At this point we should probably just change the name of our blog to Gypsy Sols World Wine Guide. It seems that no matter what country we are in we seem to be able to find the most amazing wine regions. The Douro Valley in Portugal is no exception. From amazing reds to sweet ports, the wine was just as wonderful as the stunning rolling hills and picturesque Douro River. We were able to re-capture some of the country farm feelings that we had in Mendoza, Argentina but with the added charm of 18th century cobble stone towns.
Where to Stay in the Douro Valley
Although most people who visit the Douro Valley do it as part of a cruise boat excursion I highly recommend staying for a few days if you have the opportunity. In fact I highly recommend that you stay in the same Airbnb that we did as it was absolutely perfect (Here is a link to it!)
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Provesende is the town where our Airbnb was located. It is up a very steep winding hill but the views are absolutely incredible. The town itself is super small and does not offer much in the way of dining or activities but it more than makes up for it with the views and vibe. If you are going to stay here I recommend staying at a bed and breakfast that includes meals otherwise you will be spending a lot of time driving up and down the mountain.
Pinhão is right on the Douro River and has a lot more to offer in terms of restaurants and things to do. Although it does not offer the huge sweeping views of Provesende this is where you should stay if you do not want to be driving up and down the mountain too often. There are some tasting rooms you can get to very quickly and the river is absolutely stunning.
Douro Valley Vineyards to Visit
If you are going as part of an organized tour you do not need to worry about reservations or anything. If you are going to be driving around in your rental car I recommend trying to call ahead. That being said most of the vineyards we visited we did so without a reservation. (We did get turned away from Quinta Do Sexto as they were full).
Small winery with huge views. Make sure to check out the nearby mirador. Insider tip: the family next to us had brought their own picnic. I am not sure if it is normally allowed but the day we were there was slow and no one gave them any trouble. The wine is great and the prices are very good.
There is a nice tasting room right on the river in Pinhão where you can sample all of their wines. They also offer tours up to the vineyard but we had such a nice time at the tasting room that we did not go.
Just as we were arriving to the vineyard two large tour buses pulled in and unloaded what seemed like 500 people. So, we did not get to do a wine tasting at Seixo. That being said the employees were super nice and let us walk around the property (which is amazing). They even pointed us to another vineyard that could accommodate us last minute.
Family Owned Vineyards
The owners of our Airbnb were also very knowledgeable wine enthusiasts and offers a daily curated dinner menu with paired tasting. We got to sample some of the most select wines from the local vineyards and hear stories about how they came about.
Where to Eat in the Douro Valley
Like Valle De Uco, this one is tricky. We only had meals included for half of our stay so we ended up driving around a lot looking for good places to eat. There are more options in Pinhão but nothing really stands out as recommendable. We did get a nice wine popsicle at Cafe Imperio and a great lunch at Pizzaria Malagueta but if you have the option try to either eat at the vineyards or have it included with where you stay.
Douro Valley Tips
- Rent a car or visit with a tour.
- Stay at the same Airbnb we stayed at.
- Eat at the vineyards or at your accommodation.
- Call ahead for wineries (but if you do not get in touch with anyone just show up!)
- Be comfortable driving on steep winding roads (they are no joke!)
- Try the port wines even if you think you don’t like port.
The main thing I love about being in wine country is that it is in the country. Sometimes it is nice to get out of the city and reconnect with nature. Especially when that nature produces fantastic wines.
Want more information to plan your trip to the Douro Valley? Check out the Portugal Lonely Planet here.