Douro Valley Wine Region, Portugal

In En-Route, Europe, Our Journeys, Portugal, Trip-Types, Unesco, World Travel by Janis2 Comments

Our journey around the terraces.

If your visiting northern Portugal, your trip surely wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t include a journey around the Douro Valley.

The view to Finzes, Douro Valley, Portugal

So, for the next couple of days of our Portuguese road trip, we were going to do just that.

We were leaving Guimarães to Vila Real (our next overnight stop) and then the following day we were heading from Vila Real to Aveiro, on the Atlantic coast.

The Audi RS5 just outside Pinhão, Douro Valley, Portugal

Plan your route

Driving directly to Vila Real isn’t too far from Guimarães; however, that wasn’t the plan, we were off to explore some of the Douro Valley. Then more the following day before we headed southwest to Aveiro.

The Audi RS5 on the Rota do Vinho do Porto  Douro Valley, Portugal


Our first sight of the Douro Valley at Miradouro Mesão Frio was wonderful. The river was weaving its way through the hillsides, you could see the start of the vineyards beginning to stretch out ahead.

Did you know?

That the Alto Douro Wine Region is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001.


As you wind your way through the valley, twisting and turning, you’ll pass the wine estates (Quintas) that you recognise from your supermarket shelves, and some that are not so mainstream.

A reference guide

Our recent new found love is Portugal, it is such a beautiful country. While planning our trip, I used the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our north to south Portuguese road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.

Take your time

If you enjoy driving, you’ll love it around here, climbing, descending and lots of switchbacks as you zigzag through the stunning scenery.

We travelled through the Douro in spring, so the vines weren’t in their full flourish, we could only imagine how the steep terraces would have looked during the summer months.

We stopped at quite a few viewpoints along our journey, making the most of the incredible countryside. It isn’t just vines around here, there are fruit trees & olive groves, it’s lovely.

Keep an eye on the time

Driving around this region of Portugal is very picturesque, and at times as the roads are sometimes steep and narrow, it can make the journey slow. But hey, you’re on holiday, go with the flow.

Hidden Villages

However, what you also must do is stop to enjoy some of the little wine producing towns and villages that you pass by along the way.

Some you may need to take a slight detour; however, it’s worth it. We stopped at a few along our route, and on occasions, it was like stepping back in time.

Within Salzedas which is quite a small village, stands the imposing Monastery of Santa Maria de Salzedas. Originally built during the 12th-century, some of which still remains, however, the façade that can be seen today dates from 18th-century, it quite incredible.

Good to know

Stop when you can - We found that there were a reasonable number of laybys; however, as some of the roads are twisty you can’t always stop, so jump out any viewpoints you can.


Although we didn’t get the opportunity to visit the Sandeman Quinta in the Douro, we made up for it in Porto and enjoyed a tour of the Sandeman wine cellar, when the car was parked up safe and sound.

Tempted to?

Discover more of Portugal and tour its incredible Douro Valley, you can then head onto the Minho Region in the north-east and have a taster of Vinho Verde. You can do it all on a road trip, Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.

What suits you best

We didn’t follow a designated route, we created our own, as there are various options you can take, which we spread over a couple of days.

However, on our journey from Guimarães we picked up route N101 to Mesão Frio and then along N108 to Peso da Régua. Crossing the Douro river south onto the N2 & joined the N222 and travelled east through Pinhão, onto São João da Pesqueira.

From São João da Pesqueira we headed north crossing the Douro River again, then weaved our way slowly through the valley and villages, north-east towards Vila Real.

Leaving Vila Real, we picked up the N322, then onto N323 back through Pinhão and south across the Douro River.

We continued to tour across the intertwining roads and villages around the M513 & M520 before we passed through Lamego and then picking up our route to take us to Aveiro.

For More

For further information on things to see and do in Northern Portugal, take a browse around Visit Porto & The North local tourist website.

Have You?

Visited Portugal and toured the Douro Valley or taken one of the cruises from Porto, we’d love to hear about your experiences?

Inspired to visit the Douro Valley?

Vila Real in the heart of the Douro region is an ideal place to base yourself to tour around. You can also make a visit to Casa Mateus.

Why not checkout the latest deals on Booking.Com?

(Why not Pin It for Later?)

Share this post

Unable to locate Global Block : 59232


  1. One thing that would stick to my mind whenever someone mentions Douro its enchanting and beautiful landscapes. I had this opportunity to go on a river cruise in the Douro last summer and I think its one of the best vacation I had so far.

  2. The landscape all along the Douro Valley is incredible, particularly seeing the vineyards terraces. We didn’t get a chance to jump on a cruise, I should think it was very relaxing, we toured around in our own car & that was amazing.Did you get a chance to visit a wine cellar while you were in the region?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.