After having enjoyed two amazing days in the beautiful Montesinho Natural Park, I drove south to visit Douro International Natural Park, in the border between Portugal and Spain.
I didn’t plan to visit this part of Northern Portugal, but my cousin had already visited it years ago and wanted to show me all the natural wonders of Douro International Natural Park.
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2 days in Douro International Natural Park
Day 1: Miranda do Douro
After a 1h30 drive, we arrived at 10:00 to Miranda do Douro, a city where people speak the Mirandese language, an official Portuguese language. This language is spoken by 15 000 people of three municipalities: Miranda do Douro, Mogadouro and Vimioso.
When I first saw the names of the streets, I immediately realised that they weren’t written in Portuguese but in Mirandese. To be honest, for a moment I thought I had crossed the border to Spain but, after some minutes, I remembered a news piece I saw on Mirandese language.
After having visited the town, we headed northeast to the Luso-Spanish Environmental Centre (Centro Ambiental Luso-Espanhol) where we enjoyed the natural beauty of the place and took the opportunity to have a picnic. After lunch, we went on an one-hour cruise in Douro International.
During the cruise, I could admire the amazing Douro river, its 200-metre cliffs and flora and fauna – I was hoping to see the beautiful golden eagle, the Egyptian vulture and the griffon vulture.
At the end of the cruise, I was a little disappointed because I was expecting to see some of the birds I’ve mentioned above, but according to some people there, it was normal for them not showing up. That’s why we had a special treat – a show with some of the birds that live in this part of Douro.
For the first time during my trip to Northern Portugal, I didn’t book a place to spend the night. After some Internet browsing (thanks to the town’s free Wi-Fi) we’ve chosen Casa das Arribas (affiliate link), an old school converted into two apartments.
Day 2: Bemposta, Vila Nova de Foz Côa and São João da Pesqueira
My day began with a wonderful breakfast in the porch, with a breathtaking view over Douro river. Of all the breakfasts I had during my visit to Northern Portugal, this was the one that I enjoyed the most. I loved it so much that I remained there for over an hour admiring the views.
Next, I headed to Vila Nova de Foz Côa, more specifically to Capela de São Gabriel viewpoint. Of all the viewpoints in Northern Portugal, this is my favourite. I’ve never seen a place like this before, a place where I felt like a bird flying in its natural habitat. My suggestion to all nature lovers is that you visit this place – you won’t regret it!
With a long road ahead before arriving to Braga, I still had time to visit São João da Pesqueira and admire the Port wine vineyards. In the São Salvador do Mundo viewpoint, where you can admire the pilgrimage of the Corpus Christi day, I took the opportunity to take some photos of the vineyards and Douro river.
Around 21:00 we headed to Braga where we arrived at 23:00. There, we started looking for some place to eat, but it was late and because of that we didn’t find an open restaurant. Our last option was going to McDonald’s, how delightful.
The worst thing is that we became the “tourist attraction” of McDonald’s: we were expecting 30 ºC temperatures but, at 23:00 in Braga, it was 12 ºC and because of that everyone was looking at us and our outfit (shorts and t-shirts).
When you visit this country, make a detour in Northern Portugal and visit Douro International Natural Park – it’ll be worth your while! Visiting Portugal is not only going to Porto, Lisbon and Algarve.
Guided tours to the Douro Wine Region
As an alternative to taking a cruise in Douro river, know that you can discover this wonderful region in other ways: by car, by train or by taking a guided tour.
Find below my suggestions explore the Douro Valley.
Let’s start the day with this activity (affiliate link) with an estimated duration of 9 hours. A comfortable van will pick you up at your hotel and take you on an adventure along the magnificent roads that follow the Douro river. You will have the opportunity to admire the most beautiful views over the river as well as the terraces (socalcos) where the vineyards of the famous Port wine (among others) grow.
In addition to the fantastic lunch filled with regional products, this tour (affiliate link) through the Douro Wine Region will stop at three wine estates. Here, you will be able to taste Port wine, but also other wines from this region.
Alternatively, click here (affiliate link) and do the previous activity, but instead of visiting three, visit two wineries and go on a cruise on the Douro river. Without a doubt, a different way to get to know this region and admire the landscape from another perspective.
Another possibility to consider is this 9-hour experience (affiliate link). Leaving from Porto, make a first stop at the city of Amarante where you can admire the beautiful bridge of São Gonçalo as well as the church and convent Igreja e Convento de São Gonçalo. Afterwards, you will continue towards the first wine estate on this tour where you will have the opportunity to taste internationally awarded table wines and Port wines directly from the barrels.
After lunch, you will stop at Pinhão where you will board the typical rabelo boat that will take you on an unforgettable tour on the waters of the Douro river in order to admire the terraces that cut the slopes of the valley. To finish this experience (affiliate link), you will visit another wine estate where you will learn more about the techniques and history of wine production in Douro Valley. Given the location of this farm, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking views!
Are you going to visit Douro International Natural Park? Then don’t hesitate to book your hotel room, your car or the best activities by clicking the links below. This way you are helping me in the development of my blog and I’ll be able to offer you free tips and travel guides so that you can better prepare your visit to Portugal. Thank you!