Wine Tours

Douro Valley Wine Tour Guide

How to choose a Douro Valley Wine tour guide?

The task of choosing a Douro Valley tour guide that is appropriate for you is no easy task.

In reality the offer is big but the quality is not always the most desirable. What you will find are mostly poorly prepared students looking to earn a few extra money or luxury drivers without any knowledge beyond the basics.

As a rule, companies will propose you a tour departing from Porto and return the same day. You will do about two hours by car to get to the Douro valley and as many to return to Porto. In total you will spend between three to four hours in almost all unattractive route.

Believe me, at the end of the day you will be very tired and have been left with a very partial view of the wealth and importance of this valley.

A typical Douro tour proposal from these companies will be a visit to a vineyard, a lunch and a boat ride, usually 1 hour.

With this program you can find two types of companies operating in the market in well-differentiated segments. One in a middle segment in another in the higher segment. The big difference between the two will be the exclusive or non-exclusive offer.

Douro Valley tour guide for middle segment

The tour will be made in a minibus of 9 seats, led by a student looking to earn some money or a young urban boy/girl who found in this activity a way to escape unemployment.

You will have to share the journey with potentially unknown people that may have nothing in common with you.

See, stop, enjoy. Stay a little longer where you like are luxuries you are not able to have when you share your ride.

Share the lunch with someone is something I do only with my friends. Come to the Douro and share the table with strangers would let me uncomfortable, but people are not all equal.

The aggravating factor is the time you will have to go together with this group. Always count with a 8-12 hour ride.

Do not expect great flexibility on the part of the guides, they will have to convince all your travel companions to make the change to the program that you proposed it.

The advantage of this offer is the price, are usually cheap tours.

They will take you to the easier and more economical places, usually filled with other tourists and will avoid the most restricted and or difficult to reach. It is the ideal offer for those who have little time or limited budgets

Douro Valley tour guide for high segment

The proposal in this segment is somewhat different from the previous.

The guides will show you in magnificent luxury cars with black glasses, dressed in dark suits and wearing shirts and tacky ties that make me always seem emerging from a mafia movie .

With some exceptions they don’t know much about the history of the region, the vineyards and wines. When they are asked about any subject always have a ready answer and do not hesitate to give you the wrong information to not have to tell you that do not know what they are talking about.

They are drivers. They know the places and know how to get there.

Get ready because they will always be in a hurry and will try to return as soon as possible to Porto, especially in a football day .

And you will pay dearly, dearly.

The purpose of these companies is, sell, sell, sell.

It is an acceptable goal and you will do what you want with your money. In your case choosing between these two solutions or come by my own means I would prefer to came by train or renting a car depending on my money.

What you can see and do by train?

Departing from Porto towards Pinhão you can visit in this central location in the Douro a number of wine producers as Quinta do Bonfim, Quinta da Rhoeda, Quinta da Foz, Quinta das Carvalhas and a little further Quinta de La Rosa.

You can make a 1 or 2 hour boat tour and lunch in one of the local restaurants such as Veladouro, LBV 79, Cais da Foz, Sabores do Douro or Oporco Wine & Tapas Bar for a light lunch.

That’s it. Take some pictures of the tiles of Pinhão train station and you could already tell that you know the Douro Valley.

What did you see? Just the basic.

What can you see on rental car?

Same as in the train but you can add a trip to Provesende or the viewpoint of Casal de Loivos. Lunch at DOC, if you have a fat wallet. And a handful of vineyards as Seixo, Panascal, Tedo, Pacheca or Marrocos.

If you are more reckless or like to drive over rough roads you can can try Quinta Nova and Quinta do Crasto, but book them first or you could make the journey for nothing.

Be very careful with the narrow roads, full of curves, and in poor condition here do Douro.

If you are driving you will not be able to taste the wines on the vineyards or in the restaurants because the legal limit will be reached with a small glass.

You will be able to do everything in one day?

No.

You learn anything? You took advantage of the trip in this fantastic winery region?

No. But you will leave from Douro Valley with some pretty pictures to post on facebook or instagram.

How can you exploit properly the Douro Valley

Exit and return to Porto on the same day is not an option. For this let yourself get through Porto and explore more and better the city.

To absorb all the beauty and charm of the Douro you will have to spend at least one day and one night here.

If you want to take full advantage of the Douro Valley and your purpose is to know the people and customs, taste the olive oil and enjoy the wines, of best winery region of Portugal, without fear you will have, obligatorily, look for a local Douro guide.

Boat Tours

Douro river boat tour offer

Douro river boat tour offer

See all Douro River boat tour offer and choose wisely according to your desires and budget. Here you will find all boat cruises available in the market.

The navigable Douro River

The navigable Douro river is a waterway extension of about 200km. Throughout this route you will find dozens of tour offers, from 50 minutes to 6 days.

We usually divide the Douro River boat tour offer in short-haul, medium-haul and long haul. We will try to give you our opinion about these three kinds of proposals.

Long-haul – Tours 6 days

Operating in the long haul on the Douro River boat tour are currently three operators with identical routes and is expected the arrival of a new company.

The offer is similar and involves the ascent of the river for three days and his descent also in 3 days.

This is a very targeted type of product, for seniors with low mobility.

It is an excellent product for them, since it guarantees to them a stay in a safe place, air-conditioned, a place where they have their meals on time and where basically the crew will take care of everything.

The overnight stay is made on board, not having the customer to carry the bags up and down during the stay.

Navigation is always done during the day since the Douro night navigation is prohibited to all vessels.

So every night the boat will dock in the path of the pier for customers to have dinner and sleep.

This simple ascent and descent of the river can become boring, especially in the route between Porto and Régua. This situation is solved by the companies providing short excursions to many existing attractions along the way.

This is not an exclusive tour, you are always in a group of about 100 people. If you feel comfortable to travel in the crowd, it’s a good product.

These tours are obligatorily carried out in huge locals, capable of harboring such a number of customers.

They tend to be impersonal places, very commercial and professionalized, basically a very artificial offer.

The prices of these long-haul trips tend to be high.

Medium-haul

The medium-haul does not presuppose the overnight stay on board.

They normally travel one day between Porto and Régua, Porto and Pinhão or Régua and Barca de Alva or Pocinho.

Let me be clear, you should avoid traveling between Porto and Régua. This route have little interest and you will do the least beautiful river section.

Between Régua and Barca de Alva you will find the most interesting route of all.

In these tours you will have the opportunity to make a locking process to raise or lower the dams.

Usually you will have meals and drinks included.

The price is generally low but be ready to the mess.

Boats are full of people who, later in the day, with the heat and the drinks are very effusive. It is a popular booze cruise.

Short-haul

Typically, these shorter tours will show you the local landscapes, as in Porto, in Régua or in Pinhão.

During the tour, depending on the operator, you could have an offer of a glass of wine.

Increasing the length of the tour you could get more or less complex services such as lunches, snacks, picnic’s, dips in the river, among others.

They are interesting tours and we recommend.

In Porto it’s worth making the route of the bridges and see the city from the river.

The Régua boat tour is not the most interesting and given the proximity it will be better to go to Pinhão or for a more exclusive boat tour Foz do Távora.

In Pinhão the offer is, at present, enormous.

You could find tours in the traditional Rabelo boats (1 or 2 hours) in sailboats or classic boats.

Unfortunately sailing without the noise of the engine is almost impossible. The absence of wind in the majority of days and the configuration of Douro river, curvy and narrow, don’t allow you to sail in the wind almost never.

Prices vary according to exclusivity and the services provided. Some of these companies tailor made services.

So what to choose?

It will depend on your time, your interest in learning about Douro and your wallet.

If we had to choose, we would opt for a trip to Senhora da Ribeira or Foz do Sabor. It is a full day tour in the area I consider to be the most beautiful.

Alternatively a picnic on board with the engine off.

In any case choose a ride on a smaller boat where the flexibility to change the program is an order.