A Walk through the Douro Valley

Portugal isn’t nearly as well known as its neighbor, Spain, other than perhaps, for its wine: port wine, to be specific. And where will you find port wine, and how it’s made? In the stunningly beautiful Douro Valley, which was named one of the best places to visit this year by Travel+Leisure magazine. The valley stretches from the city of Porto (worth of a visit of its own too) to the country’s northeastern border.

Douro vineyardThe area offers mild temps in the Spring and Fall, with hotter weather in the Summer. No matter what time of year travelers visit though, they’ll be greeted with a dramatic landscape; it’s no wonder that the area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While the terrain varies, a walk through the Douro Valley — over the river and passing through vineyards and villages — will offer a number of amazing vistas. And that’s true with pretty much whatever route you take. Some of these paths have been marked by locals; others by the area’s wine estates. So be sure to have your camera ready!

As one of the oldest wine regions in the world — where wine has been produced for over 2,000 years — the port wine route (“Rota do Vinho do Porto”) is a fabulous inside peek into the making of port wine. Plus, the vineyard terraces are a remarkable site that photos and words alone can’t do justice. It’s these terraces that make sure the vines and grapes get plenty of sun.

Port wine grapes in the Douro ValleyTaking a walk through the Douro Valley, you’ll also see what else influences the flavor of port wine: the rocky soil (that is made up schist rock). While walking through the area, such as during our Walking and Cooking in Portugal culinary vacation, travelers will also learn a lot about the wine, like how the yields are low due to the rocky terrain, but this terrain is also responsible for the rich concentration of flavor in the grapes.

During our walking trip in Portugal, guests will get to experience the beauty of the Douro Valley with an experienced local guide, but also tour the cities of Porto and Braga. While all the walking and hiking is easy/moderate, you’ll be working an appetite too. Good thing too, since you’ll be taking part in two hands-on cooking classes, and delving into the rich gastronomy of the region, which is heavily based on seafood.

By Liz Hall

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