A Wine Trip with the Douro Historical Train
Built in 1925, the locomotive of the Douro Historical Train still puffs away steam as it awaits its passengers in Peso da Régua´s train station. With three beautifully maintained wooden carriages behind it and a band of colourfully dressed locals singing Portuguese songs, the train embarks on a three hour journey all the way to Tua via Pinhão and back. Always by the water, making the passengers of the small cruise ships jealous, the train slowly crosses the Douro valley every year between the months of June to October. An adult ticket is 42,50€ while children pay 19€ (buy here) and depending on where you´re travelling there from, you can get some nice packs for very cheap train tickets from Lisbon or Porto to Régua. We didn´t get to buy a pack and paid 18€ return from Porto´s São Bento to Régua on top of the 42,50€.
The Douro Historical Train always travels on Saturdays and leaves Régua at 15:23 to return at 18:32. Since we wanted to have some time to also enjoy Régua, we took the 9:20 train from Porto São Bento and arrived in Régua at 11:10, giving us some four hours of walking around, eating steak and drinking wine. We took the last train of the day back, departing at 18:48. The train waited for us before departing as the Historical Train sometimes arrives past that time and they´re used to it. As for Régua, it is not a particular pretty city, especially compared to the villages one passes on the final part of the trip there, or on the way to Tua. The most noteworthy things to visit in Régua are its walking bridge and the restaurants and wine shops by the train station. While the restaurants there do look very nice and are ideal for a glass of wine, I do advise that you eat at a traditional local restaurant next to the bridge, Katekero. We had a magnificent piece of meet with fries and salad and enjoyed a local wine, all for a very good price.
We boarded the train which seemed to always be full, so the fact that you have assigned seats helps a lot. I noticed a lot of Portuguese people aboard and less tourists and was happy to experience a very traditional and loud ride as such. The train´s staff walked up and down the carriages handing out Porto wine glasses and singing jolly songs and there´s a general excitement in the air which funnily enough is not about the destination but about the journey itself. Ou the window, the Douro river made its way as it has for hundred of years through the valley´s green, yellow and brown hills. And whether it´s a sunny summer day or a rainy start of autumn, you feel like in a fairy tale.
As we reached the end of the line in Tua, the train stopped for 45 minutes, even though there´s not much to do other than grabbing a glass of wine or a coffee or enjoying a walk around the station. I´m not quite sure why the train stops there to be honest but judging by the sleepy air in the train as we´re heading back to Régua, I would say the trip was exactly as long as it should have been.
All in all, I felt that the ticket price for the historical train was a bit overpriced given the length of the journey, but one thing remains clear: this train ride is one of the most beautiful train rides you can take in Portugal. And if you´re a sucker for historic trains with Agatha Christie vibes, it´s definitely something you should try once in your life.