NEED TO KNOW
LOCATION The valley runs across northern Portugal to Porto. The main towns are Amarante, Peso da Régua, and Porto
AREA 1,600 sq miles (4,160 sq km)
DAYTIME TEMPERATURES Jan: 48°F (9°C); Apr: 57°F (14°C); Jul: 68°F (20°C); Oct: 59°F (15°C)
As you leave the harsh lands of the Upper Douro Valley, the curves of the river valley soften, and the sunburnt Port grapes give way to white Vinho Verdes and the cap-doffing majesty of the red Barca Velha. Just out of sight of the river valley, a cluster of Visigothic churches and ghost-like Cistercian monasteries still populate the hills.
The Douro bears ever westwards, passing near Lamego with its monumental Baroque staircase, then Amarante, dominated by the monastery and church of São Gonçalo, before finally flowing into the Atlantic beneath the city of Porto.
Getting There and Around
Porto, at the mouth of the Douro Valley, has a large international airport. Trains also run regularly from Lisbon and Madrid. Along the river, there are boat cruises and the Linha do Douro train.
When to Go
Winters can be wet, though the rainfall reduces dramatically away from the Atlantic coast. Summer becomes increasingly brutal the further east you travel. Spring is the best time to visit.