If you are planning to go to Portugal, this is the perfect season to hop on a cruise and let them take you all the way through the Douro Valley. Established as World Heitage by Unesco, the Douro Valley is not only known by wine lovers because of Port and it’s table wines but also because of it’s landscapes.
Long and steep slopes carved by man throughout the centuries have turned the hills of the Douro River into something out of a fairy tale. There are two seasons in which it is trylly beautiful: Summer, for its shades of green contrasting with the blue skies and reflecting on the peaceful waters and in Autumn. To be honest, I prefer the latter. First of all, the hills are covered in orange, yellows and reds because of the vines. Also, you can actually go and help with the harvest.
Most of the beautiful manor houses have been turned into luxury B&B’s -especially through annexes, as the houses are still lived in by the original families who built them 400 or 500 years ago – and little Boutique hotels. This, and the famous Port wine, has launched the Douro Valley into one of the many luxury destinations in the world. There is also a cruise that goes up until Spain and takes 8 days. It should cost you as much as a 10 day cruise in the Caribbean, so you can only imagine the standards.
‘The Douro is a land of tradition, with a culture that is organically bound to its history, religion, agriculture and to the simplicity of its people.
It is also in this region that Port is produced. You can still visit the cellars in Porto and taste it. But the Douro is also the birthplace of many fine table wines which are now being empowered and more and more famous around the world.
So, if you decide to come to Porto, please take a day tour. You can buy a one day tour which will take you by boat up to the Douro Valley – passing through the damms which is a wicked experience too! – and return by train, whose line goes just by the water and gives you a staggering view to the hills and river. Or you can do it the other way around (which in my opinion is better because you have the sun setting when you get into town and the train is all warm and cosy in the morning). You can also not come back and spend the night, or just drive there. There is no motor way, so you have the zig-zag centuries old roads all along the river.
- How and when to explore the Douro valley (juliedawnfox.com)
- Quinta do Vallado: Revisiting an Old Friend in the Douro Valley (catavino.net)
- Portguese wine: expressing the terroir in the Douro Valley (telegraph.co.uk)
- A Tale of Two Portuguese Regions: Douro & Serra da Estrela Are Calling Part II (catavino.net)
- Day 5 (Douro River Valley) or I ♥ Douro! (casmat2013.wordpress.com)
- Exploring Portuguese wine villages in the Douro Valley (juliedawnfox.com)