Kayaking and Hiking the Douro Valley

Destination: Portugal

| Activities: Kayaking, Hiking, Culture

The Douro River Valley is surrounded by natural preserved areas on either side of the river that form Europe’s largest protected area. The Douro Valley stretches across 62 miles and is the only natural border between Spain and Portugal. We will paddle among unique landscapes, where deep granitic valleys with craggy slopes have been slowly excavated by the Douro and Águeda rivers since the beginning of time. The granite cliffs reach 650 feet high in places! We will also enjoy hiking the Douro Valley and visit historical villages that have been occupied since Prehistory. We will be able to watch the near extinct Black Storks, Griffon Vulture, and other cliff dwelling birds as we paddle through the valley, which is a Special Protection Area for Birds recognized by the European Union. The vineyards are terraced along the valley as they have been for centuries and one reason the region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001. Its unique microclimate also produces olives, citrus fruits and almonds.


  • Kayaking and Hiking in the Douro River Valley, the natural border between Spain & Portugal
  • Gazing at the towering cliffs and the beauty of the river
  • Watching the cliff dwelling birds as we paddle down the river
  • Hiking along the cliffs above the river seeing traces of ancient civilizations
  • Visiting with a local artisan, sampling local wine and food


  • A professionally certified local kayaking guide and an AGC guide (If there are fewer than 8 on the trip, there will not be an AGC guide)
  • 9 nights double occupancy lodging
  • All meals from dinner on the first day through breakfast on the day of departure
  • Double kayaks, limited # of singles, PFDs, paddles and spray skirts

Not included: Airfare to and from the Porto International Airport (OPO), transfers to the trip hotel at the beginning of the trip, trip insurance, alcoholic beverages and gratuities.

Trip Documents

Trip Info

This trip is designed for women in good condition who want to combine river kayaking with exploring the history and culture of Portugal. Some of our kayaking days are longer than others. We paddle downstream on smooth river. On days when we are not paddling, we will be hiking and exploring the local area. Both single and double kayaks are available - please indicate your preference when you sign up. If you have limited experience or do not kayak regularly, please choose a double.

We will paddle amongst unique landscapes, where deep granitic valleys with craggy slopes have been slowly excavated by the Douro and Águeda rivers since the beginning of times. Such slopes, which at some points reach more than 650 feet high, feature sumptuous gorges, with the deep down river flow-ing smoothly, featuring one of the most beautiful images you’ll ever see! We will also enjoy hiking the Douro Valley and visit historical villages that have been occupied since the Prehistory. We reserve you the best of local accommodation and gastronomy, especially gorgeous meat, which also make this trip so singular

We'll spend the first night and the last night in Porto, Portugal. The other nights we will be stay in small locally owned lodges in double occupancy rooms with ensuite bathrooms. The rooms will be simple and our hosts delightful.

There are 2 single supplements available for an extra cost on the first and last day of the trip in Porto.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Did you know that Portugal is the oldest country in Europe? Due to its excellent trading location, the Phoenicians settled in Lisbon around 1200 BC. Our trip takes place in the northern wine country of Portugal. Plan to arrive in Porto at our hotel any time before 5PM. We will meet at 5:30PM in the lobby and start getting to know each other before sharing our first dinner together. After dinner, the evening is free for you to get to bed early or explore Porto. Port Wine from this region is Portugal's most famous export and its national drink. Cheers! (D)
Today we traverse Portugal from West to East to reach the International Douro Natural Park, one of the greatest protected area in Europe. With 476,000 acres, there is a lot to marvel at and explore! There is a large swath of area along the Douro River where it functions as the border between Portugal and Spain (hence the "International Park"). After a lunch break and check-in into our charming lodgings, we will hike towards the chapel of São João das Arribas, where the majestic view of the Douro Gorge awaits us.

Hiking: 5 mile, 400-foot elevation gain and loss. Drive Time: 2 hours 45 min. Overnight: Cimo da Quinta Tourist Lodge or similar (B, L, D)
We will start the day with a visit to the historic village of Mirando do Douro. This ancient city was once a Roman and Arab settlement. It is known for its colorful folklore and stick dance performed to bagpipe, and also boasts its own language (Mirandese)! After our cultural visit, we will commence river paddling. Even in late fall, the Mediterranean climate of this region provides balmy days - perfect for kayaking. Because the area experiences almost no frost during the year, it has been used for cultivation of exotic species in these latitudes such as olives, almonds and citrus fruits. The Douro River valley is home to a grand diversity of birds, including: Black Stork, Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Eagle Bonneli, Royal Milan and Egyptian vulture.

Kayak: 10 miles. Drive Time: 20 minutes. Overnight: Cimo da Quinta Tourist Lodge or similar (B, L, D)
We will start the day at Picote Dam, a 328-feet tall and 456-feet long colossus of engineering. It is considered one of the 7 wonders of the Tras-os-Montes region. Though we paddle through a valley today, it may feel more like a canyon with its dramatic cliffs rising on either side. In this area we will hopefully see some of the majestic raptors who call these granite cliffs home. Tonight we sleep in a historic schoolhouse that has been renovated into a guest house.

Kayak: 12 miles. Drive Time: 40 minutes. Overnight: Casa das Arribas (B, L, D)
On this portion of the trip we will continue to paddle through awe-inspiring dramatic shale walls. The colors are breathtaking and an inspiration to many local artists. As we descend through the river valley, the scenery becomes lusher and richer with fragrant Mediterranean vegetation. Tonight we get to lodge in the guest house of a local sculptor where we will be able to admire the works of art.

Kayak: 15 miles. Drive Time: 35 minutes. Overnight: Casa das Quintas (B, L, D)
Today, we’ll trade our paddles for hiking shoes. With the sculptor's guest house as our base we will hike to Mogadouro; a city that has been inhabited since the Middle Stone Age and is rich in history. In Mogadouro we'll see influence from the different people and cultures that passed through, including the Romans, Celts, and Moors. From there, we will hike the slopes from Bruçó to Vilarinho, following paths of ancient occupation. No visit to wine country is complete without a wine tasting! We will get to taste the local wine and also visit an olive grove. If you are feeling like relaxing and taking the day off - today is the day to do it. (Don't worry, we'll bring you some wine!)

Hiking: 6.3 miles, about 1,000-feet elevation gain and loss. Overnight: Casa da Quintas (B, L, D)
Back in our kayaks today! The valley widens and terraces populate the slopes; orange groves and vineyards that have been handcrafted for centuries. We can picnic under the inviting weeping willows on shore and walk a short ways to see the Paleolithic rock art - some of which was created 22,000 years ago! Towards the end of day, the water in the Douro calms to a near mirror like surface and here we will finish our kayak day on its smooth waters. We will end our visit to this magnificent region with a visit to the nearby historic village of Freixo Espada a Cinta.

Kayaking: 11 miles. Drive time: 40 minutes. Overnight: Quinta do Salgueiro (B, L, D)
Time to stretch our legs! After admiring the dance of the vultures from the cliffs of Penedo Durão, we will hike the Devil's Path, a trail built by the Romans and named after a legend. The area hints of traces of human occupation from the Paleolithic era.

Hiking: 5 miles, 1,010-foot elevation gain and loss. Overnight: Quinta do Salgueiro (B, L, D)
Tchau Douro Valley! We will head to Porto after breakfast and visit the city in the afternoon. Here we can enjoy the riverside of the medieval Ribeira district where narrow cobbled streets wind past stores and quaint cafes. Before and with our farewell dinner, we'll get to savor some more Port Wine.

Drive Time: 3 hours Overnight: Porto  (B, L, D)
DAY 10
You are free to leave at any time today. Hotel check out is at 10AM. (B)


(8 reviews)
4.5 Food
4.8 Lodging
3.1 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

Sort By:
Most Recent

Gaylene S.
4 months ago

Being able to experience the Douro river from the river, seeing and staying in the lovely accommodations in rural Portugal and hiking (loved seeing the pictograph above the river)!

Patricia D.
5 months ago

Away from the busy tourist areas.

Deb B.
5 months ago

The trip was a nice mix of kayaking, hiking, and culture in a beautiful and interesting region of Portugal led by Annabelle, an extraordinary local guide. Unfortunately we didn't have a current while kayaking, which made for some long days on the river.

Karen H.
5 months ago

Everything about it made it special. The local guides were amazing. I specifically came back to do this trip because of Annabelle. The opportunity to go to an area in Portugal that was remote and not overcrowded with tourists was very special. So was the scenery and culture. I also appreciated that we spent very little time in Porto. It is definitely overcrowded with tourists and I was relieved that we had a minimum amount of time in the city. I would also again return to do any trip that Annabelle is leading (other than the culture trip that is currently offered, because a lot of that is an overlap with coastal hiking that I have already done).

Diane S.
5 months ago

Being on the Douro River in the sections we paddled is a very rare opportunity. Conservation restrictions permit only small group access 2 short months out of the year. The majestic Griffon vultures and beautiful shore and cliff birds kept us company. We saw no one else on the river the entire week! It was peaceful and beautiful. Ancient history up close! The rock formations and walls along the river were spectacular!

Anne H.
5 months ago

The combination of culture, hiking, and kayaking and of course camaraderie. Three friends from Colorado were on the trip with me.

Lori M.
5 months ago

Loved being out in rural Portugal and seeing an area you probably wouldn’t be seeing on your own.

Lelia C.
5 months ago

Got a more in-depth look at Portugal than I would have without local guides. Excellent company, both paid and guests.

  1. Where do we eat?

    Your breakfasts will be at the lodging where you are staying. Dinner is in restaurants with typically a choice of vegetarian or non-vegetarian entree. Lunches may either be picnics or in restaurants.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    We can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-intolerant although we can not guarantee a completely gluten-free diet, if we know well in advance. If you’re severely allergic or if you have other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register. If you’re vegan, you may want to bring some additional protein bars.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.