In the north of Portugal, Porto and Douro are two complementary destinations, having in common the charm and delight of romantic locations and much more.
Porto is an old city which gave its name to Portugal and to a worldly known wine called Port wine. Besides its heritage value, it is interesting to discover its urban personality and its very unique human character.
Located by the mouth of the Douro River and with an architectural complex of extraordinary value, the capital of the north and the second city in the country has an attractive historical centre, classified as World Heritage since 1996, and a downtown area with businesses set up by new entrepreneurs, and a very interesting life.
In the old part of the city, admire the typical housing and the granite monuments. Take the tram towards the beaches, the ride along the river is quite romantic and an alternative to the famous boat rides under the bridges. Either one or the other experience will offer you a different perspective of the city.
Two days will also be enough to discover the downtown area and its pulsing city life, the movement, the intense commerce – for this is a merchant city – the baroque Porto – there are several buildings of civil and religious architecture – and the main attractions of its modernity – the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves with its lush, romantic and bucolic park, the avant-garde Casa da Música and the praised Metro do Porto.
In the heart of the historical centre, stay at Pestana Porto, with a view over the Cais de Gaia and the Port wine cellars, which you must definitely include in your trip. The hotel rests on the medieval wall of the city and it occupies part of a block of buildings that go back to the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
Alto Douro Vinhateiro
On the last day, visit Alto Douro Vinhateiro. Rent a car and head to the region that has been considered World Heritage by UNESCO – there are companies organizing one day cruises between Porto and Douro, but by car you will be free to map your own itinerary.
In the first demarcated region in the world, the centuries-old wine tradition has produced a remarkably beautiful cultural landscape. If you have enough time, it would be worthwhile taking the national road 108 in Porto up to Entre-os-Rios and proceed by the bank of the river Douro until Régua. Since you only have one day, go to Vila Real by motorway and then continue your trip through national and municipal roads, enjoying the richness of the surrounding landscape of the river Douro, with its slopes covered in vineyards.
In Vila Real, visit the medieval borough and the old part of the city, and finish your walk at the lush Parque do Município, next to the modern city. Climb to the top of Calvário, which offers a beautiful view over this city surrounded by mountains.
Still in the northern city, visit Casa de Mateus, known all around the world for being on the label of the wine Mateus Rosé, and the Mosteiro de Tarouca.
Flavours of the Douro
Hit the road in time to have lunch in Lamego. In one of the restaurants surrounding the Sé Catedral, taste the famous arroz de chouriço or the vitela assada à moda da terra. Visit the Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios.
In Peso da Régua, visit the Museu do Douro, where, besides seeing objects representing the history and development of the region, you can have a snack or enjoy a drink. Go up to the Miradouro de São Leonardo in Galafura and gaze upon the valley of the river and the Serra do Marão.
Discover the farms of the region – seek those adhering to the Rota do Vinho do Porto – and lose yourself in the pleasures of a Port wine chalice. There are several estates with their doors open to visitors for guided tours to their cellars, and some of them even have a shop. Near Régua, spend the night at the famous Quinta da Pacheca, one of the first farms to bottle wines with their brand. It is in a document dated April 1738, for the first time referring to the Quinta as “da Pacheca”, because its owner was D. Mariana Pacheco Pereira. By that time, the Quinta was a set of vineyards obtained over time from the convents of Salzedas and S. João de Tarouca.
For Porto, there are low cost flights, for example, from London (Stansted and Gatwick), Paris (Beauvais, Orly, Vatry and Charles de Gaulle), Marseille, Lille, Tours, St. Etienne, Bologna, Bordeaux, Lyon, Toulouse, Madrid, Barcelona El Prat, Tenerife, Valencia and Palma de Majorca.
Summer only, there are low cost airlines flying from Liverpool, Las Palmas, Carcassonne, Rodez and Nantes.
With regular tariffs, there are flights from London – Gatwick, Madrid, Barcelona and Paris – Orly.
From The Francisco Sá Carneiro International Airport, the best way to get to the centre of the city of Porto is by Metro. The trip will take approximately 30 minutes.
To the Douro, follow national road 108 up to Entre-os-Rios and continue along the Douro River to Régua - alternatively, you can take the IP4, which connects the districts of Porto, Vila Real and Bragança, and then continue on the national and municipal roads.