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Douro: Valley and Millennium of Wine Classified by UNESCO


Birthplace of sweet port wine and home to an extraordinary range of red and white wines, the Douro Valley is primarily synonymous with wine. And with a 2,000-year history of viticulture, dating back to Roman times, how not? But there is more to Douro than a Dionysian drink: an epic landscape, shaped by thousands of years of hard work and nature parks, where rivers still run free and wild.

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Learn more about the fascinating history of this, the oldest specific wine region in the world, how to get there and where to hike in order to learn about the many aspects of this charming region. And of course, where can you sample some of this wonderful wine.

Molded by thousands of years

The wine was produced by traditional landowners in the Alto Doro region about 2,000 years ago. Over the centuries, row after row of terraces were built according to different technologies, and the tireless efforts of man have transformed this vast area polluted with slate into a veritable monument to agriculture and landscape, noted by the Portuguese poet Miguel Torga: “The slopes, the volumes, the colors, the formations that no sculptor can or a painter or a musician translated.Expanded horizons beyond the thresholds of vision, a pristine universe, as if it had just been born, and already immortal through harmony, serenity and silence as the river itself dares to break, sometimes stealthily disappearing behind the mountains, sometimes astonished from below to reflect its own astonishment A geological poem. Absolute beauty.”

The Douro itself was weakened by 15 dams, regulating the flow of the giant river, which originates on the Spanish side of the border and runs to the west, through the northern region of Portugal before flowing into the Atlantic Ocean outside the city of Porto. But while the Douro itself looks like a lazy giant, it is energized by three large rivers and about 30 smaller rivers, many of which define the smaller valleys that drain into the Douro and form part of its landscape.

Everyone has their own favorite piece of Douro. For us, the Alto Doro wine region is the most exciting part of the region. It is the oldest designated wine region in the world add to its charm. It seems that UNESCO agrees with us and gave it a World Heritage designation in 2001.

temper nature

Douro is at its most urban as it flows into the Atlantic Ocean on the outskirts of Porto. Going upstream, towards the Spanish border and along several tributary rivers, the surroundings become wilder, and nature more intense.

Urban views of the city are exchanged through combed vineyards, orchards, and olive groves as you follow the Douro to the west. But when you leave the designated wine region of Alto Douro and travel north south of the Douro, along its nourishing rivers, you enter an untamed landscape where the only sounds you hear are the swell of the river, the cries of vultures and vultures. Insect buzzing.

There are several national parks in and around the Douro River. the Douro International Natural Park It runs along the Portuguese/Spanish border and is a joint project between the two countries. It is dominated by steep rocks and a dramatic river. the Val du Toy Regional Natural Park It is located around the Tua River, a tributary of the Douro River, and features a diverse flora. Northwest Villa Real you have the imposition Alfao Nature Park With a height of 1,339 meters and a range of 1,079 meters. These landscapes stretching around the beautiful Fisgas Falls are best observed; Our favorite walk in the park.

Hiking

We visited the area during the Covid-19 pandemic and therefore our movement has been restricted. However, we have managed to raise in alfao natural park, the Val du Toy Regional Natural Park And along the Douro River itself. Here are the top 5 tours in the area around Vila Real:

PR3 MDB Ermelo Fisgas – 12.4 km – 652 vertical

PR1 ALJ Trilho das Fragas Other – 10 km – 437 vertical meters

PR2 MUR Trilho de Tinhela – 9.2 km – 462 vertical meters

São Cristovo do Douro Trail – 8.3 km – 430 m

PR1 SBE – Quinta Nova Trail – 6.55 km – 294 vertical m

port wine

Although Douro is much more than just a Port wine, it should be an important part of a visit, as he knows this region so much – historically, culturally and rustically. We visited two different wineries in the port: Quinta Nova and Quinta do Bomfim.

The first offers a €16, 45-minute guided wine tour that includes a detailed explanation of the Port Wine production process in general and estate wines in particular. It is possible to book a later tasting from €16 and above and also enjoy a 3-course lunch or dinner at Terraçu’s Winery Restaurant. It’s also Quinta Nova, you can ride a PR1 SBE – Trilho da Quinta Nova to stroll around the estate and take in the scenic beauty before – or after – your gastronomical terroir.

Quinta do Bomfim is a historic estate located on the north bank of the Douro River on the edge of the village of Pinhão. Visitors arriving by car have on-site parking while those arriving by train (they have a nice train station!) are a five-minute walk from Quinta. The river marina is a ten minute walk away if you are arriving on a river cruise.

The tour begins in a small museum that tells the story of the property, family and wine. It continues until the Old Inn, built in 1896, is one of the most impressive structures in the Douro Valley and shows the wine-making process. After appreciating the great wine barrels and the historic ambiance, I had the pleasure of tasting 3 different types of local Port wines: Dow’s Port. Taste bud bliss!

How to get there

For a smack in the middle of this wonderful area, there are 3 options: by car, by train from Porto or by boat, also from Porto.

By car: This has some obvious advantages, as you can turn down every winding road you can imagine, and you can visit different wineries. It’s also essential if you’re hiking and want to experience nature off the tourist trail.

by train: If you’re coming from Porto and have limited time – and you want to taste more wine than your driving abilities can offer – the best option is to visit Douro by train. Enjoy the scenery in a more relaxed way and get off at Pinhão for a tasting at Quinta do Bomfim and continue along the most beautiful stretch to Pocinho. The train journey from Porto to Buccino takes 3 hours 40 minutes and costs €13,5. Same time and price for the return trip.
You can also take the train to Régua and then go on the historic Douro train to Tua and back on an old steam locomotive for €45.

By boat: Another way to enjoy the scenery is to take a trip up (or down) the Douro River by boat. You can choose the (ish) cheap version of a day cruise that combines a train ride to Régua and a cruise for €72. Almost every cruise option will involve taking a train or bus one way. There are a lot of package options:

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