PORTO, DOURO VALLEY & AVEIRO PORTUGAL - trip report
The city of Porto, where the Douro River runs into the ocean, is a beautifully preserved, historic city and a UNESCO World Heritage town. Directly across the Douro River from Porto is the city of Gaia where port wine has been made for centuries.
The iconic pictures of Porto feature the waterfront hub of the town known as the Ribeira and particularly the string of historic UNESCO World Heritage buildings fronting the river. A string of these buildings have internally been connected to constitute the Pestana Vintage Porto hotel (shown here top left pic), where we stayed.
Many of the rooms have a fantastic panoramic view of the river and Gaia.
We took a long walking tour of the city visiting many neighborhoods and some landmarks like this amazing Casa da Musica – the premiere music venue in town.
We walked to the Serralves Park and Museum which has beautiful grounds to explore and fun museum exhibits inside and out
Porto becomes even more enchanting as evening descends and the lights come on.
There is a walkway one floor up from the waterfront that is lined with bars and restaurants.
On it you can get great seafood. I had sea bream and my husband octopus - with a great view of the river.
The Palacio da Bolsa. This once held the stock exchange (in its grand entry hall) and before that was a royal palace. It has many impressive ornate rooms, but it’s incredible Moorish reception hall is the star and is still where foreign dignitaries are greeted.
Here is a walk in the old neighborhoods near the Ribeira area where we were staying. We really enjoyed walking in this city.
We took the water taxi across the Douro to Gaia. This provides great views of Porto. Gaia is where dozens of venerable port producers are located.
We visited one port producer dating back three centuries - Taylors - for a snack and a tasting. Here is a view of Port wine barrtels in their aging facility, and down on the river, a line of antique port wine shipping vessels from various port producers. These are centuries-old but have been displaced by rail and modern ships.
If this cable car looks familiar, it is because it was modeled on those of San Francisco. And here is the sunset in Porto from our balcony.
We drove from Porto through the famous and beautiful Douro River Valley wine region to Pinhao. We stopped on the way to visit a very high end hotel (the Six Senses) with impeccable accommodations and great views.
Arriving in Pinhao, we stayed at Quinta de la Rosa just outside town. The way to our room was this grapevine-enclosed walk and we loved this view from our patio.
Quinta de la Rosa is a working winery and we arrived just as the grapes were being harvested and crushed. Including some stomping. Great fun, but to participate timing is everything!
In Pinhao we took a lovely boat on the Douro and passed by the terraced hills covered with vines.
We also took one of the many walks through the vineyards.
We then moved to Casa do Visconde de Chanceleiros, a converted manor house with just 12 guest cottages, and one of the most beautiful places we have ever stayed in.
We briefly stopped in Aveiro on our way to Lisbbon. Aveiro is known as the Venice of Portugal because of the internal waterways and gondolas. It also features beautifully decorated buildings.
We stopped in a pretty square for a spit-roasted pork sandwich that was unbelievably good.