With a length of about 230 km, almost always along with the Douro River, the national road 222, which connects Vila Nova de Gaia to Almendra, is one of the most beautiful in the world!
Autumn is an excellent time to visit the Douro. In addition to being the time when the harvests are made, allowing you to witness the “birth” of Port wine, in mid-October the temperature – which is torrid in summer and rigorous in winter – starts to drop, becoming milder. It is therefore the ideal time to hit the road and go to the Douro Route.
Elected in 2015 the world’s best road, the National 222 that connects Vila Nova de Gaia to Almendra, offers wonderful landscapes either alongside the river or meandering through the vineyards. It also crosses three UNESCO World Heritage sites – the riverside area of the city of Porto, the Alto Douro Wine Region and the Vale do Côa Rock Engravings – and about 13 viewpoints so you can take a break and enjoy the beauty of the landscape.
Discover some of the mandatory stopping points in one of the most beautiful roads of Portugal and the world!
Stopping points on the EN222
Porto riverside and Vila Nova de Gaia
The Douro Route starts at Mafamude in the center of Vila Nova de Gaia, however you should not start on your way to the Douro without first crossing the Porto and Gaia riverside.Take a few hours to stroll through the historic area of Porto, discover the city’s architectural treasures, visit the Port Wine cellars and be enchanted by its people.
A great way to learn more about the history of these two cities and the 6 bridges that join them is by taking a Bridges Cruise. Book here!
Cinfães do Douro
Rich in cultural and gastronomic heritage in the municipality of Cinfães do Douro there are several points of interest to visit, namely the Serpa Pinto Museum, the Chapel of São Pedro do Campo, the Muralhas das Portas (in the Montemuro mountain range), the São Pedro megalithic park or the imposing Baroque São João Baptista Church.
Do not continue the journey without passing through Soutelo bridge, over the river Bestança, which is believed to have been part of the Roman road that connected the cities of Braga and Merida in Spain.
Famous for its delicious cherries, Resende is also very rich in built heritage, such as the Casa da Torre da Lagariça, immortalized by the famous Portuguese writer Eça de Queiroz in “The Illustrious House of Ramires”, the Church and Castle of São Martinho de Mouros and the thermal baths of Caldas de Aregos.
Peso da Régua
Located in the oldest demarcated region in the world, Peso da Régua is one of the main destinations for Douro cruises and was once the starting point of the rabelo boats that transported Port wine to the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia where it aged. Here we recommend a walk along the pier, to admire the cruises that dock here daily and the beauty of the riverside area.
Then pay a visit to the Douro Museum where you can learn more about the history of the Douro and the wine produced here and the famous railway station of Régua without failing to taste the traditional sweets of this city.
Finally, before going on your journey, take a short detour to enjoy the beautiful landscape from the viewpoint of São Leonardo da Galafura that the Portuguese poet Miguel Torga described as “A geological poem. Absolute beauty ”. You will see that the extra kilometers will be worth it!
Between Régua and Pinhão is the most beautiful section of this route, which was acclaimed by the international car rental company Avis as the best road in the world. But believe that the beauty of the destination is nothing behind the route.
In the middle of the Douro Wine Region, between the tranquil bed of the Douro and the flow of the Pinhão River, the small village of Pinhão appears. Home to most Port wine producing estates, here you can visit one of these estates, learn how this nectar of the gods is produced and perhaps even participate in a harvest program.
Be sure to visit the Pinhão pier, the destination of many cruises through the Douro, and pass by the railway station famous for the beautiful tile panels that represent the production cycle of Port wine.
Finally, take a short detour to the village of Casal de Loivos and visit one of the most incredible viewpoints to the Douro. In addition to the wonderful landscape over the village of Pinhão and the Douro Valley, it is here that the famous “L” curve that the river describes next to Pinhão is observed.
São João da Pesqueira
Wine-growing municipality São João da Pesqueira has a museum dedicated to Douro wine, where you can learn more about the history of this region. But don’t think that the Wine Museum is the only point of interest in this destination. We recommend a walk through Praça da República where you can see the Arch and the respective Clock Tower, the Arcada (old market) and the old chain that today houses the Eduardo Tavares Museum.
In the vicinity there are also two viewpoints with fabulous views over the Douro Valley – São Salvador do Mundo and Senhora de Lurdes.
Take a small detour from the national 222 to visit the charming village of São Xisto.
Vila Nova de Foz Côa
Famous for its rock engravings classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, Vila Nova de Foz Côa is the last stopping point before reaching our destination, Almendra. In addition to the charming historic center, the Côa Museum and the Vale do Côa Archaeological Park are a must-visit. Here you can learn more about the history of our ancestors carved in stone over 25,000 years ago!
Finally, the Douro Route along the EN222 ends in the small town of Almendra. The 16th century architecture of the houses, the Mother Church and the chapels, give this village an interesting historical atmosphere.
This is just a selection of some points of interest in this roadtrip. The truth is that the 222 national road has several places to discover and wonderful landscapes to enjoy along the way, which could easily turn a short trip into a couple of very busy vacation weeks.
If you don’t have a lot of time available or don’t like to travel by car, choose to take a Cruise in the Douro and travel the Douro Route in another perspective!