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2 Days in Portugal's Douro Wine Valley


by Michaela Madden Well Traveled Insider Well Traveled Insider
1 year ago

If you know me, you know I’m an avid traveler, wine enthusiast, and dedicated foodie. And when there’s an opportunity for those three things to come together – aka, my personal holy trinity – you’ll absolutely find me there. 

I’m assuming that if you’re reading this post, you’re looking for a destination that checks all the aforementioned boxes – Portugal’s Douro Valley does just that and more. While most tourists traveling through Portugal opt for a day trip, there was no way I was going to fit all the necessary wining and dining this region offers into a mere few hours. 

So if you’re looking for a perfect 2-day itinerary for the Douro Valley, keep reading. Or, if you’re still planning your Portugal trip and trying to convince yourself that a Douro day trip may not be enough, definitely keep reading.

Day 1

The Douro Valley was our first stop on our 12-day Portugal trip. While some airlines offer the opportunity to fly directly into Porto, we opted for a direct flight from Chicago to Lisbon and began our 3-hour road trip north from there. The drive was stunning, especially as you near the rolling hills of the valley. 

Around mid-afternoon, we arrived at our B&B: Casa do Arco by Douro Exclusive. If you’re looking for a very intimate stay filled with local charm, this is your place. There are seriously not enough words in the world to describe the pure magic of this property. 


The locally owned and operated guesthouse is situated on a hill in the heart of the valley, with sweeping views of the Douro River below it. Inside you’ll find warm industrial architecture with floor-to-ceiling windows, which we were told were built to capture the beauty of the vineyards. 

And while a small property, the amenities are amazing: You have access to their small on-site fine dining restaurant located on the main floor, a shared living space complete with a fireplace to take in every view, and a large outdoor area with seating areas and a small pool overlooking the valley.

Upon check-in – which was more like greeting a family member you haven’t seen in years – we were poured a glass of port wine bottled by a friend of the owner. The same employee who poured our wine sat us in two chairs facing the valley, explained a bit more about the port we were sipping, and gave us a brief history of the area, property, and family who runs it. We couldn’t decide what was better: the views, the wine, or the hospitality we were immediately shown. 

After much sipping, ooo-ing and ahh-ing, we headed up to our rooms to freshen up for dinner then headed back down to the main level. We loved that dinner was just a few steps away down the stairs, and were led to a two-level dining room with the same striking views. After being seated, we decided to celebrate our first night by ordering a local bottle of red wine, along with a steak dinner for two – not only was it divine, it was very reasonably priced. 

Once finished with our meal, we ordered a post-dinner glass of port wine and headed to the outdoor area for a nightcap. Surrounded by vineyards, olive trees, and a calming silence, we sipped our wine and looked up at the sky of stars – I have never felt more at peace. 

As our perfect first night came to an end, we retreated back to our room to get some sleep for our tour of the valley the next day.

Day 2

After waking up to valley views, sipping coffee with valley views, and eating breakfast with valley views, we set out to actually explore the valley on our guided day tour. The family who owns and operates the guest house also operates a daily tour that focuses on small local vineyards you may not otherwise see on your own. Plus, it feels good knowing you’re supporting local establishments that have been around for decades. 

Douro Exclusives offers both small group and private tours, and we decided on the small group tour. The tour typically starts at 9:15 a.m., which is normally the time they are picking people up from Porto and driving them out to the valley. However, since we were already staying onsite, the owner offered to personally drive us to the first vineyard around 10:30 a.m. to meet up with the rest of the group. 

From there, we spent a blissful day driving through different vineyards, taking in the views, hearing about the history of each estate, mingling with new friends we made on the tour, and of course, sipping all kinds of wine. 

The tour was $230 per person and included transportation, all tastings, a boat cruise on the Douro River, and a luxe 5-course lunch at a fine dining restaurant right on the river. Although pricier than other tours, I can confidently say it was 100% worth every penny – especially when the lunch alone was easily $100+. 

After a long day and a large lunch, we headed back to the house in the late afternoon for a quick swim before dinner. We soaked up all the views, and of course, snapped a few Instagram-worthy pictures. 

Still a bit full, we ate at the house again and decided to keep dinner light before heading to bed for one last sleep in our cozy room. This time we opted to sit on the lower level of the dining room to experience the true view Casa Do Arco gets its name from:


Although our two days were short, it was the perfect amount of time to get your fill of great food and even better wine. I also could not end this post without giving kudos to the entire Douro Exclusive staff, who made us feel like family and our stay as amazing as it was. 

Happy Travels!


Michaela Madden

Chicago-based writer, foodie, and travel enthusiast who enjoys exploring the world one restaurant at a time. Visting the Windy City soon? Come say hi!

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