An engineering marvel when it opened in 1887, the Linha do Douro (Douro Line) still thrills passengers today. In its heyday it crossed the border to Spain (for a through service to Salamanca and Madrid) and sprouted some stunning valley branch lines, but even though the branch lines are no more, it’s still some ride – 160km of river-hugging track from Porto to Pocinho, via more than 20 tunnels, 30 bridges and 34 stations.

There are regular daily departures from Porto (São Bento and Campanhã) and you change on to the smaller Douro Line trains at Peso da Régua (just “Régua” on timetables). Régua is where the Douro Line gets most exciting, sticking closely to the river from then on, clinging to the rocks as the river – and track – passes through the Douro gorge. Some of the stations are just a shelter on a platform, used by the local wine quintas, though there are useful stops at Pinhão (a pretty port-producing town), Tua (a cruise halt with a good restaurant) and finally Pocinho (for Vila Nova de Foz Câo and its rock art).

Currently five trains a day run from Porto to Pocinho at the end of the line (around 3hr 30min), so you can make the return trip in a day if you take a morning train: there are also summer weekend steam-train services between Régua and Tua. For timetables, see cp.pt or call 808 208 208 (local-rate call in Portugal) or 707 201 280.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Portugal features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The 10 best beaches in Portugal

The 10 best beaches in Portugal

For many travellers, Portugal is synonymous with images of golden sun-baked beaches. And with a generous 1700 kilometres of coastline, there’s enough sand for…

20 Jan 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
Undiscovered Portugal: 7 places to get off the tourist trail

Undiscovered Portugal: 7 places to get off the tourist trail

Although Portugal is one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, it is surprisingly easy to get away from it all and escape the crowds. Most people hea…

17 Jan 2017 • Matthew Hancock insert_drive_file Article
What’s all the fuss about Lisbon?

What’s all the fuss about Lisbon?

Those in the know have been quietly enjoying Lisbon’s charms for years, but the city is currently having a bit of a moment. In recent times, it’s seen the o…

12 Jan 2017 • Matthew Hancock insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month