Portugal is known for its many accolades and one of them is that Northern Portugal can claim to be home to the best road to drive in the world, the N-222, from Peso da Régua to Pinhão.
This scenic drive from Régua to Pinhão was voted as one of the best drives in the world. Why you may ask? With a length of about 230 km, almost always along with the Douro River, the national road 222, which connects Vila Nova de Gaia to Almendra will offer you plenty of breath-taking countryside views, making it one of the most beautiful in the world!
When should you drive there?
Any season is excellent to experience this road, but autumn is the best season to visit the amazing Douro Valley as it is when the harvests are made, allowing you to witness the ‘birth’ of Port wine.
Mid-October, the temperature starts to drop, becoming milder; therefore it is the ideal time to hit the road and savour the incredible Douro Route.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites along the road
Along the National 222, you will enjoy wonderful landscapes either alongside the river or meandering through the vineyards. It also crosses three UNESCO World Heritage sites – the riverside area of the city of Porto, the Alto Douro Wine Region and the Vale do Côa Rock Engravings – and about 13 viewpoints so you can take a break and keep in your memory all the beauty of the landscape.
According to Avis who has crowned Portugal’s N-222 as ‘the road that offers the best driving experience in the world’, the highway was granted the prestigious title for its location and for the spectacular views it affords of the wine region below.
“The N-222 from Peso da Régua to Pinhão cuts right through the heart of the Douro Valley, offering amazing views of the terraced hillsides. This road most closely matches the ideal ADR [Avis Driving Ratio] of 10:1 (10 seconds on a straight line to every 1 second spent on a bend) with a ratio of 11:1, and offers the world’s best driving experience’, Avis writes, adding ‘The road takes drivers along the River Douro and the picturesque regional wine towns of the UNESCO World Heritage Site”.
Besides the vineyards near the river and finishes in the picturesque wine town of Pinhão, you will also have the chance to see the frequently changing viewpoints during the driving that will create a unique experience that you will want to tell your friends and family in your trip back home.
What should be your stopping points on the EN222?
The Douro Route starts at Mafamude in the center of Vila Nova de Gaia, however, you should not start on your way to the Douro without first crossing the Porto and Gaia riverside.
Take a few hours to stroll through the historic area of Porto, discover the city’s architectural treasures, visit the Port Wine cellars, and be enchanted by its people. Along the way and as a suggestion you should stop at Cinfães do Douro that is rich in culture and gastronomy and in Resende that is famous for its delicious cherries. Resende also has a very rich built-in heritage, such as the Casa da Torre da Lagariça, immortalized by the famous Portuguese writer Eça de Queiroz in ‘The Illustrious House of Ramires’.
There are some other stops you definitely should not miss: Peso da Régua that is one of the main destinations for Douro cruises and was once the starting point of the Rabelo boats that transported Port wine to the cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia where it aged. And as the Portuguese poet Miguel Torga described as ‘A geological poem. Absolute beauty’.
Last but not least you will also stop at São João da Pesqueira that is considered a wine-growing municipality. São João has a museum dedicated to Douro wine, where you can learn more about the history of this region. In the end, stop at Vila Nova de Foz Côa. Famous for its rock engravings classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, this is considered the last stopping point before reaching the final destination, Almendra. The 16th-century architecture of the houses, the Mother Church, and the chapels give this village an interesting historical atmosphere.
This is just a selection of some points of interest through this fantastic road trip. After all, the 222 national road has several places to discover and wonderful landscapes to enjoy along the way.
Text by Wine Tourism In Portugal