If you try Peso da Régua port wine in the Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will love it here. The town sits by the river, and the strange and beautiful amphitheater is made up of high shale slopes with wine terraces cut from the rock.
Until the last century, Peso da Régua used to load barrels on wooden boats called rabelos and transport them to Vila Nova de Gaia at the mouth of the Douro. It is also home to the oldest delimited wine region in the world, the Douro DOC, regulated since 1756. Wine tours, river trips and traversing this unparalleled landscape all need to be in your plans.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Peso da Regua:
1. Port wine
As the first town in the world to delimit a wine region, the fate of Régua has been tied to the drink for more than 250 years.
You are just here to learn what the port is all about, how it has grown, strengthened and aged.
During the tasting session, you will learn about the different types of port and their complexities: for example, you will learn why old-fashioned port is associated with blue cheeses, ruby with rich cheeses such as cheddar, and tawny and more mature cheeses (like Parmesan cheese) complement each other.
2. Wine tour
If you are in the port of the Douro Valley, it makes sense to have a company drive you to the various wineries and caves.
Peso da Régua has a couple (CMTour and Wine Monets & Gourmet) to arrange every detail for you.
You can book a half-day or full-day tour with lunch included.
Depending on the length of your trip, you’ll visit one or two distilleries a day to get first-hand information about the drink’s story and how it’s made.
If you’re an independent soul, there are six wineries and caves to visit in Regua and its suburbs.
Highly recommend Quinta de Santa Eufemia and Quinta da Pacheca, across the river.
3. Douro Museum
The museum is located in the old Casa da Comanhia Velha responsible for the Douro DOC. Appropriately built on a patio next to the Douro River, you can sit in the bar or restaurant and watch the river roll by.
Opened in 2008 after a modern makeover of an 18th-century mansion, the museum features multimedia displays that tell the history of wine production in the Douro Valley.
There are plenty of archival footage and photos, as well as technical explanations of how climate, soil and topography allow vines to thrive in the valley.
4. Miradouro de São Leonardo de Galafura
The Douro River and its banks have stunning views, and you’ll probably spend a good deal of your trip gazing at the scenery in awe.
There are plenty of vantage points within reach of Peso da Régua, but this scene stays with you long after you’ve left.
At this altitude, you can almost get a bird’s-eye view of the river and the verdant silhouette of the valley.
The lookout is located at 640 meters below which will be arranged a group of Alto Douro parishes, including Fontelo, Armamar, Sabrosa and Tabuaço.
5. Douro Historic Train
An evocative way to explore the Douro Valley is to take a traditional steam train that runs along the river from June to October.
The vintage cars are pulled by 1925 Henschel & Son locomotives on the route from Régua to Tua, 50 km east.
This is about a three-hour round trip, stopping at Pinhão village and stretching your legs along the way.
You’ll enjoy stunning views of the river and its terraces, accompanied by the thump of the steam engine is the Douro folk band playing the accordion.
There’s also a glass of toast from the Ferreira port, and you can sample Régua’s handcrafted sweets.
6. Miradouro de São Domingos
Closer to Peso da Régua than Galafura’s viewpoint, this “miradouro” is just across the river.
Follow the road leading to the village of Fontera, until you get there you can follow the signs that lead up the hill.
Just like Galfura, you can drive all the way there, and needless to say, the gazebo at 758 meters above sea level offers stunning views of the river.
You’ll be tempted to share them with jealous friends right away, but take a moment to revel in the scenery.
Far to the north is the dark outline of Serra do Marão, 20 kilometers away, while to the southwest is the beautiful skyline of Lamego.
7. Capela de São Pedro de Balsemão
On the left bank of the river, a circuitous road through the hills will take you to a chapel in the village of Sé.
From the outside, this looks beautiful, even the humble baroque church.
But the 17th-century exterior belies the older interior, even though there is debate about the chapel’s history.
It dates back to any time between the 6th and 10th centuries, and it’s amazing how many early medieval accessories survive.
Ribbons with geometric patterns, Corinthian capitals and semicircular arches.
See the 14th-century sarcophagus of Afonso Pires, Bishop of Porto.
His tomb is engraved with high reliefs of the Last Supper and Passion.
Not far to the south, Lamego is a refined cathedral city surrounded by vineyards.
Lamego’s specialty is sparkling wine, and if that piques your interest, there are caves in town.
The cathedral is a heady mix of Romanesque to Baroque styles, when Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni painted frescoes on the vaults.
In the nearby Bishop’s Palace, there is an extensive collection of works of art owned by Bishop Lamego, such as the 16th-century Brussels tapestries and paintings by Portuguese Renaissance master Gran Vasco.
9. Santuario de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios
In Lamego, you can go straight from the main road, Avenida Dr..
Alfredo de Sousa came to this sanctuary with some persistence and hard work.
You will have to complete 686 steps on a breathtakingly steep gradient.
Baroque statues, obelisks, blue and white tile panels and fountains inspire you.
Once you finally arrive, you’ll see a splendid Rococo church built over 150 years between 1750 and 1905. Try to come here in late August, early September, when the steps are packed with the annual pilgrimage of believers.
Just 20 minutes through the terraced valleys to the north, there’s no reason not to plan a day at Vila Real.
Set on a plateau, it is a city with the mansions of the noble nobles, which from the 1500s still adorn the Coast of Arms.
Nicolau Nasoni has made his mark at Villa Real once again.
In the 18th century, he conceived the vibrant Clérigos Church and Mateus Palace, considered by many to be Portuguese Baroque masterpieces.
Santuário de Panóias is a very different monument: it is a Roman sanctuary where pagan ceremonies were once held, with altars, stairs and inscriptions hewn from granite.
11. Walking and cycling
You can contact several businesses in Alto Douro who will meet you at the train station or at your accommodation and take you on guided bike rides (GoOnBike and Naturimont) to the terraced vineyards. You’ll be equipped with a safety helmet and can customize your ride to suit your schedule and energy level.
You can also set off on foot: an environment worth seeing for yourself to see how human hands have shaped the landscape over the centuries, cutting steps out of dark shale and adapting hills to vines.
12. River Activities
The lazy, choppy waters of the Douro River are safe for all kinds of activities in summer.
If you want to rent a kayak or paddle board for the day, you can get in touch with companies like Naturimont or DouroAventura.
There is also an organized travel menu that you might like.
On one, you can paddle 5 km downstream from Régua to Caldas de Moledo.
This stretch winds beneath the vineyards of the Vale de Abraão (Valley of Abraham). You can also start near the dam upstream and float gently back to Régua, passing three people over the Douro River on the east side of the town.
13. Douro Cruises
An easier way to get to know the Douro from the water is to board a yacht, RIB (rigid inflatable boat) or even an old rabelo cargo boat.
Many cruise ships set sail from the marina in Régua or from Folgosa a few kilometers upstream.
If you want more than a simple two-hour excursion, you can take a lunch or dinner cruise, or an overnight trip.
There are intimate cruises especially for couples or more convivial excursions organized by companies that also visit vineyards by road (combination packages are common). Most operators will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel or accommodation, so it couldn’t be more convenient.
14. Festa de Nossa Senhora do Socorro
The town has had a spiritual side since the sailors of Peso da Régua embarked on a long and dangerous voyage along the Douro River in Rabelos.
The rabelo boats all have religious names for good reason.
As you travel along the Douro River, you may notice chapels on the banks of the river where river travelers stop to pray for God’s protection.
This devotion is expressed today at the festival of Nossa Senhora do Socorro (Always Help Our Lady), held in mid-August. There are fado shows and evening pop, folk and classical concerts over several days.
This is all set up until Sunday, which begins with Mass and continues in the afternoon with the triumphal procession of the Virgin.
In rural areas like the Alto Douro, there are two delicacies; one for those working in the fields and the other for merchants and estate owners.
The recipes handed down come from both sides of this divide.
The poor would eat onion soup, or cabbage and red bean soup.
Even better, sardines are served with cornbread and a selection of toasted rice.
If you need something to fill your stomach on a wet winter day, you can’t go wrong with feijoada à transmontana, a casserole with pork belly, trotters, chouriço, and beans.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Peso da Regua, Portugal
Lowest price guaranteed.