I love travel. I also enjoy a nice glass of wine. So, what’s better than combining these two things and going on a trip to a true wine country? Last year two friends and I embarked on a week-long trip to Portugal as travel between Germany and Portugal was possible without problems. We started out in Porto, got ourselves a rental car and drove to the Douro Valley.
Home of Port Wine
The Douro Valley is an absolute gem of nature and famous all around the world for its port wine. When we got to Portugal, the country had just opened back up and we were pretty much the first (and at that time only) tourists in the Douro Valley which made the experience very unique. The people there were so welcoming as they were happy to have visitors again.
First, we visited an olive oil production. The family that owns it has been running it the same way for decades in the heart of the valley. The lady giving us the tour fed us with delicious bread, fresh olive oil and nuts and poured the wine generously. As we were the only visitors that day she also opened another bottle for us. That’s also a great sales strategy because at the end of the tour we were more than happy to buy a lot of the wine to take with us on the remainder of the trip. 😉
Afterwards we did a winery tour to explore the famous port wine production. Again, we were the first tourists in a long time, so they were extremely generous with the wines they offered us. Port wine is quite strong and don’t forget we just came from the olive oil tour where we already had a bit to drink. That meant, the winery tour with the following wine tasting was a lot of fun. 😀
At the end of the day, our tour guide even invited us to go to her friends house for a small party. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for that but she was kind enough to drive us home. Like I said—super friendly people there.
Train to Lisboa (aka Lisbon)
We ended up spending three days in the Douro Valley and Porto before traveling down south to Lisboa by train. On the train ride we drove past small villages and great nature so the ride itself was already worth it. Lisboa itself is such a beautiful city. Of course you should see the Rua Augusta Arch at the large square of commerce. There are also many great viewpoints all across the city such as the São Pedro de Alcântara Viewpoint, offering fantastic postcard views of the city skyline. Another must-visit, which unfortunately was closed when we were there because of COVID, is the Santa Jusa Elevator. It was opened back in 1902 and connects the lower downtown area Baixa with the areas Chiado and Bairro Alto at the top of the hill.
If you think of Lisboa, you probably also think of the photo of a tiny street with a yellow funicular going up and down. The Bica Funicular is located on Rua de Bica de Duarte Belo and it’s one of the city’s most famous and photographed streets. From the top you can see all the way down to the river and you can take a ride downhill with the funicular that has been running since 1892.
Looking for a little nature in the middle of the city? Head over to Edward VII Park, where you can relax in the grass while having great views of downtown. The symmetrical hedges of the park point down the slope towards the river.
If you want to escape the busy city for a bit I recommend taking the ferry from Cais do Sodre to Cacilhas. Cacilhas is located on the other side of the Tagus river and is another not-to-miss part of Lisboa. Small restaurants are nestled along the riverfront offering stunning sunset views of Portugal’s capital.
Overall, the entire trip was a nature and wine filled fun-ride that I can’t recommend enough. 😉 Portugal isn’t just a great destination because of the many great wineries—the nature is stunning, the weather is fantastic, the people are nice and, there is a lot of history to uncover here. If you haven’t been, definitely put this Western-European country on your bucket list.
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Photo: Rebecca Willems