Riding in the Douro is an experience through the ages, as you get to ride alongside the river and enjoy the landscapes of the Douro valley, but also enjoy the region's rich culture. I mean, you're out riding in the world's first demarcated wine region, established In 1756 by the Duke of Pombal, that created the "Feitorias" - an innovative measure to preserve the wine's origins and the local agriculture.
But the Douro origins extend way beyond that.The rock paintings in Côa valley date back to the upper Palaeolithic Age, about 20 thousand years ago. And it is also known that grapes were already cultivated in the region around 4 thousand years B.C., as carbonized grape pips have been found in several sites. In the 1st century AD, the Romans gave a huge boost to the local agriculture, intensifying wine production, that even survived the Methuen treaty celebrated with England in the early 17th century.
So, much like the slopes that identify this region, the Douro's history is layered and rich. Which is one of the reasons we love to in the ride the Douro "Vinhateiro". Here are three of our favourite places to ride in the "Cima Corgo" part of the river ( between Peso da Régua and Valeira"):
Riding the EN222
This is the most important road of the region, moving from Gaia up to Vila Nova de Foz Côa. This road moves alongside the river for several miles and can be best appreciated between Peso da Régua and Pinhão. It is a scenic route, but has some great climbs to it, like the one from Bateiras ( near pinhão) to São João da Pesqueira.
Alto da Galafura and Casal de Loivos
Two of the most amazing viewpoints in the Douro and also two tough climbs. The "Alto da Galafura" climb starts from Peso da Régua and is reccomended only for expert riders who dare to climb the 18km from Régua to Galafura's 640m height, to witness Galafura's impressive view over Régua. "Casal de Loivos" is just in the outskirts of Pinhão and will let you witness a different section of the river - but requires some strong legs too! Both views are worth the climb though.
São Salvador do Mundo and Valeira Dam
After reaching São João da Pesqueira, it's all downhill towards São Salvador do Mundo, for one of the the best views of the Douro ( see the picture below of Ricardo, one of our guides!). This is a more untamed part of the Douro, where there are fewer slopes but more beautiful, raw nature. You can then descend even more, in a curvy and fast road towards Valeira Dam, with great tarmac for one of the best and most scenic roads in the Douro. But what goes down... must go up! The climb is as exhilarating as the descent, only harder. This is a tough challenge as well - but if you're with in a Live Love Ride tour you don't need to worry about that ;).
These are just three of our favourite rides in the Douro region, from Peso da Régua to Valeira Dam, in the "Cima Corgo" part of the river. Some of the other rides we love to do in our bike tours in this part of the river include Tabuaço, Lamego, Adorigo - all of which are unforgetable and are worth the celebration toast with Port wine once we arrive at our destination.
Join us in a bike tour in Douro!