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One of the most stunning wine regions in the world, the Douro Valley in northern Portugal is bursting with rural wineries, vintage port and experimental modern restaurants. For an authentic experience, head to local tascas and tabernas for fresh seafood, creamy cheeses and suckling pig. You can get a real taste of the region by following in our footsteps with this handy guide.
White port & tonic
Made from white grapes, white port is more summery and herbal than its dark, sweet counterpart, making it a refreshing aperitif with lots of ice and tonic. Try one on the terrace at Six Senses’ Vale de Abraão restaurant as the sun goes down.
Vastly overlooked in the UK, kid goat is very popular in the Mediterranean. The meat is delicate and tender, and usually slow-cooked in stews, or roasted.
Pastéis de nata
A buttery pastry case encases creamy egg custard. Dreamy… You’ll find them on most hotel breakfast menus in the Douro and after your trip, you’ll be tempted to make your own pastéis de nata at home.
Bacalhau à bras
A comforting cod hash made with salt cod, eggs, black olives and fried potatoes.
This pork-free sausage was originally invented by Portuguese Jews during the Inquisition. They were made from a mixture of poultry and game, then smoked. Try it at Papas Zaide in Provesende. At lunchtime there’s no menu, instead, the owner will bring out charcuterie, cheese, bread and olives.
The Portuguese are big fans of octopus and usually save it for special occasions. It’s served everywhere grilled, in stews and salads. Simple is best – try it grilled and drizzled with garlic-infused olive oil at DOC.
Feijoada de cogumelos
Food in the Douro is very meat- and fish-focused; feijoadas are traditionally made with beans, pork and beef, but if you’re craving something vegetarian, order feijoada de cogumelos, a version made with mushrooms and butter beans.
Graham’s ruby port
A rich port with chocolatey notes, Graham’s ruby port is particularly good after dinner with chocolate truffles or sheep’s cheese.
Bacalhau com grão
A salt cod salad with chickpeas and eggs served cold, usually eaten with other tapas.
Made using sheep’s milk, pair this soft and creamy cheese with a glass of Quinta da Boeira Reserve – a smoky, spiced red.
5 foodie travel tips
Barrel down the river
Take a ride down the Douro in a rabelo – a wooden boat once used to transport port barrels to Porto. You’ll taste some port on board and get a unique view of the surrounding quintas. Two-hour trip from Pinhão, £18, book here.
Learn about the Alto Douro at Quinta das Carvalhas on a guided two-hour jeep ride through this 1,000-acre property with their agriculturist Álvaro. You’ll find a spectacular panoramic view at the top. Afterwards, enjoy a wine tasting with local cheeses in the estate’s wine shop. £65 per person. To book, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit a winery
Picnic among the vines at Quinta do Pôpa. Get comfy on beanbag chairs and enjoy incredible views of the valley while you eat. In September and October you can get involved with the harvest, too: learn about the grapes, help to pick and tread them and finish with a wine tasting. Picnics from £24 for two; the harvest experience costs £52 per person, including lunch.
A port tasting is a must, and Quinta da Bomfim is one of the best places to do it. Owned by the Symington family, who produce a fifth of the Douro’s port, including Dow’s vintage and Graham’s, their south-facing vineyard offers prime ripening conditions. Knowledgeable guides will show you around before a tasting of three vintage ports. £17 per person, reservations only.
Learn from a chef
At Six Senses Douro Valley you can learn to cook Portugese food with chefs Ljubomir Stanisic and Luis Borlido. You’ll also get a taste of local life by accompanying him to the market to buy fresh ingredients before the class starts. £175 per person, call +351 254 660 600 to book.
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Where to stay
Six Senses Douro Valley is a foodie haven with restaurants serving local produce in a stylish setting with its very own herb garden and a wine library with nightly tastings. Rooms from £237 a night.
How to get there
TAP Portugal flies from Gatwick to Porto from £44 one-way. From Porto airport, it’s 90 minutes by road to the Douro.
Flights and accommodation for this feature were provided by Six Senses Douro and TAP Portugal.
Are there any foods we’ve missed? Leave a comment below…