A dual visit to the Douro Valley and historical Porto is perfect for wine buffs and adventure-seeking travellers alike
Lead image: The Vintage House, Douro Valley
I’m standing in a vineyard in Portugal’s historic Douro Valley admiring the gnarled roots of the 90-year-old vines at the Croft’s port vineyard. With the sun beating down and the pleasant effect of a couple of glasses of port, it’s a very agreeable spot to find yourself on a Saturday afternoon.
Like Portugal, port itself is having a modern renaissance, with port lovers (and newbies like myself) realising that there’s more to this complex drink than just a dusty bottle kept at the back of the cupboard for your grandparents. To explore the history and heritage of this noble drink, a twin visit to the Douro Valley and buzzing Porto is the answer.
The Fladgate Partnership is the first company in the region to offer twin-stay itineraries at their hotels, The Vintage House in the Douro Valley and The Yeatman in Porto. We began our trip at The Vintage House, a chic country house, that overlooks the Douro River.
As well as the wine tours on offer at Croft’s Quinta de Roeda vineyard, take a boat trip down the river to see the many Port estates including Taylor’s, Sandeman’s and Croft’s. Dinner at in-house restaurant Rabelo is a must. We kicked off our meal with a chilled white port aperitif (who knew?) followed by locally inspired fare.
Far less touristy than Lisbon, it’s easy to discover the real Portuguese way of life in Porto, wandering the streets, eating where the locals eat and stopping off for a few glasses of port
With our appetite for port whetted after a fantastic two night stay, we hopped on the train to Porto, ready to explore. Founded in the 8th century, Porto is now a UNESCO world heritage site with its colourful houses and winding alleyways in the Old Town offering picture-postcode views.
Far less touristy than Lisbon, here it’s easy to discover the real Portuguese way of life wandering the streets, eating where the locals frequent and stopping off for a few glasses of port along the way.
The Douro River cuts the city neatly in half; with the old city on one side and Vila Nova de Gaia on the other, home to the historic Port warehouses with their distinctive terracotta roofs and majestic hotel, The Yeatman.
High on a hill overlooking the city, this stylish five star hotel pays homage to wine with a decanter-shaped pool and a 25,000 bottle cellar. Each room is named after a wine and you can even get grape-pip treatments at the spa.
It’s a grown up and glamorous place to stay in Porto where its Michelin-starred restaurant deserves its gourmet status. Overlooking the city on its roomy terrace, we dined on the eight course chef’s selection with memorable dishes including the Portuguese Fish Broth and sublime Pineapple from the Azores.
Directly opposite the hotel lies the Taylor’s wine warehouse, where you can join a tour that explains the history of Port, try out tawny, red, white and even pink ports and wander past the barrels. It makes the perfect ending to a fabulous mini break.
- Monarch operates year round flights and holidays to Porto from London Luton with fares from £42 one way (£77 return). See monarch.co.uk
- For airport parking, see london-luton.co.uk/parking
- A two night stay at The Yeatman in a twin room starts from €430, including breakfast. See the-yeatman-hotel.com/en or call (+351) 220 133 100)
- A two night stay at Vintage in a twin room starts from €240, including breakfast. See vintagehousehotel.com or call (+351) 254 730 230)