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Bordeaux France Highlights

Douro River Cruise And Wine Tasting Tour In Portugal

Oct 31, 2021 @

Douro Valley Portugal landscape of water and hills
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A Douro Valley wine cruise should be on your Porto itinerary! Portugal is absolutely lovely, no doubt about it. To me, the city of Porto is just stunning and by far my favorite out of the three regions l have been so far. While l appreciated the beauty of the whole country for different reasons, I have to say that if l were to live in Portugal, I am pretty sure that my choice of residence would be Porto as opposed to Lisbon, the choice of the majority of my friends.

The Alto Douro wine region is extremely impressive and a UNESCO heritage site. Since we both love wine and port wine in particular, we definitely wanted to do a Douro wine tour on our last visit. We were not disappointed. Quite the opposite. Here’s a recap of the day trip from Porto for some absolutely delicious wine.

 

Douro Valley Wine Tasting and Cruise: An awesome day trip from Porto

bottles of port wine in the Douro Valley Portugal
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Sampling of just some of the various types of port wine. We learned new things on our trip.

Our Douro Valley day trip for wine tasting was sweet for lack of a better word. Douro Valley takes its name from the Douro River. The most famous export of Porto is of course wine as the name suggests and the Douro Valley is also home to delicious red and white wine, and a particular “Vihno Verde” which translates to green wine and as we discovered only grows in this region.

We chose a small group tour from getyourguide for our day trip. We had used them prior on our Auschwitz visit and we were impressed with the service. Once l knew they conducted a Douro Valley day trip from Porto, I immediately booked us 2 spaces and paid via the app. The cost was €95 per person. Our tickets were downloaded and we were confirmed for the tour. Our AirBnB address for double checked for pickup and that was it. Quick and painless. You can find the details on the tour here.

Douro Valley wine tasting tour pic of landscape and douro river
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I daresay it’s impossible to take a bad picture of the Douro Valley!

 

How to get to Douro Valley from Porto for your Douro wine cruise and tour:

Douro Valley by Car:

We were picked up early in the morning at the appointed time. There were already 2 couples in the van, and off we went. The drive was about three and half hours. It was a comfortable ride, and l think l might have dozed off a bit as it was still early.

Porto to Douro Valley by boat cruise:

Another way to visit the Douro Valley is via a boat cruise from Porto. I had considered this as well, but l felt like the boat would move way too slowly and be boring after a while. I had memories of one we had done along the Danube River from Budapest. At least the car could go fast. The cruise is a good option for people who get car sick and prefer the real slow pace of the boat.

Douro Valley view with empty wineglass
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Our Porto wine tasting tour included a one hour cruise on the Douro River. Rest assured my glass wasn’t empty for long :-).

Douro Valley by train:
You can take the train at the main station in Porto, the Sao Bento station to Pinhao. The train schedule can be found here. The journey time is about three hours and half as well. The advantage over a car is that you get to see stunning views a bit clearer instead of whizzing by it. If you’re with a tour, it works out better in my opinion because there is no need to try and figure out the best places to go once you’re in the Douro Valley, trying to find local transportation etc. in the rural area would be a pain. Several operators conduct tours via cruising including get your guide company.

Related Post: Porto Guide

tour guide on wine tasting tour of the Douro Valley
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Our really great guide. She was a great driver and the time flew by.

Our small group tour included stops at two local wineries where we got to sample a variety of wines. Prior to this trip, I had been familiar with Ruby Red and Tawny (my favorite) ports. It was quite eye-opening to find that there were so many more types of port. Our knowledgeable guide, was born and raised in the Douro Valley and you could hear the pride in her voice as she lovingly described the process of port wine making and everything else about wines in general.

Our tour guide had been with the current company several years working for them in Porto and when the opportunity to work in the Douro Valley came up, she was more than happy to return home. It was a bit surprising to me. Most people her age (I pegged her for about 40) would have been happy to be away from small town life and would never think of coming back home, but she relished it. She talked about her volunteer job as a fireman (it was such a small place that everyone was a volunteer personnel of sorts, police, medical aides). It was fascinating to listen to her.

barrels of wine in Douro Valley
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I would have been quite okay being left in the cellar with all these barrels of port wine and having to drink my way out!

Along the winding hills and dips leading to the Douro Valley, she entertained us with stories of her life and wine. Everybody in the Douro Valley pretty much works in port wine production according to her. When the grapes are being harvested, the locals, from young to old are employed as “crushers”. Visions of Lucy stomping on the grapes came to mind. She said everyone walked around with colorful feet and hands from the grapes. There are also “pickers” who work on the land to harvest the grapes. They also get a lot of temporary workers who come in to help harvest and the population explodes, only to die back down when the season ends.

Douro Valley Cruise and wine tasting tour
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Our first winery. What a lovely scenery to wake up to on a daily basis.

Douro Valley Wine Tour:

Our first stop was a lovely picturesque lookout point from where we could safely take pictures thanks to the guard rails. No selficide allowed! We continued on to our first wine production destination which was a gorgeous winery that had recently been acquired by lo and behold,… an American couple. Our guide turned us over to an employee of the winery who proceeded to show us the grounds.

We got to visit the cellar and see the giant vats in which they make the wine. It made me wish that we had been there during the season to actually see them being utilized as opposed to picturing it. We got to sample three different wines if memory serves me right. A white, red, and rose port, which was surprisingly quite good. The portions were quite generous and we could have seconds or thirds if desired. I had 2 glasses of the rose for good measure, mine and Federico’s. I may have had another of the LBV!

LBV and Rose port wine in glasses in the Douro Valley
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Some of the port wines sampled on our Porto wine tour at the first stop, the Quinta do Tedo winery.

 

LBV port sampling in Douro Valley #dourovalley #winetourporto #dourovalley #LBVportwine
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Did you know of the LBV port wine? It stands for Late Bottled Vintage. It’s a chosen ruby port from a single year that is of superior quality and bottled after aging for up to six years (minimum four) in wood. It was absolutely delicious and l will be on the hunt for it from now on.

After the visit, we were driven into town and a nice little restaurant where we had a typical Portuguese lunch, accompanied by more wine of course. Let me just say that at this point, our tongues were loosened and talk flowed freely with the other two couples that were on the tour with us. A very enjoyable lunch. Post lunch, it was on to a scenic Douro River cruise where we met up with some other people from different groups. The boat was full and it was an enjoyable hour. The Douro Valley is absolutely picturesque and the landscape was lush and green. Need l say that there was more port wine on board. It was a port wine tour after all.

food served in Douro Valley wine tour of rice, beans and meat, olives
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Our nice and filling lunch during the small group Douro Valley tour. I really love rice and beans and ate it all.

 

 

Douro Valley cruise pic of 2 women with wine glasses
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Making a new friend on the Douro Valley cruise. She was visiting from Seattle with her husband.

Our second winery stop produced not just wine, but olives, olive oil, almonds, and honey. We had a tour of the olive oil production facilities and afterwards got to taste the products manufactured. We purchased some nuts to bring back with us. We had wanted honey too as it was quite delicious but since we had hand luggage only, we knew we wouldn’t be allowed to bring back the honey since they were more than 100ml sizes. I did suggest they consider making “travel sizes” of their products. We ended up buying a bottle of red wine to consume at our hotel.

guide explaning olive pressing
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Federico asking questions about olive pressing during the tour.

 

samples of wine, honey and almonds
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Douro river cruise and wine tasting tour. Sampling the offerings from Dorigem Winery. As you can see, the honey was quite popular and Federico really wanted to buy some. I think he ate half a bottle with bread.

On the drive back to Porto, we were all a bit tired and so there was little small talk. We had been the last on, and were dropped off first so that was pretty cool too! Overall, the experience was wonderful. We definitely enjoyed the Douro Valley wine and cruise tour and would recommend it because:

  • Small group. Our size of seven people including our guide was just perfect. I feel it’s a compact and manageable size and we got personal attention. We agree that it’s one of the best Douro Valley wine tours from Porto that should be done.
  • Generous portions of the samples of wine, olives, olive oil and food.
  • Pickup from our AirBnB and drop-off as well so had nothing to worry about.
  • WiFi in the van was appreciated even though we didn’t use it.
  • The lovely cruise to see the beauty of the Douro Valley from another point of view.

 

 

Should you do a Douro Valley wine tasting tour?

Yes, absolutely. It was a wonderful experience. Even if you’re not a big fan of port, there is still plenty other types of wine to enjoy. It’s nice meeting other travelers and the cruise was wonderful. All in all, a very enjoyable experience.

Have you visited Portugal? If yes, did you get a chance to visit the Douro Valley and was it enjoyable?

 

30 thoughts on “Douro River Cruise And Wine Tasting Tour In Portugal”

  1. Kemkem,

    Really enjoyed reading your post about your day trip to the Douro Valley from Porto, a city we visited for several days last December and liked a lot, too. We did the port tasting at Churchill’s across the river from downtown Porto which I would heartily recommend to anyone not having the time to tour the Douro Valley. Steven and I would dearly love to return to Portugal and spend a lot more time discovering the beautiful country and would definitely make a point of including the Douro Valley on our next visit.

    Your comment about drinking your way out of the cellar made me smile, Kemkem!

    Annie

    Reply
    • Hi Annie! Thanks for reading. We loved our visit as well and yep! we did a port wine tasting at one of the wineries in Vila Nova de Gaia too, but one can never have too much port..haha! Porto is one of the places that Federico keeps wanting to go back to, which is cool with me. I was surprised because he is always one for “there are still so many places we need to visit for the first time”. The only exception so far being London. I hope you guys get back there soon, I am on the lookout as well :-).

      Reply
  2. Kemkem, what a great post and just perfect timing for us. We will be heading to the Douro valley and then Porto afterwards. Sounds like you found a really nice wine tour that suited you both perfectly. We will be touring with the motorhome, but we are also thinking of doing a short cruise on the Douro River either from Peso da Regua or Pinhao. I will be checking out your other posts on Porto for more ideas. I hope to like Porto as much as you have 😄

    Reply
    • Thanks Gilda! I didn’t know you guys were headed there next. How cool is that? We definitely had a really great time indeed. The guide was awesome and how lovely to have door to door service. The cruise was nice. I know you guys are going to have a wonderful time. Speaking the language will enhance it even further l bet. Disfrutar.

      Reply
  3. A perfect tour for when in Portugal! I wasn’t expecting honey to be just as good there, but it appears that as long as you have unspoiled nature around, everything tastes better. Hopefully they’ll be able to preserve that – more and more things are now mass produced and taste bland. So I can really understand Federico’s desire to get some of that sweet honey back home. Maybe next time 🙂

    Reply
    • I think Federico was amazed at how fresh it was too. I like t but l am not a big fan. I had to stop him from finishing a bottle..haha! I really hope they start bottling travel size ones because l think they would sell a lot of it to people like us with no checked luggage. We considered them shipping it to us but things can get a bit complicated on this side. I’ve had a lot of people complain that they have to pay VAT to collect their goods :-).

      Reply
  4. Mmmm… sounds like a good tour!

    Are there not local bees and honey makers in Spain? The Honeybee Centre is 2km from me. I drive by it at least once a day, if not twice, so its very convenient. And popular. My favorite cranberry blossom is not always available so raspberry blossom is my next choice. They’re both liquid honeys. At Christmas they infuse peppermint into a creamed honey and another I like salted caramel into a creamed honey. So good when added to hot chocolate!

    Reply
    • It really was a good one :-). I suppose there must be local bees around these here parts, but truthfully, I personally only think of honey when l have a sore throat and add it to my tea. I don’t put it on stuff. I remember being surprised that they use honey as syrup in Seville, on French toast etc. The salted caramel one sounds nice though. I will keep my eyes open from now on for it.

      Reply
  5. The Duoro Valley is one of the most amazing places I’ve been. The river, the vineyards, the weather, a perfect combination. Oh and Port too 🙂

    Reply
    • It is absolutely gorgeous for sure, so lush and green. You put it well, the vineyards, and those views are thrilling. Haha..port is always good.

      Reply
  6. My husband will totally agree with you and you got me thinking that we should stay there for three months a year!

    Reply
    • Haha! I think it’s a good idea. Three months sound wonderful to me :-).

      Reply
  7. I was surprised after seeing the headllne that your cruise was all of one hour! hahaha. But this area of Portugal–your whole trip and especially the tastings–has my name all over it! I wanna go!

    Reply
    • Haha! Yeah.. it was just an hour. The other way was 3.5 hours from Porto and after experiencing the Danube for that long, I wasn’t too keen on such a slow boat :-). It was just perfect and kept things moving along at the right pace :-). You should go.

      Reply
  8. Henk and I visited the Douro Valley on our own, and your tour brought back memories of those gorgeous terraced vineyards. Definitely a better idea to take a tour so you can enjoy all the port and wine tastings without having to drive!

    Reply
    • They are quite beautiful aren’t they? Haha! It was great to indulge knowing we would be chauffeured home. It was a fantastic day out, and l’m glad it brought back good memories.

      Reply
  9. What a fantastic post, Kemkem. Your photos of the Douro Valley are amazing, and really make me want to visit Portugal.

    Reply
    • I really loved all parts of Portugal, but Porto area is easily my favorite. I can’t wait to go back and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

      Reply
  10. I was so excited to read your article and see your photos. I leave for Portugal May 18 and will be sailing on the Douro River with Viking River Cruises. Thank you for sharing your experience and your expertise.

    Reply
    • Oh your trip sounds awesome. I am so sure you’ll have a good time. It is so gorgeous there and happy that you found this post useful. Have loads of port :-).

      Reply
  11. The beauty of the countryside works for me big time. I have never seen an ugly wine country. Every place looks gorgeous, with the rolling hills and pristine nature. Excellent post.

    Ryan

    Reply
    • It works for me too. Haha! I don’t think you can say wine and ugly in the same sentence, they are all gorgeous as you put it. It’s so relaxing, plus the vine 🙂 ;-). Thanks for reading Ryan!

      Reply
  12. Porto seems to be the hands down winner in Portugal. Hope to get there one day as we’ve hit Lisbon a couple of times on cruise stops (and liked it!). I love the way you tell us not only the tours you take but how to book them and how much they cost. That is most helpful information as compared to those who write a post saying they were hosted but no mention of how much the rest of us will have to pay for the experience they wrote about!! Loved this one.

    Reply
    • Porto definitely wins my vote. I like it so much better than Lisbon. I think you would enjoy it too. Thanks for the compliment :-). I have sort of being looking at cruises from Valencia..who knows..might do one at some point. I enjoy cruises too. I like researching when l go away for the most part and l think it’s helpful for people who don’t love it as much to get as much information as they can in one place. Thanks for reading :-).

      Reply
    • Thanks for reading. Yes, I love the fact that you have taste in there because l will travel for food :-). I hope you get there soon.

      Reply
  13. Your photos of the Douro valley and river are fabulous and I’m excited to visit this region in November when I’ve booked a 6-day cruise with friends and many wine tasting stops along the way. I’ve turned into a real fan of the Douro wines (with the Alentejo wines not too far behind) and it was interesting to read about your experience. Can’t wait to see the valley and taste the wines myself. P. S. Of course, the perfect experience would be stomping on the grapes but … 😂 LOL! Anita

    Reply
    • Oh you are going to love the Douro Valley. The cruise sounds wonderful and the views are just stupendous! You will not regret it at all. The variety of Douro Valley wine is awesome. Make sure you try the Vinho Verde which only grows in that region, we really enjoyed the flavor. Haha! I would love to stomp on the grapes. We remain on the lookout for flights to Porto as we really enjoyed the area.

      Reply

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