A Must Go Place: The Douro Valley
Vineyards have always been something that interests me; wine, nature, what more could you ask for? If I am in an area that specializes in wine I can assure you I will be there to check it out. Porto is a small city and perfect for a wine tour because you may find yourself with some free time. Porto does many trips to wine storehouses and hosts tastings all within the city, this is the cheaper, more time efficient option. But what really made Porto worth it was a 1.5 hour drive out into the secluded Douro Valley.
I hopped on board a 'Cooltour' tour at 8 am to venture out into the windy roads of the Douro Valley. The tour was small, only 9 of us crammed into a tiny van. We road along plummeting cliff sides overlooking the Douro River and only stopped at the best viewpoints. We arrived at the first vineyard in what seemed like a ghost town. The wine tasting started with normal white and red wines and the vineyards own honey and almonds. The winery was settled on top of cliff overlooking the valley and the river, it was quite the sight. After some wine we were escorted to a quick 45 minute cruise on the Douro River, the land was lush and bright green with barely any houses or signs of human contact anywhere. Once we docked we headed to lunch to try some traditional Portuguese food (and more wine). Then finally it was time to try the famous port wine. The winery was hidden in the valley right by the river. We tasted port wine straight out of the barrel and were invited into the winemakers' house for snacks and more port wine. They made tawny, ruby, rose, and white port wine. The ruby is the most popular one, it is very strong and sweet, definitely an acquired taste. My favorite was the white as it was a lot less sweet than the rest.
The tour came to an end around 6 pm, and we headed back to the city on another scenic drive. This region is so unique and cannot be missed, even if your aren't a fan of the traditional port wine, many winemakers make regular wine too. I would suggest traveling with a small tour company because the drive is long and mountainous, there was also rarely cellphone service so unless you really know what you're doing, it is probably safer to stick with a group. The drive was about 1.5 hours but worth every second, you are out of the city within 15 minutes and left with only cliff side views of the valley for the next hour.
By far my favorite part of Portugal, hopefully this will help you out when planning your next trip to Portugal (or any of the surrounding countries).