The Douro Valley is located in an area of Northern Portugal. At its centre the Douro river and the Valley consists of rich arable fertile wine growing land on its left and right river banks. We highly recommend you visit the area.The Douro river flows into the sea at Porto and its source is deep within Spain. Port wine production activities and the unique scenery sculpted by the Douro river and its tributaries are highlights not to be missed.
As you follow the Douro upriver the water becomes clearer and the air fresher. The hills that surround the river banks are hand sculpted with terraces lined with grapevines that produce the famous Port Wine and the other table wines of the region.
If your reading local literature or websites like www.goholidaylets.com they use very passionate poetic language is used to describe the locality. Phraseology such as “canvas that changes with the seasons”. If you research this beautiful area you will agree with most of the flowery sentiment written by locals. This is a particularly beautiful part of the world. With the amount of lush vegetation season changes will give huge variety to the landscape.
Particular comment is made of the almond trees in blossom, white and violet blend with the green of the trees. In the autumn, the hills and valleys are covered in a carpet of copper and browns.
The Douro has a number of tributaries that snake through this vast region. The river Sabor hurries through wild lands untouched by Human hands, the river Côa holds ancient treasures and the rivers Corgo Tua, Távora and Varosa encircle the heart of the wine-producing region. These are just a few examples of the Douro’s many tributaries that flow in harmony together.
The region is most famous for its wine growing and the side of the valley have been terraced to accommodate the cultivation of vines.
Douro is an internationally recognised wine-producing region. On a visit to the Portuguese Algarve on a self-catering holiday some years ago we were first introduced to Douro wine. A lady in a supermarket wine department recommended we try it and we had no regrets. In case some Algarvians are reading this article we have to say most Portuguese wine is worth a try. But Douro wine has unique characteristics and its colour, flavour and taste is excellent. The locals are clever, you can take part in the wine production process and participate in the grape harvest, which seems more like a celebration than work. This is definitely worth ago.
We will write a little about Porto maybe in a separate article but to explore the Douro you have to leave from the ancient city of Porto, where the river flows into the sea and where the Douro wines are produced on its hillside terraces, there are various ways to get to know this extraordinary landscape, listed as a World Heritage Site by road, by train, on a cruise boat and even from the sky. All will leave you breathless with the magnificent beauty of your surroundings. There various types of accommodation in Portugal, 5 star hotels, hostels and of course our preferred choice of self-catering accommodation. Both Porto and Lisbon has an array of self-catering holiday apartments within the area of both cities most will accommodate short stay.
Following a route between the viewpoints that offer the best vistas, you need to cross the river from north to south and back again. But along the way you can admire breathtaking landscapes over the river and visit vineyards, towns and villages until you reach Miranda do Douro, the point at which the river enters Portugal.
Start at Vila Nova de Gaia with a visit to the lodges where Port wine is aged. Take the opportunity to see the old rabelo boats on the river, the vessels that carried the wine from the quintas (which is a Portuguese farm) where it is produced to the mouth of river, before the various dams that made the river unnavigable were built. Before we go any further you might be interested in know a little more about the Rabelo boat is a traditional Portuguese cargo boat that for centuries was used to transport people and goods along the Douro River.
Native from the Douro region, it does not exist in any other place of the world. Its history is closely linked to the production and trade of port wine. Before the arrival of the railway, the rabelo was the fastest and the most efficient means of transport between the Douro Valley, where port wine is produced, and the city of Porto, where it was traded and exported world wide.
Although not in use anymore, still today the Douro River holds these vessels, belonging to port wine companies, in the cities of Porto and Gaia.
On the 24th of June each year, St. John’s Day, a race is held of Rabelo boats, an important and popular event of the festivities of Porto.
If you’re a fan of train travel, going alongside the Douro like in the early 20th century is an unmissable experience.
In this reencounter with the past, the stars are the steam and diesel carriages and engines which, travelling at 30 km/h, preserve the memory of a time when they provided the connection between towns and helped deliver the famous Port Wine.
You can follow the river on the Douro Line, between Régua and Tua. The Régua station was the most important in the region, and the Pinhão station is one of the most attractive in the country, with its tiled façades.
But you can also follow the Douro Line by regular train from Porto or combine a train and boat programme. You certainly have a number of options when deciding on away to explore this area.
South of Porto you will come across Fatima which is a huge place of pilgrimage for Roman Catholics. Further south you will arrive in Lisbon the spectacular capital of Portugal.
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