Author: Ines Marinho.
Portugal: the jewel of the Atlantic Ocean. Among the many beautiful cities of this country, like Lisbon, Coimbra, and the region of Algarve, there is a ‘secret and magical’ place in the Northern region you should never forget to add to your bucket list: Porto. In this city, surrounded by the Douro river, you will be able to experience the local landscapes, astounding and flavorsome wine, qualitative local cuisine and inexpensive prices compared to other destinations of Europe. Located just 100 kilometers west of the city of Porto, there is the magnificent Douro Valley.
The inhabitants couldn’t be prouder of this region and its beauty. Besides being a green bliss, there are many vinicultures you can visit if you are an enologist, a casual wine enthusiast or just a curious traveler. However, this is one just one of the many reasons why you definitely need to travel to Douro.
1. Douro is an UNESCO site and the oldest wine region in the world
Since 1756 that Douro Valley’s vineyards are a demarcated wine region, making it the oldest in the whole world. Grape harvest and wine production are yet older, 2,000 years old, but this place only became UNESCO site with the support and hard work of people. The terraced fields on the sides of the Douro river are something you should experience by yourself and let pictures only make others jealous.
2. Participate in the harvest of Porto Wine
Porto wine doesn’t need any kind of introduction since it is so famous all over the globe. Porto is the place where it comes from, as the name tells, but these valleys are the origin of it. A large number of wine fans are attracted to this region Portugal since the 18th century. By visiting it, you are allowed to participate in the harvest and production on the sweet liquor.
3. Sleeping at the country estate
Many tourists choose to spend their holidays in the region because of the breathtaking surroundings. Many ‘farms’ and ‘residences’ allow tourists to stay on their local tourism buildings. A lot of country homes have more than 100 years old, which have been converted into bed and breakfast lodging. There you can rent a bike or engage in horse riding, to feel the breeze on your face as you pass alongside the river. Prices might be higher than other places in the region, but you only afford this experience, at least, once in life. So why not?
4. Plan a romantic boat trip along Douro River
Even though you can travel by the emblematic train of Douro, you can also choose traveling by boat. Douro River is the most romantic way to travel and there are many companies making the best deals for the trip of your dreams. This might be an idea for a romantic escape, a marriage proposal or a dating celebration.
5. The local Portuguese cuisine
Visiting Douro and not going back home, at least, 3kg larger is a waste. Don’t even dare to visit a country like Portugal on a diet. The local cuisine of the North of the country is everything but light. Ask the locals the best places to eat, to avoid the ‘tourist traps’. In most traditional restaurants you have plenty meat, fish and stew menu choices. Some of the travelers’ favorite dishes are grilled codfish, roasted suckling pig and octopus salad. Don’t forget also to try the famous dish Francesinha, another specialty of the North for the lovers of a perfect sauce, mixed with a kind of sandwich on the plate. If you are not hungry, have a glass of wine with some cheese and charcuterie. You won’t regret it.
6. Museums and history
Learn more about the culture, cuisine, and wine while visiting the local museums. The Douro Museum is located in a city called Peso da Régua and allows you to know the history behind the production, the taste and the variety of wine.
7. Bird watching area
The mountain landscapes of Portugal make the country a strategical place to watch birds a bit all over. You have places like Ria Formosa, Parque Nacional da Peneda Gerês, Serra da Estrela and Douro. In the Valley of Douro the chances of watching several birds of prey are high, including some endangered species. You will be likely to spot falcons, vultures, eagles, storks, and kites.
All of these reasons are more than valid for you to add Douro Valley to your future visiting places. Portugal is not only known because of Cristiano Ronaldo but also because of its history, wine, food, amazing sunny weather and all the mountains, beaches and forest landscapes. Prices are affordable but there are luxurious options for the ones willing to spend more. The Douro Valley offers hotels with breathtaking window views, where you will feel like you are waking up in heaven.