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What to do in the Douro River Valley if Wine is not your thing? Lots!

We get it! You don't drink, or you have kids - so why go to Portugal's Douro River Valley? The Douro (and yes that is how you spell it - not Duoro, please)  is world-renowned for its great wines, particularly Port. However, this Portuguese region offers much more than just vineyards. Whether you're a teetotaler, traveling with kids, or simply want to explore beyond the wine cellars, the Douro River Valley is full  of activities that showcase its breathtaking natural beauty, rich culture and history. It is just drop dead beautiful! Here’s a quick guide to some of the best things to do in the Douro River Valley if wine is not your thing:



Cruise or Ride up the Douro River

A river cruise from Porto is one of the best ways to take in the terraced landscapes of the Douro Valley. You can choose from short tours to full-day excursions, enjoying the terraced vineyards, historic villages, and dramatic hillsides from the water. Many cruises offer additional activities like traditional music performances or stops at local landmarks, making the experience even richer. Or take the famous Presidential Train or CP's historic train and enjoy the views.

Visit the city of Lamego

Lamego is a charming place with deep historic roots. One of its highlights is the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, a baroque church perched high on a hilltop and accessible via a grand staircase of nearly 700 steps. The climb is worth it for the panoramic views and the intricate architectural details. Lamego also boasts a museum with artifacts from the Roman era to modern times and a picturesque town square. And there are some great spa hotels here too.

Explore the City of Vila Real

Vila Real is another cultural gem in the Douro Valley. Visit the Casa de Mateus, a stunning 18th-century manor house surrounded by beautiful gardens. The palace is a masterpiece of baroque architecture and offers guided tours that delve into its history and art. Vila Real also has several beautiful parks, such as Parque Natural do Alvão, where you can enjoy hiking, picnicking, and wildlife watching.

Hiking and Nature Trails

The Douro Valley is a paradise for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The region is crisscrossed with trails that offer varying levels of difficulty and spectacular views. One popular route is the São Leonardo da Galafura viewpoint, which provides breathtaking vistas of the river and surrounding landscape. Another is the Vale do Côa Archaeological Park, where you can hike while exploring prehistoric rock art sites.

Culinary Adventures

Even if you’re not drinking wine, the Douro Valley’s culinary scene is a treat. Try traditional local dishes, such as bacalhau (salt cod), cozido à portuguesa (a hearty meat stew), and the region’s unique river fish dishes. Don’t miss the chance to sample local pastries and sweets, like the almond-based delicacies from Amarante.

Cultural Experiences

The Douro Valley is rich in cultural heritage. Attend a traditional fado music performance to experience the songs that are a significant part of Portuguese culture. Many towns and villages host festivals throughout the year, celebrating everything from local saints to seasonal harvests. These events offer a glimpse into the local way of life and are often accompanied by music, dance, and traditional food.

Visit HistoricSites

The Douro Valley is dotted with historical landmarks. One must-visit is the medieval town of Castelo Rodrigo, perched on a hilltop with its ancient walls and ruins offering a step back in time. The town also features a beautiful 16th-century church and breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

Relax in the Scenic Beauty

Sometimes the best way to enjoy the Douro Valley is to simply relax and soak in the scenery. Find a peaceful spot along the river, or stay in one of the region’s charming quintas (farmhouses) or hotels that often offer beautiful vistas, gardens, and pools. Many quintas also offer activities such as olive oil tasting, cooking classes, or guided nature walks.

The Douro River Valley is a destination that caters to all kinds of travelers, offering a diverse range of activities beyond its famous vineyards. Whether you’re seeking adventure, culture, history, or simply a serene escape, the Douro Valley has something to offer. So pack your bags and prepare to explore this stunning region in a unique and fulfilling way.


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