One of the best roads to discover the North of the country is the Nacional 222 (N222), which connects Vila Nova de Gaia to Almendra, almost always along the banks of the Douro river.
The Douro route offers at least 13 viewpoints, and reaches an altitude of 900 meters, with breathtaking landscapes that make you stop and enjoy the views from sunrise to sunset.
Where It All Starts
The starting point for discovering the Douro route are the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia and downtown Porto. The mouth of the river is the best place to hit the road that in 2015 was voted the “most beautiful road in the world”, the N222.
The national has a wide variety of points of interest. If you are going to start your roadtrip in the riverside area of Porto and Gaia, we recommend that you take a calm look at the six bridges that connect the two cities. Then, set out on the adventure. If you need more reasons to go on an adventure, here you have 3 main reasons to follow the Douro route.
3 Reasons To Discover The Douro Route
- The Douro is more than a piece of land where vines are predominant. You will discover the upper Douro (region of Foz Côa), the Cima Corgo (region of Pinhão) and Baixo Corgo (region of Régua). By car you can travel the Douro, from one end to the other;
- You will drive along the “most beautiful road in the world”, the Nacional 222 which, in addition to offering you a scene full of vineyards and olive trees, allows you to pass by the river and discover natural beauty typical of the region;
- The viewpoints you will find during the Douro route will leave you totally immersed in the breathtaking landscapes. They say you can get the best view over the Douro and Pinhão rivers from the Casal de Loivos viewpoint.
What Is the best time of year to take the Douro route?
For wine-loving travelers or those curious about vintages, this may be the best time of year to set out to discover the Douro. Autumn is the culmination of a year’s worth of work and you can witness the birth of great wines. However, you should take into account some factors such as:
Between July and September temperatures are very high, easily reaching around 40ºC. Humidity is also high, approximately 70%.
For those who want to travel the Douro route by car, you should avoid this time, and the ideal is to do it between the end of April and mid-May or the end of October and mid-November.
This can fluctuate depending on the influence of the climate on the growth of the vines. It usually takes place between August and October. If your objective is also to participate in the grape harvest in the Douro, then be aware and don’t miss the opportunity.
When selecting the vineyards to visit, try to resist the temptation to see several because they seem close to each other. Despite the short distances between them, the roads are quite narrow and driving requires care, which increases the time to reach each one of them.
Type Of Season
Holidays in high season risk congestion on the roads, higher hotel prices and the need to schedule activities (such as participation and visits to vineyards) in advance. The Douro route is no exception.
Whether or not you stay in the Douro will depend on the purpose of your trip, your profile as a traveler and, of course, the budget you have available on your roadtrip.
If you want to leave in the morning and return to urban centers at night, you can look for accommodation there. If you want to experience your trip along the Douro route to the fullest, then we recommend that you look for local accommodation.
4 Farms to include in your Douro itinerary
There are so many and so dazzling that it’s impossible to list all the farms. In the selection process, you can take into account some criteria such as the setting that the farm offers you, the location or Port Wine, if this is your main interest in this trip along the Douro route.
1. Quinta do Vallado
It is one of the oldest and best wineries in the Douro, so it is a mandatory stop. They take guided tours around the estate, with specialists in oenology who will explain the entire wine production process.
You can taste red wines, such as Sousão or Field Blend and, of course, a Port wine. Here you will find tours every day.
2. Quinta da Pacheca
It is considered by many to be one of the best wineries on the Douro route. In addition to wine tasting, they also organize weddings, show cooking, cooking class, picnics and participation in the grape harvest. And did you know that on this farm you can spend the night inside a barrel of wine?
In wine tastings, they can offer you white, red and some excellent quality Port wines. Whenever possible, the tests take place outdoors.
3. Caves da Murganheira
Are you a fan of sparkling wines? Then the Murganheira Caves can even be the ex-libris of your trip along the Douro route! During the visit, you will learn about the sparkling wine production process, according to the traditional method, and at the end you will have the right to a tasting.
One of the advantages of visiting Murganheira is the fact that it is very close to the wine-growing village of Ucanha, ideal for those looking for a day in the Douro that has more to offer besides wine tasting.
4. Quinta do Tedo
On this farm you will find the grapes classified as class “A”, the highest according to the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro and Porto. As such, you will find drinks of excellent quality there, even if you are the most demanding visitor.
It is open to the public every day.
Douro Route on the N222 – from Gaia to Pinhão
Visiting the Douro in the colors of autumn is synonymous with unforgettable memories. At this time, the temperature proves to be ideal for carrying out the 150 km with serenity, gastronomy, scenic beauty and the Douro river always at your side.
Cinfães do Douro
The first stop on the Douro route is Cinfães do Douro. Here you can try cooked pork liver or the Cinfães style rojões. Count on visiting the Chapel of São Pedro do Campo and the Muralhas das Portas, in the Montemuro mountains.
You can also include in the itinerary the megalithic park of São Pedro or the 12 main churches that exist around Cinfães. Don’t leave without observing the Ponte de Soutelo over the Bestança river.
Further on from Cinfães, you will find Resende, known for its wealth of heritage. Be sure to visit the Torre da Lagariça, immortalized by Eça de Queiroz, in 1900, in “The Illustrious House of Ramirez”, the Church and Castle of São Martinho de Mouros and Caldas de Aregos.
Peso da Régua
After curves and curves, coming from Resende, you find Peso a Régua, the capital of the Douro and the oldest demarcated region in the world, which is already 261 years old. For many, it is the highlight of the trip along the Douro route.
Watching the sunset is an unforgettable experience. In addition, the Solar do Vinho do Porto, the Casa do Douro and the various wine warehouses are also worth a visit.
Don’t forget to stop for a breath at the São Leonardo da Galafura Viewpoint or the Casal de Loivos Viewpoint.
It is possible to visit the Douro leaving early in the morning from the urban center and returning only at night. But, if possible, reserve between 3 and 4 days to fully discover this fantastic area of Northern Portugal.
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