Experiences departing from Porto to visit the Douro Valley
The Douro Valley: UNESCO World Heritage Site
Discover the history, wine, and beauty of the Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern Portugal. Explore the cultural landscape, vineyards, wineries, and unique tourism options in this enchanting valley. The Douro Valley is a region in northern Portugal, where the Douro River flows from the Spanish border to the Atlantic Ocean. It is famous for its wine production, especially the Port wine, which is made from grapes grown on the steep slopes of the valley. The Douro Valley was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001, for its cultural landscape and its long history of viticulture.
The History of Douro Valley
The history dates back to ancient times, when the Celts, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors inhabited the region. The first references to wine production in the area date from the 12th century, when the Cistercian monks established the first vineyards and wineries. The Douro Valley became internationally renowned in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the British merchants started to export the Port wine to England and other countries. The wine trade was regulated by the Marquis of Pombal, who created the world’s first demarcated wine region in 1756. During our Wine Venture & Boat Trip to Douro Valley we tell everything with detail.
The Weather in the Douro Valley Portugal
The weather is characterized by hot and dry summers, and mild and rainy winters. The average annual temperature is around 16°C, but it can vary from 5°C in January to 40°C in September. The climate is slightly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, the mountains, and the river, creating different microclimates and terroirs in the region. The rainfall is unevenly distributed, with more precipitation in the western part of the valley, and less in the eastern part.
The People and Cuisine
The people of the Douro Valley are known for their hospitality, resilience, and hard work. They have a strong connection to the land, the river, and the wine, which are the main sources of their livelihood and identity. They have preserved their traditions and customs, such as the folk dances, the religious festivals, the handicrafts, and the gastronomy. If you participate in a Douro Valley wine tour you will find a rich and diverse cuisine, influenced by the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, and the mountainous regions. Some of the typical dishes are the roasted veal, the codfish, the river fish, the smoked meats, the cheese, the bread, and the olive oil. The desserts are usually made with almonds, eggs, honey, and dried fruits.
The Wines of Douro Valley
The wines of the Douro Valley are the most distinctive and prestigious products of the region. They are divided into two main categories: the Port wine and the Douro wine. The Port wine is a fortified wine, which is produced by adding grape spirit to the wine during the fermentation process, stopping the conversion of sugar into alcohol and preserving the natural sweetness of the grapes. The Port wine is aged in oak barrels or bottles, and it can be white, ruby, tawny, or vintage, depending on the style and the quality. There are plenty of Wine estates who allow small groups for wine tasting in terraced vineyards. The Douro wine is a table wine, which is produced by fermenting the grapes until all the sugar is converted into alcohol. The Douro wine is aged in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks, and it can be red, white, or rosé, depending on the grape varieties and the winemaking techniques. Like the Port Wine, there are plenty of Wine estates who are also offering wine tasting for small groups of these category of wines. At BL Heritage Tours you find amazing wine tours in Portugal with big focus on Douro Valley. They are know as the best Douro valley wine tours from Porto. Please check their Viator, Google, Airbnb and TripAdvisor reviews.
The Wineries in Douro Valley
The wineries of the Douro Valley are called Quintas, and they are the places where the grapes are grown, harvested, and processed into wine. There are hundreds of Quintas in the region, each with its own history, architecture, and personality. Some of the most famous and oldest Quintas are Quinta do Noval, Quinta do Vesúvio, Quinta do Crasto, Quinta do Vallado, and Quinta do Bomfim. Many of the Quintas are open to visitors, who can enjoy guided tours, wine tastings, and accommodation in the rural houses or hotels.
The Douro River
The characteristics of the Douro River are the main elements that shape the landscape and the culture of the valley. The river is the longest in the Iberian Peninsula, with a length of 897 km, of which 213 km are in Portugal. The river has a variable flow, depending on the seasons and the dams, and it can be calm or turbulent, depending on the rapids and the canyons. The river is navigable from Porto to Barca de Alva, and it offers several options for tourism and leisure, such as cruises, boat trips, kayaking, fishing, and swimming.
The tourism and trends
The tourism options and trends in the Douro Valley are diverse and attractive, catering to different tastes and preferences. The valley offers natural beauty, cultural heritage, gastronomic delights, and wine experiences, as well as adventure, wellness, and romance. Some of the most popular activities and attractions are:
Visiting the historical towns and villages, such as Lamego, Pinhão, Peso da Régua, Vila Real, and São João da Pesqueira, where you can admire the monuments, the museums, the churches, and the local markets.
How the Tours can help you visiting the Douro Valley Region
Exploring the vineyards and the wineries, where you can learn about the history, the production, and the varieties of the wines, and taste the different styles and flavors.
Cruising along the river, where you can enjoy the scenic views of the valley, the bridges, the dams, and the Quintas, and stop at some of the ports of call, such as Régua and Pinhão. The BL Heritage Tours are focus on Douro wine tours, cultural tours, only small group tours, wine tasting and private tours Porto.
The Train Ride from Porto to Régua or Pinhão
Taking the train along the river, where you can travel on the historical railway line, which was built in the 19th century, and admire the engineering works, the tunnels, the stations, and the landscapes. You find tickets on CP Trains of Portugal.
Hiking and Biking in Douro Valley
Hiking or biking on the trails, where you can discover the nature, the wildlife, and the rural life of the region, and visit some of the natural parks, such as the Douro International Park and the Alvão Natural Park.
Where to stay in the Douro Valley
Relaxing at the spas and the hotels, where you can enjoy the facilities, the services, and the treatments, and pamper yourself with the local products, such as the olive oil, the honey, and the herbs. Experiencing the events and the festivals, where you can participate in the cultural, religious, and gastronomic celebrations, such as the harvest, the wine fairs, the Carnival, the Easter, and the São João. The Six Senses Douro Valley and The Vintage House Douro Valley are great references of the region.
The Enchanted Valley
The Douro Valley is a unique and fascinating destination, where you can find a blend of tradition and modernity, nature and culture, and wine and food. It is a place where you can immerse yourself in the history, the art, the flavors, and the emotions of a region that has been shaped by the river, the land, and the people. It is a place where you can enjoy the beauty, the magic, and the charm of the enchanted valley. When you visit Porto don’t miss the opportunity to visit this beautiful part of Portugal.