An Enchanted Douro: 3 unforgettable days
Tips and Suggestions
Characteristics of the Douro Region
Douro is a destination to be discovered! Its very own landscape and identity, of people faithful to their roots, fascinate all who visit it. The exuberant nature; the culture and historical heritage; the immense flavors of local cuisine and wines; the legends and traditions with Moorish princesses, knights, witches and werewolves, as well as the cosmopolitan atmosphere of a river cruise, make the Douro a multifaceted destination that offers unique experiences to its visitors.
The Douro people have a very unique character, rooted in the past and local history, which results in different customs and habits. Lamego, a destination for pilgrims and lovers of good Douro gastronomy, is proud to be older than the kingdom of Portugal: the majestic Cathedral and the mighty Castle confirm its nobility and antiquity.
The picturesque town of Pinhão, heritage of grapes and wine, dazzles with its terraced vineyards and its history linked to grape harvests, rabelo boats and the production of Port Wine. Favaios, the plateau of bread and wine, is also well known for its muscatel and four-cornered wheat bread.
The village of Favaios still preserves its original features and holds some of the best kept secrets of the Douro. All this is mixed, however, with a modern and vibrant culture that begs to be discovered. The best way to get to know all this universe is aboard our 3 Day cruise: Douro Encantado.
Best time to visit the Enchanted Douro
The Douro Demarcated Region always invites you to visit, whatever the season. The mini-cruises departing from and arriving in Pinhão (cruzeiro-pinhao-romaneira-pinhao) take place every day of the year and are the perfect experience to recharge your batteries and enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the Douro.
The light of the river waters mirrored in the blue sky, the hospitality of the local people and the wide range of programs to do and places to visit make any trip to the Douro Valley a unique experience. It is important to remember that the Douro is master and master of its own microclimate, so that the surrounding mountains protect the valley from the influence of the Atlantic Ocean and offer a continental climate, with hot, dry summers and cold winters.
Spring days come early to the Douro. With the sun peeking through, the 1, 2 and 3-day Cruises return to sailing as early as early April and continue through October, when the explosion of autumn colors paints the landscape orange, red and yellow hues. The slopes of the Douro are dressed in gala attire in the fall, so this is undoubtedly one of the most inspiring times of the region!
September is harvest time. Visiting the Douro during the grape harvests is to know the true soul of the Douro people and understand the uniqueness and special character of this unique region in the world.
Gastronomy and Douro Wines
In the words of Fernando Pessoa: "Good is life, but better is wine"! This magnificent beverage always provides, around a table, the most animated conversations. The North of Portugal has an extensive range of wines, from Vinho Verde, with its appetizing freshness, to Port Wine, the most famous fortified wine in the world.
Whatever the angle from which one approaches the Douro Valley - landscape, history, economic activities or culture - there is always wine as a common element. The Romans were the first to realize the quality of the region's wines, but it was only in the 18th century that the fame of Port Wine crossed borders and began to enrich many producers, whose beautiful Quintas can now be visited along the river. In an imposing landscape, the Douro Wine Valley, World Heritage, is the oldest demarcated region in the world, since 1756, and Port Wine the most famous of the excellent wines of the region.
On the 3-Day Cruise: Secrets of Douro and Tâmega, we take a journey to the most hidden origins of the history of the vineyard in two prestigious wine regions of Portugal: the Vinhos Verdes Route and the Douro Route. Through this magnificent route, you can take excellent tours, get in touch with ancient knowledge and discover regions where wine has been cultivated since time immemorial.
Surround yourself in the beauty of the landscape and visit the points of interest along the way: from the terraces of the Douro, birthplace of the famous Port Wine, to Amarante, green and lush, where you will enjoy a fantastic typical lunch in a Wine Hotel of the Vinho Verde Region.
Leave the diets for later and enjoy the local specialties. The Douro gastronomy is one of the best in the country, with delicious snacks that are really hard to resist. In Douro restaurants, you can enjoy the traditional products of Trás-os-Montes, such as beef - much appreciated in roasted steaks -, but especially pork, which is the source of a great number of sausages and smoked meats, such as alheiras from Mirandela, salpicões and chouriças from Vinhais, or the famous Lamego smoked ham.
As for fish, there are many recipes for codfish and river fish, such as trout. The region is also famous for the quality of its cherries and its dried fruits, particularly almonds and chestnuts.
Best Destinations in the Douro
On its way to the Atlantic, the Douro River makes its way amidst beautiful terraces covered with vineyards.
Peso da Régua
The city of Peso da Régua, also known simply as "Régua", is famous for being the capital of the demarcated Douro region. From its pier departs and arrives many of the famous Cruises that cross the Douro River and it is here that the Douro Museum is located, which shows the visitor the importance of this heritage through the various exhibitions it organizes.
The city of Lamego is known for its monumental Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios. The church was built in 1761, which is reached by a spectacular double staircase, similar to the baroque staircase of the Bom Jesus de Braga. The pilgrimage of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios in September is one of the largest festivities in Portugal, taking place at the shrine, the main focus of pilgrims, and in the streets of the town.
The presence of the wonderful landscape of Douro Vinhateiro (wine-growing Douro) is another of its assets: if the quality of the wine is an evidence, the gastronomy is strong, deserving special mention the sausages, the ham and the typical Bola de Lamego. Lamego also produces other wines, such as the natural sparkling wine Raposeira and Murganheira, which can be tasted in the region's cellars.
All around there is a lot to see, like the splendorous Monastery of São João de Tarouca and the fortified bridge of Ucanha. This immense and valuable heritage is explained in detail by our guides on the 3-day cruise along the Enchanted Douro.
Pinhão, Favaios, Vila Real and the Upper Douro Region
On the way to Pinhão, with its beautiful railway station, an extraordinary scenery opens up at the viewpoint of S. Leonardo da Galafura. In Favaios, you can taste the unique and unmistakable Muscatel wine, appreciated worldwide. Vila Real, with its historical heritage, the stunning Mateus Palace and the tasty Mateus Rosé, is also worthy of a visit. Upstream, the river runs between escarpments and stone shades. It is an area of manor houses, almond trees in bloom, and the Sanctuary of S. Salvador do Mundo with an impressive view. In the Upper Douro, other places are worth visiting, such as Vila Nova de Foz Côa, whose Archeological Park is the largest gallery of rock art in the world. That is why it is a World Heritage Site.
It is worth a visit and let yourself get excited! Don't miss this opportunity and come to know the Douro! We are waiting for you!