Tour Date: 14 to 21/24 September 2023Location: Portugal

You are invited to join us on a unique holiday to the stunning Douro Valley Port wine area of northern Portugal, the world’s first demarcated wine region (for the production of Port), and to the historic city of Porto itself. Following the Douro upstream, we discover a world of steeply terraced vineyards producing fine wines and ports.

The only way to see this beautiful region is by rail and river (there are few roads in the valley itself). The first half of our tour is based on the river right in the centre of this stunning region and includes several scenic rail trips as well as two half-day river cruises.

We honestly believe that you will not better this holiday for enjoyment and scenery. It is also our longest running tour now in its 25th year. Many of the trains on this line are now diesel loco hauled with 1940s Schindler carriages with opening windows, a huge improvement on the previous rolling stock.

Our hotel in Régua has its own pool and restaurant/bar.

Your Tour Manager for this trip is David, who lives in Lisbon. Should you have any queries about the itinerary or if you wish to have a chat with him about the trip, please feel free to e-mail him on david@ptg.co.uk.

From Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh. Or overland by rail from London St Pancras

Availability

Tour Highlights


  • No fly
  • Stunning scenery
  • World’s first demarcated wine region
  • British port wine estates
  • Two river trips
  • Two vintage train rides
  • Meal included most days
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

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Day 1, Thursday 14th September (D)

We have flights from various UK airports, from where we transfer to Régua, our home for the next seven nights. Dinner in the hotel. We can also arrange overland travel, to Porto, by rail from London St Pancras (leaving on 12 September).

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The view from the Regua Douro Hotel bedrooms. All PTG rooms have a river view.

Day 2, Friday 15th September (B,L)

Following a short welcome meeting, we join our coach to head north-east to Bragança, the former terminus of the metre-gauge Tua Line. We begin by heading to the historic centre and the castle, an imposing fortified tower and home to a museum with antique weapons & Portuguese military artifacts. After time to visit and explore the historic centre, we walk to the attractive town centre for lunch in an excellent family-run restaurant. Bragança station still exists, and in 2019 the long-stored rolling stock was put on display in an excellent new museum. We will visit the museum after lunch, before returning to Régua on our coach. Evening free.

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Braganza (Alamy Image)

Day 3, Saturday 16th September (B,D)

This morning our coach takes us to Vila Real and Casa de Mateus, famous as the palace that appears on the labels of Mateus Rosé wine (though Mateus Rosé is not actually made here). The visit includes a guided tour in the palace, as well as time to explore the beautiful gardens.

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Casa da Mateus

We return to Régua by coach with free time for lunch before the afternoon’s highlight of the tour, the Douro Historic Steam Train. We join a restored steam-hauled vintage train, formed of five wooden bodied carriages dating from the 1920s.  We travel up the river through breath-taking scenery of terrace vineyards and olive trees, to the riverside station at Tua (about a 90-minute run). En-route we stop for water at the picturesque riverside town of Pinhão. Use the time here to see the famous tiled pictures, dating from 1938, that decorate the station. Many of the most famous names in port production have quintas (port lodges) close to the railway station which is decorated with dazzling tile panels depicting scenes from bygone days of port production. On board, we are treated to traditional singing and served local delicacies and port wine. After a break, we return on the steam hauled train to Régua. We end this exciting day with a short trip across the river to Quinta da Pacheca, another local port producer, where we will have a fine dinner and more opportunity to taste their wine and port.

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The Douro Historic Steam Train

Day 4, Sunday 17th September (B,L)

We have the first of our two River Douro cruises, but to begin the day we once again catch the regional train with Schindler carriages east along the river all the way to the railway’s terminus at Pocinho.

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On the restored vintage trains on the Douro line you are free to open the windows to get photos of the wonderful views

At Pocinho we join our river cruiser and sailing down the river we pass through three of the dams built in the 1970s and 1980s to tame this once wild river. One of the locks we pass through is 32 metres deep and is an unforgettable experience.  This is a stunning part of the valley with steep terraced vineyards and dramatic rock cliffs and is probably the most stunning stretch of the river. A full three course lunch with wine is served on board.

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All inter-regional trains (on the Linha do Douro) are now formed of restored 1930’s carriages hauled by a 1960’s English Electric locomotive.

Day 5, Monday 18th September (B,L)

We have another chance to see the Douro from the train as we head back west to Penafiel. Our coach will be waiting to take us the short distance to the vineyards at Quinta da Aveleda, one of the region’s top Vinho Verde estates with its fine gardens. Look out for the Goat Tower and the Old Wine Lodge.

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The goat tower at Quinta da Aveleda

After a guided walk through their beautiful gardens, we are taken to their dining room where we will be served an excellent three-course lunch with the chance to taste some of their popular green wines. From here we transfer by road to the pretty riverside town of Amarante, one of the gems of northern Portugal. Rows of 17th-century mansions with their brightly painted balconies line the narrow streets. There will be time to visit the Monastery and other sites after our walk through the town. We return to Régua by train from Livração station, arriving early evening.

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Amarante (P. Spracklen)

Day 6, Tuesday 19th September (B,L)

One of the highlights of the holiday, we sail down the River Douro to Porto. We pass through two dams, firstly the spectacular Carrapatelo Dam. The lock in this dam will take us down 35 metres, one of the deepest locks in Western Europe and an unforgettable experience. Later we pass through the relatively small Crestuma-Lever Dam, as we start to see more settlements and finally the city of Porto. The approach to Porto is spectacular as we pass under a series of bridges, including the iconic Maria Pia railway bridge and the Dom Luis I two-level bridge. Our coach will have collected our luggage in Régua and will be waiting to take us to our hotel in the city centre. A full three course lunch with wine is served on board.

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The beautiful city of Oporto with one of the Eiffel bridges

Day 7, Wednesday 20th September (B,D)

This morning we begin with a scenic walk from the hotel to the Cathedral where we have wonderful views down to the river. From here we continue our walk across the upper deck of the Dom Luis Bridge from Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia, the city on the south bank of the river. After time to enjoy the view, we board a cable car that takes us down to the quayside where we will have a guided tour in one of the famous Port Wine Cellars that fill the area. We meet up again after lunch for our historic tram ride, firstly on the line alongside the river, including a visit to the tram museum, and then up to Carmo.

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Historic Porto trams, some of which are over 100 years old.

Dinner in the excellent Abadia restaurant.

Optional Minho Add-on

Basilica Santa Luzia and spectacular view to the coast and beaches of Viana do Castelo

Day 8, Thursday 21st September (B)

If you are leaving today there is a modern metro (mostly above ground tramway) which will take you to the airport for your flights back to the UK.

Today we head north by rail into the green Minho region and the important city of Viana do Castelo. We will explore the historic centre, lined with Manueline, Renaissance and Baroque mansions, and on to the fort, guarding the mouth of the River Lima. Free time to enjoy lunch in one of the many excellent restaurants here or visit the Gil Eanes Hospital Ship, now a fascinating museum. There is also a funicular to whisk you up to the Santa Luzia church with splendid views of the city and coast. Return to Porto at the end of the afternoon. On the return journey, we visit the railway museum at Lousado, dedicated to the metre gauge lines that existed throughout northern Portugal.

Day 9, Friday 22nd September (B)

We catch a suburban train to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Guimarães where we have time to explore the quaint historic centre is considered to be the birthplace of Portugal. You will have time to visit the Dukes’ Palace and the castle (entry fees not included). This afternoon we continue to Braga where we ride on the Bom Jesus water-powered funicular. Return to Porto by train at the end of the day.

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Bom Jesus which we reach via a water powered funicular

Day 10, Saturday 23rd September

Today we head south to the lovely town of Aveiro. On arrival we walk to the historic centre with time to explore its narrow streets and have lunch in one of its many restaurants. After lunch we meet up at the station for our trip on the Vouga narrow gauge railway line. After being stored in Régua for many years, the metre-gauge Vintage Train has been brought back into service on the Vouga Line, and today we will take a step back in time to travel on the original rolling stock along this scenic, but often forgotten, line. For so long threatened with closure, it managed to hang on, and is now having a renaissance due to the presence of this train. A visit to Macinhata museum is included. If for any reason the historic train does not run today, we will still do the Vouga Line and Macinhata museum, but on normal service trains. There are currently two available locomotives on this line, diesel loco 9004 and steam loco E214, though E214 can only operate in times of low fire-risk.

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The Vouga, narrow-gauge, vintage train with restored diesel and steam locomotive. The locomotive used will depend on the fire risk situation. Both images here are of the train on the now closed Corgo line.

Day 11, Thursday 24th September (B)

We return to the airport for return flights to the UK.

This tour has some walking, including hills and steps. Some Portuguese railway stations still have low platforms. In Porto you will need to be able to walk a few hundred metres from the pier to the coach park.

Place(s) available

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • From London Airports: £1,685
  • From Manchester (9 nights): £1,850
  • From London St Pancras: POA
  • From Porto/Oporto: £1,450

Options

  • Porto & Vouga Historic Train add-on: £350 (£280 if from Bristol*)
  • Single Room Supplement: £280 (8 day tour), £350 (11 day tour)
  • Flight inclusive bookings made less that 3-months before departure might mean an increase in price.

Deposit

  • £600 with flights or £300 if joining in Porto

Please note that you cannot book a flight inclusive trip on our website but if you select the flight option you prefer then we will contact you with the flight details and convert your booking into a flight inclusive package.

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We recommend you also check the FCO website for the latest travel advice https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Hotels

  • Hotel Regua Douro, Regua (5 nights)
  • Legendary Hotel, Batalha, Porto (2 nights plus another 3 on the Minho add-on)

Flight Options

  • FR8343 09.25 Stansted to Porto (arr.11.50)
  • TP1331 12.00 Gatwick to Porto (arriving 14.20)
  • EZ2097 07:20 Luton to Porto (arr. 09:45)
  • BA2872 14:15 Heathrow to Porto (arr.16:35)
  • EZ6147 18:10 Bristol to Porto (arr 20:20)
  • FR1175 18:55 Manchester to Porto (arr 21:15) – going out Wednesday
  • FR8514 06:55 Birmingham to Porto (arr. 09:15) – going out Wednesday