The Douro Valley is one of my favourite places to visit in Portugal it is a must for wine lovers. The Douro wine region is the oldest demarcated wine region in the world and has been a UNESCO World heritage site since 2001. It was originally mapped out in 1760’s, more than a decade before its nearest rival Tuscany. The Douro was originally demarcated for Port Wine. It was not until 1998 that further legislation was passed for the table wines of the region that made a clear difference between the two wines.
There are a range of options for travelling to the Douro including a boat trip from Porto, train and car options. It’s important to pick the one that best suits your budget and time available as well as personal preferences.
Travelling to the Douro Valley by car or train allows for greater flexibility and time to explore the different towns and villages along the route. The advantage is that more of the region can be visited than seen by a cruise boat.
It is possible to take a day trip from Porto to Douro Valley though we would definitely recommend you stay longer. To experience the region at a relaxed pace 3 -4 days would be ideal to visit Douro Valley. You can check our 3 day Douro Valley Itinerary here
Porto to Douro Valley by Car
The Drive from Porto to Douro Valley is about 97 km and takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes on the A4 ( Motorway). The distance from Porto to the Douro Valley takes a bit longer on the secondary road along the river. Douro Valley by car allows for the flexibility to stop at the attractions along the way such as the Miradouros (viewpoints) and visit wineries off the beaten track. However be warned that these roads are for experienced drivers only as they are narrow and windy and some can be quite steep.
For a particularly scenic route the N-222 linking Régua and Pinhäo was voted the world’s best drive in 2015. If you prefer to explore independently rather than take a tour this is probably the best option for you. The main disadvantage is that you won’t be able to drink during the day. It is easy to hire a car in Porto and to get the best price the earlier you book the better. To search, compare and save click here.
Porto to Douro Valley Train – Linha Do Douro
The train from Porto to Douro Valley takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes from Porto to the end of the Douro line at Pocinho. The Douro Valley train departs from São Bento and Campanhã Stations in Porto and a ticket costs €13.55 one way. It may seem like a long journey, but time will fly as the train clings to the riverbank with magnificent views of the Douro River and terraced vineyards.
From Régua the Douro line gets more interesting with breathtaking views at each curve. The final section between Pinhäo and Pocinho is considered one of the most beautiful train journeys in Europe. Porto to the Douro Valley by train is the cheapest way to get to the Douro Valley but bear in mind many of the wineries are not within waliking distance of the towns so you will have to factor in the price of a taxi if you plan to visit them.
An organised tour is a great option if you plan to do some wine tasting during the day and want to learn about the region from an expert guide. Discover some of the best tour options below.
Douro Valley River Cruise
A Douro Valley cruise can vary from a few hours to several days. Most boat trips on the Douro River include stops in the main towns of Régua and Pinhão. Some also include visits to vineyards for Douro Valley wine tours and tastings. This option is for those who like to move at a slower pace.
Pinhão and Douro Valley Day Cruise from Porto – This full day cruise from Porto to Douro Valley is a wonderful way to see the landscape from a different perspective. You board the boat in Porto and then travel to the Douro passing through a series of dams.
Breakfast and lunch are served while you cruise the Douro River and enjoy the wondeful scenery.
The boat arrives in Pinhão in the late afternoon and you’ll have time to explore this pretty little town. The return trip to Porto is by coach.
There are day cruises that take you as far as Régua but we would advise going as far as Pinhão. The river narrows after Régua and the views of the terraced vineyards become far more interesting.
Day Trips from Porto to Douro
Douro Valley Wine Tasting River Cruise & Lunch – This Douro Valley day trip leaves Porto early in the morning, your driver will pick you up at your accommodation to begin the journey to Peso da Régua. This will be your first stop of the day at a viewpoint to enjoy the views and take some photos.
The next stop will be at a wine estate where you will get to experience the winery and sample some Douro wines and Ports.
Then onto Pinhão for an hour’s cruise on a Rabelo ( traditional Portuguese boat) before lunch. After lunch you get to tour another beautiful vineyard and enjoy tasting their wines.
This is a very popular tour as it includes a visit to 2 of the best wineries in Douro valley, a trip on a Rabelo boat, lunch and an opportunity to view the scenery from 2 viewpoints.
Douro Valley Weather
The Douro Valley is glorious at any time of the year, but the end of Spring beginning of Summer or early autumn are probably the best times to visit. In September you can enjoy plenty of activities associated with the grape harvest. The summers in the Douro are hot and temperatures regularly exceed 30 degrees.
No matter how you choose to get there you’ll be sure to have a memorable time in the Douro Valley. Enjoy your trip and please come back and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.