The Douro is intrinsically connected to wine. Grapes were first cultivated around 4,000 B.C and Port shipments began in 1678 when British traders blockading France sailed this 'golden' river to meet Portuguese vintners who stabilised red wine with brandy for the long trip to London.
The Douro's history is more than wine; you'll discover the significance of the Palaeolithic Vale do Côa rock paintings, witness traces of Spanish, Celtic, French and Arabic influences from across the ages, and revel in multiple World Heritage-listed sites including the living museum that is historic Porto.
The dramatic landscape of the Douro has protected a culture that has evolved since the Stone Age. Some of the ancient villages date back to Roman times whilst others are influenced by the agricultural practices of Benedictine monks.
You'll find handicrafts of metal, stone, ceramic and wool are aplenty and discover unique embroidery, black clay pieces and wooden masks. The cities are just as alluring. Get your Spanish fix in intriguing Salamanca and explore cosmopolitan Porto, rich in architecture, stories of the seas, and lush green parks and gardens.
You'll converse with the friendly locals who will share their close links to their land reflected in traditional farming methods and a great culinary tradition. The classic fortified Port style is exclusive to the Douro Valley, one of the world's oldest protected wine regions.
The family-run quintas (estates) are the best place to enjoy Port as an apéritif before you dine on the freshest of fish, goat and veal, smoked meats and artisanal cheeses. The fertile soil also yields olives and almonds, the latter starring in the traditional sweet treats best enjoyed with a speciality liqueur.