If you are planning to do a road trip through Portugal, the Douro Valley is definitely a must to include in your itinerary! Here you will find out why.
Why the Douro Valley?
Portugal is a real gem for travelers. In our opinion, it is one of the most versatile and affordable European countries in the world. We might sound a bit biased because currently it is where we live, but think that there should be really good reasons for Angelina be moving here 😉 (other than Pedro, of course :P)
Portugal is known abroad mostly because of the stunning beaches in Algarve, and the small streets and yellow trams of Lisbon. However, we are glad, that during last years Porto, our city, is getting more and more popular. Anyway, Portugal is so much more than just that! For us, the most charming and most underrated region of Portugal is the Douro valley area with its wine making tradition, breathtaking landscapes, and yummy food. And in this post we will share with you 7 viewpoints in the Douro Valley that you should include in your road trip plans in Portugal!
How to Get There?
It is possible to get to the upper Douro by train or by cruise boat and it is also an amazing experience, but if you prefer traveling on your own rhythm and find less known places in the Douro International Park, we definitely recommend going by car. We did this route in our campervan (have you already met our Benny?). The distances are not very long and it took us 3 days to enjoy this route, but it really depends on how much time you wish to spend in every spot.
Miranda do Douro
Our starting point to explore the beautiful Douro region was Miranda do Douro. It is 300 km away from Porto, so roughly 3h driving. We decided to go there in the afternoon, spend a night in Miranda, and then start exploring the next day. If you like camping, we recommend the campsite in Miranda. It was almost empty, very clean, and has a nice view of the cathedral.
The next day in the morning we headed to the first viewpoint with very easy access – just next to the cathedral! Here you can already see Spain on the other side of the river.
The cathedral is also worth visiting, as much as the lovely old town streets. Miranda area is also the best place in Portugal to enjoy a massive steak – posta mirandesa. The quality of meat is crazy! We got ours in São Pedro restaurant and mmmm… it was awesome!
After enjoying charming Miranda, the next spot worth visiting is the viewpoint in Freixiosa (miradouro de Freixiosa). It is just 11 km away from Miranda, the access to it is quite easy, but it’s better to have good shoes to be able to climb the rock safely.
Luckily, we were alone at this viewpoint and managed to enjoy all the beauty of the moment in this impressive place.
Fraga do Puio Viewpoint, Picote village
Just 8,5 km away from Freixiosa you will find one more breathtaking view in Picote village called Fraga do Puio viewpoint (miradouro da Fraga do Puio). We arrived at the center of the village, left our Benny and after a small walk found this place:
It is one of our favorite points of this route, but it also had more visitors than the others. Recently, there was built a nice terrace with a glass floor. The feeling of stepping on it is indescribable, but if you are afraid of heights, it’s not the best option.
This viewpoint gives you a unique perspective of the Douro river “bending”. It reminded us of the famous Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, but better accessible and more affordable 🙂
Bemposta Dam Viewpoint
After Picote village we headed 25 km north and found one more spot to appreciate the Douro beauty – Bemposta Dam (barragem de Bemposta). It was also our sleeping spot that night, that’s how we spent our first night in the wild with our Benny! We found it on Park4Night free app, which turned out to be a real lifesaver for #vanlife adventures. We don’t do it often, but from our experience, we may say that in Portugal it is safe to sleep surrounded by nature, especially in the Douro area.
If you are traveling by car and you don’t want to go back to Miranda do Douro, a good spot to find accommodation in that area is Freixo de Espada à Cinta. It is a charming town which is worth visiting and it was also our starting point for the next day itinerary.
If you drive 12 km from Freixo de Espada à Cinta, you will find the Colado viewpoint (miradouro do Colado). It has a tiny parking spot and a small information board, but it is not very visible, so don’t miss it! The view is stunning and it was one more place where we were alone appreciating this moment.
That day we wanted to relax a bit and decided to stop at the Congida river beach. It is just 16 km from the Colado viewpoint and 4 km from Freixo de Espada à Cinta.
If you visit the Douro region in July or August, it may get really hot here (even if in Porto it’s not). So, Congida was our refresh stop to get a swim, a cold beer and to spend some hours stretching in the sun. Always with the best views!
Penedo Durão Viewpoint
The cherry on the top of the cake was finishing the day at Penedo Durão viewpoint (Miradouro de Penedo Durão), which is located 16 km from Congida beach. Here you can see the Spanish Saucelle Dam and feel how tiny you are in this world 🙂
It is also a top place for bird-watching. Here you may observe falcons, griffins, vultures, and many others. We spotted several of them!
That’s how we finished our adventures in the Upper Douro region. This area doesn’t have many campsites, so we had to drive about 1,5h to the closest one in Mêda, and their campsite is good. But if you prefer to stay closer to the river, Torre de Moncorvo is a good place to search for accommodation. And if you are already missing the famous steaks (posta mirandesa, remember?), here you will find a perfect one in the place called O Lagar. You will not regret it 🙂
On the third day, our tip is just to get on N-222 road and… enjoy the views! It has been awarded a prestigious honor and has been named one of the top ten road trips in the world for its location cutting through the heart of the stunning Douro Valley and the spectacular views it provides of this wine region. You will wish to stop every 2 minutes to take a picture! Especially at the part between Pinhão and Peso da Régua.
On our road trip, we definitely wanted to visit one of the wineries, and by accident, discovered a whole new experience. When we were searching for a place to sleep, we got recommended by our buddy vanlifers to check the Portugal Easycamp site. Here you can find farms all over Portugal that allow you to park for a night when you buy some of their products.
So, we chose Quinta do Monte Travesso in Tabuaço. We had to buy a bottle of wine (delicious!) which cost 15 EUR and got access to a safe parking place, a hot shower, electricity, and even a washing machine.
The next day the owner was so kind, that he brought us fresh bread for breakfast and offered us a free tour around the whole farm, including the interior of his house, the library and even the chapel! We were very happy to have this unique experience and, once again, we were the only visitors there that day. Quinta do Monte Travesso has a small shop where you can buy all their products and also does wine tasting tours, so if you would like to have an authentic experience far from “mass tourism”, that’s the place to visit!
Are you ready for a road trip through Portugal? We hope, that the Douro Valley will be a part of your plan! With these 7 viewpoints, you will not miss the best views of the stunning Douro river!
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