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  • Countryside Ancient vine-framed valleys
  • Country life Traditional quintas, keen oenophiles

This north-western patch of Portugal is golden by name ('Douro') and golden by nature, with sepia-tinged hills and amber-hued valleys.

A striking, sun-kissed mountainscape, neatly combed with vine-filled terraces, where the tranquil River Douro lazily winds its way from the Atlantic coast to Spain. On its gentle journey, it passes through the oldest wine-producing region in the world: little wonder these wild, earthy winelands have been awarded Unesco World Heritage status. Portugal’s second largest city, Porto stands proudly on Douro Valley’s oceanside edge; from here, you can follow the river into the fertile region once best known for Mateus rosé, but now celebrated as an epicurean paradise.

Do go/Don’t go

This is a great place to go off-season, especially as winters here are mild. August can be scorchio but never unbearable; June until September have less rain, and the latter is harvest time and an especially lovely month to watch the grapes being collected.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Porto is the main airport for the Douro Valley; Ryanair ( flies to Porto from London Stansted and Liverpool airport. TAP ( flies from London Heathrow. If travelling by helicopter | there is a helipad at Quinta Romeneira.
  • Boats A boat trip along the magnificent Douro River is essential – even if you only manage a small section. Stretching from the border with Spain down to the Atlantic Ocean, historically wine was transported along it in flat-bottom boats called rabelos, Romaneira has a pine rabelo available for private tours.
  • Trains A visit to the Douro Valley provides a unique opportunity to ride a steam train through postcard-perfect countryside. Even if you don’t need to jump aboard, it’s worth visiting just to see pretty, azulejos-tiled Pinhão, one of the most charming train stations in the world, with the backdrop of the Douro River behind.
  • Automobiles If you want to explore | a car is an advantage. The heart of the winelands | and the village of Cotas is about 150km from Oporto | 350km from Lisbon | 30km from Villa Real. It is easy to drive around and routes relatively uncomplicated | but the motorways aren’t for the faint-hearted as the lanes are narrow.
  • Taxis Ask your hotel to arrange transportation in a 4x4.