Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Porto & the Douro Valley
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Highlights

  • Sauntering through the Ribeira, Porto’s old town and a World UNESCO Heritage Site
  • Sitting on your private terrace in the Quinta da Seixada sipping world-famous wine
  • Partaking in wine-tasting at local wineries, such as the DouRosa Branco from the Quinta de la Rosa
  • Enjoying the mighty Douro River as you slowly make your way downstream on a scenic boat cruise

From the World UNESCO Heritage Site of the Ribeira, Porto’s old town, to the green and gold geometric landscapes of the Douro River Valley, this area of northern Portugal offers a unique sensory experience where the pace of life has been unchanged for centuries.

Follow trails through this timeless terrain, visit wineries that are over a century old and encounter traditional white-washed villages that cling to the hillsides. Also view the captivating landscapes of wine terraces with a legendary train journey from Porto to Pinhão and during a boat cruise along the Douro River. Feel the warmth of the sun on your back as you take in these dazzling and picturesque scenes.

Arrive in the coastal city of Porto which spans the mouth of the serene Douro River. Porto is a fabulous city to explore, with its Baroque churches, village-style plazas, soaring bell-towers, and narrow cobbled lanes. Stroll through the Ribeira district where local inhabitants still mingle and sit on the terrace of a traditional restaurant and see the sun setting over the Douro River; this is indeed a city of romance.

Next you will take an unforgettable train journey from Porto to the Douro Valley, so beautiful that it too is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This journey allows you to soak up the ageless landscapes of the region at your leisure. Also fascinating is the remarkable engineering that went into the building of this railway line as you pass through 26 tunnels and cross over 30 bridges.

On arrival in the Douro Valley you can anticipate enjoying panoramic walks past vineyards that produce world-class wines. Stay in rural accommodations that are within the grounds of these vineyards and perhaps even try some traditional barefoot grape-treading!

Even more thrilling is your journey back to Porto via a scenic river cruise, along the mighty Douro. You’ll get a first-hand view of the thousands of wine terraces and the villages that cling to the cliffs overlooking the river.

DAY 1: Arrive Porto

This self-guided walking tour begins in the city of Porto, set on the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Douro River. Explore its old quarter, the Ribeira and its maze of narrow cobbled streets and beautiful plazas. On arrival at Porto Airport you will be transferred to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival, you may wish to begin exploring today and have dinner in one of the many quayside restaurants.


Overnight: Hotel Teatro, Porto


A former 19th Century theatre, the Hotel Teatro is perfectly located in the centre of Porto and a stone's throw away from all the major attractions. Delightfully decorated to a 'theatre' theme, this 4 star hotel is the perfect base from which to explore the city.


DAY 2: Discover Old Porto, train ride to Pinhão

Today you will take a scenic train ride to the Douro Valley, a World UNESCO Heritage Site. The train journey takes around 2 and a half hours. However you have the flexibility to decide when to leave Porto as you may wish to explore more of this amazing city this morning. Marvel at the 14th century ramparts and the Sé Cathedral which dates from the 12th and 13th centuries.


Your memorable train journey from Porto to the Douro Valley is a remarkable feat of engineering as there are 26 tunnels to go through and 30 bridges to cross. Pass through areas of outstanding natural beauty; vineyard-covered hillsides that stretch down to the banks of the Douro River. Upon arrival in Pinhão Train Station take a taxi to your guest house, Quinta de la Rosa which is set in a local vineyard.


Overnight: Quinta de la Rosa, Pinhão


A rural retreat, this Quinta is a small family-owned vineyard which produces top quality table wines, ports and olive oil. The very comfortable and spacious rooms and suites overlook the pool and the Douro River.


DAY 3: Pinhão to Sabrosa

From the doorstep of the Quinta de la Rosa to your accommodation in Sabrosa you will be able to absorb the spectacular scenery of the Alto Douro Wine Region. This is a land of traditions and there is much evidence to suggest that wine production has been a livelihood here for more than two thousand years. It is the first wine region in the world that was demarcated and the harvest here is still as traditional as it used to be and still done by hand and foot (with the squashing of the grapes!).


As you walk up and over the hilly slopes you will pass through the village of Provosende where you may rest and admire its old manor houses. Come across a small tavern or “tacsa” that has an interesting exhibition regarding the local wine production. Crossing the plateau, pass by more traditional wineries and villages before arriving in Sabrosa. This is the home of one of the most important world navigators, Ferdinand Magellan.


Walk: 13km; 400m elevation gain


Overnight: Casa dos Barros, Sabrosa



Casa dos Barros has different types of rooms, each one with its own decoration, offering you the comfort and cosy feeling of a home family with the services of a small hotel.





DAY 4: Sabrosa to Alijó

Begin today’s walk by following a trail through  vineyards down to the River Pinhão where you cross an old bridge. Also surrounded by olive groves, you will then pass through Favaios village where the bakeries still use their wood ovens dating from the late 19th century. After discovering Favaios you may then pay a visit to the Quinta do Portal, a vineyard that has won medals in international wine contests.


Make your way to Alijó and to the Pousada de Barão de Forrester, tonight's accommodation.


Walk: 13km; 510m elevation gain


Overnight: Pousada de Barão de Forrester, Alijó


This accommodation offers contemporary décor, whilst still maintaining it’s Douro roots.


DAY 5: Alijó to Vale Mendiz

After walking back into Favaios and perhaps buying bread in a local bakery for a picnic lunch, you pass an iron settlement from the 1st century BC. It is worth paying a small fee to partake in some wine-tasting at Quinta de Avessada. This Quinta has been producing wine for at least a century and has an interactive museum that you may look around. This type of museum is the first of its kind in the country and is full of innovative activities that will surprise its visitors.


Following this visit and after walking through farmland, you will reach a wonderful view point where you can see hamlets perched on outcrops over the river and within the vineyards. The Vale Mendiz, your final destination for today, is one such hamlet set over the River Pinhão and you will be wholeheartedly welcomed at the Quinta do Silval.


Walk: 16.5km; 320m elevation gain


Overnight: Rural Hotel Quinta do Silval, Vale Mendiz


A charming rustic wine hotel offering rooms with panoramic views to the vineyards and a restaurant offering a warm ambience and the finest of food and wines.


DAY 6: Vale Mendiz to Pinhão

This morning you will walk from Vale Mendiz back to Pinhão (along a different route) with stunning views over the Douro River and beyond  to the south, east and west. The scenery of vineyards and mountains carved out by rivers is indeed special and it is no wonder that this area has been designated a World UNESCO Heritage Site.


This afternoon you may like to relax at the Quinta de la Rosa and make use of the swimming pool. Alternatively you may choose to take a scenic boat trip along the River Douro to Rabelo where you can take in more of this fascinating scenery.


Walk: 8km; 200m elevation gain


Overnight: Quinta de la Rosa, Pinhão


DAY 7: River Douro Cruise to Porto

This morning an included transfer will take you from your accommodation in Pinhão to Regua where you will board your river boat for a peaceful all-day cruise down the Douro River, back to Porto. See the thousands of tiers of vine-lined terraces and the many small towns and settlements perched on the sloping hillsides. On a clear day this scenery is reflected in the waters of the river as you sail along. Many of these villages have retained their medieval simplicity with tiny communities clustered around historic churches, monasteries and castles. Cross 14 locks and descend over 35m at the various dams on this incredible journey. You will also enjoy lunch on board which includes local wine.


Later this afternoon arrive back into Porto and make your own way to the hotel. As this city is renowned for its world class cuisine, perhaps you can seek out a great restaurant as a treat on your last night.


Overnight: Hotel Teatro, Porto


DAY 8: Onward Travel

The tour finishes after breakfast and you will be transferred to Porto Airport for your journey home.

Accommodation

Your 7 night, 8 day Porto & the Douro Valley self-guided walk in Portugal includes 7 nights in 4 & 3* hotels and guest houses set on wine estates. All of the hotels have been specifically chosen for their comfort and some also for their great locations with fabulous views over the Douro River and surrounding vineyards. A warm welcome is assured and some have swimming pools or gardens that you may wander through.


Alternative accommodation

During the high season, you might be booked into alternative accommodations which are not listed in the description. Any alternative accommodation will be of the same or better standard as those described.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable. Solo walkers are also welcome for an additional charge which is unfortunately quite high due to the high cost of the shared transfers not being split.


Meals

7 Breakfasts and 1 lunch on the Douro River Cruise are included. In Porto you can eat dinner in one of the many restaurants and at the other locales (because they are rural areas) at the hotels. We recommend that you make reservations for dinner, especially at the quintas. We recommend trying the traditional and locally-sourced food, especially the fresh seafood in Porto which is simply delicious. For lunches you can find local cheeses, meats and breads in local shops or markets, or the hotels may make you a packed lunch on request.



 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Availability

This Porto & the Douro Valley self guided walking tour is available to start on any day from May to June and from September to October.


Time of Year

As the summer months can be extremely hot, making walking quite uncomfortable the departure dates are limited to spring, autumn and winter months. In the spring there will be lots of wildflowers and in the autumn it is the grape harvest, so it will be a great time to be in this area. Please be aware that in the winter months some of the hotels and hotel restaurants may be closed however there will be options available in the local area and the accommodation you will stay in may not be exactly the same as that in the detailed itinerary however it will be of a similar standard.


Single Rooms and Solo Walkers

If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate you although there is a single room supplement payable. Solo walkers are also welcome for an additional charge.


Grade & Terrain 

This tour is suitable for most people that are in good physical condition. The daily distances are not that far, although you should be aware that there are some quite significant elevation gains through the local vineyard terraces in the Douro Valley. However on some of the days there is no walking at all to make way for scenic train and boat rides to and from Porto. As this is a self-guided walk you will be responsible for navigation, decision making and safety during your trip.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

You will be provided with detailed route information to help you find your way. As the local maps in this area are basic you will also be given GPSs and will receive instructions on how to use them.


Baggage Transfers

Your bags will be transferred as per your itinerary. We request that you limit your luggage to 20kg per person and one bag per person.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care.


General Information

The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and trousers), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack. 


Getting to and from Porto

Porto Airport is the nearest airport and is served by many airlines, such as Easyjet, Ryanair, KLM and British Airways. Porto is also accessible from Lisbon Airport.


From Lisbon Airport take an airport shuttle bus to the Santa Apolonia Train Station and then a train to Porto which takes around two and a half hours. Lisbon is also served by many airlines in the UK and from many other gateways in Europe


All transfers to and from Porto Airport (or to/from train or bus station in Porto)to the first and last hotels are included in the price.


Included

  • 7 Nights in 4* & 3* Hotels and Guest Houses
  • Transfer on Day 7 from Hotel to Régua (Pre-River Cruise)
  • Lunch on Day 7 while on the Douro River Cruise
  • The Douro River Cruise
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • Baggage transfers (apart from on Day 7)
  • Transfers at the beginning and end of the tour from the hotels to Porto Airport
  • A briefing about the tour upon arrival at your hotel
  • Detailed maps, information pack, route information, and loan of a GPS
  • Organisational assistance and backup from our area manager in Portugal and our office

Excluded

  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Train tickets from Porto to Pinhão and from Pinhão to Porto (around €11 one way)
  • Taxi from Porto hotel to train station on Day 2
  • Luggage transfers on Day 2
  • Transport from Port to Hotel on Day 7 (Post-River Cruise)
  • Transfer from Pinhao to hotel on Day 2
  • 7 Dinners
  • 6 Lunches
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Personal equipment
  • Mountain rescue / emergency assistance

Extras

  • Additional nights before or after the holiday
  • Single room supplement if single room required.
  • Solo traveller supplement
  • Optional Rabelo Boat Trip on Day 6

How fit do I need to be?

This tour is suitable for most people that are in good physical condition. Although the daily distances are not that far, it has been rated easy to moderate as there are some quite significant elevation gains through the local vineyard terraces in the Douro Valley. However on some of the days there is no walking at all to make way for scenic train and boat rides to and from Porto. 

When is the best time of year?

As the summer months can be extremely hot, making walking quite uncomfortable the departure dates are limited to spring and autumn months. In the spring there will be lots of wildflowers and in the autumn it is the grape harvest, so it will be a great time to be in this area.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as this area is extremely popular. You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans so just ask.

How do the baggage transfers work? 

Your bags will be transferred as per your itinerary. We request that you limit your luggage to 20kg per person and one bag per person.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots, comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. There is a more comprehensive list in your information pack. 

Which is the best airport?

Porto has an airport and is therefore the best airport to fly into as the tour starts and finishes here. On arrival in Porto Airport you will be picked up and transferred to your hotel. On departure you will be taken from your final accommodation and transferred back to Porto Airport for your flight.

What happens if I can't walk a stage? 

You can use public transport or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop, this is payable locally. Our local partners in Portugal, and/or your accommodation providers will be able to assist with this.

Really enjoyed this Duoro Valley hike

4

This was a great hike - about 62 kms in four days of walking, mostly up and down through vineyards. The trip up to Pinhao by train was delightful, and the trip back to Porto from Regas by river cruiser was also very enjoyable (a taxi pickup would have been good). Our timing in late Sept coincided with grape harvest time, so lots to see and enjoy! And plenty of opportunities to sample previous years vintages!! The overnight stays, mostly in Quintas, were terrific. The GPS worked well but it would have helped to have detailed written guide notes as well. We'd definitely recommend this to others.

M&A

Australia

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Fascinating short adventure

4

Great walking combining a fascinating city with unique high vineyard country.The walks are not too long - between 7 and 10 miles a day - but do include some steep climbs: the cumulative ascent on the first day is 2600 feet. This suited us. The country you walk through around Pinhao is a high granite plateau cut through by deep river valleys and the hillsides are shaped by intricate man-made terraces for vines and olive trees.The hotels are great, and in the country all had pools so we got into a rhythm of walking in the cooler morning, getting morning coffee in a remote village on the way, and then spending the later afternoon by the pool. We didn't do much wine tasting - which required pre-booking and anyway in the middle of a hot walk we were more interested in water - but were there for the harvest and did learn a lot about wine making.It was good variety to include the train and river journeys, each providing a different perspective. There is a lot to see and do in Porto and, to do it justice, you could book extra days there. The luggage transfers worked fine and the holiday would be even better with it also being transferred for you between Porto and Pinhao. In particular, on arrival back at Porto there is a steep climb from the quayside to the taxi rank which is hard work with luggage. On the walks you rely entirely on route finding on a hand-held GPS unit. There are few signposts and no walking maps. (I prefer to have a backup so either notes or map would be helpful). We had no difficulties following the route using the GPS, except one time on our final day when I didn't trust the cursor position and we took an alternative path as we could see the village we were aiming for. Overall it was an outstanding holiday and a wonderful experience.

Heraldthewake

Essex, UK

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Excellent walking but not much to do afterwards

3

Four days of walking in beautiful countryside. Very comfortable accommodation at each stop with kind, friendly and welcoming staff. The routes are very easy to follow on the GPS that is provided . First day is strenuous but the review that mentions a 3000 ft climb is wrong. It is less than half that. Downside is that there isn't much to do once the day's walking is over (this can be as early as 1400) which is absolutely fine if you are someone who likes to relax for several hours in beautiful surroundings but not a lot of fun if you are someone who needs to be constantly occupied. Big disappointment is the town of Pinhao, it is a place with wonderful views etc, but the catering leaves a lot to be desired. The LBV Hotel is very comfortable and has wonderful staff but no restaurant so you have to try to find something in the town in the evening. This is a challenge; there are only a few restaurants, no menus in the window so you don't know what to you might eat, and as the whole place is geared towards day trippers, much of it closes around 5pm when the last boat departs. When we arrived at the station there was a young lady encouraging people to eat at "Writer's Place". We didn't see anything else encouraging during our walk around the town so we went there in the evening. Suffice it to say that the negative comments on Trip Advisor are justified. It is expensive (€80 for two people starter, main and a bottle of wine) and the food is nasty - the roast lamb is mostly bones and the pork was tough and overcooked. Unfortunately I can't recommend a alternative as there is so little choice. On returning to Pinhao a few days later we just ate the bar snacks at the LBV Hotel because we knew there was nothing better to be found. Amazing to contrast this with the second night in Sabrosa which is a much smaller place but has friendly bars and an excellent Italian restaurant called Malagueta where we had a delicious dinner with food and wine for €22

Kevin

Hertford

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Great trip

4

Porto is a lovely city to visit with lots of interesting sites. The hotel we stayed at - Moov - was clean and well situated but a bit on the "basic" for what we would have expected. We were a bit anxious about not being able to book the train from Porto to Pinhão in advance, but securing the tickets the day before was easy, inexpensive, and helped us feel at ease for the next day's trip. Information provided by Carlos was good, but we had difficulty with the Garmin, especially since it was our first time using it, and we prefer to walk with two walking sticks, which made it difficult to follow the Garmin, watch the trail, and use our poles. Additional written notations in the book about our trail and perhaps some key touchpoint would have been helpful. We have walked with MACS Adventures before at the easy to moderate level and found this more challenging than our other treks. It is difficult to obtain sufficient water and some food beginning the daily walks since there are no stores nearby and need to ask the staff at lodging for extra water, food from breakfast buffet, etc. We also felt VERY uncomfortable when we needed to walk on major roads - winding with lots of curves, limited advance visibility, and cars traveling rather fast. Each of the lodging on our walk were superb and the host/staff most accommodating, friendly, and helpful. The scenery is simply stunning although a bit repetitious. Good wineries to visit along the way, as well as churches, museum, etc. The boat trip back was very relaxing after walking for several days providing beautiful scenery.

Duoro

California, USA

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The Douro is a beautiful place to visit!

4

We loved the scenery on the hiking part of the trip, and the accommodations from town to town where we hiked were quite good. (Exception: the Hotel Teatro in Porto had bizarre decor, although the service was quite good!) The hiking was very nice, except for too much walking on main roads and heavily cobblestoned paths. It would be better to have more access through the vineyards on dirt road/paths. The GPS system provided was terrific. I might consider reversing the hiking direction so that the first day does not have such an enormous 3000-foot climb at the outset. Having our luggage transported from inn to inn went flawlessly, and is a great luxury. The folks at Macs and their local Partner, Portugal Nature Trails, were very helpful, although we were transferred to many different people in the booking process because of Macs' staff's scheduled vacations during the reservation process. That was a little disconcerting. After our hiking, we drove through Portugal from Porto to Lisbon. The other accommodations for which we were booked in Coimbra, Lisbon and Sintra all were excellent. Given what all the hotels book for directly, however, the cost of the trip seemed a bit high, but having the booking done for us made it worthwhile, especially since we had to book the trip at the last minute due to an unfortunate cancellation of another trip we were scheduled to take.

Fred

Boston

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Engaging tour

5

Great tour for those who like a more active, engaging vacation style. Very satisfied with Macs Adventure. Recommend. Will go with this organization again.

Chris

Maine, USA

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Delightful week in the Douro Valley

4

This trip to the Douro Valley was really a special time, great food, wine & people made it a trip to remember! The accommodations were nice, but the only negative was that some of the trails were in areas that were less than desirable! There seemed to be an issue with an awful lot of trashy areas that we found ourselves nervous to walk through.

P & P

United States

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Great scenery

4

Didn't care for rooms at Hotel Teatro in Porto but staff and location were excellent. Rest of the trip was perfect and gps was invaluable for locating trails. Accommodations along hike were all perfect and staff very helpful. Only glitch came at end when we nearly missed boat from Pinhao to Porto because of misinformation on the boat vouchers.

LHR

Santa Fe NM

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Excellent holiday and most enjoyable. Beautiful scenery.

5

Transported back to another era. Walking through ancient villages where time seemed to have stood still. Friendly and hospitable people.

Dot

UK

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I would visit Portugal again

3

The hotel in Porto was theatre themed. We understood that the intention was to provide a unique atmosphere which was acceptable in the communal areas but in our room it became hazardous and I banged my head on a glass panel which was not immediately visible (someone else we met did exactly the same) and we had to use my head torch to be able to open the safe. We complained to hotel staff both times we stayed there and were told on the first occasion that we should enjoy the atmosphere and on the second occasion that the complaint about darkness was a 'theme'. The GPS was good when it worked (the second day it took us to a pile of stones in stead of our hotel) but we would have been assisted by some brief written instructions or photographs of key junctions to avoid taking the wrong path only to have to retrace our steps. The landscape is lovely with stunning views from two of the hotels. We were lucky to be there when the grapes were being harvested but at other times of year the walks might be a bit dull. The Portuguese people were lovely and the staff in all the hotels really helpful. The frequent wine, port and moscatel tastings were a pleasurable distraction,

Nicky

Sheffield

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Porto & the Douro Valley

4.3 16

100.0

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