Day 1 Arrive Porto
Arrival in the city of Porto, set on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Douro River. Porto's intriguing Old Town – designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site – clings to the steep north bank of the great River Douro, its jumbled streets seemingly all leading down to the quayside. Five bridges, including one by Eiffel and a spectacular two-tiered construction, link to Vila Nova de Gaia, the heart of the port wine trade, where you can visit one or two of the wine lodges. The Old Town's two main landmarks are the cathedral (Sé) and the panoramic Clérigos Tower. Visit the Stock Exchange (Bolsa) and the church of São Francisco to admire their ornate interiors. Art lovers will like the contemporary art museum, and don't miss the wonderful shops, either – traditional emporiums and designer boutiques stand side by side with old-fashioned shops selling port wine and dried, salted codfish.
Day 2 Discover Old Porto, Train ride to Pinhão
Take the afternoon train (2.5 hrs) eastwards through a colourful patchwork of olive groves, immaculate vineyards and cork-oak woods to Douro Valley, a World UNESCO Heritage Site. The second part of the journey is a real highlight, as the train makes its way along the impressively engineered railway ( 26 tunnels and 30 bridges) which clings to the sliver of land between the River Douro and the steep slopes above. By the time you alight, you are in the heart of port-wine producing country where you stay at a small family-owned vineyard (Quinta).
Day 3 Pinhão to Sabrosa (Walk: 13km; 400m elevation gain)
Your walk today is among the spectacular scenery of the Alto Douro Wine Region. This is a land of traditions and wine production has been a livelihood here for more than two thousand years. Harvest here is traditional and still done by hand and foot (with the squashing of the grapes!). Walk over hilly slopes passing through the village of Provosende where you may admire its old manor houses. Cross the plateau and pass by more traditional wineries and villages before arriving your hotel dated from the 17thC in a village set among vineyards above the River Pinhao. The village has a wealth of 15th Century houses. It was one of these that the explorer Magellan was born in about 1480
Day 4 Sabrosa to Alijó (Walk: 13km; 510m elevation gain)
Follow a trail through vineyards down to the River Pinhão and Favaios village where the bakeries still use their wood ovens dating from the late 19th century. Pay a visit to the Quinta da Pedra Alta, a vineyard that has won many International wine awards. Tonight you stay at a ‘Quinta’ (local winery) which has stunning views over the vineyard terraces and is one of the most traditional wine producing estates of the region.
Day 5 Alijó to Vale Mendiz (Walk: 16.5km; 320m elevation gain)
Walk back into the vineyard town of Favaios, do visit Enoteca Douro–Quinta da Avessada, an interactive museum commemorating the history and culture of wine in the Alto Douro region. Cross farmland to reach a wonderful view point where you can see hamlets perched on outcrops over the river and within the vineyards. The Vale Mendiz, your final destination for today, is one such hamlet set above the River Pinhão.
Day 6 Vale Mendiz to Pinhão Walk: 8km; 200m elevation gain
This morning you will walk from Vale Mendiz back to Pinhão along a different route. The scenery of vineyards and mountains carved out by rivers is indeed special and it is no wonder that this area has been designated a World UNESCO Heritage Site. Afternoon free to relax at the Quinta or take an optional scenic boat trip along the River Douro to Rabelo.
Day 7 River Douro Cruise to Porto
Operates May to October: Douro River Cruise After a short train journey board your river boat for a peaceful cruise down the Douro River, back to Porto. See the thousands of tiers of vine-lined terraces and the many small towns and settlements perched on the sloping hillsides. Many of these villages have retained their medieval simplicity with tiny communities clustered around historic churches, monasteries and castles. Cross 14 locks and descend over 35m at the various dams on this incredible journey. You will also enjoy lunch on board which includes local wine. Later this afternoon arrive back into Porto
Arrangements end after breakfast.
Moderately challenging walking with plenty of ups and downs over ridges, hills, vineyards, valleys and riverbanks.
Breakfast daily, 1 lunch on cruise Day 7.
Please note that pricing is per person in Euros
2018: Double / Twin Share - €1169. Single Supplement €359
High Season Surcharge (26 March - 31 October): Share Twin - €100. Single room supplement - €40.
2018: Start any day March to November.
The valley of the Rio Douro (‘river of gold’) is striking in its tranquillity – and its rich colours. Fertile hills neatly striped with green vines and silver olive trees are reflected in mirror-like waters, as are the painted long boats which ply the river, and the region’s tiny, untouched villages of white houses with red roofs. It is here, at the quintas (wineries) dotted across the slopes, that port wine is produced, the late-September harvest bringing a pleasant bustle to the valley, when the workers sing late into the night as they pick the grapes and tread them by foot.
Arrive in the coastal city of Porto, friendly capital of the port-wine trade, before discovering the timeless landscapes where the wine originates, thus showing the great contrast between the bustle of the historic sea port and the slow, traditional ways of life upriver.