Douro Valley, Portugal
When to go
This is a great place to go off-season, especially as winters here are mild. August can be scorchio but never unbearable; June until September have less rain, and the latter is harvest time and an especially lovely month to watch the grapes being collected.
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PlanesPorto is the main airport for the Douro Valley; Ryanair (ryanair.com) flies to Porto from London Stansted and Liverpool airport. TAP (flytap.com) flies from London Heathrow. If travelling by helicopter | there is a helipad at Quinta Romeneira.
BoatsA boat trip along the magnificent Douro River is essential – even if you only manage a small section. Stretching from the border with Spain down to the Atlantic Ocean, historically wine was transported along it in flat-bottom boats called rabelos, Romaneira has a pine rabelo available for private tours.
TrainsA visit to the Douro Valley provides a unique opportunity to ride a steam train through postcard-perfect countryside. Even if you don’t need to jump aboard, it’s worth visiting just to see pretty, azulejos-tiled Pinhão, one of the most charming train stations in the world, with the backdrop of the Douro River behind.
AutomobilesIf you want to explore | a car is an advantage. The heart of the winelands | and the village of Cotas is about 150km from Oporto | 350km from Lisbon | 30km from Villa Real. It is easy to drive around and routes relatively uncomplicated | but the motorways aren’t for the faint-hearted as the lanes are narrow.
TaxisAsk your hotel to arrange transportation in a 4x4.