Europe

Porto and the Douro Valley

sunset, Porto, Portugal, view

A weekend trip to Porto brings with it a great variety of potential things to do. Stroll around the ancient cobblestone walkways, sit at one of the numerous riverside bars in Porto or even explore the Douro Valley.

Porto – one of the oldest cities in Europe
Douro River, Porto, bridge
Overlooking the Douro river

Arriving in Porto, we directly took the train to one of the major squares in Porto and checked in our hostel. Thereafter, we never used any other form of transportation than the hired car and the train back to the airport. The great thing about Porto is the closeness of all sights, meaning you can literally walk in the ancient, curvy and steep streets all the time. Although the city only inhabits around 237,000 people, it certainly does not run out of sights and activities. Our main recommendations would be visiting at least one of the wineries that produce Port wine. They offer affordable tours for wine sommeliers and even bloody beginners like us. The Port wine is special and should be tried at least once to see the difference to normal wine, plus you get the experience traditional Portuguese live music.

Further activities to do should include a short cruise on the main river and a pub crawl at night. During both events, you will learn a lot about the Portuguese culture. Especially at the early pub crawl, starting at midnight, you will notice the open-mindedness of the people and how livable the city is. The night out in several authentic bars really was incredible!

Road trip through the northern part of Portugal

Not only Porto itself but also the surrounding region can be visited as it offers a great variety of beaches, culture, and some spectacular hills.

The best way to explore the area and certainly the most independent one too is by driving in a car. We also hired a rental car and drove up north straight to the border to Spain. This a very scenic drive with several stopping opportunities. Our favorite one was Viana do Castelo, a small town with much history and an amazing viewing point.

Once you are in town, make sure to drive up the hill to the church and enjoy the panoramic view.

The Duoro Valley

On the way back down south, we did stop in the Douro Valley for one night before heading back to Porto.

winery, portugal, Porto
Traditional Portuguese music in the cellar of a winery

The Douro Valley actually exists due to the river Douro, which stretches itself from the northern part of Spain, specifically the province Soria, until Porto where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. With almost 900 kilometers of length, the 3rd longest river flourishes the nearby regions and even creates a beautiful valley in Portugal – the Douro Valley.

The remarkable valley is famous for its good wine and the vast landscape. Here we can only recommend going off-season if you are traveling on a budget. When we spend our trip in this area in late February, the weather was great with solely sunny days and hostels as well as hotels were quite cheap. In case you research properly you might get yourself a bargain at one of the several nice places. Surprisingly we managed to stay in a double room in a brand new four-star hotel for just under 60 Euros.

We highly recommend visiting this diverse region for up to one week. You surely can spend a lot of time in the beautiful places we have mentioned in this blog post. The time you spend exploring the region is very refreshing, that is why we are returning to Porto for the second time!

sunset, Porto, Portugal, view
Porto at sunset
Travel tips:
  • Sign up for the pub crawl in your hostel if they offer one
  • Cross the main bridge in Porto during sunset; you will get amazing views
  • Stop at one of the numerous local restaurants and try traditional food
  • When driving alongside the coast, take a break at a beach café. Relax and let time pass.
  • Look for cheap flights operated by Easyjet (especially if you travel from Stuttgart) in late February and early March

Leave a Reply