The terminus for one-day boat tours from Porto, Pinhao’s a funny little place, full of crusty winemakers and wide-eyed tourists. Snap a photo of the charming tile station and start planning lunch.
Explore Ferradosa on a trip hand-picked by the Adventure Life experts. Contact us today to begin your planning process.
1. Visit the Wine Museum
The train snakes along the Douro River, whose steeply terraced vineyards and tiny villages cling to the hillsides on either side. The whistle-stop stations have charming tiles; at one point the tracks are virtually at river level. If the weather permits, grab a window seat and enjoy the vista.
In Pinhao, the end destination of the train, take a look at the beautiful railway station, an ode to Port Wine, the region’s main livelihood. Its 24 panels of 3047 tiles depict the entire process from harvest to transporting the wine in Rabelo boats to the cellars.
Stay at Quinta da Ferradosa Wines, 10 km from Sao Jo
2. Take a Cruise on the Douro River
The Douro River Valley offers some of the finest river scenery in Europe. While it’s possible to explore the area on a day trip from Porto (with a return by bus), a riverboat cruise allows you to relax and take in the landscape in a more contemplative way. Cruises range from half-day trips to Pinhao or Peso da Regua to luxurious weeklong voyages aboard vessels that resemble floating palaces.
Visiting wine villages is another highlight of any Douro River cruise. These quaint towns bring a history tightly linked to wine into focus. They get livelier in September and October, with the grape harvest, but they’re also great to visit any time of year.
Tour a range of quintas, the local term for wineries, and enjoy interpretive tastings as you sail. See the fascinating Paleolithic engravings of Foz Coa, and learn to capture breathtaking views with a photo talk led by a National Geographic expert.
3. Go on a Wine Tasting Tour
We’re big believers in always working in some non-wine related activities when visiting wine regions (especially for those traveling with friends who aren’t as obsessed). So, on your way to Ferradosa you’ll stop at the charming village of Salzedas. Here, you can stroll through the ancient gilded town with its many emblazoned houses and visit the Mother Church and ruins of the old abbey.
You’ll also visit one of the best-known quintas in the region. At this family-run estate you’ll learn how their wines are made and even get the chance to step inside the granite lagares where the grapes were foot-trodden before fermenting and aging in new Allier French oak 225 liter barrels.
Enjoy a tutored tasting of their finest Douro DOC and Vintage Ports before enjoying an exquisite lunch with breathtaking views over the mountains of the Douro River. Then, back on the train you’ll ride through the final hour that connects Pinhao with Pocinho – which is arguably the most beautiful section of the line that day-trippers on boats from Porto miss out on.
4. Visit the Castle of Freixo de Espada a Cinta
You’ll need a car to see the castle (see rental car prices here) and it’s a good couple of hours drive from the rest of the Douro region so you’ll probably want to combine it with a river cruise – read more about the cruise options here.
It’s also possible to visit the castle by train, which runs from Lisbon Oriente via Porto – Campanha and Pocinho in around 7h 50m. Rome2Rio’s travel guide has all the details.
The last hour of the train journey between Pinhao and Pocinho is arguably the most stunning section of the route, when the Douro narrows to a wild, rocky wilderness and the line winds through forests of vine-covered hills. The landscape also changes to a drier, more agricultural one with fields of olive trees and vineyards stretching right to the tracks. It’s here that you’ll see the remains of Freixo de Espada a Cinta, including its heptagonal plant tower (known as the Rooster Tower), whose high, cenographically-refined structure is a striking sight.