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.
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.