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Porto & Douro Valley

Portugal

Tomáš Safarik

Private Consultant
"Go there for the port, by all means — you will be seduced by the elegant wine lodges in Porto, the traditional wineries along the Douro Valley, and the quality of the wines you taste. But you don’t have to be a wine lover to love Porto and the region around it. There’s history, architecture, culture, nature. You can cruise down the Douro on board a silent electrical boat, and listen to hawk’s wild cry. You can tour historical towns, castles and monuments, to discover how the small Portuguese nation rose to greatness. You can see architectural history unfold as your guide shows you the many styles of buildings in Porto — then savour local gastronomy on a food tour. And who knows? You might even taste a few ports, and discover a new passion."

Explore Porto & Douro Valley

Porto, Portugal old town skyline from across the Douro River.

The main gateway into Porto and the Douro Valley is Porto Airport, which has direct flights to many European cities and to a few cities in the Americas. If you are already in Lisbon you can drive to Porto instead of flying — it’s just three hours on the road. Once there, the best way to explore the old city centre is on your own two feet, as the cobbled streets are narrow and winding. For longer distances you can use the town metro, or enjoy a private luxury transfer. When you travel into the Douro Valley from Porto, you can go by boat, car, train, or helicopter; and once there, the best options to move around are car, boat and bike.

Climate & seasons

Summer in Porto is hot, while spring and autumn are pleasantly warm. Winter is mild but quite rainy — Porto is one of the wettest European cities, and most of that rain falls in winter — so if you are looking for sunshine, this is not the best time to travel here. Should you want to experience the city in a festive atmosphere, time your trip to coincide with the celebrations of Saints Anthony, Peter and John, which happen from 13 to 24 June. If you are seriously into wine, and would like to take part in the Douro grape harvest, mid-to-late September is the time to come. Otherwise, we recommend you visit in late April and early May, or from mid-October to early November.

Where to go

In Porto, stroll through the old town — it’s a UNESCO Heritage Site — and walk over the bridges on the Douro. Check out the traditional azulejo panels of São Bento Railway Station, marvel at the neoclassical splendour of the Stock Exchange Palace, and visit wine lodges. If you love history, go on day trips to Braga, Coimbra and Guimarães — they are all important historical centres, and the latter is considered the birthplace of Portugal. In case you don’t mind a two-hour drive, Tomar is another town history lovers cannot miss. If you love wine, go into the Douro Valley to discover wineries and vineyards — and if not, go there all the same, to relish the peace and beauty of Portuguese nature.

What to do

Explore the town of Porto, learn about its history from an expert guide, admire buildings in various architectural styles – such as the romanesque and gothic Cathedral, the baroque Santo Ildefonso Church and the neoclassical Stock Exchange Palace. If you are in a romantic mood, cruise the Douro at sunset and have a candlelit dinner on board. Follow a local host on a food tour to discover petiscos, then go to wine lodges such as Taylor's and taste the best ports. In the Douro Valley, you can take a catamaran, and cruise downriver between imposing cliffs – or else, hike or bike the vine-clad slopes and watch river and valley from far above. Visit Douro Valley wineries to taste world-famous wines and learn how they are made – and if you come in September, you can also take part in the harvest. Take day trips to historical cities, heading north to Braga and Guimarães, and south to Coimbra and Tomar.

EliteVoyage Hotel Collection in Porto & Douro Valley

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