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A Douro Valley Steam Train Journey and River Cruise

A Douro Valley steam train ride. Follow along the path of the Douro River for vineyard views and beautiful Douro Valley scenery…

douro-valley-steam-train-portugal

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If you’ve been to Porto in Portugal you’ll probably have paid a visit to some of the port caves for port tasting. We had a fabulous tour at Graham’s Port Cellar where we learnt that the grapes are grown in a region called the Douro Valley. After taking the tour, and falling a little bit in love with Porto, I was keen to learn more about its wines and port.

I wanted to take a closer look at the area where the grapes are cultivated before they’re transformed into port and wine. What better way to discover the region than by Douro Valley steam train followed by a boat trip. The barrels were originally transported to Vila Nova de Gaia for ageing in the port caves by boat.

The Douro Valley Historic Steam Train

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We started our journey at the station in Régua where the hulking, black 1925 Henschel & Son steam locomotive was impatiently hissing and steaming on the platform. A few last-minute checks were made. A drop of oil here, a smear of grease there, a whistle blast and we were ready to leave.

We trundled out of the station gradually picking up speed and getting into an easy rhythm. As we headed out into the countryside the train let out an ear-piercing celebration blast, glad to be flying along the tracks again.

 

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The Douro River

We soon caught our first sight of the glistening Douro River lined by a beautiful landscape of billowing hills and steep, terraced vineyards spiked with Cyprus trees. Whitewashed quintas, the wine estate homesteads, sit cushioned amongst the lush green terraces. The Douro Valley is a UNESCO world heritage site.

 

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I stood at the window watching the scenery pass me by. Most of the line runs alongside the Douro River which wends its way along the valley floor reflecting the colours and curves of the landscape. I had the feeling that the views probably hadn’t changed that much since the river-hugging track was finished back in 1887. What a magical journey.

 

More Portugal travel inspiration here: Douro Valley What to see and do in PortoA Porto Photo Tour • A Visit to Graham’s Port Cellar, Porto 

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The Douro Valley is the first officially designated wine region in the world and also a World Heritage site. It has the perfect climate for cultivating grapes with the earth soaking up the heat during the hot, sunny days and retaining the heat to keep the vines warm overnight.

Where to stay in the Douro Valley

 

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There are three classes of carriage; first, second and third and I sat myself in third class with the hard wooden benches, mainly because I wanted to check out the viewing platform at the back. I got some great uninterrupted views of the track and river as we clattered along.

 

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Pinhão Station, Douro Valley

The historic train runs from Régua to Tua and back and takes around one hour 15 minutes each way. We got off around half way through the journey at Pinhão station. The pretty little station is decorated with blue and white Azulejo tiles so it’s worth checking out if you love these Portugese tiles.

Through a little gate on the platform is Vintage House Hotel which is a great spot for lunch right on the river or a fabulous hotel to stay a night or two right in the heart of the Douro Valley.

 

Pinhão-train-stationPinhão train station – Photo credit Alan Metheringham

My Douro Valley Steam Train Journey on You Tube

 

There are many wine cellars and warehouses in Pinhão. Quinta da Roêda estate, which is part of Croft, offer tastings, walking tours and, during the harvest, grape treading. We didn’t have time to take a look as we had a boat to catch.

From Pinhão and the Vintage House Hotel we walk a few metres down the river to the jetty to take an hour-long boat trip back down to Régua.

 

Vintage-house-hotel

 

A Douro River Cruise

Port barrels were originally transported by flat-bottomed barcos rabelo boats on a dangerous journey up river to the Lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia. It seemed fitting to take a river cruise and it was a relaxing way to soak up the Douro’s stunning scenery.

Sitting right in the middle of the river at the lowest point in the valley with vibrant green hills on both sides and surrounded by the beauty of the valley is a picture I’ll always remember.

Check rates and availability for Douro River Cruise on a day trip from Porto.

 

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A whistle sounds in the distance and the steam train appears around a bend and chugs past us on its return journey. As the smoke billows in its wake it’s wonderful to see the train steaming along in all its glory against the valley backdrop. I can’t help but smile to myself as it disappears into the green.

 

Douro Valley Historic Train dates and times 2022

The 2022 train runs as follows:

Saturdays, between 04 June and 29 October 

Sundays: 07 August  to 09 October 

Timetable:

Stations One way Return
Régua D 15:28 A 18:26
Pinhão A 16:05 D 17:50
D 16:15 A 17:25
Tua A 16:35 D 17:06

 

Ticket Prices for the Douro Valley Steam Train

Round trip on the Douro Historic Train

  • Adult – €45.00
  • Children – (4 to 12 years old inclusive) – €20.00
  • Groups – (more than or equal to 10 people) – €40.00

These tickets are non-renewable and non-refundable.

You can find more details, times prices and booking information here. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the historical train info.

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A vintage steam train journey through the Douro Valley vine region in Portugal

Christianne Haak

Monday 26th of August 2019

Hi! This sounds like the perfect outing for our Honeymoon! I'm only having a hard time figuring out how you booked the train one way, and the boat back. Can you help me? Thanks in advance! <3

Suzanne Jones

Wednesday 28th of August 2019

Hi Christianne, I'm so sorry if I've caused any confusion. We actually chartered a private boat as we were in a group of about 20 people. I'm afraid I don't have details. The Heritage Hotel may be able to help you though. Good luck and congratulations for your wedding.

viveka

Monday 26th of March 2018

Suzanne, the steam train doesn't start until June ... so it has to wait for the next time. Will bring my best friend with in Sept next year .. great time to visit wineries. So this trip will be on hold. I don't want to do the trip and not doing the steam train. *smile (by the way I can't answer your comments from my website - been like that for a long time, have to go back to your post) Not a problem, wonder where the problem lays with you or me *laughing

Suzanne Jones

Monday 26th of March 2018

September will be a lovely time to go. I'd love to it again some time. Strange that you can't answer from your website - can you do it from wordpress.com dashboard?

viveka

Saturday 24th of March 2018

Hi there, have missed this post. Thinking of doing the train journey to PINHÃO and taking the boat cruise back. But now I reading this I will probably will take the stream train to Régua and from there the boat back to Porto. Only 2 months to now. Thanks for this.

Suzanne Jones

Monday 26th of March 2018

The train ride was absolutely wonderful and they served Port tonic on the boat going back. I think you'll love it ;)

Becky Padmore

Thursday 18th of August 2016

Oh wow looks like a fantastic way to take in the scenery of such a beautiful location - looks so peaceful and tranquil!

Suzanne Jones

Friday 19th of August 2016

It's a beautiful area and it was lovely to ride through it by steam train :)

Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

Thursday 14th of July 2016

I absolutely LOVE this post Suzanne. We went to Porto last month for the first time and completely fell in love with the place and am so glad that we made a trip to Douro Valley. We went on the boat but didn't make it onto the steam train but this video is just beautiful and really made me feel like I was on that train with the wind blowing in my hair and taking in all those gorgeous vineyard views :)

Suzanne Jones

Friday 15th of July 2016

Oh Shikha that train was wonderful - I don't think I stopped smiling the whole time! There's something about vintage travel that is so romantic and in a setting like the Douro Valley it doesn't get any better. So glad you enjoyed the video.