How best to see the Douro Valley?

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Mar 24th, 2010, 08:40 AM
  #1
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How best to see the Douro Valley?

We will have a car to tour northern Portugal in late June. Would cruising or driving be better to enjoy the Douro? If cruising, considering a cruise on the Douro, most likely a one day cruise. Which segment would be best to do versus driving to better enjoy the scenery - Porto/Regua/Porto or Regua/Pinhao/Regua? Or, a longer cruise? There are also 2-day cruises, for example, Porto/Pinhao/Porto.
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Mar 24th, 2010, 08:49 AM
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I would drive. From a boat you see the valley from only one perspective.
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Mar 24th, 2010, 08:56 AM
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Is the Pinhao area difficult to drive, with steep cliffs and hairpin turns?
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Mar 24th, 2010, 09:20 AM
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24, 10 at 10:49am
I would drive. From a boat you see the valley from only one perspective

But if you drive you see the valley from only one side - from the boat you see both sides?

I took a train along the valley, another option
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Mar 24th, 2010, 10:18 AM
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I think there are two kinds of people in this world, those who like being on boats and those who don´t. I´m one of the ones who doesn´t, so I wouldn´t recommend a cruise, but maybe you do.

For me, the most scenic part of the Douro is the part east of Pinhao. (I know people who have taken the boat Porto to Regua and thought it wasn´t very special). The part east of Pinhao is only accessible by train or boat. I have described the train trip here http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-the-douro.cfm -- this link actually combines comments from two different short trips I took to the Douro Valley.

I think a car is great for giving you the down low vs. up high perspective, and driving around the area is very pleasant. So I guess I, like Palenque, vote for train and driving.
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Mar 24th, 2010, 11:24 AM
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We have stayed in the Douro Valley (Quinta de la Rosa near Pinhao) a couple of times, and honestly I'd consider a car essential. With the car, we were able to visit many vineyards and quintas for wine and port tasting, as well as the flexibility to choose different places to go for meals.
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Mar 24th, 2010, 12:55 PM
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Yes, the road above Pinhao has hairpin turns. The hillsides are covered with vineyards.
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Mar 24th, 2010, 01:55 PM
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Hi, I took the boat cruise from Porto that Ireynold1 spoke of, and didn't really care for it. There is a long train ride with no scenery just to catch the boat. And then the boat trip we took, did not have enough seats up top for everyone, so we were stuck down in the dining room while it went through the most scenic part. After lunch we went up and found seats, but by then the scenery was just okay, and the rest of the boat ride felt like an eternity. My family and I loved Portugal, but we all said this was the one thing we would have done differently had we known what it was going to be like. Hope that helps! Have a wonderful trip! pp
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Mar 25th, 2010, 07:32 AM
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From my experience (I live in Porto) I think that a cruise is the best option. Through the river you can see areas of the valley that aren't reached by car. Roads on the Douro do not all pass near the river, specially if you go to the Upper Douro which is the area that everyone wants to see.

Cruise companies offer several options ranging from a 1 day cruise, to several days packages. If you have the time to spare try to go all the way to Barca d'Alva near the Spanish border. At least you should go to Pinhão.
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Mar 25th, 2010, 10:56 PM
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For photos of the area:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...7623705654880/
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Mar 26th, 2010, 07:16 AM
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Great photos, Michael. Could you supply info as to the best way to get to Foz de Coa? Did you feel it was worth the trip?
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Mar 26th, 2010, 08:15 AM
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We made Foz de Côa a destination because my wife collects World Heritage sites. However we did not make reservations ahead of time because we were not ready to pin ourselves down in terms of our itinerary. It turns out that going to the office in town first thing in the morning was enough for us to see both the morning and the afternoon site. I would choose to stop there if it is no more than a small detour between two other points on your itinerary. The one photo I have was the only good one I could get of the incised animals. These are not like the painted caves of France or northern Spain.

As to how we got there, we just used our finger on the map to go between Pinhão and Fos de Côa. Click on my name and you should find my 2006 trip report Portugal and Galicia.
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Mar 26th, 2010, 08:23 AM
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Beautiful photos Michael!

If we were to take a day trip from Porto into the Douro Valley, what would be the best route by car? This would be in October.
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Mar 26th, 2010, 08:31 AM
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I could not answer the question since we came to the upper Douro valley from the other direction.
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Mar 26th, 2010, 08:37 AM
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MFNYC, try viamichelin website, it gives directions as well as scenic routes.
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Mar 26th, 2010, 10:19 AM
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Will do.
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Nov 21st, 2017, 01:48 AM
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Hey! I just saw this post. Just found this post that seems quite interesting about how to get there and which is the best transport:

http://www.tripinsiders.net/douro-valley/

i found it quite useful and I actually stayed at that Quinta, had a great time to be honest, hope this helps
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Nov 22nd, 2017, 07:43 AM
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Hello,

We had the most beautiful day at the Douro Valley. I can't compare to other experiences, but we wouldn't have done it any differently.

We had rented a car and left Porto early in the morning. The drive is fairly easy, we used Google Maps and selected the "no tolls" option because we wanted to border the river. We drove all the way to Pinhao, stopping at the Quinta do Seixo for a wine tasting and tour. The views from there are breathtaking and even if you are not planning to do a tour, stop by to check out the valley. We afterwards had a lazy and pleasant lunch at Pinhao and spend a while just sitting by the river, enjoying the beautiful views of locals fishing and killing time without a rush or worry in the world.

After lunch, we made our way up to Alijó. The drive is insanely beautiful and was by far one of the most amazing ones we've seen in a long long time (and we come from a country known for its great views - Peru). On your way to Alijó, you can stop at wineries that haven't seen a guest in a long time and where the owner is extremely happy to share a glass with you and talk in broker English. You also pass through tiny towns where you still see the women dressed in black and washing and beating their clothes against the rocks.

Afterwards we backtracked and made our way back to Mesao Frio where we had booked a room at the extraordinary Quinta do Bosque.

Everything was just... perfect. Probably one of the most beautiful, calm and pleasant days I've ever experienced. The drive, the off the beaten track charm of the small towns on the way to Alijó, the unbeatable Quinta do Bosque. There is nothing I wish had been different about that day. We traveled in mid October and the weather and sights were fantastic.

Have a great time.
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Nov 22nd, 2017, 07:44 AM
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Oh! I just realized this is a very old post! Anyway, hope my description helps some future traveler!
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