When I get bad case of wanderlust on Mondays, I often find myself immersed in travel blogs. In less than three weeks I’ll be jetting off to Spain to make new memories, but today I’m going to share my much delayed recap of the Douro Valley in Portugal. With a place as gorgeous as this where do I even begin?
When we decided to go to Portugal, I knew we had to try to make the trip north to the Douro Valley, despite the long drive from Lisbon. The Douro Valley is the up and coming wine region in Portugal, situated along the Douro River. There are some really great wines there at reasonable prices because the area is often skipped by wine enthusiasts, though they are starting to take note (as evidenced by articles like this and this). The Douro Valley has repeatedly been named one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world, and I can attest that it lives up to that name!
Though we were only able to spend about 24 hours there, it was worth the trip. When I was planning our trip, I noticed there were not too many articles and blog posts about the local wineries, so hopefully this post will be helpful to some readers who are planning trips there.
10:30 AM Departed Lisbon and drove to Quinta de Pacheca in the Douro Valley
2-4 PM Lunch at Quinta de Pacheca, then a tour and tasting
4 PM Headed over to Quinta de Tedo for a tasting
5 PM Ended the day with a tasting at Quinta de Seixo
6 PM Arrived at Quinta de la Rosa (where we stayed)
8 PM Dinner in Pinhao
10 AM Breakfast overlooking the Douro at Quinta de la Rosa
11 AM Tour and tasting at Quinta de la Rosa
1 PM Tour and tasting at Quinta Bomfim
2:30 PM Tour and tasting at Quinta de Portal
4 PM Late lunch at a local restaurant recommended by the winery
5 PM Departed for Porto
The drive from Lisbon to the Douro Valley was easy and beautiful! I’m always worried about driving in a foreign country, but we got out of Lisbon pretty quickly and once you are on the freeways, the driving is easy. You should be forewarned that the freeways are mostly toll roads and are very expensive. We had no idea we would be spending so much on tolls.
On the drive up, we passed many other vineyards and tons of olive and almond trees. Once we got into the Douro Valley area, the views were absolutely gorgeous. The vineyards on the sides of the hills overlooking the river reminded me of the Mosel River region in Germany.
Driving from vineyard to vineyard took us through incredibly windy and steep roads with the most amazing views – it’s certainly a drive I will always remember (scroll down for a video clip of our drive)!
We had made a reservation for lunch and a tour and tasting at Quinta de Pacheca to start off our Douro trip. We ended up being an hour late, but they were very accommodating. Lunch was good but a bit pricey (for Portugal). The tour and tasting, however, were my favorite from all the vineyards we visited! I would definitely recommend making an appointment to visit Quinta de Pacheca.
We tasted a Rose, a white, two reds, and two ports. I ended up buying the white wine and port, as well as some olive oil.
We asked our guide for recommendations for other nearby vineyards to visit on our way to our hotel and were able to make it to two. First, we headed down the road to Quinta de Tedo where dogs truly have the best life!
There was only a self-guided tour there, so we did a quick tasting and then walked around a bit to soak in the views and the winery itself. Quinta de Tedo was fun and no appointment is required, so it was worth the stop.
Since it was after 5 at that point and Quinto de Seixo closed at 6, we decided to stop by there too. Unfortunately, upon arrival we were told the tours were done for the day but that we could head down to the tasting room. On our walk down, Luke saw a bathroom nestled into the hillside. Little did we know, that bathroom is for “staff only” and the door often gets stuck! So Luke got stuck in the bathroom in the middle of a vineyard hillside in Portugal. Seriously.
After getting the front desk person and him failing to get Luke out, I was able to get the door open with a rock and ruler. Caroline saves the day!
After those agonizing few minutes, we headed down to the tasting room (which was almost closed by that point!) that had an incredible view over the Douro River.
We tasted ports and wines, including an expensive 40-year port that Luke got on the house for his bathroom troubles, and enjoyed them all. If you go to Quinta de Seixo, I’d recommend making an appointment and trying to go when they have tours. It’s very popular because it is where Sandeman port is sourced.
From there, we headed to our hotel to check in before going to dinner. As I mentioned before, we really enjoyed our stay at Quinta de le Rosa. It was close enough to the village of Pinhao that we were able to take a leisurely stroll down to town for dinner. We didn’t know that not much is open in town on Monday night. We had to settle for one of the only restaurants open, which was good but not amazing. I’d recommend making a reservation to at Quinta de la Rosa if you are there on a Monday.
On Tuesday, we slept in for the first time of the trip and it was wonderful. We had a delicious breakfast on the hotel’s patio overlooking the Douro before heading down to do a tour of the winery and a tasting.
After our tasting, we wandered around the property one more time and said our goodbyes to Quinta de la Rosa – we wished we could have stayed a few more days!
Since we only had one reservation in the afternoon, we decided to wander a bit and see if any of the nearby vineyards were open. We hit a dead end at one vineyard, but arrived 20 minutes before a tour and tasting were set to begin at Quinta de Bomfim. This vineyard has been producing wine for years, but had just opened to the public the week before. They built a beautiful museum welcome area, a state of the art remodeled winery, and a beautiful tasting room with a patio overlooking the Douro.
The tasting here ran a little late and we were in a rush to make it to Quinta de Portal for our tour and tasting appointment. The vineyard wasn’t far, but the roads that took us there were some of the windiest and steepest roads we had ever been on. It was one of the most exciting drives with breathtaking views – I only wish we hadn’t rushed through it! The video below will give you a taste of the gorgeous and winding drive, but be warned it may make you dizzy!
Quinta de Portal might have been my second favorite tour that we did. Our guide was very informative. The only problem was that at the end of the tour, you have to choose three wines to taste out of an entire book! It was extremely difficult, but our guide helped us a bit and we ended up pleased with our choices.
After leaving Quinta de Portal, we were starving and took our tour guide up on a local restaurant suggestion in a nearby town. It happened to be a pizza restaurant, but they had some cool local food as well, like this Bacalao (cod fish) “mac n cheese” pictured below.
After our late lunch, we started our two hour drive to Porto. The only thing that can make leaving the Douro Valley a little easier is being on your way to a city as cool as Porto! Hopefully I will evtually blog about our short stay in the city renowned for port wine and the Douro River.