The Douro Valley is an excellent location for a Christmas drive-away due to its breath-taking scenery and mild climate throughout the Winter months. This highland area of northern Portugal through which the River Douro flows is a famous winemaking region thanks to its comfortable temperatures, clement weather conditions, steep elevations and fertile granite soils that provide an excellent terroir which influences the characteristics of grapes grown in its terraced vineyards. Those planning a Christmas road-trip in the Douro Valley should acquire an automobile from Used Cars of Bristol whose vehicles are of the highest quality and whose level of service is second-to-none.
Matosinhos, located on the Atlantic coast, is one of Portugal’s best surf spots and alongside fine light-sand beaches it boasts a range of quality restaurants selling delectable local seafood. The city is home to several art galleries and public art instalments such as Janet Echelman’s contemporary sculpture She Changes. Marine-anglers may be interested in purchasing a sea-fishing licence and casting a line into the ocean waters at Christmas when cod are present along the Portuguese coast. The Douro Valley Christmas drive-away begins here via the A28 that links Matosinhos with nearby Porto.
Porto, regarded as the gateway to the Douro Valley, is Portugal’s second largest city and one that knows how to celebrate Christmas in style. Each year there is a spectacular Christmas circus and a large and well-decorated Christmas tree is erected outside the City Hall in the Avenue of the Allies. The popular Christmas drink Port wine, fermented from the juice of grapes grown in the Douro Valley and often fortified with brandy distilled in this region, is named after the city of Porto where it was stored in cellars and warehouses after transportation along the Douro in flat-bottomed riverboats.
The city of Vila Real, meaning “Royal Town”, was founded in the 12th century by King David I whose championing of agriculture earned him the nickname “the Farmer King”. For centuries the city was a royal residence and the bountiful local vineyards serve as a reminder of David I’s commitment to farming. The city today, connected to Porto by the A4 motorway, is the administrative centre of Vila Real District and in 2007 was named the seventh best Portuguese city to live in by a national magazine. The Eco Christmas initiative sees the city adorned with Christmas decorations made from recycled materials.
Peso da Régua
Due to its location by the banks of the River Douro the town of Peso da Régua is a worthwhile destination for river-anglers looking to do a spot of freshwater fishing during the festive season, so long as a licence permitting a rig of up to two rods is bought beforehand. For those anglers driving to this picturesque riverside town that are looking for a challenge the pike fishing is known to be of exceptional quality during the Christmas period, especially in the small hours of the morning when bites are more frequent.
The 17 mile N-222 road from Peso da Régua to the town of Pinháo was voted one of the best in the world in 2015 according to polls due to the breath-taking scenery of the Douro Valley through which it passes as well as its dramatic curves and bends. When arriving at Pinhão explore the local vineyards and wineries in the surrounding countryside during the day and head back to the town at night to the hotels and restaurant to dine on fine Portuguese cuisine and sample the locally-produced red, white and rosé wines.