Douro Valley self guided walking holiday in Portugal
Description of Douro Valley self guided walking holiday in Portugal
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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PlanetThroughout this week-long walking holiday, clients will get up close and personal with a fascinating wine region which has been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Landscape due to the combination of man-made terraces and the still mostly manual methods of wine production that this terrain demands.
The adventure begins with a scenic train journey through the Douro Valley from Porto to Pinhão, with views of the once treacherous river that was once the main route for transporting goods, especially barrels of wine from the vineyards to the port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia.
From the riverside village of Pinhão, our village to village and circular self-guided hikes follow rural backroads and paths through undulating countryside, vineyards, valleys and villages, offering the visitor a chance to enjoy the local flora and fauna with negligible environmental impact, especially since they receive full briefing from us on how to respect the local wildlife and landscape.
We use some accommodations for multiple nights in order to reduce the need for luggage transfers. When these are necessary, we use local taxi drivers to reduce carbon emissions and support the local economy.
Since the quality of tap water is excellent in Portugal, we supply a refillable bottle that clients can use during their walking holiday and beyond.
PeopleTo make sure that money stays within the small local communities that our clients spend time in, the accommodation for this programme is in a combination of small, unique hotels and family-run rural lodgings, which give clients an insight into local history and culture.
The staff/owners are very welcoming and happy to chat with guests about the area. Some of these accommodations produce their own wine, olive oil and fruit, from which they make and serve home-made jams that can also be purchased as gifts/souvenirs.
The daily lunch pack contains fresh local produce and we encourage guests to have dinner at hospitable local restaurants where they can enjoy traditional regional dishes, engage with the owners, chef or servers and, of course, sample Douro wines and port.
Most of the walking days involve passing through small hillside villages where clients are welcome to stop at local cafés, bakeries and grocery or craft stores in order to get a sense of what local life is like and interact with the residents.
This is particularly relevant in the village of Favaios, which is famous for its artisanal bread. We strongly recommend visiting one of the local bakers to see how they use the wood-fired ovens and buy still-warm rolls. The formidable baker, Manuela, will also slice and butter the bread on request. Favaios is also one of only two places in Portugal that produce muscatel wine so a glass of Moscatel de Favaios is a must for those who enjoy fortified wines. Clients can learn more about the history of both these tasty treats in the village’s Bread and Wine Museum.
This trail is in the heart of the renowned Douro wine region so as well as observing the manual labour that goes into tending the endless grape vines, both for small-scale independent production and for the major players, there are plenty of opportunities to visit local wine producers to taste and buy their wines and learn about the unique family histories of these quintas (wine estates).
If the trip coincides with the grape harvest, which is usually in September, clients have a wonderful opportunity to experience the hustle and bustle of grape picking and transportation to the wineries and, with a bit of luck, even participate in grape treading or harvest celebrations.
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