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Inspire magazine - Portugal's new age of discovery

Portugal

Inspire magazine - Portugal's new age of discovery

story by: Inspire Magazine

The Douro Valley is the world's oldest legally defined wine-producing region. This is where the dozens of Port Wine varieties stocked in the cellars of Oporto originate. Either park the car for a cruise up the river, or take a slow drive through the vineyards that cloak the gentler slopes of the sometimes-rugged surrounding hills. If you opt for a boat trip you're in for a real experience as the vessels bypass the river's many dams by climbing locks at sometimes unnerving heights. The roads on the other hand zigzag up and down the mountainsides to deliver breath-taking views at practically every bend.

There's not a lot of development in the valley but the area's unofficial capital, Regua, has plenty to offer the visitor who wants quaint streets, lots of local colour after dark and friendly locals.

To get back to the coast for the return drive down to Lisbon you'll have to go back through Oporto, but as this is such an interesting place it's well worth a second visit. The city is renowned for it's architectural monuments, which include Gustave Eiffel's Dona Maria Bridge and the gilded interior of the Sao Francisco Church, which is plastered with over 400kg of gold! Followers of Harry Potter may also be interested to know that J.K. Rowling started writing the series here during her stint as an English language tutor.

You now have a choice - follow the main road south to Lisbon, or meander through the side roads to follow the coast as much as possible. Portugal's Atlantic coast is a favourite with surfers and wind surfers, so if there's a bucket list for this fraternity, this coast should be on it.

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