Port tasting in Porto
(If you know nothing about Port)
If you visit Porto then going to a Port tasting has to be mandatory, doesn't it?
But, if like me, your only experience with Port is a vague recollection of sipping it a few times, then what is the best way for you to tick Port tasting in Porto off your bucket list?
$$$$ Big budget
Take a guided full day Douro Valley tour
A lot of companies run these tours, so the itineraries do vary but generally include:
Hotel/Apartment pick up and drop off
Transport and tour guide - by mini-bus or train
1-2 winery visits with tastings
a traditional Portuguese lunch
1 hour Douro River Cruise
Honey and Olive oil tastings
The tours take around 9 hours and most cost about € 80 per person, although with more inclusions and a smaller group they can cost as much as €150 per person.
$$ Medium budget
Bus + Port tasting + Boat - Self Paced tour
You can taste Port without leaving Porto. This tour is run by a company called Yellow Bus Tours. Inclusions are:
2 day hop on/off bus ticket - for 2 different loops around Porto
Guided tour of Calem Cellars
Tasting of 2 port wines
1 hour 6 bridges river cruise - can be taken on a different day
headphone commentary on bus and boat
If done together the tour takes 3 hours, for 1 loop on bus without getting off, but is valid for 2 full, consecutive days. Cost is €25.20 per adult, if booked through Get Your Guide.
$ Low budget
Do it yourself, on foot
There are tons of Cellars that can be easily reached on foot from Porto, where you can get a tour or just a tasting of port. While the north side of the Douro River is Porto the south side is it's own city, Vila Nova de Gaia (or simply "Gaia" to locals), and this is where the Port Cellars are.
Below is an itinerary you could follow:
Start near Sao Bento Train Station
Walk straight ahead for around 200 metres - towards the river
Ahead you will see the top level of the Dom Luis Bridge, with its pedestrian walkway
Stop for some fantastic photos as you walk across the bridge, 60 metres above the river
When you reach the other side take the cable car ( T ) down to the riverfront
Here you will find the majority of the Port wine cellars
On the return you can walk across the lower level of the bridge, rather than taking the cable car back to the top
The cable car costs €6 one way / €9 return.
There are at least a dozen cellar doors to choose from, many of them offering a tour with 2 tastings for around €12, some with extras like a Fado show included.
It's worth remembering that Port has a much higher Alcohol level than regular wine when you are going door to door doing tastings