Glide into the Douro Valley aboard Portugal’s most celebrated train.
An ideal city break, picturesque Porto has a rich and varied history, seen in everything from its Romanesque cathedral to its neoclassical Stock Exchange and beautiful arched bridge. But it’s the city’s reputation as the nexus of Portugal’s port wine industry that we invite you to explore this autumn. Outside the city, on the banks of the Douro River, lie some of the country’s finest vineyards, where grapes are harvested for such prized port wine makers as Graham’s, Cockburn’s, Dow’s and Warren’s.
And what better way to explore the Douro Valley than aboard the Presidential Train, the crown jewel in Portugal’s railway? Retired in 1970 after hosting everyone from popes to presidents, this beautiful train was meticulously restored in 2010. Over the last few years, for a few months each autumn, it has offered exclusive access to one of the greatest vineyards of them all, historic Quinta do Vesuvio, treating guests on the way to a fine-dining experience prepared by some of Portugal’s most exciting and inspiring chefs.
In 2020, during select departures in September and October, it will ride the rails for one last time. Don’t miss out on this final chance to be a part of railroad royalty.
The presidential experience
The Presidential Train hosted kings, presidents, popes and heads of state for nearly a century. Built in 1890, it served the court of King D. Luis I as the Portuguese royal train and proudly transported Portugal’s heads of state until 1970, when it was officially retired. Magnificently restored in 2010, it now offers a privileged few access to some seldom-seen secrets along the beautiful Douro Valley.
The experience is as much a culinary adventure as it is a locomotive journey. Not long after departure, you’re invited into the Presidential Train’s exquisite dining car for a fine-dining lunch created by some of the world’s greatest chefs and paired with the country’s finest Niepoort wines.
Before long you’ll arrive at Quinta do Vesuvio among the terraced vineyards of the Upper Douro. This famous quinta can trace its history back to the 16th century, though it wasn’t until the 19th , under the auspices of the famous ‘Douro widow’ Dona Antonia Adelaide Ferreira, that it acquired its reputation as one of the finest vineyards in the country.
In 1989 Quinta do Vesuvio was bought by the Symington family and has since produced some of the finest port wines for makers such as Graham’s. Cockburn’s, Dow’s and Warren’s. So special is the quinta to the Symington family that it normally remains closed to the public. As a guest aboard The Presidential Train, however, you’ll have a rare opportunity to discover the quinta, explore its grounds and sample wines directly from the casks.
Once back on the train, sit back and relax with a coffee or liqueur and soak up the beauty of the Douro Valley as The Presidential Train transports you back to Porto.
11:00 – Check in at Sao Bento Station and board the train
11:45 – Departure from Sao Bento Station
12:00 – Make your way to the dining carriages for lunch
12:30 – Gourmet lunch and wine pairings
15:30 – Arrival at Quinta do Vesuvio and port wine tasting at the estate
18:00 – Departure from Vesuvio station
18:30 – Coffee, spirits and on-board entertainment
22:00 – Estimated time of arrival back at Sao Bento Station
Can I travel with children?
For safety reasons, children below the age of 12 will only be allowed on board if accompanied by a parent, who must also sign a disclaimer.
Where should I stay?
Below are a few of our top recommendations for where to stay in Porto.
The Yeatman is a luxury wine hotel and spa in Porto with spectacular views over the UNESCO World Heritage city and the Douro River. A member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux collection of hotels, The Yeatman is renowned for its gastronomic restaurant, which was awarded two Michelin Stars in 2017. The hotel is in the heart of Vila Nova de Gaia, the historic centre of the port wine houses, and owes its name to a family of British traders still active today. This legacy can be found in the delightful décor of the rooms and the superb collection of Portuguese wines.
InterContinental Porto – Palacio Das Cardosas
Located in the heart of the city, in a newly renovated 18th century palace, the InterContinental stands prominently at the end of Porto’s main avenue, Avenida dos Aliados, just 100m from São Bento train station and a three-minute walk from the iconic Clérigos Tower. The hotel’s neoclassical exterior is spectacular, while inside Swarovski chandeliers illuminate the bright, marbled foyer, velvet armchairs create comfortable seating areas, and rooms are spacious and well presented with simple yet elegant décor. Facilities include a wellness centre with a spa, gym and sauna, but no pool.
Pestana Palacio do Freixo
Positioned two miles from the city centre on the banks of the Douro River, the Pestana Palacio do Freixo is a beautifully executed amalgamation of an 18th century baroque palace and a 19th century flour mill. The result is one of Porto’s most luxurious hotels, and while it may not offer immediate access to the city’s main attractions, it has plenty to keep you entertained on site, including two pools, a riverfront promenade, a spa and extensive dining options. And when you do decide to see the city for yourself, there’s a complimentary shuttle bus to the centre every 30 minutes.
Additional travel arrangements
We are also happy to arrange flights, airport transfers and additional tours and excursions on your behalf. Please ask one of our Europe travel specialists for details.