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River Douro

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From rugged wilderness on the Spanish frontier to the Old City of Porto, the River Douro weaves its way through one of Europe’s most beautiful landscapes with charming villages and historic landmarks weaved throughout its banks. Known as Portugal’s ‘River of Gold’, the Douro flows through one of the world’s oldest wine regions producing both the legendary port wine and some of Portugal’s best vintages. Seeming to defy gravity, the Douro Valley, with its impossibly steep terraces covered in vines, is simply stunning and just one of four Unesco World Heritage Sites traced by the river. The spectacular Douro is perfect for a leisurely river cruise, navigable by way of breathtakingly high locks.

Things to know

  • A major river on the Iberian Peninsula, the Douro flows 557 miles through Spain and Portugal into the Atlantic Ocean
  • For 70 miles the river forms part of the border between Spain and Portugal
  • Several dams on both sides of the border harness the river, which is a major source of hydroelectric power
  • 557 miles in length the Douro flows through Portugal and Spain and into the Atlantic Ocean 
  • Port was first produced 
  • There have been vines along the banks of the Douro for over 2,000 years
  • The first records of Portugal’s fortified wine being referred to as port were in 1678
  • The River Douro is one of Europe’s most untouched and beautiful rivers, its banks still lined by sleepy villages
  • Douro river was named the ‘River of Gold’ as it was the carrier fine wines, almonds and olives produced in the valley 

Key Ports of Call

Picture of - Peso da Régua
Peso da Régua

A small river port, working town and gateway to the Alto Douro, Peso da Régua is where the world’s first ever demarcated region for wine production was created in 1756. The fascinating Museu do Douro, in the old Casa da Companhia Velha, recounts the history of wine production in the Douro Valley. 
Picture of - Pinhão

Nestled on a beautiful bend of the River Douro, picturesque Pinhão is a small, almost sleepy town. Yet, within the surrounding steeply, terraced landscape, the signage of competing wineries leaves no doubt that Pinhão sits at the heart of Portugal’s wine industry. Even the quaint train station, is decorated with blue and white Azulejo tiles depicting the grape harvest. 
Picture of - Porto

One of the oldest cities in Europe, Porto is best known for its river, the Douro, and its celebrated port wine. Clinging to the steep north bank of the Douro, the ancient Ribeira district is a warren of steep, narrow, cobbled streets home to little squares overlooked by ancient churches, and colourful houses with tiled facades. No visit would be complete without a tasting at the famous cellars that stretch along the banks of the Douro spanned by five extraordinary bridges.