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The Douro Valley conceals some of the most beautiful natural scenery of northern Portugal, which is formed of terraced vineyards and steep valleys. Snaking along the meandering river, for much of the route is the scenic the Linha do Douro Railway.
This railway connects Porto with the Pocinho, high up in the Alto Douro, and the later sections of the route are considered as one of the most picturesque railways in Europe. This guide will provide an overview of the Linha do Douro train service, different suggested tours and details of the towns that can be visited along the route.
Note: The extesnive building works, which were performed over the winter of 2018/2019 have been completed and the line is fully open.
Related articles: Porto day trips - Introduction to Porto – Porto’s beaches
The Linha do Douro railway as it follows the river upstream
The main advantage of the Linha do Douro is that more of this stunning region can be visited than seen by a cruise boat. The train connects Porto with the small village of Pocinho, whereas the 1-day river cruises from Porto only travel to Pinhão, much further downstream. The Douro river between Pinhão and Pocinho is the most scenic section and can only be seen via car, train or boat cruise that starts in Pinhão. The train also allows for greater flexibility and time to explore the different towns along the route.
The pretty town of Régua on the banks of the Douro
The Porto to Pocinho train departs from Sao Bento train station in central Porto and a single ticket to Pocinho costs €13.30. The train journey takes around three and a half hours, but there are multiple trains with different connections, our suggested routes are detailed in the following section. The latest timetable can be viewed on the CP (Comboios de Portugal) website:
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The first hour of the journey is through non-descript residential areas and bland countryside but after the town of Peso da Régua the railway starts to follow the river. The final section between Pinhão and Pocinho could be considered one of the most beautiful train lines in Europe, with stunning views of the Douro River and the terraced vineyards that climb the sides of the steep hills.
There are multiple options for a day trip along the Linha do Douro and this section will detail some of the feasible choices. Please note these were correct in Aug 2018 and are based upon the timetable detailed above; always check train times and boat cruises are seasonal dependant and should be pre booked.
Pinhão train station and the hills of the Douro region
Option 1 - Direct train to Pocinho. The 9:10 train, which departs from Sao Bento, is the only daily direct service to Pocinho. This is a great service as there are no connections and arrives in Pocinho at 12:36. The return train is at 13:21 (Monday to Friday) or 15:08 (Saturday, Sunday or public holidays). Pocinho is a very small village and can be easily seen within 45minutes.
Option 2 - Train to Pinhão and River Cruise to Tua. This option combines the train with a boat cruise along the most beautiful stretch of the river to the Confluence of the Tua River with the Douro. Try to catch the earliest train as the boat cruises depart at 10:30 or around 14:00-15:00. The stretch of river between Pinhão and Tua is wonderful and is much better experienced on a boat than train.
Option 3 - Train to Pinhão and visit the Museu do Douro in Regua. For this trip catch the direct 9:10 train to Pinhão, explore Pinhão for a couple of hours and then catch the train to Régua. In Peso da Régua you can visit the informative Museu do Douro, which details the history and traditions of the region. Another option in Régua is to hike to the Miradouro de Sao Leonardo em Galafura, which provides one of the best views of the Douro.
The train line ends in the tiny village of Pocinho. The village is in the heart of the vineyard region but as it is so small there is not much to see, apart from the dam, hydroelectric plant and the two bridges. The railway terminates in Pocinho as this was historically the junction to the defunct Linha do Sabor, a narrow gauge railway that connected to the Miranda do Douro.
The two bridges of Pocinho
Pinhão is a town that is reliant on the Douro River and the vineyards it supports. From Pinhão there are boat cruises of the more interesting section of the Douro river and these tours depart from the praia (beach). Pinhão is a popular destination to explore the wine producing Quinta (farms) of the region. A popular hiking route is the 7km uphill path to the Casal de Loivos.