Best Day Trip To The Douro Wine Region In Portugal

2 Traveling Lovers

After traveling the world fulltime for the past seven months, we have a pretty good idea of what we like to do on day trips. Our plan for a great day trip includes nature, some history, wine, and fun. The Douro wine region gave us all that and much more.  Here’s our personal experience of the  “Best Day Trip To The Douro Wine Region In Portugal”.

Before we travel to any country, we do a ton of research on excursions, along with everything we would like to visit in each town. We hate wasting time while at our location or even worse, going on a boring tour. We came across a Douro wine region day trip from Oporto Sensations Tour called “Douro and Wine Tour” and thought we would give it a go. It got great reviews and had much of what we enjoy doing included in the day.

The drive from Porto to the Douro wine region is approximately an hour regardless of how you get there. We met our guide Pedro, in front of the Sao Bento Train Station in Porto, which is an 1800’s train station with beautiful tilework.

Our first stop was the small town of Peso Da Regu where we stopped for a quick coffee before walking across the river on an old Railway Bridge. Side note, after being in Europe for three months, I’m addicted to espresso now. I always thought it was comical watching people walk into a Cafe, order a cup of coffee that they held with two fingers, then finish it in one sip. Well, that’s me now. I’m that guy. 

After walking across the bridge, we hopped in the van and drove down to our first winery along the Douro river. Our driver told us this drive is the second most beautiful in the world, right behind the California coastline and it was beautiful. Coming from California, I thought it was an interesting ranking though. Who knows? We drove around the island of Naxos in Greece, and I thought that was the prettiest drive I’ve ever seen. I guess it’s all perspective. 

“You cannot make everyone happy, you are not a bottle of wine.”

Wineries, River Cruise, History, and Yummy Food

Marrocos was the first winery we visited, it’s along the river, and right away you could tell the views were going to be beautiful. This winery is 25 hectares and produces around 250,000 bottles per year with 22 varieties. The ground in the Douro wine region is shale stone, a slate-like metamorphic rock that helps with water retention. With port wines, you’re not allowed to water the grapevines, they pull all of their water from deep within the soil.  The vines thrive in these arid conditions. Shale also provides water and allows the roots to grow deep. Regardless, the shale rock is perfect soil for this type of grapevine, which is why the Douro Region has the best Port in the world.

Marrocos Vines are 90 years old, which was very interesting to us. The harvest is in September, and everything done at this winery is by hand. No machines are used, from picking the grapes to stomping them, it’s all done by humans, both men, and women. Our tour guide was telling us there are nine months in the region, and three months of hell. I think he was referring to how busy the wineries are during those three months, along with the heat in this area.

The wineries are rated from an A to an F grade, and this winery has a B, which supposedly is pretty good. If you’re interested in stomping grapes, you’re always welcome to come in September and try it out. From what we understand, only women are allowed to crush grapes, though. Another reason you might want to go in September is to see the gorgeous colorful countryside and grapevines. One way to take advantage of the hillside views would be a boat tour, which happened to be included in this tour.

Also, you will notice the hillsides are lined with olive trees. The reason for this is to divide one person’s land from another. I guess you would call them grape tree lot lines.

Difference Between Regular Wine and Port

Without getting into too much detail, the process of making wine and port wine is different, but simple to explain. With wine, the fermenting process after the grapes are crushed is a lot longer than port, and you don’t add alcohol. In regards to port wine, when the grapes are crushed (all by foot called treading), from start to finish the process takes up to three days. When the optimal sugar level is reached, they add a young brandy, which is a colorless and neutral spirit with 77% alcohol.

After the first winery, we made a quick stop in Pinhao to check out the train station murals, made from hand-painted tiles that depicted the history of the region. We found it to be a fascinating look back in time, and we enjoyed the stop.



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Lunch & A Riverboat Tour

Lunch

The next stop was my personal favorite, lunch. I’m not a foodie by any means, but I just loved the experience and the food. I thought it was interesting when our guide Pedro, explained that spending over an hour to eat lunch daily with other colleagues or friends was very common. They don’t believe in fast food, nor do they eat quickly and leave and it’s illegal to eat lunch at your desk at work. What do you drink with lunch? Wine usually. Another reason to love Portugal!!  The video attached gives you a really good idea of the food we had. The fish was delicious, and we learned how to properly eat it, as it came on a plate as a full fish, bones and all. The dessert was impressive. I personally really liked it. You’re supposed to drench it with port wine, but I thought it was good all on its own.  The lunch included a table wine in both white and red.

Riverboat Tour

Regardless of how you decide to discover the Douro wine region, don’t miss taking a boat tour on the river. The boat tour is where you get to experience the landscape and beauty of the Douro wine region from a different vantage point. If you have a chance to come in the fall, (Sept/Oct) supposedly the colors are stunning. With all the leaves changing color on the grapevines, we were told it’s truly a spectacle to be seen. Although we didn’t get to see the colors, we did get to see beautiful rolling hills, grapevines for miles, olive trees, hilltop homes, and wineries. It’s 100% worth a couple of hours of your day to have this experience. Our boat was an old, wine barrel transportation boat. It was pretty cool to sit in a boat that was used to transport port-wine many, many decades ago.

Douro Wine Region

Should you take a day trip to Douro Valley? Vineyards, views, river cruise and Port Wine will be involved.

Croft Winery in the Douro Wine Region

Croft Winery ( Our Final Stop)

Founded in 1588 Croft Winery is the oldest winery in the region. It continuously puts out some of the best ports in the area. We tried two different types of ports while visiting. I thought it was interesting when they brought out a port that was pink in color and explained they were trying to hit the millennial crowd. We were told it has been very successful, so I guess the younger generation is starting to enjoy port wine as well.

We had a tour of the Croft vineyards, learning about the production of the varieties of wine. We learned Croft winery has some of the oldest vines in all of the Douro region. Another thing I loved about this winery were the views; you could see boats passing through the river, vast picturesque vineyards, and I even took some awesome drone footage. It’s in the video if you’re interested.  If you are interested in checking I the drone I use and love click here.

When we look back on this day, it was one of our best day trips we’ve done so far. We learned a lot, and it was also a ton of fun. If I were to give one piece of advice, I would say visit in September or October and join in on the fun in regards to making the port wine. Do some stomping, take a boat ride and see the colors of the vineyards. These were two things we were not able to do (we visited in July) which we would have loved. It should also be a little cooler during that time in the Douro region. When we visited, it was probably in the ’90s temperature-wise.

Full disclosure:

Oporto Sensations Tours collaborated with us to do this tour, we try and be as honest and upfront as possible. When you go on as many tours as we do, the one thing that can often make or break a tour is the tour guide. In this case, Pedro was great! He was knowledgeable, interesting, and funny. The tour was well put together and thoroughly enjoyable.  We felt that Pedro really enjoyed his job, and it showed through his interaction with everybody on the tour. We don’t receive any monetary compensation should you decide to book one of the Oporto Sensations tours. All opinions are those of 2 Traveling Lovers.

In regards to the actual tour, it was everything we would expect and more. We felt that by the end of the day, we experienced everything the Douro Valley or region had to offer. We loved the variety of local culture, which included wineries, a river tour, food, and history.

If you are staying in the Porto area, we highly recommend Oporto Sensations Tours as a consideration for your tour company when visiting the Douro region. Regardless of what you decide to do if you do visit Porto, we highly suggest checking out the Douro region as it truly is a beautiful place with a lot to offer.

Things you should know before visiting the Douro wine region:

  1. The temperature in the Douro region is much warmer than Porto during the summer months.
  2. Bring a bottle of water, snack in a small backpack.
  3. Bring a drone if you have one, there are some great areas for footage.
  4. The boat ride DOES NOT include the water, beer, and wine. You will need cash to purchase.

VIEW IMAGES FROM THIS TRIP

Closing Words

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The drone we use is the DJ Spark with Remote Control Combo.  We like this drone because it’s compact, it’s effortless to take on trips, it’s easy to fly, and it shoots 1080p.  All of our drone footage on our blog posts and youtube videos are taken with this drone. We highly recommend it. If you are interested in checking it out here is the Amazon link:  Click here.             

Another item we use daily is our Primocean Backpack with an insulated cooler bag.  We use this as Christie’s carry on bag on the plane and as our cooler at our final destination.  We used to use a different backpack and we switched to this one because it’s better made of durable material with quality zippers.  We love this backpack!!  The cooler section is smaller; however, all the compartments and the quality of the backpack make it a much better choice for basically the same cost.  We wish we would have thought of this item a long time ago. If you are interested in checking it out here is the Amazon link: Click Here.  


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