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Discover a luxury weekend wine and food tour of Porto and the North

About This Project

We recently had the opportunity to travel with a group to Porto to discover all that this beautiful city had to offer. Our journey took us from the vibrant city centre of Porto right through to the wonder of the Douro Valley in the North of Portugal.

Porto is both the city that provided a nation with a name and a fortified wine famous world-wide: Port Wine.
With its splendid geographical location on the mouth of the river Douro and an architectural heritage of exceptional quality, the historic centre of Porto is a World Heritage Property declared by UNESCO.
When discovering Porto, you will find a traditional welcoming and conservative environment, but also a contemporary and artistic city. This is shown in the streets, in the architecture, monuments and museums, and in the lively terraces, restaurants and leisure areas.

Our weekend city break commenced with a short flight approximately 2 hours from London Gatwick to Oporto via TAP airlines. The service onboard was nice and the food and flight entertainment was good. Porto can be reached by a variety of airline carriers and flights are on a daily basis.

On arriving to Oporto our group then had a seamless transfer via our luxury transporation which took us from the airport to our 5 star hotel, The Ipanema Park in less than 30 minutes.
The hotel Ipanema Park is an imposing and magnificent 18-floor building, uniquely located between Boavista and Foz, and with an overwhelming view of the river and sea. The nice quiet location is not more than 10 minutes by car from anywhere in Porto; including the old downtown.

The hotel not only provides its guests with the luxury and comfort of 281 rooms and suites, but also with a friendly personalised service and a vast range of facilities, including a restaurant, several bars, 2 pools (indoor and outdoor), health-club, business centre, shopping gallery and private parking.

The hotel overlooked an enchanting garden, the “Jardim d’Inverno” restaurant which is famous for its fine mix of the best in Portuguese culinary arts, international specialities and “cuisine naturelle”, and the two-level Twin Trees bar is the ideal place to drop by for a leisurely drink or a tasty snack.

After our wonderful welcome and checking in our weekend luxury wine and food tour began with a gentle stroll through the historic centre of Porto.  As we ambled leisurely along the ancient streets and medieval lanes we visited some of the most important monuments of Porto such as the Clérigos Church and the Cathedral, right through to the downtown, with the rhythms of city life has an intensive expression of the baroque.

In sharp contrast, in the Serralves Park, there is the sheer modernity of the building housing the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the romantic, shooting surroundings of the leafy park, as well as the Casa da Musica (house of music) a new icon of Porto and a gorgeous Portuguese cultural space.  In the busting and colourful markets and unique typical shops and cafés we discovered the authentic heart of Porto, is in its people.

We then had our first gastronomic experience at the stunning Bolsa Palace which is a beautiful neoclassical monument located in the Historic Centre of Porto, the former Stock Exchange. Inside, the elegant atmosphere of the restaurant is created by the hand-woven carpets, and the decoration of the space is simply timeless, simultaneously elegant and cosy, mixing the ancient and the modern in blue tones. The restaurant offers a menu based in the Portuguese cuisine with a touch of modernity.

On day two the group ventured North of Portugal to discover the Douro Valley Wine making Region and it was simply breathtaking.
The valley is spectacularly beautiful with the hills falling steeply down to the water’s edge becoming more and more sparsely populated and wild the further inland one travels, with more of the land being given over to terraces of vines and, to a lesser extent, olive groves. This is port country and was, in fact, the world’s first demarcated wine region being established in 1756. Evidence of the port industry can be seen along the valley with all the famous company names – Ferreira, Cockburns, Taylors, Sandeman and others – appearing on large placards on the hillsides. The colour of the land changes throughout the year as the vines mature.

We then enjoyed the most picturesque train line journey in Portugal which took us from the village Régua to Pinhão.
Pinhão is considered to be the geographical centre of the Douro demarcated wine region, and it is here that many of the Port wine estates are to be found, some of which offer accommodation under the system of rural tourism. Worthy of particular attention here is the railway station, built at the end of the nineteenth century, the inside of which is entirely lined with panels of azulejos (Traditional Portuguese blue tiles). You can not leave from Pinhão without visiting the centre of the industrial arts, the workmanship; you will find several shops with traditional arts from Pinhão.

Our adventure didn’t stop there and from Pinhão we boarded upon a traditional Rabelo boat which proceeded to take us on an enchanting cruise of the Douro Valley.

The boat is a replica of a traditional Rabelo boat that, for centuries, carried casks of young wine from the Douro Valley downriver to the lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia.
From there one can see some of the mythical Quintas producing great wines and part of this unique landscape. The group sipped some of the finest Port whilst onboard the Rabelo boat and were amongst some of the most outstanding scenery offered by the Douro Valley.

We reached our destination of Quinta da Pacheca and our tour continued with a guided visit of this marvellous estate, wine tasting and lunch at the world famous Port and Douro wine producer.

The family owned Quinta da Pacheca (wine estate) has a history that goes back until the 15th century. The vineyards have an average age superior at 40 years and the wine estate keep the tradition of winemaking of Douro and Port wines.

The welcoming includes the familiarisation with the history of the estate and its environment. The typical cellar of the house includes granite-treading tanks (lagares) that are still used for winemaking today during September / October.
For any wine or port enthusiast Quinta da Pacheca is a wonderful location that will have you coming back time and time again.
Our wine tasting extravaganza continued at lunch and the group was treated to sample 5 wines in total: 3 Douro wines, a Tawny Port and a Vintage Port.

Our lunch at the Quinta da Pacheca featured a superb 3 course menu based in the rich traditional food, in a delightful elegant and casual ambience.
After lunch the group took a further tour of the wine estate and we were also able to purchase souvenirs, wine and port from the impressive wine shop at the Quinta da Pacheca. We bid farewell to the Quinta da Pacheca and started our journey back to Porto city centre.

Our final evening meal was held at the impressive Taylor’s Port Wine Cellars in Porto. Our visit started at the Wine cellars.
Taylor’s cellars are situated in Vila Nova de Gaia, across the river Douro from Porto and created a superb location for dinner, with an exceptional view over the Douro River and the historical centre of Porto.

Founded in 1692 Taylor’s is run by descendants of the Fladgate and Yeatman families. Taylor is accepted by most wine authorities to be the greatest of all Port shippers, famous especially for its sublime and long-lived Vintage ports, which consistently fetch the highest prices at auction, and for old, distinguished Tawny ports. But Taylor’s is also an innovative house, pioneers of the successful Late Bottled Vintage style, which has been copied by almost every other shipper.

The beauty of the scenery and the characteristic ambience of the Port wine cellars creates a superb location for our dinner. After dinner the group had the opportunity to sample the Porto nightlife. Porto downtown at night is heaven for the bohemian or for those that can’t sleep before a drink or just soaking the ambience. The city downtown bar area, less than 5 minutes walking from our hotel, is the core of Porto’s nightlife for those who like movida, music or like to dance. It seemed that everyone gravitates towards Rua Galeria de Paris and Rua Cândido dos Reis, two parallel streets where all the major bars and clubs are situated.

All in all Porto and the North is a truly magical experience consisting of unforgettable locations, culture, food, wine and of course, the port. We thoroughly recommend this incredible destination that will have you coming back for more.