A 1.5 hour drive inland from Porto, Portugal will take you to the majestic Douro Valley, one of the most stunning wine regions in the entire world! With a history of 2000 years of wine production, this UNESCO heritage site also happens to be the most ancient wine region in the world. If you’re looking for a day trip from Porto, it goes without saying that the Douro Valley is guaranteed to be an unforgettable and epic day.
The landscapes of the Douro Valley are a truly unique and breathtaking sight. Rolling green and golden hills, terraced vineyards clinging to the steep slopes leading down to a beautiful flowing river below, there is really no other wine region in the world that compares!
Your day trip from Porto to the Douro Valley will continuously leave you speechless and also have you pulling your camera out every 5 seconds (we seriously took hundreds of photos there.) After driving through the Douro Valley on our epic Portugal road trip, we fell in love with it and quickly added it to our list of places to return to.
Not only will you enjoy being surrounded by incredible scenery, it’s the perfect location to taste some world class wine! Although this region is famous for its Port production, we are not exaggerating when we say that the Douro Valley non-fortified red variety comes close to topping the list for the best wine we’ve ever had. If you’re a wine lover, the Douro Valley should be incredibly high on your bucket list.
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Day Trip from Porto – The Best Douro Valley Tours
There a few different ways to day trip from Porto to the Douro Valley and you can’t really go wrong with any of them. It all comes down to how you wish to spend your day. Taking an organized tour is an excellent option if you want to learn more about the area from an expert tour guide.
It’s also a good idea to book a Douro Valley tour if you’re thinking of sampling any of that wine! Below are some of the best Douro Valley Tours from Porto.
Douro Valley Wine Tasting, River Cruise & Lunch – Departing from Porto first thing in the morning, your driver will pick you up at your hotel and begin the drive out to Peso da Régua. This will be your first stop of the day where you will enjoy panoramic river and vineyard views and have a chance to take some photos.
The next stop of the day will bring you to the first wine estate where you will get to explore a traditional winery and sample some of the delicious Douro wines and Ports directly from the source.
The tour will carry on to the cute village of Pinhão where you will board a Rabelo wine boat and admire the breathtaking scenery of the this incredible wine region as you sail along the Douro River.
On your way to the lunch stop, the tour guide will take you to one more epic viewpoint. The day finishes with a tour of another beautiful vineyard where you will learn the history behind Douro wine production and enjoy a wine tasting.
This full day tour is by far the most popular Douro Valley tour option and for good reason. It includes 2x vineyard tours and tastings, 2x beautiful viewpoint stops, a scenic boat cruise and a traditional Portuguese lunch; one thing is certain, you’re going to have an amazing day!
Full Day Wine Tour With River Cruise – A highly-rated full day tour that will pick you up straight from your hotel in the morning. This day trip from Porto includes a stop at 2 Douro Valley wine estates where you will learn all about the production of Port while touring the vineyards and sampling the wine.
The tour will continue to the historic town of Pinhão where you will stop at a local restaurant for a traditional Portuguese lunch and more of that amazing Douro wine.
After lunch you will take a 1 hour scenic boat cruise that on a traditional Rabelo wine boat – these beautiful old boats were once used to transport wine to Porto from the Douro Valley.
Full-Day Douro Valley Vineyards Tour – This popular vineyard tour picks you up at your accommodation in Porto first thing in the morning and sets out to the Douro Valley in a comfortable mini-van. The first stop of the day is at a local winery where you will learn about the wine production while sampling some of their best wines and taking in the panoramic views.
Next, you will stop in the historic town of Pinhão to have a traditional lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, the tour continues with a scenic drive through some of the Douro Valley’s most beautiful locations.
Later on in the afternoon, the tour will take you to another local wine and Port producing vineyard. This is where you will learn all about the unique process of making that delicious Portuguese wine and Port. Before returning to Porto, you will enjoy a relaxing cruise on the Douro River and stop at a stunning viewpoint.
Porto to Douro Valley – By Car
If you prefer to have more flexibility on your day trip then we highly recommend hiring a car and setting out on your own adventure. We love the freedom of being able to choose where to stop and how long to spend in each place. The only downside is that the designated driver will have to watch their wine consumption 😉
Rent a car in Porto – Before setting off, you’ll want to head over to Rentalcars.com and do a quick search to find the best deal on a car rental. This is the website that we use for all car rentals no matter what country we travel in. Over time we have found that their insurance prices are the most reasonable, they have the best selection of providers and the best rates.
The most popular towns to visit in the Douro Valley are Peso da Régua, Pinhão, and Lamego, they are all relatively close together so they definitely can be seen in one day by car. All of them are surrounded by epic views so whichever ones you choose to visit, you won’t be disappointed.
At some point during your day trip in the Douro Valley, you should also check out some of the best viewpoints which I’ve listed below. Panoramic wine valley and river views make for perfect photo opportunities, you don’t want to miss out!
For a particularly scenic route, the N222 that runs between Peso da Régua and Pinhão was voted the world’s best drive in 2015. Running through those beautiful Portuguese villages and surrounded by impressive landscapes, it’s no wonder this is one of the world’s best drives!
A Fun Day Trip from Porto Option by Car
If you’ve decided to rent a car for your day trip from Porto, a fun option would be to drive out to the lovely town of Lamego, stopping at the famous São Leonardo de Galafura viewpoint on the way there. Spend a some time exploring the town (see below for highlights and recommendations of Lamego), and then drive to Peso da Régua on your way back to Porto.
Once you’ve arrived in Peso da Régua, head over to the Vasques de Carvalho winery and try their world famous Ports. After you’ve done that, make a visit to the Museu do Douro to learn all about the history of wine production and traditions of the Douro Valley.
Porto to Douro Valley – By Train
The train to the Douro Valley departs from one of the most beautiful train stations in the world: The São Bento Railway Station in Porto. Spend some time admiring the amazing azulejos (painted tiles) covering the walls of this historic station before your train departs.
Trains to the Douro Valley depart regularly and run from Porto to the small village of Pocinho stopping at Peso da Régua and Pinhão. The first portion of the train journey isn’t so spectacular as it passes through residential areas. As the train approaches and passes through Peso da Régua, you will be able to enjoy the scenic views as the route begins to run along the river.
The most spectacular section of the river lies between Pinhão and Pocinho and the beautiful scenery is visible from the train. This part of the railway line boasts absolutely breathtaking views of vineyards clinging to steep slopes along the winding river. If you wish to see this section by boat, you must board a boat cruise in Pinhão.
The Porto to Douro Valley train times can be found by clicking here. The cost of one ticket is €13.30 and you should note that there are multiple routes with different connections. Please see the website for the latest timetable.
A Fun Day Trip from Porto Option by Train
A fun day tripping option if you’re taking the train would be to catch the train from Porto directly to Pinhão. Spend some time exploring the town and then head over to the Quinta das Carvalhas winery which is a short 8 minute walk from the Pinhão train station. See below for more information on booking winery tours. You also have the option to take a 2-hour scenic boat cruise along the Douro River departing from Pinhão.
Later in the day, catch the train from Pinhão to Peso da Régua where you can spend some time checking out the famous Museu do Douro. In this museum, you will learn all about the history and wine culture of the Douro Valley. Before taking the train back to Porto, relax on the terrace outside of the museum with a glass of wine and take in your surroundings.
Beautiful Douro Valley Towns
There are a number of small towns and villages in the Douro Valley, each of them are as picturesque as the next. However the following towns are definitely the highlight of most people’s visit to this region and can all be seen within a day if you are driving. If you’re taking the train, it’s much easier to stick with Peso da Régua and Pinhão as these are both easily accessible via train from Porto.
Peso da Régua
This lovely little town is located on the banks of the Douro River surrounded by spectacular terraced slopes. Historically, Peso da Régua played an important role in the production of Port wine as the barrels were transported from this town by Rabelo boats to Porto where the wine was left to age.
Museu do Douro – Set on a terrace next to the river, this appropriately placed museum is where you can learn all about the Douro region’s wine culture and history. Take a seat at the wine bar just outside of the museum and have a glass of wine while taking in the scenery, because the best way to learn about wine is to do so while drinking it.
Port wine – Quite possibly the best place in the entire world to drink Port wine, Peso da Régua is the world’s oldest demarcated wine region. Port production in this area dates back hundreds of years. Naturally, you won’t be able to find a better place to learn about the history, production, fortification, and aging process of Port.
Located 25 km upstream from Peso da Régua, the small village of Pinhão makes a great base to explore the surrounding vineyards from. Pinhão has a lovely train station decorated with pretty azulejos and beautiful views around the riverside area but the town itself won’t take long to explore.
Scenic River Cruise – Besides touring the vineyards, a popular activity is taking a 2-hour boat cruise along the most scenic section of the Douro River. The boat cruise will take you out on a traditional Rabelo wine boat where you can enjoy a glass of Port as you learn about the region’s history while taking in the incredible scenery. Click here to book a boat cruise in Pinhão.
Pinhão Kayak Rentals – Spend a peaceful afternoon exploring the Douro River at your own pace. Kayak rentals are picked up from the pier in Pinhão and last up to 4 hours. This is a great option if you aren’t a fan of organised tours and prefer to admire the beauty of the Douro Valley at your own leisure. Click here to book your Douro Valley kayak rental.
One of the more beautiful of the Douro towns, Lamego is located 20 minutes by car or bus from Peso da Régua. It’s known for its stunning Baroque architecture and art, and of course its wine. There are a number of hotels in this area for those who wish to stay in the Douro Valley for longer than just a day trip. We stayed overnight in Lamego and had a great stay at the Lamego Hotel & Life.
There is currently no stop on the train line running from Porto. If you are travelling by train and would like to add Lamego to your day trip itinerary, you can take the train to Peso da Régua and catch the bus #58 from there.
Shrine of Our Lady of Remedies – Take a wander up the epic 600 step staircase and marvel at the detailing as you climb your way to the top. Once you get there, you will be rewarded with a beautiful Baroque style church perched on the hilltop along with a pretty nice view!
Lamego Castle – A small castle sitting on the highest point of the town with amazing views of the Douro Valley from the top. This castle is open to visitors every day from 10am – 6pm except for Mondays, admission is free.
Lamego Cathedral – Also known as the Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral dating back to the 12th century. It’s a big, beautiful old church with some fascinating history and a beautiful vaulted ceiling.
Best Viewpoints of the Douro Valley
You will find most of the best views just driving on the main highway that runs through the Douro Valley, by cruising down the river or taking the train journey. During our Portugal road trip, we had to pull over to the side of the road frequently to take endless amounts of photos – the view just keeps getting better!
Having said that, there are some spectacular view points that you shouldn’t miss out on if you’re driving through the area. Check out 5 of the best ones below, click the links to see the exact location on Google maps!
Vineyards of the Douro Valley
When it comes to choosing a Douro winery to visit, they all have one thing in common: they’re all set in a really stunning location, have delicious wines to try out and they are all surrounded by epic terraced vineyards. So at the end of the day, there is no wrong choice here.
Quinta de la Rosa – A small but beautiful wine estate located on a terraced vineyard overlooking the river, it’s one of the most famous vineyard stops for tourists visiting the Douro Valley and it’s easy to see why! Located only 2 km from the Pinhão train station, you can book wine tours and tastings as well as dine at the estate’s restaurant.
The Quinta de la Rosa is also a beautiful hotel featuring a pool, 12 rooms, as well as private apartments with private pools for those seeking more privacy. To find out more information or to book a room click here.
Quinta da Pacheca – One of the oldest estates in the Douro region, located on the opposite side of the river from Peso da Régua. Only 3 km from the Régua train station, this winery is easy to access and offers guided winery tours with lunch, wine and food tastings and just as you can imagine: it all comes with stunning views. Find more information about this winery here.
Quinta das Carvalhas – Situated on the bank of the Douro River facing Pinhão, this vineyard covers the entire hillside facing the river. It is one of the largest estates in the region and its origins can be traced back to the 18th century. It’s an 8 minute walk from the Pinhão train station making it perfect to add into a day trip from Porto.
They offer a Vintage tour of the estate, which is a guided tour taking you through the stunning property and finishing off with a tasting including a number of amazing wines from the region. Find more information about booking tours here.
Quinta do Crasto – Located on the bank of the Douro River between Régua and Pinhão, this winery dates as far back as the 17th century! It has been owned and run by the same family for the last century. Today, you can book wine tastings, port tastings, and meals with a beautiful view. Find more information here.
Quinta do Seixo – Offering stunning views over the Douro River, you can find this beautiful terraced vineyard on the way to Pinhão from Régua. There are more reasons to visit this 17th century vineyard apart from the views and that is, you guessed it: wine. You can book wine tours, wine tastings and even picnics in the vineyard! Find more information here.
Best Time to Visit the Douro Valley
The spring or summer is a great time of year to visit, the vineyards will be green and the weather will be very warm! If you want to see the beautiful vineyards change colour, late September/early October would be the best time for that. We visited in early October, we had no rain and the temperatures were up to 25°C during the day and cool in the evenings.
Planning a visit during the fall? Why not experience the grape harvest! Harvest season takes place from mid to late September and you can actually join by hand picking grapes followed by the ancient tradition of stomping on them. Harvest experience is offered at the Quinta das Carvalhas and Quinta da Pacheca wineries.
We hope this article has inspired you to visit this incredible historic wine region! Whether you decide to book a day trip from Porto or add the Douro Valley to your epic Portugal road trip itinerary, its beauty will leave a lasting memory. Like us, it may even end up becoming one your favourite road trip destinations!
Planning your trip to Portugal? Check out more of our detailed Portugal guides below!
- The Ultimate Portugal Road Trip Itinerary: From Porto to Lisbon
- The perfect 2 days in Porto – Complete Itinerary
- Day trips from Lisbon – The top 3 that you cannot miss!
- Spend an awesome 2 days in Lisbon – Complete Itinerary
- The top 20 most beautiful small towns and villages in Portugal for your bucket list!
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