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Porto & Douro Valley: An Amazing Travel Destination in Europe

Updated on July 3, 2017

Douro

The Douro is a river in the Iberian Peninsula. It flows from its source near Duruelo de la Sierra in Soria Province in Spain, across Spain and Portugal, to its outlet at Porto in Portugal.

Douro Valley

The Douro Valley is a vast landscape that is located in the North of Portugal. It extends from the city of Porto to the eastern border. This region is well-known for its Port wine production activities and scenic beauty.

Douro Valley Is a Picturesque Region

The Valley is a picturesque region with its steep terraced hillsides that are covered in some of Portugal’s celebrated vineyards. This region is also well-known for its river cruises and scenic train rides.

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Douro River Is Located in the Iberian Peninsula

Douro River
Douro River | Source

This work is a study of 70 quintas in the Douro region. A quinta is an estate that produces the grapes that are used to make Port wine.

Douro Waterway

The Douro Waterway is an international waterway that is open to all kinds of pleasure craft. You just need to ensure that your sailing boat’s mast is not longer than 7.20 meters. Douro Waterway is well-known for its natural beauty. It also offers you an opportunity to enjoy river sports like sailing, canoeing and rowing.

International Douro Nature Park

The International Douro Nature Park covers 122 kilometers of border stretch of the Douro River and its tributary, the Agueda River. The gorges carved by these two rivers are deep and very beautiful. You will find many nesting birds in this park, like the Bonellis Eagle, the Egyptian vulture, the Griffon vulture, the black stork and the golden eagle.

International Douro Nature Park Houses Many Nesting Birds Like Golden Eagle

Golden eagle
Golden eagle | Source

Shrine of Nossa Senhora dos Remedios

The shrine of Nossa Senhora dos Remedios is another attraction in the region. It was raised on a hill in the town of Lamego. The shrine is in rococo style. You will find many statues, obelisks and fountains here.

Archeological Park of the Coa Valley

In the Archeological Park of the Coa Valley (PAVC), you will find many prehistoric rock art sites of the valley. They are considered the most important Paleolithic free air art in the world. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Coa Valley Houses a Remarkable Set of Prehistoric Rock Carvings

Coa Valley
Coa Valley | Source

Porto

Porto is the second largest city in Portugal, after Lisbon. It is also known as Oporto in English. It is one of the major urban areas in Southern Europe and is located along the DouroRiver estuary.

Porto Is a Well-Connected City

Porto is well-connected by air, rail and road. Flights are available from important cities in Europe like London, Paris and Madrid. It you take Metro, you can reach the center of the city from the airport in around half an hour.

Porto

A markerPorto -
Porto, Portugal
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Porto Attracts Art Aficionados From All Over the World

Porto was a sleepy riverside city which was known for its fortified wines. This amazing city has emerged as a vibrant arts capital. It is rightfully getting plenty of buzz as a great value destination. People from all over the world are flocking to Porto & DouroValley.

Rua Miguel Bombarda

The gallery lined Rua Miguel Bombarda is at the vanguard of Porto’s bohemian art scene. Also known as Bombards, it is liveliest during Simultaneous Openings. This is when new exhibitions and street side concerts happen. They create a festive ambiance. If you are a lover of contemporary art, you must visit Rua Miguel Bombarda.

Rua Miguel Bombarda Is the Arts Block of Porto

This arts block of the city of Porto owes its name to the dynamics printed by the owners of art galleries firstly on Bombarda and later on the adjacent arteries. Entry to the galleries is free.

New Displays Every Two Months

The location is close to downtown. You can find new displays around every two months. Trindade, Arthobler, Presenca, Serpente, Fernando Santos, Dama Aflita, Artes Solar Santo Antonio and Sao Mamede are considered to be dynamic art galleries.

Tea Parlors

You will find many tea parlors in and around Rua Miguel Bombarda. This region is also well-known for alternative clothing. There are many record shops here. You will also find bars, co-working spaces, biological goods, hostels and studios for new fashion creators.

Breyner 85

Rua Miguel Bombarda is also known for good food, wine and night life. Breyner 85 is entertainment personified. You can enjoy good music, dance, art and much more in Bombarda.

Tea Route

The Tea Route is a heaven for people who like tea. It was created by Miguel Ortigao and offers more than 300 varieties of tea to its visitors. Both hot and iced varieties are available.

Rua Miguel Bombarda

Rua Miguel Bombarda
Rua Miguel Bombarda | Source

Palacio de Cristal Gardens

Palacio de Cristal gardens are well-known for romantic paths. There are five routes of cultural and historical interest. They extend from Palacio de Cristal to the riverside. A stroll in these routes is an out-of-the-world experience. It will take you back in time, to nineteenth century Porto.

Palacio de Cristal gardens

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Museums

Huge museums such as the Museu de Arte Contemporanea host wonderful cutting edge exhibitions. Museu de Arte Contemporanea is located in a leafy, upscale suburb off the grand Avenida Boavista.

Museu De Arte Contemporanea Is an Example of Contemporary Architecture

Museu de Arte Contemporanea is a wonderful work of contemporary architecture. It is designed by Alvaro Siza Vieira, a Porto based architect. Its vase whitewashed spaces are bathed by natural light.

Even though most of the museum is devoted to cutting edge exhibitions, you will also find fine permanent collection featuring works from the late 1960s to the present. You will find works of artists like Ed Ruscha, Georg Baselitz and Gerhard Richter.

Museu de Arte Contemporanea

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Casa De Serralves Is Located near Museu De Arte Contemporanea

You will find Casa de Serralves near Museu de Arte Contemporanea. This 1930s Art Deco mansion is pink in color. It is an exhibition space. The 18 hectare estate surrounding the mansion is known as Parque de Serralves. You will find many intriguing sculptures here. Stroll around the gardens is a great experience.

Casa da Musica

Casa da Musica is a major concert hall space in Porto. It keeps the music going on throughout the year. It is designed by Rem Koolhaas. Free outdoor concerts in the summer attract many people.

Casa da Musica also houses a cultural institution of the same name with its three orchestras Orquestra Barroca, Orquestra Nacional do Porto and Remix Ensemble. It is considered to be an icon of Porto.

Casa da Musica

A markerCasa da Musica -
Casa da Musica, 4050-424 Porto, Portugal
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Port Wine Lodgers

Many restaurants have tapped into Porto’s creative new outlook. Rui Paula’s DOP showcases Portuguese ingredients with a contemporary twist. It is well-known for its European cuisine. Food is tasty and fresh; and is served in an artistic way.

Port wine lodgers in the region provide tours and tastings usually for free. Some charge a nominal fee. Taylor’s, which is accepted by many wine authorities to be the greatest of all port shippers, offers you a tour of its famous lodges at Vila Nova de Gaia. During the tour, you will learn about the history of port wine.

Tasting room of port wine in the wine cellar

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The Yeatman

According to many travelers, The Yeatman is the best hotel in Porto. The hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant is praised by many people who have visited it. You will also find other good hotels and restaurants in the region.

Mercado do Bolhao

If you intend to shop in Porto, it is advisable to take a stroll around the Mercado do Bolhao. You will find food market, handcraft stores and much more here. Santa Catarina is another popular shopping area in Porto.

A markerMercado do Bolhao, Porto -
Mercado do Bolhão, 4000-435 Porto, Portugal
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Luxury Train Journey

Dappled sunlight gleaming off its regal blue livery, Portugal's Presidential Train glides out of the medieval heart of Porto towards the Douro Valley. It is one of Europe's selection of luxury rail journeys; a nine-hour gourmet excursion through one of the most beautiful wine regions.

Its oldest carriages were assembled in workshops in Paris more than a century years ago to convey Portuguese kings and queens around their realm in high comfort.

Now the once-royal rolling stock takes you on a lavish day-trip through 200 kilometers (125 miles) of stunning scenery from Porto to the grand Quinta do Vesuvio estate on the far eastern edge of Douro wine country.

For most part of the journey the train sticks to the riverbank. Each curve reveals a different breathtaking vista of the broad, beautiful, blue River Douro as it snakes through vine-covered slopes dotted with granite villages or the stately mansions of old wine-making families.

It memorable journey is not cheap though. Tickets are €500 ($560) -- compared to €24.60, if you take the regular train along the same line. However, you will not be disappointed.

The Presidential price includes some extras, though, starting with the fancy catering. A succession of Michelin-starred chefs from Portugal and beyond serve you gourmet lunches. Their multi-course meals are partnered with prize-wining Douro wines.

How to Stay Safe in Porto?

While in crowded areas of Porto, beware of pickpockets. It is safe to travel in metro. While walking during night hours, stick to well-illuminated areas. Call 112 in case of an emergency.

Visit to Porto & Douro Valley will be an amazing experience.

Central Porto

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    • srirad0675 profile image
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      Srikanth R 3 years ago

      Thanks for the input Pedro.

    • profile image

      Pedro Vieira 3 years ago

      This is a great region. Portugal has indeed many of these hidden gems but if you don't have an inside connection you many not find them.

      If you're visiting Portugal, I recommend using services like www.WiserGo.com which connects you with Portuguese experts, who can help you decide what do to, book everything and provide customer support while you're in Portugal. Since they are local agents, they know the ins-and-outs of everything and you get to experience the country as a local! Service is free and the testimonials in their homepage are pretty positive.