Douro Valley, Portugal

At the Porto airport, a Sixt rental agent was trying to upsell us a Mercedes-Benz. It’s only 42€/day she claimed – 18€ more than the Smart car we booked off Expedia – and it would come in handy when you drive those mountain roads. She almost had us, that is, until we reviewed the total amount and realized that, contrary to our understanding, the daily rate had now jumped to 66€ (almost tripled the amount we had initially signed up for) and we were going to be driving for 9 days. We politely declined her offer and kept our Smart.


An uneventful two hours later, we arrived at Quinta do Vallado, a 300 year old winery and hotel near Peso da Régua.


Upon arrival, we were each greeted with a glass of white Port – semi-sweet and semi-dry, it’s easily one the best Ports we’ve ever tasted.


Our room was fitted with modern and tasteful decor


including a chic retro-style radio


and complimentary fruit and wine


Our balcony had a view of the valley and the vineyards.


It was one of those languid afternoons under the blinding sun. A light breeze drifted in, carried with it sweet scent of the orange blossoms in the air. We dropped everything (we had planned for that hour) and savored the moment of bliss.


It was almost four o’clock when we headed back out for a short drive to Pinhão


Taking in views of the wine terraces along the banks of the Douro River.


We made it back at five just in time for our complimentary winery tour.


During which we visited the modern facilities


The pit where the grapes are stomped in the autumn – which as we were told, are a convivial affair brimming with music and festivity


We also toured a large wine cellar


and a smaller one with old Port barrels.


The tour concluded at the tasting room with a view


where we tasted five different wines


taking note of their characteristics and our personal preference.


With alcohol, we didn’t want to venture out for dinner. So we stayed on the estate and had dinner at the hotel. The food was nothing to write home about – The scallop was fresh. The octopus was soft and tender but large in portion, the duck was very chewy and almost hard to swallow. The caramel fondant, of all things, was surprisingly palatable and I don’t normally like caramels.


I did however enjoy the cheese selection and sampling the lesser-known cheeses of Portugal.


After dinner I took a walk towards the old manor house. It was quiet and peaceful.


Tomorrow we would drive to the mountaintop village of Marvão, stopping by other idyllic villages along the way.

Note: Driving in Portugal, we soon learned, is not much different than driving in the United States, barring that:

1) The left lane is strictly used for passing, and most drivers cut right in front of you after switching the lanes.

2) You exit the roundabout from the right-hand lane only, and you MUST stay to the left until then.

3) Depends on where you travel, toll roads in Portugal could be costly, which could be the reason why most locals don’t seem to use them. But if time is of the essence and you must use the toll road, I highly recommend paying the extra for a Via Verde transponder, available at most car rental companies in Portugal.

Coming up next in the Travel section: Autumn in Beijing

21 thoughts on “Douro Valley, Portugal

  1. OMG!
    I loved your post!
    I’m portuguese, but from the Azores islands (in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean)… and I’m always happy when I find turists’ reviews about their trips around our country.
    So, this post was another of that kind of posts I love! And, specially, because it’s from Douro Valley, and I have it on my list of places to visit in Portugal (mainland).

    It was really nice to read it!
    From what I saw, the negative surprise was the food, am I correct?
    It’s a shame, because I had that hotel on my mind like a top hotel…


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Nuno for your kind comments. The food was not bad, just not very special as the Portuguese food we’ve had elsewhere. It’s still very convenient for not having to drive after wine-tasting! I’ve never been to the Azores. Will pin it on my map!

      Liked by 1 person

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