|Private tours in Oporto & surroundings||
Douro Province is one of Portugal’s most popular tourist destinations. Its most important features is northern
Portugal’s longest river, the Douro, winding its way through dramatic gorges, past mountains, sensational cliffs
and steep, terraced hillside vineyards that produce the area’s famous Port wine. A host of small towns and
villages, as well as medieval castles, are dotted throughout the region.
Our first stop will be Amarante, which we’ll reach through a scenic ride, hugging the ravine of the Rio Tâmega,
with pine woods and vines clinging to steep slopes, and goats scrambling across the terrace walls to nibble at
The little town of Amarante lies picturesquely on both sides of the Rio Tâmega, on the northwest slopes of the
Serra de Marao.
The old part of the town has a number of fine burghers' houses of the 16th-18th C., most of them roofed with
shingles and surrounded by colourful wooden balconies, brightly decorating the narrow streets. From one of the
cafe terraces on the south bank of the river - where you can render homage to Amarante specialties, which is also
particularly popular for its pastries and sweet delicacies – you can have the best view of this part of town and
the beautiful 18th C. bridge over the Rio Tâmega, the Ponte de Sao Gonçalo, which leads to the great monastery
of the 16th century that bears the name of the same saint.
Régua is a pretty little town situated at the point where the little rivers Corgo (right bank) and Baroso (left bank)
flow into the Douro. Physically an area rich in lush vegetation and landscape, surrounded by vineyards that
produce world famous port wines, it’s a junction point through which all wine must pass on its way to Porto.
All the river Douro cruises and trips stop at Regua and the barcos rabelos boats are often moored at the riverside.
|There are a wide range of quintas around the town that offer wine tasting tours making the town a good stopping off point on the Port
Wine Route. A good stopping off point in Regua is the Solar do Vinho do Porto which offers a choice of wines for tasting as well as
information, exhibitions and artistic events about port wine and the Douro area. Next door at the Casa do Douro, the headquarters of the
port growers organization, is a series of stained-glass windows illustrating the history and production of Port wine.
There are here a wide variety of souvenir items. Souvenirs most in demand are bags, hand-sewn sandals, slippers, small wine bottles and
fresh produce of grapes.
Pinhao is another base in the Douro valley where port dominates its culture. There are several quintas around the town that can be explored
to find a port to suit you. The town lies at the base of hillsides covered in vines and spectacularly located at the confluence of the Douro and
Pinhão bursts into life in autumn during the annual grape harvest, attracting pickers from all over the country. Popular for its peaceful riverside
location and surrounding scenery, Pinhão is a mecca for lovers of fine wine.
Next is Vila Mateus, home to the world-famous rosé wine. Mateus is a village which owes its fame to the manor Solar de Mateus, considered
to be a perfect example of Portuguese Baroque and "the most fantastic country house in Portugal", world-famous for being featured on the
label of Mateus Rosé wine. Although the Mangualde family still live there, parts of it are open to the public. Inside the palace there are
magnificent wood ceilings as well as valuable furniture, carpets, paintings and silverware, and an interesting porcelain collection. However,
the beauty of the gardens actually surpasses that of the Solar de Mateus, among the most beautiful in Europe, with box hedges, statues and
the ancient tunnel formed by topiaried thuya is a work of art; the trees allow scarcely any light to enter.
|...The River Douro rises in Spain and flows more or less East – West across Northern Portugal reaching the sea|
at Portugal’s second city, Oporto. Once a fast flowing river of rapids and narrow ravines it has been tamed over
the past 25 years by the construction of 8 dams along its length giving it, in most places, a tranquil, lake-like
appearance. The valley is spectacularly beautiful with the hills falling steeply down to the water´s edge becoming
more and more sparsely populated and wild the further inland one travels, with more of the land being given over to
terraces of vines. This is port country and was, in fact, the world´s first demarcated wine region in 1756. The color
of the land changes throughout the year as the vines mature. The reaches of the Douro have a microclimate, allowing
for cultivation of olives, almonds, and especially grapes, with its picturesque quintas or farms clinging on to almost
vertical slopes dropping down to the river...
|Amarante - Amarante lies east of Porto between the city and Vila Real. It sits right on the picturesque|
River Tamega over which the Sao Goncalo bridge gives you stunning views of the town and leads you
to the striking 16th century Sao Goncalo convent. Sao Goncalo He was a 13th century hermit upon
whose reputation the church was founded. It is said that if those searching for a loved one touch Sao
Goncalo's statue on the outside of his tomb that lies in Sao Goncalo convent, they will have their wish
granted. It is obviously a tradition that has been followed by many a single person as the face, toes and
fingers of the statue have all but been rubbed away by hopeful romantics. Don't miss the delicious
pastry typical of this town.
Régua - Is the official centre of the Port wine growing region. The town has been known for over two
centuries as the "Capital of the Upper Douro" because of its role in the Port industry. Regua is also the
junction and the depot through which all the wine must pass on its way to Porto. Once in the area, guests
should take the opportunity to visit "Casa do Douro" to learn about the history and production of Port
Pinhão - Twenty two kilometres upstream of Peso da Regua is Pinhao, the current port wine capital.
The town lies at the base of hillsides covered in vines where the Douro and Pinhao rivers meet. Pinhao is
dominated by the various port wine lodges and once again there are a variety of quintas from which you
can taste the local wines. Pinhao is a good base from which to explore the Douro wine region.
Mateus - The Mateus Palace is located in the civil parish of Mateus, municipality of Vila Real, Portugal,
which was built in the 18th century. Mateus Palace and gardens, made famous by its picture on each
bottle of Mateus rosé wine, has been described as the most fantastic country house in Portugal.
Mateus wine is a medium sweet sparkling rosé produced in Portugal. The brand was created in 1942 and
production began at the end of World War II. The wine was especially styled to appeal to the rapidly
developing North American and northern European markets. Production grew rapidly in the 1950s and
1960s and by the late 1980's, supplemented by a white version, it accounted for over 40% of Portugal's
table wine exports.