The Douro Valley is a remarkable destination that you will definitely not soon forget. It is the third longest river in the Iberian Peninsula and flows across Spain and Portugal, offering you the very best way to delve into the area’s tranquil beauty. It has everything you could possibly need from breathtaking natural landscapes, to wine production, and delicious local cuisine. Go and watch a show, relax in a hot spring- the region is full to the brim with exciting things to do and see.
And because it has been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, there is a plethora of architectural wonders that are just waiting to be explored. Here are 7 things to enjoy on your Douro Valley experience:
- Wine tasting
The microclimate of the Douro makes it incredibly important for producing Port wine. It allows cultivation for almonds, grapes and olives. Traditionally wine was taken down the river in rabelos (flat-bottom boats) to be stored in cellars just across the river in Porto.
As one of Europe’s oldest cities, you can visit Porto and its infamous cellar to sample some of these fine port wines. The narrow winding streets and quaint houses are real charmers.
- Spectacular architecture
The Douro meanders through five provinces including Salamanca which has extraordinary architecture. It is a beautiful old town full of Romanesque, Arab and Christian architecture. The Plaza Mayor is very popular with its 18th century square which is one of the largest in Spain.
- Remarkable railway
Along the Douro you pass lush vineyards and Europe’s highest locks and you can stop off at Régua. The railway is simply fantastic and you can see old-style locos that were operating in the 1970s. There is even a Henschel Mallet on display which was built back in 1908. To-date the only running trains are single rail cars.
- Medieval marvel
Stop off at Vega de Terrón which is a very peaceful town with rugged landscapes and mighty rocky gorges. It is home to an extremely unique fountain called Chafariz dos Pretos and there is a medieval walled city called Castelo Rodrigo which dates back to the 12th century.
- Grape stomping
One of Portugal’s best kept secrets is said to be Pinhão; which is a very small, sleepy town located in the heart of the country. Enjoy serenity and Port wine and check out the stunning religious architecture. It is a very picturesque town with incredible views and a historic train station. In autumn time, holidaymakers can participate in grape stomping.
- Gorgeous gardens
Further down the river you can go for a gentle stroll and explore the gardens of Solar de Mateus. The Mateus Palace is a stunning building located in the civil parish of Mateus, municipality of Vila Real. It was built in the 18th century by Nicolau Nasoni and has magnificent ceilings that will amaze you.
- Pure relaxation
If a spa is your ideal way to sit back and relax, you can stop off at Caldas de Aregos. It is situated on the left bank of the river and is well known as one of the best spa towns in the country with perfect waters. Go for a peaceful stroll and check out the amazing views from the São João rock on Aregos hill, and then unwind at the Aregos spa.
So, what are you waiting for? The Douro Valley has a vast range of exciting places to explore and fun things to do. Trust us, you will be anything but bored.
Having so much fun that you don’t want to go home? Our suggestion is that you extend your Douro holiday to spend another week in Ofir on the coast with white sandy beaches and beautiful scenery.
About The Author: This article was shared by Shearings Holidays, the leading experts in holidays to Spain by coach. Discover the Douro Valley for yourself and book a once in a lifetime holiday today.
Photo Credits: Flickr cc – #1 Yellow Cat, #2 The Italian Voice, #3 A2Z Adventures, #4 abuelamalia49, #5 hrs51