Douro Valley and Northern Portugal in Pictures

WHY GO: The Douro Valley in northern Portugal might not be on the mind of every wine-lover. But the way things are going, it soon will be. Home to some of the best Ports in the world (Dow’s 2007 Vintage Port, 100 Points, Wine Spectator Magazine), and a growing number of acclaimed Reds, the Douro Valley is witnessing a budding “Tuscany” moment.

Douro Valley, Portugal

But why stop at the Douro Valley? Drive north, and you’ll start to see groves of olive trees clinging to mountainsides, supplanting the vineyards to the south. Portuguese Olive Oil producers are also having a moment – and you are welcome to visit.

The photos below provide an overview of towns, wineries, restaurants and a former King’s palace, now a stunning boutique hotel.

Things to Do in Douro Valley and Northern Portugal

Plan an intimate wine-pairing lunch at a private winery estate home at Quinta Do Crasto

Wines are some of the best on the planet, and you are invited to try a few of the best in a magazine-photo-shoot-ready estate home. Complete with starchatect-designed infinity pool, the estate overlooks the Douro River and vineyard studded hills.

Quinta Do Crasto Estate Infinity Pool, Portugal

Your visit begins with a tour of the grounds, and, if chilly out, ends inside a small antique home where nibbles are set out before a warm fireplace.

Quinto Do Crasto Private Home, Douro Valley Portugal

And wine flows like water. (10-people maximum, Contact estate for rates). 

Wine Pairing Lunch at Quina Do Crasto Estate, Portugal

Stop for a Tasting at Symington Quinta Do Bomfim

You can continue from there to other tasting rooms around the valley. Stop at Symington Quinta Do Bomfim, the winery that brings you some of the best Port Wines in the world.

Quinta Do Bomfim Wine Tasting, Portugal

These establishments are tough to find (some not even on GPS), especially if you are “trying” lots of wines, so it helps to have a guide.

Quinta Do Bomfim Tasting Room, Portugal

Plan a Drive to the Antique Hamlet of Romeu

Plan another day in a rustic northern town, like Romeu, which was renovated after falling to seed.

Romeu, Portugal

Romeu is sleepy and picturesque, with a small “Museum of Curiosities” and a fantastic stone restaurant, Maria Rita. (See Where to Eat below).

Maria Rita Restaurant, Romeu, Portugal

Visit Casa De Santo Amaro Olive Oil Producers for a Jug and Tour

From Romeu, it’s a short ride to the somewhat larger town of Mirandela, home to Casa De Santo Amaro Olive Oil Producers. Just “knock on the door” and someone will give you a tour .And it just might be an associate obtaining his PhD in oil sensory properties at a top Portuguese University.

Yes, they take their Olive Oil that seriously here. You also might be privy to seeing busloads of countrymen buying 5 liter jugs of Virgin Oil for the incredible price of 16 Euro.

Casa De Santo Amaro Olive Oil Producers, Open House

Where to Eat in Northern Portugal and Douro Valley

Rustic lunch in northern Portugal

Maria Rita Restaurant in Romeu

Wines and olive oil set out for guest don’t get more local than this. You may need to stop a few times to ask for directions, but it’s well worth snaking uphill for a couple of miles to find this gem.

Maria Rita Restaurant, Romeu Portugal

And, back in the Douro Valley, you’ll find the modern yin to Maria-Rita’s rustic yang – the DOC Restaurant.

DOC Restaurant, Douro Valley, Portugal

DOC Douro Valley

A contemporary rectangle of a space set right on the Douro River, DOC serves up some of the most exciting and innovative dishes this side of Lisbon, including this Pop-Rock laced “explosion of Grapefruit” intermezzo.

Pop Rock Amuse, DOC Restaurant, Douro Valley Portugal

Where to Stay in Duoro Valley and North

Vidago Palace Hotel with bus, Portugal

STAY: Vidago Palace,Chaves Portugal

Driving up the elongated entryway to the deep coral-colored Vidago Palace, in Chaves Portugal, you can almost imagine the image of King Carlos I, fleeing the pressures of Lisbon and his royal duties in Sintra.

But Carlos never had a chance to use Vidago as his northern getaway, as he was assassinated in 1908. And neither did his son, Manuel II. Manuel served as King for just two years, from 1908 to 1910, when the people of Portugal overthrew the monarchy. He was lucky enough to find safe harbor in England.

From front door of Vidago Palace Hotel, Portugal

On the day of the coup, all Royal Palaces, including this one, were flung open to the public, and remain so. Some became wine hotels in Portugal. Some, like those outside of Lisbon in Sintra, are managed by the state. Others, like the Vidago Palace Hotel, are privately owned.

Vidago Palace Now

Vidago Palace Foyer, Portugal

The Vidago Palace now serves as a very popular Golf and Spa resort. Fortunately, with only 70 renovated rooms, it’s blessedly free of crowds. The entry foyer, with carved wooden double sweeping staircases, provides a magnificent first impression.

Vidago Palace Library

Public rooms, like the “library” and breakfast rooms, are stunning as well.

Vidago Palace Breakfast Room, Portugal

Breakfast is a vast buffet, spread out over all corners of a newly decorated Victorian-style dining room.

Breakfast room, Vidago Palace Hotel, Portugal

Rooms, especially the Junior Suites, manage to merge antique elegance with modern colors and flourishes,

Room at Vidago Palace

with baths that are Instragram-candy for sure.

Bathroom, Vidago Palace Hotel, Portugal

The Vidago Palace Spa – a contemporary space with a clinical air – was quite controversial when first built. It’s as modern as the hotel is traditional, with halls lined with white marble slabs, and color limited to the breathtaking landscapes and gardens viewed through large windows.

Vidago Palace Spa, Portugal

But treatments are astoundingly good. They are provided by well-trained massage therapists and estheticians who know what they are doing. Products and human proficiency leave your skin soft and dewy. The Facials are magic.

Spa Relaxation at Vidago Palace Hotel, Portugal

And after each treatment, you’re invited to sit on the “Relaxation Chairs”for as long as you’d like.

Hot Jetted Pool, Vidago Palace Spa, northern Portugal

Or enjoy the outdoor heated multi-function hot-tub pool.

Vidago Palace Hotel Indoor Pool, Northern Portugal

Or the large indoor pool. Rooms at Vidago Palace Hotel start at 250 Euro per night and include a bountiful hot and cold breakfast, free wi-fi and bend-over-backwards service.


  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine,, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.