If you love trains, you just simply have to take this ride. Easily, one of the biggest highlights of our trip, Douro valley in itself is a pretty sight, but when you add a 3 hour train ride that takes you through different small villages and historical sites, the entire experience just feels surreal.
We highly recommend that you get your Douro valley tickets well in advance. The historical train runs only once a day, leaving in the afternoon from Regua. In order to get to Douro, we took a train from Porto, which takes about 2-3 hours to get to Douro train station. Once you cross some small cities, much of the route line runs close to the Douro River, offering very scenic views of the river and valley. In fact, you will see the Douro river for a good hour of the journey, running right next to you. Once we reached the Regua station, we had a good hour remaining before our historical ride could start, so we decided to go into the city and get some quick lunch. There are quite a few shops near the station, that serve local cuisine. Unlike the other cities we had been to, Douro is relatively small, and local people mostly don’t speak English. We actually ate in a restaurant where the owner only spoke Portuguese and French, and not English. Lucky for us, Yesha is a fluent French speaker, so she was able to help out and also get some local visitor tips.
Once back at the Regua station, we were welcomed by a wonderful live music performance from the local band as we boarded the historical train. These wonderful performers also stayed onboard throughout the journey, entertaining us with some local melodies. We were also offered some water and a local wine as we started. Yesha and I were lucky to get a seat right in front of the train, in the very first coach, right behind the steam engine, so we also had the front deck available to us.
The historical train journey follows the river Douro with stunning views of the surrounding countryside, which UNESCO has classified as a World Heritage Site. The 0186 steam engine was built by Henschel & Son in 1925, and the five ancient wooden carriages will carry you from Régua to Tua and back on an unforgettable journey. We took plenty of pictures here, and also stepped out in a few stations, and also at midpoint, when the steam engine needs a quick break for cleanup.
The last stop on the train route is Tua, where you can get down and explore the nearby shops. We were further entertained by the local singing group as we roamed around the station , and explored the shops nearby. We were also offered some special Regua candies, a tradition for everyone who comes on this historic train ride.
On our way back, we decided to stand on the deck connecting coaches to enjoy the wind, with beautiful sights all around us, the steam engine making noise and its historical presence felt as we cut our way past the winding track.