Portugal’s Douro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s the country’s oldest demarcated region that produces both port and wines. Here are some of Portugal’s prime destinations for wine, port and world-class Old World charm.
A trip to the Douro valley is a must for wine lovers, whether you’re a fan of Port in particular or Portuguese wines in general. More than 2,000 years of winemaking have shaped this UNESCO World Heritage Site into a unique, vine-terraced destination dotted with wineries that welcome visitors with attractive tasting rooms, dining and accommodation options.
However, driving a car along the narrow, winding roads that make their way up the dizzyingly steep slopes is not for everyone. So why not let the train take the strain? A direct line runs up the valley, starting from Porto’s São Bento station in the city centre and ending near the Spanish border at Pocinho. The towns of Régua and Pinhão making good stopping off points along the way.
Before you board the train, take time to explore the city of Porto (Oporto to locals).
Lamego is a handsome town on the terraced slopes of the Douro Valley. Home to Portugal’s first parliament, it is brimful of noble manor houses and spot lit medieval monuments. As far as tourists are concerned though, its main claim to fame is an 18th century shrine, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies, flanked by twin bell towers. Back in the day, pilgrims climbed 600 zigzagging steps to reach this sanctuary nudging the clouds, but fortunately our coach did the journey for us.
We were here on a shore excursion courtesy of AmaWaterways – they include all their excursions in the fare which I think is a pretty good deal. We’d started our week’s river cruise a couple of days earlier in Porto – Oporto to the locals – the northern Portuguese terracotta-roofed coastal city that gave its name to the fortified drink.