Starting at the train station
Porto is home to one of the more beautiful train stations in Portugal with its azulejo-covered Estação de São Bento. Departing from this historical and artistic landmark is a unique way to begin your trip. Of course, renting a car and driving is also a good idea, and booking a boat tour through the Douro River will be especially memorable.
Tasting the valley’s wine
The Douro Valley is the oldest demarcated wine region in Europe, partly divided by the Douro Valley and the rolling green hills but further divided through human interaction. Due to its long history of wine-making reaching as far back as 2,000 years ago, the region was eventually classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The most popular wine produced in the Douro Valley since the 1700s has been (and continues to be) Port, but there are other delicious brands that also call the Douro Valley “home,” especially the Mateus rosé and other fortified red blends.
The where and the why
While a 24-hour trip isn’t very long, it’s enough time to get a feel for the Douro region. Travelers have an option of taking either a guided tour or a self-guided tour, and while both can be enjoyable, the former usually ensures a well-rounded experience including an overview of the region’s history.
Book a night at a Quinta (a wine estate) for the best possible accommodation. Not only are they usually decorated in the traditional Portuguese style, they also offer on-site access to locally-produced wines and close proximity to towns, villages, and local restaurants. Two very beautiful estates are the Quinta do Vallado in Régua and the Quinta de la Rosa in Pinhão but you can also choose from a popular winery or vineyard hotel.
If your visit coincides with the wine harvest season (September and early October), sign up as a volunteer in the picking and production process. Otherwise, spend your day touring the region’s vineyards, learning about the wines produced, and (of course) tasting different varieties. Spending the perfect 24 hours in the Douro Valley is as simple as strolling the stunning landscape, talking to the locals, eating good food, and drinking excellent wine. Also, check out the Douro Museum in Régua.