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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.