Wine tasting around Pinhao in the Duoro Valley

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
7
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
7
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
7
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
8
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
4
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
8
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
75 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Europe
country
Portugal
Length of time
1-2 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 200
Time of year visited
August
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
76th/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 30% SUMMARY RATING: Superb

Summary

What a surprisingly wonderful experience the Duoro Valley offers! I must admit that, like many others, I hadn’t heard of it before making the trip to Portugal and had mainly thought of the Algarve and Lisbon area when thinking of Portugal. . How wrong I was – the Duoro’s combination of vineyards, steep dramatic slopes and river views is one I can’t think of anywhere else in the world, let alone Portugal.  When you add into the mix that there is the more unusual Port wine to sample along with the normal table wine, then you have a real gem of an experience and, in my opinion, the highlight of Portugal

highlights

#1 Having lunch in one of the beautifully set vineyards, surrounded by the vines and looking down on the Duoro river

#2 Visiting some of the very random, but very pretty, small churches of Sao Salvador do Mundo

#3 Taking one of the wine tours to learn about how they make their wines / port wines, and most importantly sampling them!

#3 Driving through the tiny windy roads as you look out on the rows upon rows of vines

#5 Wandering through the pretty Duoro towns that keep a lot of their traditional heritage, such as Sao Joao da Pesqueira

EXTRA - taking a morning to hike the PR3 loop from Ermelo up to the natural pools and waterfalls of Fisgas de Ermelo

Travel tips

  • Where to stay – where you stay in going to be quite important because getting around anywhere takes quite a while in the Duoro (for example, Pinhao to Quinta Nova, whilst only 18km / 11miles, takes around 35mins minutes by car). Plus, it’s always nice staying in one of the vineyards rather than having to travel there and back. I’d recommend any vineyard close to Pinhao, which seems to be the centre of the region while not being overcrowded or too touristy. We stayed at Quinta de la Rosa which was perfect for location, lovely views and good wine tour
  • Pinhao is a good place for a wander along the water front, rather than just being a hub you set off from
  • The most beautiful spot we found was Quinta Nova – a stunning location as you approach through the rows of vines and along the cedar lined road, and the lunch was superb.  Would be a great splurge for somewhere to stay as well!
  • The small churches of Sao Salvador do Mundo – a nice place to stop as you venture deeper into the hills, or just if you fancy a drive through the beautiful valleys.  Once there, it’s a slight climb to the top and various spots with fantastic views
  • Car / no car – you don’t have to have a car.  You could easily get the train to Pinhao and arrange taxis to get around – but it does make it a lot easier, especially for trips for hikes or to the churches
  • Nearby hikes – a 1 hour drive from Pinhao is the Parque Natural do Alvao, and within there a wonderful hike to the waterfalls of Figas de Ermelo.  You have the option of either the full 5 hours roundtrip hike (13km / 8 miles, 20,000 steps, equivalent of 160 flights climbed) or the much shorter 1 hour hike by driving near to the top.  See the entry for PR3 hike from Ermelo to Figas de Ermelo for more details
  • Amarante – if driving from Porto, Amarante is worth stopping at.  A charming town with a medieval bridge and cute vibe
  • Prioritise time in the Duoro over Porto – if visiting the Duoro, you’re most likely passing through Porto. If you only have 3 days (or something like that), I would recommend prioritising 2 in the Duoro Valley.  Porto is nice, but a day of visiting one of the Port houses and wandering through Ribeira is enough and the time can better be spent relaxing and soaking up the Duoro. For tips on a day in Porto, see the travel entry A day in Porto for the Taylor’s tasting and wandering through the Ribeira district for more details
  • For further tips on Portugal’s other top experiences, and for a 2 week itinerary, see the travel entry for 2 weeks for the best of Portugal

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone