Porto: Gateway to the Douro Valley
Most tourists visiting Portugal begin their journey in Lisbon, it’s capital city. Just a three hour train ride to the north lies Portugal’s second best known city, Porto. This city, aside from being marvelous on its own, is the gateway into the Douro Valley. This remarkable place is famous for its vineyards and port wine. Not to mention the fact that the valley is a treasured UNESCO World Heritage site.
To make sure we got the full Douro Valley experience, my husband and I booked a guided tour. This small group tour included port wine tastings at two vineyards, lunch (with plenty of wine included!), a boat ride in the Douro River and transportation to and from Porto. Our guide also threw in a bonus mini-tour of Amarante, a charmingly quaint Portuguese town en route to the Douro Valley.
Guided Wine Tasting Tour of the Douro Valley
Douro Valley Vineyards
There is no shortage of fine vineyards in the region, ranging from huge international companies like Croft or Taylor Fladgate to small, locally-owned and operated establishments. We visited one of each and imbibed on excellent port at both venues. Below are a few snapshots of our experiences:
Boat ride on the Douro River
After touring one vineyard and downing a scrumptious lunch, we were ready for a break! Fortunately, our tour guide was familiar with tourists and the effect mass consumption of port would have on us. He scheduled our boat tour right after lunch giving us all the opportunity to sit back in a port induced bliss as we watched the beautiful Douro Valley float by.
Douro Valley Tour Tips:
Here are our top tips for exploring the Douro Valley:
1) Take a Guided Tour: Let an experienced local pick out the vineyards you visit and arrange all the logistics for you. Your day will be much more enjoyable if you don’t have to concern yourself with these details.
2) Take a Boat Trip on the Douro River: The Portuguese sure know how to have a good time! Trust us, you’ll need a break between port tastings. What better way to relax than to experience how port was historically transported from the Douro Valley to Porto and then on to the rest of the world?
3) Let Someone Else Drive: Makes perfect sense for a wine tasting tour, right?! In order to get the biggest bang for your buck and enjoy your Douro Valley experience to the fullest, make sure you don’t have to get behind the wheel at the end of the day.
-Annie, Your Friend at Orange Backpack Travel