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Which Are the Main Towns for Wine Tasting in the Douro Valley?

Where to go in the Douro Valley? Pinhão and Régua are the main destinations for wine tastings in the Douro Valley

The main towns for wine tours in the Douro Valley are Pinhão and Peso da Régua (Régua).  

Pinhão and Régua are surrounded by terraced vineyards and hillside wineries where famous ports and dry wines of the Douro Valley are made.  Come here to taste wine, enjoy breathtaking landscapes and local gastronomy.  

Both riverside towns have railway stations and are easily accessible by car.

Pinhão

Pinhão colorful hillside terraces in November

Located in the Cima Corgo region of Douro, Pinhão is known as the heart of Portugal’s port winemaking

The small town is surrounded by terraced hills where grapes are grown for such famous port wine brands as Croft, Taylor’s, Churchill’s, and Graham’s.  

For centuries, port wines made in Pinhão were transported to the port cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia by Rabelo boats. 

Today, the riverside town is a sleepy place for the most part of the year.  

There may be not a lot to do in Pinhão itself, however, there are opportunities for wine tasting, boat tours, hiking, kayaking, or just wonderful gastronomic experiences all around the little town which enjoys some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes.

How to Get to Pinhão in the Douro Valley?

Pinhão can be reached by car, train, or bus from Porto.  

There are also boat tours and organized wine tours from Porto taking you to local wineries.

A view on Pinhao from boat

Pinhão by car

A drive from Porto to Pinhão will take approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes, and about 4 hours from Lisbon. 

For a longer scenic ride take national road N-222 which has 93 bends between Régua and Pinhão. It was called the world’s best road in 2015. 

Check local car rental rates at Rentalcars.com on your travel date. 

Pinhão by train from Porto

Another popular way to reach Pinhão is by train from Porto. A train ride takes approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes. Trains to Pinhão leave São Bento train station in central Porto five times per day.

See my article How to Get to the Douro Valley from Porto by Train for more details.

Pinhão by boat from Porto

Some companies organize day-tours up the Douro Valley valley by boat with a return by train or bus.

Pinhão with a wine tour

You can also visit Pinhão wineries with a Douro Valley wine tour departing from Porto.

What to Do in Pinhão?

There are quite a few things to see and do around Pinhão.

Wine and port tastings at local quintas, cruising the Douro River, kayaking, walking, grape harvesting, picnics, and fine dining. 

I can spend hours enjoying the tranquility and natural beauty of Pinhão just walking in the vineyards, watching sunsets and stargazing.

Winery visits in Pinhão

There are several famous wine estates/quintas around Pinhão accessible to the public.

You can walk to the wineries or take a taxi from the Pinhão train station.  

It is highly recommended to make advance appointments at wineries.

During wine tours, you will walk in famous vineyards, see lagares used for grape stomping, visit cellars, and taste port wines or dry wines.  

A picnic in a vineyard in a shade of an olive tree is a wonderful option at Qiunta da Roeda.  In my opinion, this estate producing famous Croft port, has the most beautiful vineyards around Pinhão.

Quinta do Bomfim – Wine tour and tasting

How to Visit Wineries in the Douro Valley?

Wineries to Visit near Pinhao

View on Quinta da Roeda vineyards

Wine tastings in Pinhão

In the town of Pinhão itself, you can find port tasting experiences.  

Head to Rua da Praia where wineries like Quinta do Noval offer guided port tastings.  You can have a flight or just enjoy a glass of chilled port.  My top choice is their ruby late bottled vintage port which is elegant and full of flavors.

A tasting of port at the bar of the Vintage House Hotel in Pinhão is also very special – excellent service, wines, and the most comfortable bar furniture.

Douro Valley – Beginning course at the Casa da Encosta, Pinhão

Douro river boat tour from Pinhão

Boat cruises run from the Pinhão docks – Cais do Pinhão – several times per day depending on the season.

The Rabelo boat takes you up the river for more amazing views of vine-covered hills and famous quintas.    

There are public and private tours to choose from.  During the busier summer months, I recommend booking your Douro boat tickets in advance.

Rabelo Boat 1-hour Guided Tour

Rabelo Boat 2-hour Guided Tour – this tour take you up to Tua

Private Rabelo Boat Tour along the River Douro

From Pinhão: Private Yacht Cruise along the Douro River

Watch the video I took on the Douro Valley boat tour in November.

Douro river kayaking near Pinhão

The Douro river is relatively calm.  

If you like the idea of river kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, check out these experiences:

Pinhão: 4 Hour Douro Valley Kayak Rental

Douro Valley Rabelo Boat Tour and Kayak Experience

Douro Valley hiking near Pinhão

Explore the area on foot and climb to viewpoints with the most beautiful landscapes in the world.  

Walk in the tranquility of vineyards and olive groves listening to birds and occasional train whistling.  

A certain level of physical ability may be required for the climb of the steep hills. 

The months of July and August may be quite hot in the Douro Valley. I love Douro Valley walks in April or May. From October to December, you will see fantastic fall colors peaking in early to mid-November.

Viewpoints near Pinhao:

Casal de Loivos 

Miradouro de São Salvador do Mundo

Walking tours around Pinhao:

Douro Valley Hike and Picnic

From Favaios to Pinhao Walking Tour

Walking in vineyards near Pinhao

Pinhão Train Station

The walls of Pinhão railway station are decorated with azulejo tiles depicting historic scenes of the winemaking industry and the Douro Valley living.

Access to the building and the platform is free.  

Best Restaurants in Pinhão

Cozinha da Clara

Cozinha da Clara is at Quinta de La Rosa, a winery and a hotel just outside Pinhãao.  The estate can be reached from Pinhão on foot in 15 minutes. 

At Cozinha da Clara, you will dine with stunning Douro River views.  Food and service are very impressive.  The restaurant is a bit higher priced by Portuguese standards but is definitely worth it.  

You can also stop here for a coffee or a drink and enjoy views from the terrace.

Cozinha da Clara regional dishes - roasted goat and seafood rice.

Veladouro

Veladouro in the town of Pinhão has a large terrace with a river view.  Great food, wine, and excellent welcoming service. 

Ventozelo

If you have a car, drive up the hill facing Pinhão for approximately 15 minutes and you will find Ventozelo Hotel & Quinta.

This restaurant gets very good views of the valley.  I have not made a visit yet, but their Reviews are convincing me to book lunch at Ventozelo soon.

Casa dos Ecos

Chef Pedro Lemos, a Michelin-star chef, opens a seasonal pop-up restaurant at Quinta do Bomfim, just a few minutes’ walk from the center of Pinhão.  

Fine dining experiences at Casa dos Ecos include evenings with music in the Symington vineyards and the opportunity to taste the recently bottled Dow’s Port produced from the estate’s grapes, as well as a tasting of rare and limited editions of other vintage ports.

Views from Cozinha da Clara restaurant terrace

Where to stay in Pinhão?

These hotels are the most popular in the town of Pinhão.

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If you have a car, these Douro Valley hotels near Pinhão are amazing.

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Peso da Régua

Peso da Régua, commonly known as  Régua, is a city of fewer than 20,000 inhabitants on the banks of the Douro River. 

The name Régua is believed to have originated from “Villa Reguela”, the name of the Roman town that once stood here.

The development of the town is connected to the growth of the Douro Valley port wine industry in the middle of the 18th century.

Like Pinhao, Régua is surrounded by terraced vineyards and wineries producing port winemaking.  

View on Regua in January

How to Get to Régua in the Douro Valley?

Régua by car

Régua is 357 km from Lisbon, 117 km from Porto.  If you travel by car, highways N2 and A24 cross Peso da Régua through the bridges over the Douro River.

The drive from Porto to Régua will take 1 hour and 30 minutes and approximately 3 and a half hours from Lisbon. 

For local car rental rates, you may check out Rentalcars.com.  There is also a private transfer option if you do not want to drive.

Régua by train

You can also catch a train from Porto and reach Regua in 1 hour and 50 minutes.

Train connections with Régua are easier than with Pinhao, which is only served by interregional (IR) Pocinho trains. Trains to Régua leave from Sao Bento and Campanha train stations in Porto more often.

View my article How to Get to the Douro Valley from Porto by Train for more details.

Régua by boat

Another way to reach Régua is on a boat cruise.  Here are some examples of tours offered by local companies.

Day Trip from Porto to Régua by Bus and Return by Boat

Boat Trip to Régua Through the Douro Valley with Breakfast and Lunch and return by train

A private yacht tour from Porto to Regua seems like an interesting option.

Régua with a wine tour

You can also visit Régua wineries on a Douro Valley wine tour departing from Porto.

What to do in Régua?

The area around Régua is worth visiting mostly for wine tastings, wonderful landscapes, and touring the Douro river.

Here are some ideas of things to do in and near Régua during your Douro Valley tour.

Régua arched bridges

The Douro Museum is a modern museum dedicated to the nature and cultural heritage of the Douro Region, a UNESCO World Heritage site.  

The museum is located in the restored 18th-century, Casa da Companhia in the town of Régua, 

The permanent exhibition “Douro: Matter and Spirit” provides a description of the history of the Douro region, the cultivation and harvesting of grapes on the steep hills.

There is a restaurant, a museum shop, and a wine bar, where you can enjoy a complimentary glass of port wine on a sunny terrace with a view of the Douro River.

Budget about an hour for the Douro Museum.  Adult tickets are 6 euros.

View on Régua from the Pedestrian Bridge

Ponte Pedonal Metalica de Peso da Régua is a wide and long pedestrian bridge over the river Douro.  

The bridge was originally built as a railway but was never used for that purpose.  

I crossed the bridge on a sunny day on my way from Régua to Quinta da Pacheca and enjoyed views of the town, the calm river, the famous arched bridges, and the surrounding landscapes.

Winery Visits near Régua

Quinta da Pacheca in January

Today, several wineries are open to the public for tours and tastings including the famous Quinta da Pacheca, Quinta do Vallado, and the wonderful family-owned Quinta do Tedo.

I recommend making advance appointments at quintas.  However, during the low season in January and February walk-ins might be are possible. 

The wineries are located a few minutes’ drive from the center of Régua.  If you do not have a car, you can get a taxi from the Régua train station.  

Although walking from Régua to quintas is an option, I do not particularly recommend it, as it would be on a side of a somewhat busy road.

In my opinion, one of the best things to do during wine tours in the Douro Valley is a picnic with views of vineyards. For example, Quinta do Tedo offers a scenic picnic in the vineyard, in addition to the standard  Winery Tour and Tasting.

These private and group tours from Porto include visits to wineries.

Private tour from Porto including a visit to Quinta do Tedo

This private Douro Valley tour includes a visit to Quinta Maria Izabel

More Douro Valley wine tour ideas are below:

The historical train of Douro runs between June and October between Régua and Tua. 

The train leaves Régua at 3:28 pm and returns at 6:26 pm.

The only stop is at Pinhão where you will have an opportunity to see famous azulejo tiles decorating the train station.

The 1925 steam locomotive pulls five historical carriages.  As the trains run on the edge of the water, it is a wonderful way to see the Douro river and the hillside vineyards.  

You will be offered a glass of port wine onboard.  A group of Portuguese singers accompanies the train, adding to the experience. 

I recommend buying the train tickets in advance as the train may sell out.

If you are visiting from Porto, I think a perfect itinerary would be to arrive in Régua before 11 am, visit a winery nearby and have lunch.  Then board the historical train, and catch a train back to Porto upon return to Régua.

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Landscapes

Near Régua there are several viewpoints worth stopping at.

São Leonardo da Galafura viewpoint is the most famous one and is a must for anyone visiting the Douro.

At the altitude of 566 meters, the Sao Leonardo viewpoint is on the place of a Roman fort that was ruled by Galafre.  There’s a church, a cafe and picnic tables near the viewpoint.  You will need a car to get here from Régua.

Other interesting viewpoints:

Santo Antonio viewpoint

From this viewpoint, you can see the town of Peso da Régua and the Douro River curve, the three bridges of Régua, and the dam of Bagaúste. 

Monte Raso Viewpoint

Cunca Valley Viewpoint

 

Restaurants in Régua

Castas e Pratos

A modern restaurant by the Régua train station with an impressive wine list, delicious food and attentive service.

Castas e Pratos is recommended by the Michelin guide.

Aneto & Table

Aneto & Table in Regua

Quality food and wine in a cool restaurant located just off the railway tracks.  Each dish is paired with their own wine.  There is a good choice of vegetarian dishes at Aneto &Table.

Restaurants near Régua

Quinta da Pacheca 

Quinta da Pacheca is a winery and a wine hotel across the river from Régua.  

The restaurant has a nice selection of local and regional food and exceptional service. 

DOC – Chef Rui Paula

Along the scenic road N-222, DOC is a restaurant at a stunning riverside location.  The gourmet menu is innovative and food is incredibly delicious. 

Where to stay in Régua?

Whether you are coming from Porto or from further away, it is always a great idea to stay in the Douro Valley wine country.

I would recommend staying at a winery near Régua.  What can be better than a morning in countryside with a view of vineyards and the river?

These hotels are the most popular in the wine country near Régua.  

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