I already told you the best vineyards in Douro Valley, but now you’d like to see more of the region.
Maybe a short Douro river cruise, maybe some physical activity, maybe a lit bit of history… here’s a list of the best things to do in Douro Valley. Enjoy it!
Don’t forget to also read these useful articles:
- Where to Stay in Douro Valley, with amazing estates and hotels to stay in the region.
- How to Plan your trip to Douro Valley.
- Douro river cruises, one of the most popular activities in Douro.
This is quite a long article, so use this Index to navigate to whatever section attracts you the most:
These are the best things to do in Douro Valley:
One of the best things to do in Douro Valley is to take a short Douro river cruise departing from Pinhão, the main city of the sub region of Cima Corgo. I really enjoy this river cruise in Douro Valley because it is short (1h or 2h) and hence you can combine it with a wine tour & tasting at a vineyard and a lunch in Pinhão. If you have a rented car you can simply park it in Pinhão and walk to the deck.
Moreover, whether you opt for a 1h river cruise (Pinhão – Romaneira – Pinhão) or for a 2h one (Pinhão – Tua – Pinhão), the views from the boat are simply stunning.
There are several tour operators making this Douro river cruises. I personally recommend Magnífico Douro as the boats rides are very affordable and the staff is very friendly. They organise both 2h and 1h boat rides departing from Pinhão.
How to book your ticket: You can simply buy the online ticket for the 2h Douro river cruise or the online ticket for the 1h Douro river cruise, depending on your availability.
Price: 12,50€ / person for a 1h river cruise in Douro Valley and 25€ / person for a 2h river cruise.
Schedules: the 1h river cruise departs at every hour from 11h to 18h. The 2h river cruise departs at 10h45 and at 15h.
Enjoy a wine tasting
I have already written a very detailed guide of the best vineyards in Douro Valley. However, if you don’t have time to read it, here is a quick summary:
- Best winery for Port wine tasting: Quinta do Bomfim
- Wineries with the Best VIEW: Quinta do Tedo or Quinta do Pôpa
- Most Authentic Portuguese experience: Quinta da Portela
- Cheapest wineries: probably Quinta da Pacheca and Quinta do Beijo
- Wineries close to train stations: Quinta do Bomfim and Quinta da Roêda.
Price: it depends not only on the winery you choose but also on the wines you choose; it can range from 15€ / person to 150€ / person!
Go on a picnic at a lovely vineyard
In Douro Valley there are some really good restaurants. But if you travelling with kids, or if you want to surprise your partner with a lovely setting, then I believe that going for a picnic is one of the best things to do in Douro Valley!
This way you will have a lighter meal served in the middle of the vineyards and probably with an amazing view.
There are several properties that organise picnics in Douro Valley, but my favourite one (and most affordable as well!) is the picnic at Quinta do Tedo. The picnic basket includes local cheeses and charcuterie, homemade jam, marinated olives, fresh salad with organic veggies, traditional codfish cakes, bread, fruit (or a proper dessert, if you have a sweet tooth), orange juice and a bottle of wine.
There are also two other picnics in Douro Valley that I tried:
- Quinta da Roêda, where the picnic is served at a lovely table under some olive trees. It is very bucolic!
- Quinta do Pôpa, a winery famous for its astonishing view of the Douro river. It is VERY touristy though.
Both properties have “standard” and “premium” baskets, both require prior booking and both change the prices every single year, so make sure you get in contact with them in advance.
How to book your ticket: contact the wineries directly.
Price: contact the wineries directly for more information.
Ride a kayak in Douro river!
One of the best things to do in Douro Valley is a physical activity. Personally, and because I think that (due to the high temperatures) hiking / biking in Douro is for lunatics, I enjoy kayaking in the Douro river 🙂 It is fresh, it is perfectly safe (I am not wearing it on the picture because I am an idiot, but of course you are given a life jacket!) aaaaaand it is SO CHEAP.
Basically, you can rent a kayak in Douro Valley for FOUR hours (4h) for 35€ / 2 people. So, basically, 8,75 € / hour – each person pays 4,37€ per hour. It is absurd (don’t go around telling everybody that I told you this, ok?). You just pick up your kayak in Pinhão pier and go for it.
Another really cool option for kayaking in Douro Valley is to take a boat from Pinhão, to the mouth of the River Tua (it is a 1-hour ride). In Tua, hop off the boat and start your kayak journey on your own back to Pinhão – it takes around 12km.
This option is more expensive but it is pretty cool because a) it combines a 1h river cruise + kayak in Douro river and b) it takes place in the most beautiful section of the Douro river, just east of Pinhão village.
You can get the online ticket for kayaking in Douro Valley – no need to print the voucher, you just need to show up at Magnifico Douro Pier in Pinhão. (It is near the iron bridge, in front of the Vintage House Hotel garden gate).
Price: The kayaking in Douro Valley experience costs 35€ / 2 pax and the price of the 1h river cruise + kayak in Douro river varies between 42€ and 49€, depending on how many people book the activity.
Schedules: both activities take place between 10am and 4pm.
Check a great viewpoint of the Douro Valley
One of the things I like to include on our customised private tours is a visit to one of the best viewpoints in Douro Valley. There are several of them, but probably my favourite one is the viewpoint of São Leonardo da Galafura. It is absolutely stunning (as you can see on the picture above!), and, if possible, try to get there at sunset hours.
Price: Free! 🙂
Schedules: as far as I know, the access to all viewpoints in Douro Valley is 24/7.
Check the azulejos tiles at Pinhão train station
Unlike what other people write online, Pinhão is NOT an interesting place to visit and you should only go there for a) take a river cruise or b) have lunch. But if you already happen to be there, then I recommend you to visit Pinhão’s train station in order to check its lovely azulejos tiles. They are nothing compared to the azulejos tiles of São Bento train station in Porto, but they are quite lovely as they depict daily scenes from the region.
Price: Free! 🙂
Schedules: the train station is open during the day.
Visit a traditional wine village
Paying a visit to one of the interesting villages is definitely one of the best things to do in Douro Valley and a great activity to do after some wine tastings.
I highly recommend you to visit Ucanha, a small village that has one of the first medieval tolls in Portugal – yes, you read that right! It is a tower at the beginning of a bridge, that the monks used to control (and charge) those entering its territory. The tower has an interesting exhibition and it is really worth seeing. If it is closed, don’t give up just yet – talk to the people in the village, they are very nice and I am sure they’ll find a solution!
Another interesting place to visit is the Monastic Garden built on the ruins of the Monastery of São João de Tarouca, where more than 30 species of aromatic herbs are grown and sold. You can ask for a tour to visit both the ruins of the convent and the garden itself, where you’ll be able to try some edible flowers and buy aromatic herbs!
Another cute little place to visit is Tabuaço, where you can find the most complete clock in the world – yes, you read that correctly. I am not going to explain it any further in order not to spoil the surprise but I can tell you that it is definitely worth it if you have a couple of days in Douro Valley.
One thing you should know about Tabuaço though is that the road to get there (from the famous road N222 that connects Régua to Pinhão) is very windy and narrow. I love it, because it provides some of the most spectacular views over the region, but it is definitely not for the fainted hearts!
Price: Free! 🙂
Schedules: it’s best to visit the wine villages during the day – otherwise you won’t be able to enjoy the view.
Visit the amazing Côa museum
Much further East is the famous Côa Museum, designed by the famous architect Álvaro Siza Vieira. The Côa Museum displays exhibitions on the hundreds of Palaeolithic engravings along the Côa Valley Archaeological Park, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on 1998.
It is rather inspiring to think that thousands of years ago our ancestors had the same creative instincts as we do now, and I left the Côa Museum with a great feeling. I highly recommend that you get the guided tour as it is very informative (and not boring at all!).
How to book your ticket: I have already tried to learn how to buy the tickets online but their website is a mess, so I recommend you to either send them an email or to buy at the counter.
Price: There are many museum spaces in Parque do Côa, with different prices, but a simple visit to the Museu do Coa costs 7€ / person.
Schedules: the museum is open every day from 9h to 18h.
Visit the cathedral of Lamego
One thing I was not expecting the first time I visited Lamego, a city in Douro Valley, was to fall in love with its cathedral. After all, I am Portuguese and, as such, I spend my life tripping over churches, so they have lost their appeal over the years.
But visiting the cathedral of Lamego is an entirely different thing because a) it was founded in the XII century, so it is one of the very few gothic cathedrals in Portugal b) it has fantastic cloisters from the XVI century and c) the painted ceilings are to die for. Really. So do yourself a favour and stop there because it is definitely one of the best things to do in Douro Valley!
Price: free entrance.
Schedules: the cathedral is open every day from 8h to 12h30 and then from 14h30 to 18h.
Ride on the panoramic road
Everyone likes to complain about how windy the roads in the region are, but there was one particular road that I have to ride quite often (because of our Douro Valley private tours) that I found to be particularly unnerving, which was the old EM 323 road from Sabrosa to Pinhão.
However, we have just (re)started our tours after the pandemic and oh boy, riding on that road is now one of the best things to do in Douro Valley! They basically converted and old and slightly unsafe road into a panoramic road with 11 fantastic viewpoints. It is truly, truly the most beautiful road in Douro Valley (yes, a lot more beautiful than the popular N 222 by the river!) and a wonder for people who love riding, like myself 🙂
Price: “free” (if you don’t count the price of renting a car + gas + tolls :P)
Schedules: this is an activity that is best enjoyed in the early morning or in the middle of the afternoon.
Take a train ride
You probably already read in countless blogs that you should take a train ride in Douro Valley on the historic train but what NO ONE told you yet is that there is a more beautiful ride for a fraction of the price. But I am here, my friend, to help you make rational choices on your trip to Douro Valley. There are two trains you can take to Douro Valley:
- the famous historic train from Régua to Tua, using steam locomotive and five historic coaches. This train ride in Douro Valley costs A FORTUNE (45€ / adult and 20€ / kid, roundtrip) and cover such a small area. I only recommend this particular train ride for those of you who have a thing for trains and old engines.
But if you follow my advice, you will simply take the
- MiraDouro train that rides from Porto to Pocinho, and vice versa, that costs 27€ the roundtrip. This is SO MUCH BETTER – not because the ticket is cheaper, but because the most beautiful stretch of the route is between the Tua and Pocinho stations, not the ones afterwards (so, closer to Régua!). So, take my word for it and, if you have the time, ride from Porto to Pocinho (it takes around 3h / 3h30). It is worth it.
Splurge yourself with a massage
In case you are not so much into sports or history, or if you are feeling a bit lazy, then one of the best things to do in Douro Valley is to indulge in a massage on one of the best spa hotels in the region.
The hotels Six Senses Douro Valley and Vila Galé Douro provide spa services for their guests, but you can call them in advance to check for services available for tourists as well. A relaxing massage or a swim on a beautiful pool surrounded by nature – could it possibly get any better?
Join me on a private Douro Valley tour!
Instead of wasting time organising your day trip to the Douro Valley, just send an email to email@example.com with the date you want to visit the region. I will create a Douro Valley tour that includes transport to & from Porto, tastings in the best vineyards in the region, lunch at a typical Portuguese restaurant and some surprises along the way 🙂
How to book your ticket: You can get in contact with me on firstname.lastname@example.org or book one of our standard tours available: private wine tour in Douro Valley or the river cruise and wine tour in Douro Valley.
Price: it depends on the number of people that book the tour (as we only organise private tours, the price varies).
Schedules: all our douro valley tours usually start at 9am, but we have some flexibility to adjust the schedule to your needs, don’t worry!