Best Douro valley tours, picked by a local guide

If you have decided to go to the Douro Valley but don’t know how to choose between the hundreds of…

Sara Riobom
25 de June de 2024

If you have decided to go to the Douro Valley but don’t know how to choose between the hundreds of Douro Valley tours available on the market, then this article is for you. Here, I am going to teach you:

  • The criteria you should use to choose a douro valley tour provider.
  • What are the best douro valley tours available in the market at the moment.
  • How to make the most of your day in this fantastic region.

Why you should trust me: I have been a Douro valley tour guide for the past 9 years, so I know the region as the palm of my hand and hence I can give you insider information that no other blogger can 😉

No time to read a long article? Here’s a summary:

The main criteria to decide on which tour to book is A) do you want a group OR a private tour? and B) what is your budget for the day? Based on your decision, these are the best options:

Best Douro valley tours: what you need to know before booking one

This is a very detailed article, if you want you can use this table of contents to navigate it:

Why visit the Douro valley?

couple viewpoint

There are plenty of reasons to visit the Douro valley:

  • It is simply one of the most stunning wine regions in the world.
  • It is where the famous Port wine, enjoyed by the likes of Winston Churchill, is produced.
  • Besides Port wines, it is where some of the best European still wines are made.
  • It is just 1h30 / 2h driving distance from Porto, so it makes for a perfect day trip.
  • Even if you don’t enjoy drinking wine, there is plenty of other things to do, like joining a 1h river cruise in a traditional rabelo boat or visit one of the cute little towns like Lamego and Ucanha.

Why book a Douro valley tour?

portoalities private wine tour douro valley
Me on one of our Private wine tours in Douro Valley 🙂

It is perfectly possible to explore the region on your own (my father-in-law, who is not Portuguese, just did that a few weeks ago), but there are some advantages to exploring the douro valley with a tour guide:

  • You don’t need to worry about driving in the windy, narrow roads of the douro valley.
  • You don’t need to worry about drinking & driving afterwards (a generally stupid idea, my friend).
  • Hopefully, you will have a tour guide that has a deep knowledge not only about the Douro valley per se but also about the fantastic Ports & still wines of the region.
  • If you book a Douro valley group tour, you will meet like-minded travelers, making for a fun and engaging day.
  • You don’t have to worry about booking the wine tastings, the river cruises, the lunch spot… yes, because the douro valley is so popular these days that it is a very dumb idea not to make all the bookings in advance.

Criteria to choose the best tour for you

There are hundreds (literally hundreds, I am not exaggerating) of Douro valley tour providers, so it is quite difficult, if you don’t know the region, to choose among so many different options. But worry not, my friend! I have been a tour guide in the Douro valley for the past 10 years so I know the region as the palm of my hands, and I am here to help you choose the best Douro valley tours.

This is the criteria you should use to pick a Douro valley tour:

  • Group vs Private: this is THE biggest decision, and the only one that truly matters.

    If you book a Douro valley group tour, you will spend way less money than if you book a private tour. However, you get what you paid for: you will visit wineries that don’t produce great wines, you will be touring its facilities in very large groups, and most likely your guide will not know a thing about wines. However, you will get the opportunity to meet other travellers, so it might end up being a very fun day 🙂

    Another thing that you should know is that the structure of a Douro valley group tour is ALWAYS the same: 2 wineries + lunch + 1h river cruise. They may change the order of the activities, but the activities are. always. the. same. in all tour providers.

    If you book a private Douro valley tour, with a good tour operator, you will most likely visit small scale producers, taste fantastic wines and, equally important, you will have the undivided attention of your guide who, hopefully, is someone knowledgeable and experienced. It is, however, a much more expensive experience. And the more personalized experience you want, the more expensive your Douro valley tour will get.
  • Pick up at your hotel or no Pick up. These days, most group tour operators let you choose between getting picked up at your hotel or simply meeting at their offices in the morning.
  • Price: if you are on a budget, I recommend you to book a group Douro valley tour. My rule of thumb is: if you have a budget of less than 180€ / person, don’t even consider a private tour. Unless you are traveling with a larger group (8+ people), as that gives you power to negotiate a lower price per person.

    However, if you have money and are truly interested in tasting GOOD wines, you should ignore the group tours and book a private Douro valley tour instead.

    Here at Portoalities we have two standard Private Douro valley tours, but we also develop personalized itineraries based on our clients’ preferences. The sky – and your budget – is the limit to what we can provide.

Best Douro valley GROUP tours

There are currently hundreds of Douro valley group tour providers, but precisely because I know them all AND I know the region and its wine producers, I can narrow them down to give you a list of THE BEST Douro valley group tours:

Porto: Douro Valley Winery Tour with Lunch & Boat Tour

Average rating: 4,9 / 5 | Number of ratings (June 2024): 903

friends drinking wine terrace

This tour consists of wine tastings at two wineries, lunch in a traditional Portuguese restaurant and a 1h group river cruise in a traditional rabelo boat.

They usually take their clients to either Quinta Do Fôjo, Quinta dos Castelares, Quinta da Bela, Quinta Da Fonte Do Milho or Quinta do Val Moereira. If you are lucky, you will get to visit Quinta da Fonte do Milho or Quinta do Fôjo, but it is not up to you to decide.

One thing I like about this douro valley tour is that, when you book it, you can “customize” the tour a little bit, by choosing to include or not a river cruise, and deciding if you want to be picked up at your hotel or not.

You can book this tour online.

Price (June 2024): 145€ / adult.
Pick up & drop off: it costs an extra 10€ / pax.
Languages available: English and French.
Food restrictions: vegan and vegetarian options available.

From Porto: Douro Valley w/ Boat Tour, Wine Tasting & Lunch

Average rating: 4,7 / 5 | Number of ratings (June 2024): 10.065

ladies enjoying douro river cruise

If you are looking for the cheapest douro valley tour, this is it. And the reason why it is so cheap is that, unlike other group tour operators, this particular one uses large buses instead of the small 9 seats minivans. This means that you will be touring with a large group of people – the more the merrier, they say – but if you don’t like crowds, this might not be the best option for you.

On the positive side though, the fact that they conduct their tours using a large bus means that there will be a bus driver AND a tour guide, which means that the tour guide can focus 100% on you rather than focusing on the road.

You can book this tour online.

Price (June 2024): 100€ / adult.
Pick up & drop off: it costs an extra 10€ / pax.
Languages available: English, French and Portuguese.
Food restrictions: vegetarian and gluten-free options available.

Douro Valley: Wine Tour with Lunch, Tastings & River Cruise

Average rating: 4,6 / 5 | Number of ratings (June 2024): 4944

friends drinking wine
church amarante portugal

I particularly like this douro valley tour for two reasons. The first one is that it stops for coffee at Amarante, one of my favourite cities in Northern Portugal. It is truly a beautiful place! The second reason is that it includes a guided visit and wine tasting at Quinta da Roêda, from Croft, one of the most famous Port wine brands.

This particular tour is a large group tour, so you will be traveling on a bus on not on a minivan.

You can book this tour online.

Price (June 2024): 99€ / adult.
Pick up & drop off: it costs an extra 25€ / pax – it’s quite expensive!
Languages available: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
Food restrictions: vegetarian and gluten-free options available.

Full-Day Douro Wine Tour with Lunch and River Cruise

Average rating: 4,8 / 5 | Number of ratings (June 2024): 1692

group having lunch douro valley viewpoint
olive oil museum douro valley

This particular Douro valley tour is very interesting because it usually takes their clients to D’Origem, a small-scale producer of both wines and olive oil. The wines are crap but the views from this producer are breathtaking. Moreover, it has a small “olive oil museum” that is very interesting. Therefore, if you are traveling with someone who is not particularly interested in wines but would like to learn more about the Douro valley olive oil, this Douro valley tour is for you.

This tour is more expensive than the other douro valley tours because you will be traveling with a small 9 seats minivan instead than on a large 50 people bus, which I think it is great. Moreover, they will pick you up from your hotel, and drop you off there at the end of the tour.

You can book this tour online.

Price (June 2024): 140€ / adult.
Pick up & drop off: it is already included on the price.
Languages available: English, French and Portuguese.
Food restrictions: I am not entirely sure if they accommodate specific diets.

From Porto: Douro Valley Small Group Food and Wine Tour

Average rating: 4,6 / 5 | Number of ratings (June 2024): 1559

friends viewpoint

This Douro valley tour has two things that I particularly like. One is that it takes its customers to Quinta do Seixo, one of the properties of the famous Sandeman’s Port wine brand. And, even though this winery is (understandingly) huge and very touristy, the facilities are fantastic and it has an incredible view of the Douro valley.

The other thing I like about this tour is that the lunch takes place in Tabuaço, one of my favorite towns in the douro valley. The road to get there is incredible and terrifying in equal measures but oh, so worth it 🙂

Moreover, you will be traveling in a small 9 seats minivan.

And yes, this tour also includes a short river cruise 🙂

You can book this tour online.

Price (June 2024): 135€ / adult.
Pick up & drop off: it is already included on the price.
Languages available: English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
Food restrictions: I am not entirely sure if they accommodate specific diets.

Porto: 3 Douro Valley Vineyards Tour with Lunch

Average rating: 4,8 / 5 | Number of ratings (June 2024): 631

tour guide explaining vineyards
sampling wine douro valley

If you don’t really feel like joining a river cruise (I feel you, it’s also not my favorite thing in the world) then you should book this Douro valley tour since it includes three wineries (instead of the traditional layout of two wineries + river cruise). One of the stops is at Quinta do Panascal, which produces the famous Fonseca’s Port wines (it belongs to the same company as the iconic Taylor’s brand).

However, keep in mind that, depending on the number of people that book this douro valley tour, they can either use small 9 seats minivans or large buses.

You can book this tour online.

Price (June 2024): 99€ / adult.
Pick up & drop off: it costs an extra 21€ / pax.
Languages available: English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Food restrictions: I am not entirely sure if they accommodate specific diets.

Best PRIVATE Douro valley tours

friends drinking wine portoalities private wine tours douro valley

If you want a truly outstanding experience, then you should book a private Douro valley tour with us 🙂 We have been conducting private Douro valley tours for the past 10 years and my team, albeit small, is very experienced, knowledgeable and friendly.

We currently have two standard private douro valley tours available:

  • River cruise and wine tour in Douro Valley | Guided visit and wine tasting at 1 boutique winery + 1h Group river cruise in a traditional rabelo boat. This tour is great for those that don’t want to make an exclusively wine-centric tour. 

On those pages you will find all the information you need – detailed itinerary, photos, what is included and what is not included in the price, etc. Please mind the FAQ section at the end, as it provides answers to the most common questions that people ask us.

We also develop personalised itineraries, but they are always be more expensive than booking one of these tours mentioned above.

If you want to book a tour with us, please email me at sara.riobom@portoalities.com with the date of your trip and the number of people traveling with you, and I’ll shortly get back to you.

There are also other tour operators providing private douro valley tours. These are the best ones:

From Porto: Private Douro Valley Tour with Cruise and Wine

Average rating: 5 / 5 | Number of ratings (June 2024): 65

private tour guide douro valley

Even though he is a direct competitor of ours, I have no problem at all in recommending Delfim’s private Douro valley tour because he is, indeed a great guide – very friendly, knowledgeable and always going the extra mile for his clients.

If you book this private Douro valley tour you will most likely visit Quinta do Cume, a fantastic small-scale producer, and then a larger producer in the afternoon (probably Quinta de La Rosa or another one close to Pinhão).

The only problem of this tour operator is that he can only accommodate groups of up to 4 people, which is manifestly small.

You can book this tour online.

Price (June 2024): 250€ / adult.
Pick up & drop off: already included on the price.
Languages available: English, French and Portuguese.
Food restrictions: yes, they can accommodate specific diets.

Common questions about Douro valley tours

How long is the drive to the Douro valley?

It takes approximately 1h30 to 2h to get to the region. The larger the transportation (9 seats van or large bus), the longer it takes.

How long is a Douro valley tour?

The regular Douro valley group tours usually last for 12h. Yes, it is quite a long day, because it includes the driving time (around 4h in total), plus guided visits & wine tastings at three wineries, plus a stop for lunch, plus a 1h river cruise.

Therefore, I strongly recommend you to bring water and snacks for the journey, or at least make sure to book with a tour operator that clearly states, on their booking page, that they will provide this.

Will the tour guide pick me up from my hotel?

If you book a private Douro valley tour with us, we will certainly pick you up and drop you off wherever you want (including in the Douro valley itself!).

If you book a Douro valley group tour, you will have to pay an extra to be picked up from your hotel – and there is no guarantee that they will drop you off there at the end of the tour.

Are Douro valley tours suitable for children?

The general Douro valley tours no. It’s a very long day with no activity specifically for children. This being said, one of our fortes is precisely Douro valley Family tours 🙂 Just send an email to sara.riobom@portoalities.com and I’ll send you a quote!

Are tour operators able to accommodate my food restrictions?

That really depends on the tour operator. Please keep in mind that the douro valley is in the countryside and hence, a meat-oriented region. This being said, these days most restaurants can accommodate at least vegetarian clients.

If you have a serious food allergy I suggest you to bring your own food, because no tour operator in their right mind can guarantee you that there is no cross food contamination in any restaurant in the douro valley.

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