Go Back to the Blog Planning a day in Douro Valley: a day tour or a cruise?
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Catarina Figueirinha |
Planning a day in Douro Valley: a day tour or a cruise?

The Douro Valley is recognized worldwide not only for its exquisite wines but also for its truly breathtaking landscape heritage. But how to get to this enchanted valley? Van, train or cruise? It's time to find out the most interesting ways to visit and explore the Douro in one day.

Douro valley day trip

Visiting the Douro by road is a great landscape option. It is a way to explore the area more closely, and you can stop at strategic sites to capture the best images. There are amazing viewpoints (miradouros) in the Douro!
During your trip through the Douro, you will have a guide that will explain the whole history of this UNESCO World Heritage Valley since 1756, being the first and therefore the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. You also will have the opportunity to visit the picturesque town of Amarante, located on the banks of the Tâmega River, which boasts a rich historical, religious and gastronomic heritage. Taste gonçalinhos, the most typical sweet of the region.
During your journey around the Douro, you will have the chance to visit the most exquisite wineries in the region and, of course, have a wine tasting. If your intention to visit the Douro Valley is closely linked to taste wines, it is recommended to take the day trip that includes two wineries, the Douro Wine Tour. If you want a more scenic approach, choose the Douro Historical Tour, a tour that will bring you to a winery but will reveal a more particular side of the area.
Any of these tours include a one-hour panoramic cruise on a typical boat (rabelo boat) through the Pinhão area. This is the area where most of the Douro wineries are concentrated. Take this time to fully relax and enjoy the scenery from the Douro river. Those day tours to the Douro Valley also offer the possibility of having lunch in a local restaurant with a full menu and drinks included.

douro day trip

Pros:

  • A guide that will accompany along the day tour providing pertinent information and clarifying doubts that you may have.
  • Commented wine tasting.
  • Limited to 25 participants per group.
  • A more general approach to the region, with the possibility of making several stops.

Cons:

  • Possibility of traffic on your way to the Porto.
  • Waiting time during hotel pickup/dropoff.

Douro valley day cruises

Douro Valley Day Cruises are one of the most popular activities for Portuguese and foreigners. You have the possibility to do the cruise downstream or upstream the Douro. If you choose the Douro downstream cruise to Régua, know that your route starts by train and you will return by boat to Porto. This cruise includes lunch on board. You will be able to see the most beautiful landscapes all the way to the Douro Valley. From the Douro River, you can contemplate the undulating vineyards and the various wineries that shows the importance of this valley.
If you choose the Douro upstream cruise your journey starts by boat and will end by train. You can choose to take an upstream Douro cruise to Régua or Pinhão. On both cruises breakfast and lunch are served on board. However, we always recommend to take the cruise to Pinhão, considered the heart of the Douro. If you choose this option you will understand why our recommendation.
Visiting the Douro without visiting a winery is almost like going to Rome and not seeing the Pope. Fortunately, there is an option to do an upstream Douro cruise with a visit to a winery and with tastings included, but only for Régua.

douro valley cruises

Pros:

  • Landscape approach.
  • Good choice for people with reduced mobility.
  • Two different perspectives of the region: train or bus and boat.
  • Experience of up/down a dam.

Cons:

  • Inflexibility - no stopping possibility.
  • Relatively monotonous.

Finally, we recommend the Douro Valley Day Trip option as there is more flexibility along the way and includes more activities. Happy travels!

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