Postcard from Porto: 8 things to discover in Douro Valley
Discover where to stay, eat and explore in the Douro Valley, a UNESCO world heritage site home to the world’s largest wine-growing region
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Image: Vila Galé Collection Douro
Escape the British chill and enjoy a weekend away on the Portuguese coast. Here are our pick of unmissable sights in the Douro Valley wine region…
Stay in a giant barrel at Quinta da Pacheca
Image: Quinta da Pacheca
As if the Douro Valley wasn’t naturally Instagrammable enough, the Quinta da Pacheca estate provides you with the opportunity to sleep in a giant wine barrel in the middle of one of the most famous wine regions. Richardo Santos, Head of Marketing and wine tourism at Quinta da Pacheca said of the quirky accomodation: “The barrel hotel concept has gone viral, we’ve not had to put a single euro into advertising!”
From 200-400 Euros per night, including private bathroom amenities, enjoy a barrel of laughs in this novel, nature-immersed stay!
Become a winemaker for a day at the Monverde Wine Experience Hotel
Image: Monverde Wine Experience Hotel
Want to create a bespoke blend of wine, tailored to your palette? You’ll begin your wine experience by decanting a measure of five vinho verde (green wine) grape varieties from Quinta da Lixa’s vineyards to sample separately and taste alongside your sommelier’s suggested food pairings.
Once you’ve selected your favourite varieties, your guide will advise on the perfect ratio to create your own blend to take home. Next, you’ll hand cork the bottle, before designing your own label. The hotel is child-friendly, so feel free to get your young budding artists involved too!
Get up close with inspiring interiors and experience wanderlust at Casa de Sezim
Image: Casa de Sezim
Explore this gorgeous 18th century manor house (where you’ll find the same wallpaper as The Whitehouse).
With links back to the Portuguese royal family, treat yourself to a stay fit for a queen in one of its eight rooms. You’ll also be able to make use of the swimming pool, tennis court and enjoying walks through the surrounding hills. However, if that sounds too strenuous, simply relax and enjoy a glass of their award-winning, estate-bottled vinho verde wine.
Visit the Don at Sandeman Port wine cellar
A trip to Porto isn’t complete without visiting one of the most iconic places where Port was made famous. A truly immersive experience which excites all the senses in its cool, dark, wood-scented cellar, your tour will conducted by a guide in a Zorro-like costume, who’ll explain the Port-making processes before paying homage to the Don with a leisurely tasting.
To book a tour, visit the wine tourism website.
Don’t have time to drink a dram with the Don? Sanderman’s white, tawny, ruby, reserve and late bottle vintages are all available to purchase on Amazon.
Wake up to idyllic views of the Douro Valley at Vila Galé Collection Douro
Image: Vila Galé Collection Douro
Offering a unique view over the Douro Valley vineyards and breathtaking views of the river Regua, the luxurious Vila Galé Douro is the perfect place to lay your head after a long day of wine tasting. With a large swimming pool and an expansive spa, we found it a perfect spot of respite after exploring all that Porto has to offer. We recommend booking a room with a balcony to enjoy the local wine, port and cheese you’re bound to have bought!
Visit the official hotel website to book your stay today.
Explore the future of wine at the technologically-advanced Quinta do Bomfim
Image: Qunita do Bomfim
Owned by the Scottish Symington family, Quinta da Bomfim is based in Pinhao and is one of the world’s leading producers of port (including the familiar Graham’s, Dow’s, Warre’s and Cocktburn’s brand) as well as premium Portuguese wine.
What makes the farm unique to others in the region is that, as well as keeping an eye on their vines via drone and satellite technology, they are able to emulate the treading of grapes (traditionally by foot) using silicon bricks to macerate the grapes and distribute the skins in the lagera to achieve the beautifully ruby-red hues.
Short on time to visit the Symington estate? Purchase a bottle of port online at Waitrose Cellar.
Dine at Michelin-Starred, MasterChef owned restaurant, DOC
Set in the picturesque location of Folgosa, in the heart of the Douro Valley, Chef Rui Paula’s restaurant is set in Armamar, on the road along the river between Régua and Pinhão, DOC is one of the most beautiful and romantic scenic routes in the country.
Chef Rui Paula’s dishes focus on the use of genuine regional produce. His kitchen absorbs inspiration from the Northeast-Douro region to which he gives a personal touch. With the sea nearby, the menu makes use of the best fish and seafood from the coast. For example, the Carolina rice with lobster is an absolute must.
Should weather permit, alfresco dining on the suspended terrace over the river is a must. Take in breathtaking views of vineyards and shale, tranquil riverside villages and passing trains, breaking the stillness around the valley.
Discover pink port and picnic at Croft-owned Quinta da Roêda
Image: Quinta da Roêda.
Set in Pinhão in the heart of the Douro Valley is Croft’s picturesque flagship vineyard estate, Quinta da Roêda. Whilst Croft is typically known for it’s sherry, they produce four types of port and extra-virgin olive oil.
During harvest time, tread the grapes in the lagares or indulge in a tasting experience. Whilst this does involve hiking up the incline of the vineyard, you’ll sample sweet grapes straight from the vine. Or, if weather permits, enjoy a Port picnic! Experiences range from €12 to €35, depending on the vintage, type and number of ports sampled. Tastings can be booked via email or by calling +351 220 109 830.
Read more: 8 cocktail recipes using Croft Pink port
How to get to Porto
TAP Air Portugal is Portugal’s leading airline and a member of Star Alliance. As Europe’s most frequent flyer from the UK to Portugal, TAP operates up to 77 direct weekly flights from London Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester to Lisbon and Porto.
Start your culinary experience soon after you board with a choice of Portuguese wines and a traditional delicacy included.
Prices start at £89 return including taxes and surcharges.