From visiting historic wineries to taking a sunset river cruise, this itinerary shares the best things to do during your one full day in Portugal’s stunning Douro Valley.
Our one full day in Douro Valley was a dream. A sense of wonder comes over you when you drive the windy roads that lead into the valley. On either side of you: endless green vineyards crawling up steep banks, with a wide river running right through it.
I was secretly most excited for our time in the Douro wine region. But coming off of a slightly disappointing stay in Sesimbra, I wanted to reign in any expectations. We’d been on vacation for 10 days at that point, but as we drove our zippy little manual car along the river, taking in the valley around us, it felt like we were exhaling months of stress.
I'm sharing our exact itinerary below—it was truly the best day of our trip!
8 am | A morning hike through the vineyards
We started the day with a quick walk to stretch our legs—we'd just driven the 4.5 hours from Sesimbra to Douro Valley the day before. If you're in the Douro Valley in the summertime, do this early. They call the Douro Valley summer the "three months of hell" because of how hot it gets during the day.
The Douro region has some marked walking trails, but we simply walked around the hilled vineyards on our property to stretch our legs and enjoy the views.
9 am | Breakfast overlooking the Douro Valley at Quinta do Pego
Hotel breakfasts are my jam. At home, it’s two eggs and half an avocado or a green smoothie for breakfast, but on vacation? I’m a scrambled eggs and cured meats, perhaps a slice of toast, yogurt “for digestion,” fruit for dessert, and maybe try a bite or two or—hell why not eat the whole pastry kind of girl.
Quinta do Pego's breakfast (included in the room rate) had all of those things, plus French press coffee made to order and mini pasteis de nata (Portuguese egg tarts!).
Most importantly: On a little 12-seat terrace with views of the valley, it may have been the most memorable hotel breakfast scene of all time. Mike and I may have had a small argument over who got the better seat because hey, it mattered.
11 am | Wine tour and tasting at Quinto do Vallado
Our first tour and tasting was at Quinta do Vallado, established in 1716 and one of the oldest quintas in the valley. It once belonged to Dona Antonia Adelaide Ferreira, known as the “queen of Douro Valley,” and today still belongs to her descendants. For centuries, they sold port wine to the Ferreira Portwine House, but only since the 1990s have they started selling wine under their own label.
Our guide, Vicente, walked us through the beautiful property, which has both traditional ochre buildings and modern constructions made of slate. The tour was highly educational and professional, and at 17,50 €, we thought it was a great value.
After the tour, Vicente led us to a modern and minimalist tasting room, where he poured six tastings for us—one white, three reds, a ruby and a tawny port. The group size of six was perfect. We got to chat with two other couples from Belgium and Brazil, but the tour still felt intimate enough that you could ask questions, pause to take photos, etc.
Quinta do Vallado
Location : Vilarinho dos Freires, 5050-364 Peso da Régua, Portugal
Phone : +351 254 318 081
Price : 17,50€ / person
How to book : Contact email@example.com to book
one of their daily visits (at 11 am and 2:45 pm).
What's included : Tour of the winery and a tasting of a white wine, three red wines
and two port wines. The visit and tasting takes approximately 1h30h.
TripAdvisor | Google Maps
1:30 pm | Wine tasting and picnic at Quinta de Popa
Whenever we visit a new wine region, one full-on wine tour is typically enough—we’ve been to enough of them that they all start to look and sound the same.
So for a second winery stop, I picked Quinta de Popa, a newer and younger winery that offers a 30€ per person tasting, tour, and picnic lunch. We opted out of the full tour and dove right in to a tasting of four wines. You have the option to select what mix of wines you’d like (i.e. one white, one rose, two reds).
After the tasting, you pick which of the wines you enjoyed most as a bottle to enjoy with your picnic. Though we tried the rose and three reds, the rose was too saccharine and strawberry for us—and we couldn’t imagine drinking a bottle of red in the hot Douro sun, so we opted for the white, which was simple but light and refreshing.
The picnic basket included sandwiches, cold meats, salted cod, and sausage—plus of course, some delicious bread and olive oil. The property has multiple picnicking spots with comfy floor pillows and blankets to lounge on, all of which have gorgeous river views. This whole place is so #instagrammable, unless your instagram boyfriend is getting hangry and refuses to take any more pics...
Because tourism is just starting to take off in Douro Valley, there aren’t a whole lot of unique activities in the region—winery tours and tastings and the primary attraction. So we loved Quinta de Popa’s picnic experience for a fun and lazy afternoon.
Quinta de Popa
Location : Estrada Nacional 222 Adorigo, 5120-011 Tabuaço, Portugal
Phone : +351 916 653 442
Price : 30€ / person for Option 1, 40€ / person for Option 2
How to book : Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
What's included : (Option 1) A winery tour, simple wine tasting, picnic basket, and bottle of wine of
your choice from the Contos da Terra, Selection or Black Edition range
(Option 2) A winery tour, simple wine tasting, picnic basket, and bottle of wine of
your choice, from the Premium or Special Edition ranges, both 2h/2h30
TripAdvisor | Google Maps
3 pm | Pool time at the Quinta do Pego
The infinity pool at our winery/hotel, Quinta do Pego, was an absolute oasis. Because the quinta only has 10 rooms, there are only a handful of guests at the property at any time—so we frequently had the pool to ourselves.
During our two-week trip, our afternoon reading (Mike) or internet-ing (me) by the pool on their nice lounge chairs was the most relaxed time we had. The super sweet staff was also happy to bring refreshments out to the pool for us.
6 pm | Douro River boat cruise with Ânima Durius
In the evening, we boarded a boat cruise with the best boat tour company in the Douro Valley, Anima Durius. Jose, nephew of Paulo, who owns the company, was our guide for the evening.
The boat is a small wooden Chris-craft style vessel that was originally built in the seaside town of Caiscais. The boat was originally going to be burnt down, but Paulo came across it and restored it in 2017.
We cruised down the river while Jose shared some of the history of Douro and pointed out landmarks. On the way back, Jose poured us tasty glasses of homemade Port.
We were sure that the cruise would have a few other people given the reasonable price but were delighted to find that it was a private cruise just the two of us. Total bliss.
Ânima Durius Douro River Cruises - Atividades Turísticas
Location : Pinhao pier
Phone / Whatsapp : +351 939 922 002
Price : 45€ / person for the 2-hour “Spontaneous Tour” which includes a glass of port wine, or 125€ / couple for the 2.5-hour “Sunset Tour” which includes a bottle of champagne and a few snacks
How to book : Email Paulo at email@example.com.
TripAdvisor | www.animadurius.pt
8:30 pm | Dinner at Veladouro
Jose recommended Veladouro as the best place to grab a bite in Pinhao. We started with white port tonics as an aperitif—a light-bodied, refreshing cocktail of white port and tonic water. Definitely try this popular local drink! We had a simple meal of bread, ribeye steak, and potatoes on their patio.
The food was good, solid Portuguese fare and the staff was very attentive. Our favorite was actually the drunken port cake we had for dessert, a medium-dense cake soaked in port (a little reminiscent of a rum raisin cake), served with pumpkin almond ice cream.
Where to Eat in the Douro Valley
We enjoyed the laidback Veradouro, but if we'd planned ahead a little more, I'd have tried one of the best restaurants in the Douro Valley, as recommended by locals:
Rui Paul's DOC (TripAdvisor) : Since we'd just stuffed ourselves silly in San Sebastian, we weren't looking to do any tasting menus in Portugal. But when looking for where to eat in Douro, DOC was the obvious standout in the region: Expect an upscale waterside dining experience by one of Portugal's most famous chefs. 95€ for the tasting menu.
Cais de Villa (TripAdvisor) : An old train station converted into a modern restaurant, this place serves traditional Portuguese food with a high end twist. On the more expensive side for Portugal.
Papas Zaide (TripAdvisor) : A little farther away from Pinhao is this charming and homey family-run joint in a small village. A mother and her two daughters cook delicious, authentic Portuguese food. Call ahead to make sure they can accommodate you.
Toca da Raposa (TripAdvisor) : There's a pretty drive up to this restaurant, located in a small village. They're known for their homestyle, farm-to-table dining: boar stew cooked in port, Portugese sausage rice, traditional bacalao, veal chop, and port tastings.
11 pm | Dessert and port wine at our quinta
We brought the port cake back to our own quinta, where we enjoyed it on the terrace with a glass of 30-year tawny port and a few scoops of vanilla ice cream—a sweet end to the sweetest day!
PS: If you're a sucker for pretty, affordable wine regions, you'll love the fairytale villages of Alsace, France.
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