I already told you the best vineyards in the Douro Valley for wine tastings, but now you’d like to see more of the Douro Valley. 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, besides drinking wine. Enjoy it!
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 cruises 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. 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.
Visit some of the traditional villages
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 local 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. If you go to Tabuaço pay my friend Sérgio a visit – he has a wonderful wine shop called RUMO.
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!
If you prefer to visit a larger city then go to Lamego, a 20min drive from Régua. In Lamego you can take beautiful pictures of the famous sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies from the main square. You should also pay a visit to Lamego’s cathedral because it is quite stunning from the outside.
Visit the amazing Côa museum
Much further East is the famous Côa Museum, designed by the worldwide known arquitect Álvaro Siza Vieira, from Porto. 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!).
Go on a picnic at one of the best vineyards in Douro Valley
In Douro Valley there are a couple of really good restaurants, both in Régua and in Pinhão. But if you travelling with kids, or if you want to surprise your partner with a lovely setting, then I definitely think 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.I have tried two picnics in Douro Valley that I really recommend:
- Quinta da Roêda (the one in the picture), where the picnic is served at a lovely table under some olive trees. They serve sandwiches, cold salads, fruit, some Portuguese finger good aaaaaaaand a delicious sponge cake with Port wine.
- Quinta do Pôpa, where the picnic basket consists of Portuguese cheeses and sausages, olives, marmelade, etc.
Both these 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.
Do some physical activity
Contrary to what you might think, one of the best things to do in Douro Valley is to take some physical activity. For instance, I did kayak at Quinta do Tedo after the wine tasting, and it was really nice.
You can also rent a bike and discover Douro Valley on your own, or join companies like Go On Bike, that organises bike tours through the vineyards, accompanied by a guide. This company also provides packs that include bike + wine & olive oil tastings, so it is definitely worth taking a look.
One thing to keep in mind though is that it gets really warm during Spring / Summer / Autumn in Douro Valley (for many days around 40 ºC / 100F), so you should really think if you in the appropriate physical shape to endure outdoor activities in this region.
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 spa therapy.
The hotels Douro Royal Valley, Six Senses Spa 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?