A Scenic Drive on the Terraced Hills of Douro River Valley * Outside Suburbia Travel
Since the 18th century, the Douro Valley is known for its port wine and wine terraces. Its namesake river makes a 200-kilometer journey to the Atlantic Ocean from Spain to northern Portugal through terraced valleys of vineyards, groves of orange and olive trees. We spend a few days in Porto last December and went on a scenic drive to the Douro River Valley listed as one of the most beautiful roads in the world.
Through the centuries, row upon row of terraces have been built on the hills of the Douro Valley according to different techniques and require continuous maintenance. Protected from the harsh Atlantic winds by the Marão and Montemuro mountains, these sloping terraced vineyards produce some of the best wines from Portugal. This microclimate allows for the cultivation of olives, almonds, and grapes to thrive in this region. The Alto Douro Wine Region is listed as a UNESCO Heritage site. Traditionally, the wine was taken downriver in flat-bottom boats called rabelos, to be stored in barrels in cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the river from Porto. Theses days the port wine is transported in tankers and trucks.
While we didn’t stop at any wineries or enjoy picnics or port tasting, it was a lovely day of driving through the countryside dotted with Quintas and hilltop churches. We stopped often to marvel at the man-made terraces, the views of fog covered hills and the muddy river snaking through. I love these hills covered in grapevines. Last time we were in Tuscany, we didn’t stop at any wineries either( I have been wanting a doover). But it was a beautiful drive. We make up for it when we are in Napa though.
Roads were made for Journeys, not destinations.
N222, One of most Scenic Road in the World
After a brief stop in Régua for coffee, we slowly made our way up the scenic stretch of the N222. In this section of the Douro Valley drive, between Peso da Régua and Pinhão, the road clings to the river. For about 15 miles all we saw were terraced hills with vineyards stretched as far as the eye could see. The hills hug each other as they rise up to meet the sky. Once we crossed the bridge into Pinhão, we stopped at the train station as Jose said that there might be something I would like to see. The train station was decorated with the Portuguese azulejos blue, white and yellow tile works I love!
Here are a few scenic viewpoints we stopped along the way in the Douro River Valley.
Originally published at https://outsidesuburbia.com on May 5, 2020.