From Porto's Port Houses to the Duoro Valley's Vineyards: Discovering Portugal's Winelands on a Road Trip
Despite many misconceptions, Portugal should be on any wine lover's radar, not just for drinking, but for visiting. Here we have distilled our favourite spots for a bit of an oenological education into one trip, taking in the venerable port houses of Porto, the vertiginous vineyards of the Douro Valley and the charming wine estates in the Alentejo.
Itinerary at a glance:
- Learn the secrets of wine production, storage, and preservation in Porto
- Explore the majestic Douro Valley and sample (more than) a few of its wines
- Enjoy some very well-deserved R&R at a vinotherapy spa in the Alentejo
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Day 1: Arrive in Porto
Ideally you can arrive into Porto in time for lunch. After clearing customs, pick up your hire car and head straight into town for lunch - your comprehensive Dossier will surely whet your appetite.
After lunch, you have a private tour of the city with an expert guide who will elaborate on all the charm and history Porto has to offer. The tour begins with a visit to the trendiest areas of the city; Boavista and Foz, where the Atlantic meets the Douro River, and home to the cities best museums, including Serralves. You'll visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site city centre, and end your walking tour in the famous Avenida dos Aliados or Street of Santa Catarina.
Post walking tour, head to your hotel, the rather wine-themed Yeatman, to check-in and freshen up before dinner. As it's the first night of your vacation, we've pre-booked a prime table at one of Porto's top restaurants.
Day 2: Porto
This morning is yours to do with as you like - we'd recommend consulting your handy Dossier for ideas.
Although the spa at the Yeatman offers some truly wonderful booze-themed spa treatments. After lunch - why not try one of Porto's traditional specialities, such as tripe or 'franchesina' sandwiches (many a meat and cheese lover's fantasy). Then cross the river for your private tour of the ancient port producers' waterfront cellars. Your guide will take you through the cellars, imparting all the fortified wine knowledge you could ever desire, from its production and storage methods to preservation and even the history of Britain's love for port.
For dinner tonight, we recommend consulting your Dossier and going where your stomach takes you. NB: white port is strictly pre-prandial, whereas as its red and tawny cousins are post-dinner only.
Day 3: The Douro Valley
This morning you'll bid adeus to Porto and head inland to port country proper, otherwise known as the Douro Valley - the world's first designated wine region.
Taking the scenic route through the valley, after a two hour drive you will arrive at Quinta do Tedo just in time for lunch. Thoughtfully restored by a Franco-American couple, this vineyard produces some of the best ports and wines in the region, not to mention serving some truly scrumptious food. Post-lunch, you'll be taken on a tour of the vineyards and then for a tasting session of the delicious wines and ports.
Post tour, it's time to drive the half an hour to your hotel, the salubrious Six Senses Douro Valley. As you'll likely have very tired legs after an afternoon spent climbing around the hillside vineyards, we've booked you an early evening spa treatment before dinner at The Dining Room - the Six Senses' signature eatery - perhaps with a pre-dinner rendezvous in the Wine Library.
Day 4: Tour the Douro
Today, after a late and leisurely breakfast, you'll be picked up for a private wine tour around the Douro Valley with an expert guide.
You will be taking in all that the Douro Valley has to offer. The first stop of the day is the charming little town of Amarante on the banks of the river, before heading onto the neighbouring village of Regau to visit a port wine producing estate. Here you will be able to taste all that a fine estate has to offer.
After lunch in a local restaurant, you will continue along the river bank towards deepest Douro and the town of Vila Real, where you can meander down the historic streets. Afterwards, a panoramic drive along the Douro Valley whisks you away to the majestic Mateus Manor House, a Baroque masterpiece built by one of the wealthiest families in 18th century Portugal. Explore and admire the tranquil gardens before heading back to the Six Senses Douro Valley after a long but deeply relaxing day.
Day 5: The Alentejo
This morning, it is time to leave the Douro Valley for the Alentejo, in southern Portugal.
As the drive will take just over four hours, we recommend that you break the journey by stopping for lunch and to stretch your legs in Coimbra. We can recommend some excellent restaurants for a quick lunch, and a stroll around the Old Town is highly recommended. Post-lunch, it's back in the car and on the road to your next hotel, L'AND, in the heart of the Alentejo.
L'AND is a wine resort, club and home to a Michelin starred restaurant, where we strongly recommend spending the evening. Indulgence is positively encouraged, so it's lucky that the region is prime hiking territory, perfect for walking off the delicious dinners and clearing wine-hazed heads.
Day 6: Vinotherapy
After what we imagine might be a slow start this morning, we recommend a meander through the grounds of your hotel, followed by a treatment in the vinotherapy spa - where the treatments use by-products of the wine-making process - which we can pre-book for you.
Suitably relaxed and recovered from the excesses of last night, it's time to move on to your final hotel, the wonderful Malhadina Nova. The drive will take roughly an hour and three quarters, taking you further south. This quintessentially Portuguese homestead is found in the middle of a 450 acre private estate. After you've checked-in and dropped of your bags in your room, a member of the estate staff will give you a tour of the estate and winery, explaining the history and techniques they now use to produce some of the best wines in Portugal - which you will get to try during a tasting this evening.
Day 7: Leave Portugal
Sadly, today is your last day in Portugal, so we'd recommend squeezing in one last vineyard visit and wine tasting.
However, if you've grown tired of wine and spa-based pursuits - understandable after a full week of indulgence - Malhadina Nova is well equipped for more active activities, including a gallop across the estate (for experienced riders only), canoeing or quad biking.
Harriet and Kate L are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.