Porto and the Douro valley ... top 5 experiences
Cox & Kings’ Europe expert Leah visited Porto and the Douro valley to experience the best of the north-west region of Portugal. Here, she shares her top five experiences.
Porto's old town and the Douro river with traditional Rabelo boats
The city of Porto is synonymous with port, the fortified wine produced on the steep hillsides of the Douro valley. The names and logos of the largest and most illustrious Port sellers, such as Taylor’s, Churchill and Caves Ferreira, stand tall lining the southern riverbank. With regular tours and tastings available, the chance to try some of the many different varieties is a real highlight of a visit to the city.
Cable cars above the old town on the Douro river, Porto
Insider tip: There is a cable car – the Teleférico de Gaia – that runs between the impressive metal construction of the Dom Luís I Bridge and the wine cellars. In addition to beautiful city views, the ticket also includes a complimentary wine tasting in a nearby cellar.
A landmark in Porto, this historical bookshop is well worth a visit. Built in 1869, it is one of the oldest bookshops in Portugal and frequently said to be one of the most beautiful. No wonder JK Rowling found inspiration here for her Harry Potter series when she was teaching in Porto.
Lello bookshop facade, Porto
Even though the facade of the shop is pretty, it’s the interior that impresses with its large, spiral, art nouveau staircase, wood-panelled ceilings and striking carved bookcases. Although you are asked to pay for entry, if you make a purchase the ticket price will be refunded. There’s also a coffee shop on the second floor where you can sit and take it all in.
Taylor’s Barão Fladgate restaurant and port tasting
Taylor’s Barão Fladgate restaurant is part of the Yeatman hotel and has a beautiful location with arguably the best view of Porto. Take an audio tour of the winery and cellars and enjoy port tasting in the rose garden before a delicious lunch overlooking the city and the Douro river.
Port wine and traditional pastries with a view over the Douro river, Porto
Vintage House Hotel Pinhão
Vintage House Hotel in the village of Pinhão is an 18th-century wine estate that has been developed into luxurious 5-star accommodation. It has a prime location on the banks of the Douro with easy access to the surrounding region. All rooms have river views and charming interiors with carefully preserved, traditional architecture. Swim in the outdoor pool, surrounded by the terraced hillsides, play tennis or enjoy one of the hotel’s many wine-related activities – this is the ideal place to stay for a few nights to enjoy the tranquillity of the Douro region.
Vintage House Hotel, Pinhão
Douro river cruise
To explore the best of the Douro region, take a round-trip cruise from Pinhão on a traditional sailing boat. Enjoy the stunning scenery from the river as you sail past the vineyards. Although this is a delightful experience all year round, I would recommend it in September when the hillsides are alive with workers harvesting the grapes.
Douro river and vineyards
Recommended Cox & Kings tours
Porto & the Douro Valley
7 Days & 6 Nights from £2,095
Journey with a group of like-minded solo travellers from the coastal city of Porto inland to the major religious, historical and intellectual centres of Braga, Guimarães and Coimbra. Along the way, take a river cruise through the terraced vineyards of the picturesque Douro valley and sample the produce of this celebrated wine and Port producing region... See more >
Grand Tour of Portugal
10 Days & 9 Nights from £1,995
Discover the old-fashioned charm of Portugal on this 10-day tour from Lisbon to Porto. Along the way explore stylish seaside resorts; historic regional cities including Coimbra, Cascais and Obidos; and the picturesque terraced hillsides of the Douro valley, where Port, the world-renowned fortified wine, is produced... See more >