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World Heritage Site

for World Heritage Travellers

Alto Douro

Alto Douro

The Alto Douro Wine Region is a cultural landscape shaped by winemaking.

The region has a hot dry micro climate and rocky soil. This results in ideal growing conditions for grapes. There is archaeological evidence for winemaking in the region dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD.

The region has Portugal's highest wine classification as a Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC). While the region is associated primarily with Port wine production, the Douro produces just as much table wine (non-fortified wines) as it does fortified wine.

The landscape consists of terraced vineyards on large and small estates, white-walled villages, olive and almond crops, the river Douro.

Map of Alto Douro


  • Cultural

Visit December 2002, March 2016

In 2002 I had planned to visit the nearby Coa Valley and had already arranged a tour when they informed me that a visit had become impossible because of flooding. So I limited my tour to the North-East of Portugal to the Douro Valley. There's a nauseating road that follows the Douro River. The towns there looked really rundown. And because it was winter there was not much to see of the wine too.

December 2002, March 2016

On my second attempt for the Coa Valley (this time succesful), I once again passed the Douro Valley. The areas of these 2 WHS are nearly contiguous. This time I did not take the winding road along the Douro, but the main highway. Numerous signs point to the Douro vineyard landscape.

December 2002, March 2016

The landscape is very pretty at times. But it's a pity that you can only speed by. There are hardly any parking spots or lookouts along the way.

December 2002, March 2016

Community Reviews

Echwel NL 14-Oct-17

Alto Douro by echwel

It’s not always easy to convice my wife we need to go to yet another world heritage site but I had no problems when I announced Alto Douro to her. We both love the Porto wines they produce overthere and even she thougt a day of tasting and drinking is not something you skip while being in the area.

The prettiest part of the site lies between the small towns of Pinhao and Peso da Regua, an area full of quinta’s ( the name the Potugese gave their winehouses) and known tot he locals as Cima Corgo. The town of Pinhao itself is not that special but it has some nice views over the river and surrounding hills full of vines. I your there don’t forget to visit Quinta de Bomfim and it’s exquisit selection of fine wine’s. Among others they produce widely known Ports like Dow’s and Graham’s.

We spent a while on their nice terrace overlooking the whs and had a great sunny afternoon. It even got my girl to tell me that we had finally visited a truely great Unesco monument. And that says a lot. Cheers!

Read more from echwel here.

Clyde Malta 18-Aug-14

Alto Douro by Clyde

I visited this WHS in August 2014. The first glimpse and enriching experience was by car after having visited the Coa Valley. There were street signs indicating the area inscribed as a WHS and several winding roads that lead to the terraced vineyards. Plenty of grapes on the vines when I visited. Then I enjoyed the captivating views of the Alto Douro valley from the Douro itself on board a boat tour I booked from Oporto. This is definitely a more relaxing experience but I must say that visiting by car on the whole was my favourite experience of the two. To wrap up I decided to visit Graham's cellars at Vila Nova de Gaia to taste the Alto Douro produce and learn about the history of Port-making. Bliss!

John booth New Zealand 28-Apr-10

Alto Douro by John Booth

I found the most relaxing way of visiting the Alto Douro was to take the train from Porto to Pocinho and back. The train runs up the valley with excellent views of the rocky gorges, the vinyards and wineries.

Jose Gomes, Portugal 08-Jun-05

Portugal is a small country but its landscape changes a lot going from north to the south, changing from green to yellow during the summer. This is due to the large number of rivers in the northern region when compared with the southern one and also due to the amount of water that flows in these rivers. Douro river comes from Spain and since it touches Portugal, in a region that it is the frontier between Spain and Portugal (International Douro park), it passes along the most impressive scenery that I know for a river. However, its rapids disappear due to several dams. Fortunately, most of them permit that boats pass through. The deep valleys are amazing. When the park finishes, two Unesco's World Heritage sites appear. These are the Rockart sites of the Coa valley (an affluent of Douro river) and the Douro Wine Region. These two sites may be visited from (O)Porto, 2nd largest city in Portugal, taking a train or a boat (cruise). Douro Wine Region is the oldest marked wine region and it is the mother region of Port and Douro wines.

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Site Info

Full name: Alto Douro Wine Region

Unesco ID: 1046

Inscribed: 2001

Type: Cultural

Criteria: 3   4   5  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2001 - Inscribed 
  • 2001 - Advisory Body overruled ICOMOS wanted referral because of management plan


The site has 1 locations.

  • Alto Douro


The site has 11 connections.


  • Railways: the construction of the Douro railway line (1873-87) encouraged this expansion (AB ev)
  • Glazed tiles: Estação Ferroviária do Pinhão



Human Activity


  • Built in the 1st century: "Seeds of Vitis vinifera have recently been found at the 3-4 thousand year old Buraco da Pala Chalcolithic archaeological site near Mirandela. However, the more significant relics of viticulture and winemaking that have been uncovered date to the Roman occupation and particularly to the end of the Western Empire (3rd and 4th centuries AD). At the beginning of the Christian era, the Romans redefined all the land-use and restructured the economic activities in the entire valley of the Douro. From the 1st century onwards, they either introduced or promoted cultivation of vines, olive trees and cereals" (AB)

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154 community members have visited Alto Douro.