May 2-4: We spent two days in the Duoro Valley and it was divine. I can’t decide what I liked more – the beauty of the valley with its terraced vineyards, or the gorgeous B&B where we enjoyed views of the valley from the pool patio. Regardless, it was a beautiful spot, and I would highly recommend staying at least one night in the area.
After picking up our rental car around noon, we left the Porto airport and headed out the city bypass highway to take a leisurely drive along the beautiful Duoro River. We had read a variety of recommendations as to which road to take and were undecided and we found if we put our destination into googlemaps, we got a direct fast highway route to Regua. Finally, we decided to head to the N108 which starts just southeast of Porto and runs along the north side of the river, and we were happy with our choice. The road was windy but reasonable, with little traffic in early May, and it took us about 3 hours to toodle our way to our destination.
The Duoro Valley, generally believed to be the oldest wine region in the world, stretches over 200 km from the coast, to the town of Barca de Alva, and is dotted with small “quintas” or wineries along the way. Over the centuries, farmers have terraced the hillsides, tended the soil, and planted row upon row of grapes, and the result is like a picture postcard.
Our destination was about the half way point, at Peso da Regua, where we would be staying at Casa de Sao Domingos, (booking.com €85/night for deluxe room including breakfast). We stuck to the N108 until Resende, then crossed the river and took the N222 to Regua. Once we were checked into the B&B, we relaxed by the pool in the hot sun and enjoyed the amazing views of the river valley.
The next day, we were incredibly lazy and just hung out at our B&B and relaxed by the pool. In the evening, we went into town and had dinner at Tasca da Quinta, a small family run restaurant that was recommended by our hosts. They had lovely tapas and other interesting local dishes on their simple menu that was handwritten in little notebooks, and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal and the experience.
We definitely could have taken a drive further up the valley to Pinhao, or wandered through the Duoro Museum in town, or visited some of the small quintas in the area, but we were just too content at our B&B to do much of anything, and when you see the views, who could blame us?!
If you don’t have the time to drive into the valley, there are river boat cruises that do day and overnight trips from Porto. Some will take you up as far as Pinhao or even Barca de Alva, and then put you on a bus to return to Porto. On others, you can take a train back to the city. There are also short day cruises between Regua and Pinhao – there are lots of options – and the views on the river are lovely. Whatever your budget allows, do visit the Duoro Valley. It’s definitely a must-see!
Next up: Nazare and Obidos
Here are a few pictures of Sao de Regua.