Pinhão on the banks of the Douro River passing through the scenic Vale de Mendiz.
With many bends, this road is a bit narrow and not for the faint-hearted.
However, the views are excellent and there are very interesting stops on the way including the viewpoint Miradouro Vale de Mendiz, some of my favourite wineries in the Douro Valley, Wine & Soul and Quinta do Noval. I highly recommend stopping at either or both wineries for a tour and a tasting. Call them up for an appointment in advance.
After taking N323-3, have a relaxing lunch in Pinhão on the banks of the Douro Valley. See my restaurant recommendations here.
Tips for Navigating the Douro Valley Roads
Navigating the roads of the Douro Valley comes with its own set of considerations:
The majority of roads are two-lane and undivided. Be prepared for local drivers attempting to overtake you.
National roads feature well-equipped viewpoints, offering excellent opportunities to pause and take in the scenic beauty.
When relying on Google Maps, exercise caution. It might lead you onto very narrow, steep or mud roads. Explore your route options before following the directions to avoid unexpected challenges. If you are going to visit a winery or a restaurant, ask staff for the best way to access them.
Allow for additional travel time in the Douro Valley, as the roads often wind through the landscape, requiring extra time for a more relaxed and enjoyable journey.
See more tips in my article Driving in the Douro Valley.
For the best rental car rates check out rentalcars.com.
Should you need a private driver in the Douro Valley, get several quotes from independent drivers here.