The wine regions in Portugal reward visitors with some of the country’s most extraordinary experiences. Filling every corner of the land, it is a world of ageing quintas (wineries) and arresting landscapes that offer a fresh perspective on Portuguese culture and history.   

Oenophiles will know that Portugal has quietly established itself as the dark horse of European winemaking. Overshadowed by more prominent European wine producers, Portugal focuses on their greatest hits while using native grapes innovatively. 

The very best Portuguese wines are marked DOC (Denominação de Origem Controlada). And while the fortified wines of Port and Madeira may be the biggest names, the sheer variety of grapes and terroir makes Portuguese wine some of the most intriguing in Europe. 

Wine tours are never just about the vinho. Portugal is no exception to the rule that vineyards are found in beautiful surroundings. Stretching around rivers, forests, beaches, and swathes of rural Portugal, the 13 Portugal wine regions have something for everybody. 

To gain a flavour of what to expect, we’re taking a flying tour down ancient rotas dos vinhos to discover the delights of Portugal’s serene wine country.  

Douro Wine Region
Take a cruise along the Douro Wine Region | Credit: Daniel James Clarke

Douro Wine Region

Sitting east of Porto, picturesque Douro Valley is Portugal’s viticulture capital. UNESCO World Heritage status reflects the beauty of a mountainous region dotted with terraced vineyards that famously gave the world port wine (vinho do Porto).

The sugary, fortified wine lacks the cachet of mainstream wines and sales have declined in recent years. Yet 2,000 years of winemaking history combined with unique terroir and microclimates helps Douro Valley remain the leading Portuguese wine region. 

Partly driven by port’s declining popularity, innovative wines have gained traction. Today, the region is also known for table wines like Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca that make good use of the native grapes. 

The fast-flowing Douro river scythes across the region. Evoking a bygone age, the sleepy villages and towns dotted along the Douro Valley add character to the enchanting region.  

In contrast, Porto at the valley gateway is energetic and vibrant. An important wine outpost, it is the ideal base to explore Portugal’s northern wine regions. 

Where to stay in Douro? Quinta Da Estrada Winery Douro Valley

Get a taste of the action: Day tour from Porto with cruise, wine tasting and lunch

Vinho Verde

The celebrated Vinho Verde wine region sits in the northwest corner of Portugal, sandwiched between the Douro and Minho rivers. Encompassing 9 sub-regions, the historic Minho region is home to Portugal’s most distinctive wine.  

Vinho Verde, aka green wine, owes its characteristic freshness to young grapes and zero ageing. Red or white, Vinho Verde likely takes its name from the lush, green landscape.

The landscape partly explains why the renowned Vinho Verde wine route is so popular. Adding to the Vinho Verde experience are the ancient cities of Braga and Guimarães, affectionately known as the ‘birthplace of Portugal’. At the same time, a detour to picturesque Amarante serves up another taste of forgotten Portugal. 

Bordered in the east by the magnificent Peneda Geres National Park and the Atlantic coast in the west, the Vinho Verde region is rightly recognised as one of the most attractive wine regions in Portugal.

L'AND Resort Wine Hotel in Portugal
L’AND Resort Wine Hotel in Portugal | Credit: Daniel James Clarke

Alentejo Wine Region 

The Alentejo wine region of Portugal is everything the Vinho Verde region is not. Arid, dusty, and lacking greenery, it is a province of stark landscapes. 

The tip of Alentejo is east of Lisbon, but its rural plains swell eastwards to cover nearly a third of the country. 

Home to 8 DOCs, the region is known for producing fruity red blends from native grapes, like Touriga Nacional, and international superstars like Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. 

This expansive region also hosts beach towns and delightful cultural diversions, like UNESCO recognised Evora. One of Portugal’s tourist jewels, historic Evora regularly features on lists of Portugal’s most liveable cities. In the east sits Elvas, a fortified, medieval town and location of the immense star-shaped Fort of Graça (another UNESCO World Heritage site). 

Alentejo flies the flag for viticulture diversity, producing ageable old-style wines and fruity modern wines. A nod to Portugal’s past and present that captures the essence of the region. 

Where to stay in Alentejo? L’AND Vineyard Resort

Get a taste of the action: Four-hour wine-tasting tour from Evora

Dão Wine Region  

Sitting north of Alentejo and south of the Douro Valley is one of the leading wine regions in Portugal. Dão is known for making balanced wines, served with meals throughout the country. 

Idyllically rugged, the region is covered in rolling pine and eucalyptus forests overlooked by Portugal’s tallest mountain range, Serra da Estrela. The lifegiving rivers Dão and Rio Mondego wrap around the region. 

In recent years, Dão has moved out from the shadow of port and created sought-after Portuguese wines. Many grape varieties are grown, including prized whites from the Encruzado grape. 

Dão is endowed with many cultural and natural highlights. Foremost is the old town of Viseu, a former Roman settlement and home to a striking medieval cathedral. Other destinations of note include the spa town of Luso and the enchanting Buçaco Forest. 

With some of the most talked about wines in Portugal, a journey around bewitching Dão is perfect for wine connoisseurs and nature-lovers.  

Medieval Belmonte in Portugal's Interior Wine Region
Medieval Belmonte in Portugal’s Interior Wine Region | Credit: Daniel James Clarke

Beira Interior Wine Region

The Beira interior is magnificent. Punctuated with soaring views, wooded valleys, and towering peaks, it is also the place to find some of Portugal’s finer wines. 

What marks the region out is a mountainous terrain as variable as the weather. Native grapes like Baga, Castelão, and Tinta Roriz (tempranillo) flourish there. 

The terrain also explains the region’s enduring appeal to travellers. Divided into three parts, Beira stretches from one side of the country to the other. There are no big cities in the harsh interior, but the tranquil towns of Castelo Branco and Trancoso, as well as the medieval settlement of Belmonte, are pleasant places to explore and find accommodation.  

Beira Interior is perfect for discovering unheralded wines of exceptional quality. 

Beira Atlântico Wine Region

Beira Atlantico is home to the celebrated Bairrada wine region. Sitting above Lisbon, the Atlantic flank of the Beira region is influenced by coastal proximity and temperate climates. 

Bairrada DOC embraces grape diversity, which sees popular native grapes grown alongside Bordeaux and pinot noir.

Visitors usually head to coastal Aveiro, known as the ‘Venice of Portgual’. A network of canals crisscrossed by gondola-like moliceiros (small boats) adds to the beguiling charm of this maritime city. 

If you crave more history, Coimbra in the Beria Litoral is one of Portugal’s largest and oldest cities. Home to Portugal’s oldest university, Universidade de Coimbra (another UNESCO World Heritage site for the list) and renowned fado musical performances, Coimbra is a true Portuguese cultural centre and yet another reason to spend time in the Beira Atlantico wine region. 

The Vines of Quinta dos Santos in Algarve's Portugal Wine Region
The Vines of Quinta dos Santos in Algarve’s Portugal Wine Region | Credit: Daniel James Clarke

Algarve Wine Region

Yes, it is a beach-lovers paradise, but there are still plenty of Algarve hidden gems and it also has surprisingly vibrant viticulture. 

Protected by mountains, the part-Mediterranean and part-Atlantic climate allows grapes to mature longer for extra sweetness. The region holds 4 DOCs, scattered across Portugal’s southern coastline. 

Amazing beaches, lively coastal towns, and endless golf courses make the Algarve a tourist magnet. 

But wine buffs are well catered for. Lagos, with its picture-postcard beaches, and windswept Tavira in the less-visited eastern Algarve, are both great destinations with their own DOC wine. The central coastal regions of Silves and Lagoa (Quinta dos Santos is dreamy) also are home to some fantastic wines.

If you’re looking for sun, sea, sand, and great wine, Algarve is one of the unmissable wine regions in Portugal. 

Where to stay in the Algarve? Explore our hand-picked list of the best luxury hotels in the Algarve

Get a taste of the action: Half-day wine tour in Silves

Drink wine from terracotta in the old Portugal wine regions
Drink wine from terracotta in the old Portugal wine regions | Credit: Daniel James Clarke

Lisbon Wine Region

The Lisboa wine region wraps around Lisbon city and covers a long strip of coastal Portugal. Boasting 9 DOCs, serious volumes of wine are produced there.  

Lisboa wines are affordable, everyday wines often sold in 1.5 and 3-litre carafes. The region is known for vinho leve (light wine), which earns comparison with the more illustrious Vinho Verde. 

Unsurprisingly for a region centred around the country’s capital, there is plenty to interest visitors. 

Lisbon is too singular to summarise, but it is an essential Portuguese destination and the ideal base to explore several Portugal wine regions. It is also a centre of gastronomy — think delicacies like pastel de nata (custard tarts) and savoury classics like bacalhau a bras (braised salted cod) — making it an ideal location to discover the food and wine of Portugal.  

Get a taste of the action: Day trip to a wine cellar, vineyard and wine house

Tejo Wine Region

Tejo wine is all about tradition. Pigéage wines (foot pressed) are common, entire communities help with harvests, and bottles are sealed with cork from local forests. 

The Ribatejo province (or the Tejo wine region) is a dry, inland area that owes its agricultural success to the Rio Tejo (Tagus River), which flows across the Iberian Peninsula to Lisbon. 

Sitting between the Alentejo and Lisbon wine regions, six DOC subregions produce distinctive wines. Despite some standout reds, the region is known as a volume producer of everyday table wines. 

The river, a vital artery for millennia, flows around historic towns, past ancient cork forests and olive groves, and famously through a flamingo-friendly protected estuary. 

Along the route are co-operative vineyards and organic quintas that open their doors to the public, and camera-friendly towns like medieval Santarém and cute Chamusca. 

If you are still ticking off UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Convento de Cristo is worth a detour. The ornate and imposing convent has a Knights-Templar origin story, capturing the essence of a region steeped in tradition. 

Transmontano Wine Region

Transmontano is tucked away in the northeast corner of the country. Mountainous, it is one of the least accessible wine regions in Portugal. 

Red, white, rosé, and even eau-de-vie are produced across the region. Rural and timeless, the changing altitudes encourage variety in grape harvests and winemaking. 

Effectively landlocked, the region is scenic yet unprosperous. For curious travellers, it is a region brimming with wonders. 

The region’s ancient enmity with Spain has littered the land with medieval castles. Magnificent natural parks are found both in and around the region. And delightful towns like Braganca, one of Portugal’s prettiest, and the enchanting fortified town Miranda make exploring this intriguing wine region unforgettable. 

The city of Setubal, Portugal
The city of Setubal, Portugal | Credit: Daniel James Clarke

Setúbal Wine Region

The Setúbal wine region is an oddity. This diminutive region, overshadowed by the Alentejo wine region, champions fortified Muscat wines.  

There are just two DOC denominations, Palmela and Setúbal. Setúbal wines share characteristics with port and include the renowned Moscatel de Setúbal. Wines from Palmela are typically still reds made with the Castelão Frances grape. 

Languid beaches, Mediterranean climate, nature reserves, and the crucial Sado river add to the natural character of Setúbal. Delightful Palmela, overlooked by the impressive castle, Castelo de Palmela, layers a cultural and historical cherry on top. 

Accessible by day trips from Lisbon or the bustling port city Setúbal, there is much to explore in one of Portugal’s atypical wine regions. 

Black rocks frame the Pico Wine Region in Portugal
Black rocks frame the Pico Wine Region in Portugal | Credit: Daniel James Clarke

Wines of The Azores

With the mainland covered, we need to jump offshore to uncover the final wine regions in Portugal. 

One thousand miles away from Portugal are the nine volcanic islands of the Azores. Graciosa, Biscoitos, and Pico each have an IPR, or indication of regulated provenance. Solving the challenge of making and preserving wine on sub-tropical islands, the local stuff is almost exclusively fortified.

Most Azorean wine comes from Pico, sometimes called the ‘Island of Wine’. Its incomparable landscape and dedication to local agricultural techniques have earned UNESCO recognition.

As you might expect from unspoilt mid-Atlantic islands, there are numerous reasons to visit. Snow-capped volcanic peaks overlook lush, verdant islands that put the Azores firmly on the tourist map. 

Where to stay in Pico Wine Region? Book a private home rental at this beautiful Adega amongst the Pico vineyards

Get a taste of the action: Pico Island Wine Tour

Wine Region in Madeira at Quinta da Saraiva
Vines at Quinta da Saraiva in Madeira / Credit: Daniel James Clarke

Madeira Wine Region  

We kickstarted our tour of Portugal’s wine regions with the country’s most famous wine export, port. We fittingly end with its second most famous, Madeira wine. Both are fortified wines. 

Madeira could not be further removed from the Douro Valley. A sub-tropical archipelago closer to the African coastline than Portugal, fortified wine has been made there since sailors set off for the New World.

An alternative approach to viticulture also sees the unfashionable native grape Negra Mole dominate island production. Although winemakers on the island also make space for table wines and a local speciality, sparkling espumante

The regional capital, Funchal, is a handy camp for exploring the quintas and natural parks that Madeira is known for. Popular with cruise companies and yacht owners, this laidback city packs in the charms of a sun-drenched European island without the usual tourist trappings.  

Is remote Madeira the first-choice destination for oenophiles? Probably not, but with a stunning backdrop and intriguing wine industry, it will always appeal to curious wine buffs, nature-lovers, and adventure-seekers. 

Where to stay in Madeira? Check out our favourite stay in Madeira, Quinta da Saraiva

Get a taste of the action: Full day Madeira wine tasting tour

In south-central Portugal, to the right of show-stealing Lisbon and above the summertime fun of the Algarve, the underrated and understated Alentejo region packs a punch.

Technically two regions, Alto and Baixo translating to higher and lower, The Alentejo is awash with Roman and Moorish history, designated dark sky star-gazing reserves and countless grapes hanging from vines ready to be turned into one of Portugal’s greatest exports, and my favourite refreshment, wine. This is, of course, one of the most celebrated wine regions in Portugal.

The visitor count might not be as high here as other parts of the country, but that is very much its charm. Cruising along a near-empty motorway for a weekend escape, the rolling green countryside of vineyards with the odd castle provided a refreshing vacation from the bustle of the city.

The resort I picked for this weekend had to stand out, be quirky and ultimately a real gem of a place. I got scouring Booking.com’s range of properties in Portugal, from hotels made of another Portuguese staple, cork, to restored palaces, the options were surprisingly endless.

L’AND Resort

I finally settled on L’AND Resort, situated just an hour from Lisbon in Montemor-O-Novo. Complete with a hot air balloon, Michelin star restaurant, retractable skylights for star-gazing and wine-production that happenesd inside the resort, I knew I had found my soulmate in hotel form.

Pulling up to the L’AND vineyard resort, the first thing you notice is how un-noticeable the resort is. The leading lines of the white buildings which centre around a lake sink into the green vines and trees that surround them. Not only is the stylish design aesthetically pleasing, but the integration with nature also makes the resort feel much smaller than it is. From the balconies, you can’t see other peoples accommodation, and this added to the sense of privacy and escape that the location of the vineyard offers.

Star Gazing in Alentejo

I’ll jump to my favourite bit about the resort and region as a whole, the star-gazing. Although Montemor-O-Novo doesn’t technically fall into the official Dark Sky Reserve, a dedicated area in Alentejo, the night skies were nothing short of incredible.

The resort with limited light pollution and far enough away from the town is nearly dark at night, and there are plenty of ways to enjoy mother natures nighttime show.

If you book a sky-view suite, then a remote-controlled ceiling pulls back to reveal the twinkly stars straight above your bed for some duvet style sky viewing. In the summer months, the actual glass is also removed from the roof which allows for a better view. To be honest, this was one of the things that disappointed me with the hotel; it’s not made clear when booking that the glass is there for part of the year, and at a premium price, this is something they should make known at booking.

Another option is your outside private plunge pool, which is enclosed on your balcony and more of a deep-bath. You can run the hot-tap and soak away to the magical view above.

Or your balcony, or the hotel rooftop, or by the lake (my favourite), or next to the vines… wherever you go, as long as there are no clouds expect amazing star-lit skies..

Vineyards in Alentejo

Red, white, rose and sparkling; they are all on production and offer in Alentejo with L’AND resort seasonally producing all the still wines in small batches. You could traipse off to explore multiple vineyards, or simply settle into wandering the vines that literally start outside your front door here.

L’AND offers various ways to sample both their wines and other wines from the region. With a glass of wine at check-in, a free wine and cheese pairing at 4 pm and other complimentary wine tasting options depending on the day, you’ll be off to a good start.

More in-depth wine tasting with professional notes can also be arranged, from just their own through to the whole regions. And if you head to the restaurant, the pairing flights can’t be missed.

Fine Dining in Alentejo

The food scene in Portugal is usually highlighted by Piri Piri Chicken and Egg custard tarts (Pastel de Nata) abroad, but the bar is continually being raised by some very talented chefs here and Miguel Laffan is one of those.

His Michelin Star restaurant at L’AND resort offers two menus, seasonal at €75 and the chefs menu at €105. Feeling like five courses would suffice, I went for the seasonal menu which included fresh oysters, deconstructed Portuguese style Bouillabaisse and a tender cut of Pork before two perfect desserts. The focus is on local produce, with the aim to source everything within 50km of the resort and the quality of the dishes was excellent. The matching wines and information that came with them were well worth the extra cash investment.

Miguel himself was in the dining room, running plates and chatting with the guests which was nice to see. Breakfast, a mix of buffet and a la carte the next morning was also of high quality.

L’AND Resort
L’AND Resort

L’AND resort review

With both a heated indoor and natural temperature outdoor pool between the 22 suites, there is plenty of place for R&R. The outside pool was empty of water on my visit, even in May, and this was another annoyance when paying for a premium hotel having a big empty hole in the lawn. The sauna looks out across the pool and vineyards, and the spa looked pretty fancy, although I didn’t have time to make use of it. The resort can also arrange a hot air balloon ride for you direct from the hotel to see Alentejo from above, prices are from €625 per trip as they don’t offer group flights.

Overall I loved the resort but wish I had seen it at it’s best, with the fully retractable windows and the pool open. It’s a pricey place to stay but even if you don’t book in, do try to get a reservation at the restaurant as it was genuinely excellent. You can see more of L’AND here.

But what else is there to discover nearby?

The Alentejo region of Portugal is vast, but here are a few highlights you could easily visit from the resort.

Montemor O-Novo

The small city of Montemor-O-Novo is a quick five-minute drive from the resort and can be seen in the background from the main dining room.

The cities main feature is the ruins of the Roman castle which sits atop the hill and although the walls have fallen in many places, inside you’ll find a convent and church in pretty good condition. The views are also excellent and stretch well beyond the city from the viewing point.

Montemor-O-Novo is pretty compact and can be easily walked in a couple of hours between the squares and churches down below. I wanted to visit the Escoural Cave, complete with prehistoric art but discovered you need to call ahead to arrange access.

Évora

Évora is the capital of Alto Alentejo and the principal city of the region, by car it should take around an hours drive from Montemor-O-Novo.

The historic centre is surrounded by towering stone walls and viaducts, and I loved the afternoon exploring here.

Start off in the Royal Palace gardens where peacocks casually stroll past the buildings before ducking outside to the Chapel of Bon, also known as the bone church as many skeletons decorate the building following a mass exhumation in years gone by.

Évora Cathedral is a large Gothic construction dating back to the 12th century and the nominal entrance fee which includes inside the church, the courtyard and the fantastic views across the city from the roof-top is a must do

Just along from the Cathedral is the Roman Temple of Évora which stands in excellent condition and would look more in place in Italy than a rural Portuguese city. The history of Portugal is often glossed over in favour of its beaches, but the more I explore the country, the more in awe I become of its fascinating collection of historic architecture.

The main square is a great stop to grab a bite to eat, listen to local musicians and people watch before strolling through narrow side streets of cobbles and whitewashed homes.

Beja

Another one hour drive brings you to Beja, the capital of Baixa Alentejo, and smaller than it’s counterpart Evora.

When I arrived, they were hosting ‘The Festival of Tiles’ which I’m assuming isn’t a year-round event, but traditional Portuguese tiles were permanently adorning many of the buildings throughout the city.

In Beja be sure not to miss out on the traditional market around the castle if you arrive on a Saturday morning. The 13th-century castle also boasts panoramic views from its tower.

The main square, a small affair, is shadowed by the Igreja de Misericórdia church which started its life as a meat market and the domed porch at the front often has local artwork on show. There are a few churches and galleries in the city, but you’ll need less time to get under the skin of Beja as you do in Évora. From Beja, you could continue your road-trip on to the Algarve’s coastline in under two hours and check out all my favourite Algarve hidden gems!