Located in the north of Portugal, the Douro Valley is covered with dense forests and is home to abundant vineyards. The region, named after one of the major rivers on the Iberian Peninsula, the Douro River, is known for the production of splendid wine, effervescent Vinho Verde or sweet, fortified Porto. The region, rich in history and culture, acts as a little picture of Portugal.
Porto, the major city of the Douro Valley, where the river has its outlet, is a great starting point to a wine tour through Portugal. A wine trip cannot be complete without visiting this city, which enchants with its history and artworks just as it does with its Porto wine. Let yourself be guided with our travel planner and go on a wine tour with a car hire in Portugal. With only an hour's drive you will arrive from Porto at the beautiful coastal town of Viana do Castelo. Fresh seafood served there superbly pairs with the local crisp white wine - a perfect combination to enjoy in this small fisherman town. The Douro Valley road trip leads further to Guimaraes. Its centre is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so do not miss its architectural highlights. The Portugal wine tour ends in Braga, home to Baroque churches, splendid estates from the 18th century, many parks and green areas.
Things to do in Porto
The Porto road trip begins with picking up your car hire from Porto Airport. The city of Porto is most famous for its red sweet wine, known as Vinho do Porto (meaning: wine from Porto). It is a world classic wine famous for its aroma and complexity. Get to know the history of the king of Portugal's wine regions and pay a visit to Museu do Vinho do Porto. Crown your visit to the museum with wine tasting. Take part in guided wine tours from Taylor's or Graham's lodges and enjoy the desgustation of fine wine. During these tours, run by the most famous wine hotspots, you will learn all about grape cultivation and wine production.
Porto, Portugal's second largest city, has a number of historic sites and cultural events on offer. Visit the Sé Cathedral from 13th century with beautiful ornaments and Torre dos Clérigos, a Baroque bell tower. Climb to the top of the tower, 225 steps high, and create your own piece of art - take a photo of the wonderful city's panorama. Pay a visit to Soares dos Reis National Museum and enjoy Portuguese painting and sculpture works from the 19th and 20th century, which you can compare with the country's contemporary art exhibited at Museu Arte Contemporeanea. The best time to visit Porto is the middle of June, when Festa de São João takes place. It is a festive week, celebrating the city's patron, Saint John, filled with live music, parades and street parties. For a relaxing walk at the beach, head to Foz do Douro with your car hire from Porto to unwind and enjoy the day!
Porto Restaurants, bars and night life
Traditional cuisine is easy to find in Porto, with many eating options to choose from. Our tip for exceptionally good dishes, friendly service and a family atmosphere is Restaurant Dama Pé de Cabra. Do not feel discouraged by the look of the seafood that lands on your plate almost directly from the sea in Cafeteria Pintainho. Vegans are welcome at Essencia Restaurante Vegetariano, but remember to book a table. You will find an ample selection of food shops on Rua Formosa, so take a relaxing walk and shop for your dinner.
If you are looking to spend a great evening out, head to the Ribera district. This riverside old town part has plentiful restaurants, bars and dance clubs. This is also where you can listen to live Fado music.
Hotels and accommodation in Porto
Those looking for a relaxing stay in a modern hotel should check out Porto Palacio Congress Hotel & Spa or the five star Hotel HF Ipanema Park with beautiful city view and the Douro outlet. Located close to the city centre at the waterfront, Quality Inn Portus Cale offers slightly less luxurious and very comfortable rooms. If you prefer less crowded places, choose Pousada do Porto, some 15 minutes from Porto.
Things to do in Viana do Castelo
The road trip to Viana do Castelo leads northwards from Porto along the coastline to the historic town. Known as the jewel of Coste Verde, Viana do Castelo lures visitors with its medieval old town and beautiful beaches. The old town was built in Manueline style, developed during the reign of Manuel I, and is characterised by rich ornaments and the mixture of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The prime buildings in Viana do Castelo include the grand Praça da República, the Chafariz fountain and the Igreja da Misericórdia church. There are many more architectural highlights to discover. Explore the old town and learn about the city's history connected to lace works and shipbuilding.
Drive your car hire from Viana do Castelo to Monte de Santa Luzia and enjoy the walk through the forest. Climb to the top of the mountain and you will be rewarded with the best view of the city. Do not miss the opportunity to travel to Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês, the only national park in Portugal, with picturesque mountainous landscape, waterfalls, little secluded villages, and the rich world of wildlife.
Viana do Castelo restaurants, bars and night life
Viana do Castelo hotels and accommodation
Things to do in Guimarães
The Douro Valley travel route takes you to Guimarães, where the old town has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thanks to a car hire in Guimarães you will be able to see the most of this beautiful medieval town, where architecture ranges from the 12th to the 19th century. Largo da Oliveira Square is a good starting point for sightseeing. Park your car and walk to the square through Rua da Santa Maria, considered the most beautiful street in town. The restaurants at the square might be a bit overpriced, but they make up for it with a charming ambience and delicious meals. Visit the national monument Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Olivieira church and the monastery. The first king of Portugal was born in Guimarães, which became Portugal's first capital. Take a walk along the walls of the medieval Guimarães Castle. Make the most of your road trip to Guimarães and head to Monte de São Romão to see the ruins of Citânia de Briteiro, an archaeological site of Iron Age urban constructions.
Guimarães restaurants, bars and night life
The town has a wide selection of tapas bars, be it simple, small taverns or modern restaurants, such as Castas & Tostas. The restaurant is praised for its outstanding cuisine, friendly atmosphere and skilled personnel. The small and cosy restaurant Buxa welcomes you with an ample selection of traditional Portuguese delicacies. Casa Amarela serves Mediterranean cuisine and for grilled fish and steaks try Xisko.
Guimarães hotels and accommodation
Things to do in Braga
The Portugal wine tour leads now further north to Braga, the religious centre of the country. The city's landmark, the Sé Cathedral, is considered to be the most important monument in Portugal. It took 200 years to finish its construction in the 12th century. Originally built in Burgundian Romanesque style, today the cathedral displays traits of Gothic, Manueline, and Baroque architecture. The entrance to the cathedral is for a small fee, you can see the treasury and the choir. Santuario do Bom Jesus do Monte, situated three miles away from the city, is one of the most beautiful mountain towns in Portugal and provides a spectacular view of Braga. So take your car hire from Braga and explore the region. Visit Parque Natural do Litoral Norte, a park with sand dunes stretched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cávado River.
Braga restaurants, bars and night life
Enjoy the road trip to Braga to the fullest and take in the local culture and try delicious cuisine. Explore traditional Portuguese meals with Spanish flair in Tapeira Palatu. Sample seafood from a buffet in Docamar Marisqueira or try their fish soup or sword fish in cheese sauce. The colourful Restaurante Tia Isabel serves mouthwatering cod in cream sauce and shrimp. We also recommend the rustic Sao Frutuoso restaurant for a dinner with special charm.
Braga hotels and accommodation
As with most Portuguese tourist cities, such as Faro, the amount of accommodation options is large and everyone is sure to find something suitable. Hotel Bracara Augusta offers classic decorated rooms and a garden, where you can sip a glass of Touriga Nacional. Stylish and modern, Melia Braga Hotel & Spa is a place where you can relax in high standard rooms and spa. For a budget and quiet accommodation option, choose Residencial dos Terceiros. There are also chain hotels such as Mercure Braga Centro or Ibis Braga available in the city.
If the Portugal wine tour road trip leaves you still wanting more adventures, drive to Lisbon, the heart of the country and its cultural and financial hub.