Digging into research on Portugal’s ‘overlooked’ wine region yields a bounty of information that can be difficult to wade through; in fact, it’s quite possible to end up with your head under water! However, the information doesn’t lie. What once used to be a treacherous region to navigate has now become a pinnacle of Portuguese tourism. To visit Porto and North means to have visited the Douro, and visitors are consistently awestruck by the grandeur, history and unique cultural heritage indigenous to the region.
Of course, a number of different tourism options exist, from river cruises to wine tastings, archaeological visits to the traditional grape harvest, and so many things in between. Should you choose to visit the Douro by train, the Linha do Douroallows one to gently pass through Douro’s amazing scenery. I much prefer to visit by car, surgically selecting the best locations and avoiding the mass tourism that public transportation provides. However, if I knew someone were picking me up following “one of the world’s great train rides”, I’d be happy to ride that train!
The Douro Valley itself is divided into 3 subregions, varying in proximity to Porto. The closest regions (Baixo Corgo and Cima Corgo) require a general travel time of 1-1.5 hours. Both subregions have developed extensive tourism options that are sure to satisfy, which is likely why the majority of Douro tourism remains in these areas. There are many gorgeous vistas and well-established experiences there; however, I won’t lie. I’m dying to explore the Douro Superior region closer to Spain. At 2.5 hours from Porto, very few tourists travel there, but I’m fascinated by the option to explore Portugal’s Paleolithic rock art and medieval hill towns.
That said, I’ve had the opportunity to travel through the Douro, but there is still so much to explore. I’m excited to continue experiencing the variety. From lush extravagance to the humble, traditional to the modern, Douro Valley provides a number of opportunities to feed my hunger for exploring and appreciating this World Heritage region. Off we go!