Lamego – the base camp of the Douro Valley

By Jerry Olivas

After you’ve filled the great ports of Portugal, on the south bank of Porto, why not continue your wine tasting with a visit to the Douro Valley? This is where you’ll find many great ports as well as some of the other best red and white wines in Portugal, including sparkling wine, which the Portuguese call Espumante.

Positively, don’t try to take a trip to the Douro Valley as a day trip because in addition to all the wineries, there are plenty of interesting sights including Roman ruins, castles, cathedrals, and mausoleums, as well as some great views to enjoy.

windows with a view

Halfway to the Douro Valley from Porto, 130 kilometers away, is the town of Lamego. This is an ideal starting point from which to explore. There are plenty of options for accommodation in and around Lamego, and because my wife and I have been exploring the area for several days, we chose to rent a self-catering apartment, O Cantinho Do Colégio (The Corner of the School), near the village center. This apartment has been fully updated with a fully equipped kitchen including dishwasher and two good sized bedrooms. And because it was on the top floor, all the windows had a great view of Lamego Castle.

Lamigo Awards

Once we settled in, we set out to discover Lamigo itself. The Sé Catedral de Nossa Senhora da Assunção (Our Lady of the Assumption), generally referred to as Lamego Cathedral, was originally built in the 12th century, a short distance from the blocks. This is a must for architecture buffs. The facade of this cathedral features an unusual blend of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles with a Roman bell tower and there are some wonderful frescoes inside as well.

The city’s main park is just steps away from Lamego Cathedral. This is a beautiful tree-lined park like an area about six blocks long that runs straight through the center bordered on each side by small one-way streets. It has benches, statues, fountains and some small food and drink vendors. In the streets that line the park there are several places to have a full meal or enjoy a pastry, coffee, tea or a glass of wine.

While walking along the promenade, you can see Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios (the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies), up a hill. Looking at this tempts you to climb up 686 intersecting stairs to see it up close. You can easily take a taxi, but it is better to go up the stairs as the pilgrims do, but you do not have to take the stairs on your knees, unless you also want to.

Every little landing allows for a bit of rest and relaxation, and there are some nice blue painted tiles (azulejos) to see on the road too. The church’s architecture is both Baroque and Rococo and has some beautiful ornate features with a stunning golden altar. Outside the church there is a small courtyard with all kinds of elegant things to take in, including some interesting statues that are definitely worth checking out closely. This is a good place for a picnic, enjoying the views and a nap after the flight of stairs.

Castelo de Lamego (Lamego Castle) is a short walk up a hill through a medieval area of ​​town just west of the centre. That’s 12y Century Castle is well restored with a tower that offers a great view of the Lamego. Heading down the hill from the castle at R. dos Moreirais you will find the 13y Century Cisterna of Lamego (rainwater catchment). This is well preserved with some interesting narrative signs and performances. Two blocks from Cisterna is the main market for Lamego (Mercado Municipal de Lamego) on Av. 5 de Outubro with plenty of everything fresh including fish. This is where we do most of our food shopping.

The good news is that the cathedral, mausoleum, castle and Cisterna are all free. But there is one more important place to visit in Lamego, the Lamego Museum, on Av. Regimento de Infantaria near the center. It’s hard to understand why this museum isn’t so heavily advertised. It contains some wonderful and famous paintings, textiles, sculptures, ceramics, jewellery, furniture and many other fine works of art.
Include a few hours for this museum; You will not be disappointed.

wine tasting South outside Lamego

You will be greatly rewarded on any route you take from Lamego. It’s best to rent a car, but taxis will take you wherever you want to go. A few miles southwest of the city off the N2, you’ll find a winery that produces fine, sparkling wine. Caves da Raposeira runs guided tours and tastings from Tuesday to Saturday throughout the day. It is easy to reach this winery by taxi from Lamego’s central park. Caves da Morganheira is located in the southeast of the city using the N229 to the M520 (located on the M520). They have both sparkling wines and stills with tours and tastings Tuesday through Saturday all day long.

On the way to Caves da Murganherira, off the M520 motorway, is the small village of Vila da Ponte on the Varosa River. It’s a pleasant little place with an old tower and bridge called Ponte de Ocanha, dating back to the 12th centuryy century, but the bridge was probably originally built by the Romans. There is plenty to enjoy walking in and around the bridge area with a few nice rustic Portuguese restaurants and bars.

Wine tasting on the south side of the Douro River

Heading north from Lamego towards the Douro River offers many things to explore, so it’s a good idea to plan your day trips and have your Google Maps ready. You may want to divide this direction into the south side and the north side of the Douro River. There are plenty of wineries on both sides and it’s a good idea to email, text or make a voice call to make sure they are open for tastings. It offers various tours, tastings and food.

We had a lovely tasting on the south side in Quinta da Pacheca, off N222 on CM1070. They are open for tastings Monday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. All the wines here were great with the white port being exceptional. And if you need a rest after all that wine tasting and can afford it, you might want to rent one of the wine barrel accommodations at the Hotel Quinta da Pacheca right next door to the winery.

Wine tasting on The northern side of the Doro River

On the north side of the Douro River we had a great tasting at Quinta da Devesa, from N313 to N313-2, to M593, then R. da Curvaceira, and finally Caminho das Devesas. This brewery was not easy to find but well worth the effort because the wines here were great – as were the views. It is best to contact Quinta da Devesa in advance to ensure they can accommodate you. If you have the time and a designated driver, or take a taxi instead, there are several wineries to sample on the southern and northern sides of the Douro River.

Doro Museum

While on the north side of the Douro River, in the town of Peso da Regua, the Douro Museum is a great place to learn all about the rich heritage of the Douro Valley. You will definitely need two hours here, and if you visit the restaurant and wine bar, it would be nice to allocate an extra two hours.

This museum helps you appreciate why the Douro region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Opening hours in summer, March 1 to October 31, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm daily and in winter, November 1 to February 28, 10:00 am to 5:30 pm daily.

gastronomy +

In Portugal, eating is not a problem at all. All Portuguese seem decent to me, but I’m not sure it can be done because the food, especially the desserts and wine, is great.

In Paso da Regua, we had a nice lunch at the Nacional Café Restaurant, R. evening. We had fish stew which was delicious and as soon as our plates were empty the cook magically appeared from the kitchen with a pot and gave us another help. The pastries were great here too, with a great selection to choose from, and we indulged in a couple of road-ready desserts. The Nacional Café Restaurant is what I consider authentic Portuguese cuisine and hospitality.

Lamego has many dining options. For a more formal meal, we ate at Manjar do Douro, from 11:30am to 10:30pm seven days a week. This restaurant is a bit loud, so we gave up on T-shirts. There was a variety of selections here for appetizers, main courses and desserts, and the wine selection was extensive. They serve many vegetarian dishes and a children’s menu. Wild boar steak with caramelized apple was tempting, but the steak stage in our lives is long gone. This is the kind of restaurant that strives to please and they do just that.

splurge on dining

If you dedicate a little savings to one of those great travel meals, where money is almost no object, Douro Valley has a place waiting for you. It is Six Senses Resort & Spa. This is one of those rich and famous chopper places in and out. These kinds of places could feel somewhat pretentious, but the six senses didn’t give off that feeling at all. Everyone was warm and welcoming.

The restaurant was comfortable, and the food is to die for, as they say. You can’t go wrong with anything, and if by chance you don’t like something, they’ll fix it, and they’re not shy about declaring their focus on sustainability. Don’t rush into this experience, focus on experience, there is a lot to accept and appreciate at Six Senses. This is the kind of place that might motivate you to work smart so you can stay here on your next trip to the Douro Valley.

Do you want to know more about Portugal?

Your way to Douro

From São Bento station in Porto (this is the station with all the great blue tile murals) we took a train to Peso da Regua. Check the Comboios de Portugal (Portugal Trains) site schedule for times and prices, and remember to use any discounts or specials you can take. It is an easy and short journey that takes less than two hours with several trains each day. Sit on the right side of the train for the best views of the Douro River and mountain views. At Peso da Regua we rented a car from Europcar, near the train station. Peso Da Regua is located a short drive from about 16 kilometers from Lamego.

For driving around the Douro Valley, the roads and signage can be a little tricky to be in adventurous mode because a little trial and error is guaranteed. It should be noted that driving in Portugal means being a defensive driver. Generally, Portuguese drivers think they know where to go, and they don’t want to waste any time getting there, if you know what I mean.

There is so much to explore and enjoy in the Douro Valley that a week will give you a quick glimpse. My wife and I are already planning our next trip and Lamego will definitely be our base camp again. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll put 686 stairs on campus in our daily exercise routine.

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