Places to see in Douro, Portugal
The two most important settlements on the Douro River are Régua and Pinhão, only about 20 km apart. Régua is considered the commercial capital of the Douro Valley and offers excellent dining opportunities and the Douro Museum, an excellent introduction to the region. From here it is a beautiful journey upriver to Pinhão, whether one goes by car, train or boat. This is a picturesque village caught between the Douro and its tributary, the Pinhão River. Its train station’s beautiful painted tiles are especially worth visiting.
About 12 km south of Régua is Lamego, considered the cultural capital of the region. It features several interesting monuments, the most spectacular being the Cathedral and the Sanctuary or Our Lady of Remedies. Just a few kilometres from here is the 10th century Chapel of São Pedro do Balsemão, which incorporates Roman building material already almost a millennium old when the Chapel was constructed; a touching monument to the antiquity and continuity of this place.
North of Régua and less than half an hour away is the only city in the region, Vila Real. It retains an interesting centre and its major tourist attraction is in a bucolic location a few kilometres away. Casa de Mateus is famous for featuring on the label of Mateus Rosé, which is by some counts the best selling wine ever. This spectacular 18th century Baroque palace is wonderfully conserved and has an interesting, well-kept, period garden.
Far upriver, close to the Spanish border, is the Côa Valley, which has been described as the biggest open air Palaeolithic art site in the world. Its archaeological park has thousands of engraved drawings of animals such as horses and mountain goats and other figurative and abstract shapes dating back as far as 25 000 years BC.
The Douro also contains innumerable smaller wonders, such as the spectacular viewpoint at São Leonardo da Galafura and the medicinal water at the Caldas de Moledo spa.
Coming here and not visiting some wine farms would be tantamount to sacrilege. Your hotel will be able to advise you on the most appropriate and convenient farms, but Sandeman’s new Quinta do Seixo complex is especially well configured to receive visitors.