1. A journey back in time
From the sound of the wheels on the ancestral rails to the wind in your hair, or the black smoke that puffs from the chimney, these are all the sensations of this extraordinary and unique journey on the Douro Historical Train.
The route takes this historic steam locomotive along the banks of the Douro River, leaving passengers blown away. From Régua to Tua, the trip is an odd journey into the past, brightened by the beauty of the landscape, classified as World Heritage by the UNESCO. Climb on the train and come with me as we go on a journey back in time…
2. Locomotive travel: History, singing and flavors
Made in 1925, the locomotive has five classic wooden carriages and always leaves at the scheduled time, chasing the Douro river. The journey thrills passengers of all ages taking, them back to live memories from the past. The train is the star of Tua, and everyone who sees it waves and smiles at it passes by.
If you are going on this trip, you can sit in the carriages, listening to a local music group playing traditional songs from the region, or toasting with a glass of the old and emblematic Porto Ferreira wine. The cut-out drawings of the valley and the divine look of its ridges are stunning, leaving you unable to look away from the landscape for even for a single moment.
Arriving at Pinhão, you can admire the magnificent tile panels, but be prepared to be amazed at the last stop, Tua. Pure, magical and colossal, it is right here that Tua, on the banks of the Douro River, becomes more rocky and wild, but somehow managing to leave a soothing mark on the soul. There is also a small showcase of regional products at the station that should not be missed.
The line was completed in 1880, flanked by cliffs that reach almost 700 meters in height with colossal granite blocks. Lining the river are wonderful chestnut trees, pines, and cork oaks, imposing in size and waving with the breeze. Here and there you can see squirrels, golden eagles, black storks and hawks. In the tunnels, you can also sometimes see bats.
3. One of the most beautiful railway routes in the world
Vale do Tua Regional Natural Park brings together five town councils with various cultures and traditions, and it is this diversity that makes visitors fall in love with this magical place. The Tua Valley is home to almost 550 species of butterflies of rare beauty and is part of the Alto Douro Wine Region. The incredible geography created by the river provides a unique place to visit and contemplate.
The landscape is marked by mountains, plateaus and valleys from the Douro, Tua, and Tinhela rivers. The director of the Tua Valley Regional Natural Park, Artur Cascarejo, once said that “the Valley is a destination of love”, explaining, “those who live here love Tua, the ones that visit us fall in love with it too”.
In addition to the undoubtedly passionate train journey, you can also walk through the Tua Valley along the train line, considered to be one of the most beautiful rail routes in the world. From the valley of the Pinhão River to the eastern limit of Carrazeda de Ansiães, the stunning landscapes will fill your senses. Diversity is what defines the area, both in terms of gastronomy, wines, handicrafts, geology, and flora.
4. Don’t miss these spots!
In Tua Valley there are many places where you can enjoy watching the nature of the riverside ecosystems, the Vila Chã dam in Alijó, the Palheiros castle in Murça, the Linhares river, the Carlão de Santa Maria Madalena or São Lourenço, and the granite slopes that line the Douro.
There are 12 walking routes available in the Park, with the most recent walking route starting at the door of the Tua Valley Interpretive Center. On this route, you can take a round trip to the dam and enjoy the dam wall and the hydroelectric central designed by architect Eduardo Souto de Moura. Along the path, you will find wooden walkways over the Douro.
The wine-growing terraces, classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, are worth visiting and you can go up to the Carrazeda plateau to discover the ancient walled village of Ansiães.
Go to the Church of São Salvador and São João, Romanesque temples that are worth seeing, but don’t forget to stop at the “Olhos do Tua” viewpoint, because the view here is stunning.
In Carrazeda de Ansiães, you can visit the International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture and the Ansiães Castle, which dates back to the third millennium before Christ and can be visited for free. The ancient Roman baths of São Lourenço, where you can bathe in these wonderful waters, are also impressive.
Take a trip to Tralhariz, a village with just over 50 inhabitants, with a charming unit of Housing Tourism lost between the valleys of the rivers Tua and Douro, with 30 hectares of vineyards, olive groves and pasture. It has a fabulous manor that dates back to the XVIII century and was turned into a hotel.
In addition to the walk and train ride that should not be missed, take an incredible boat trip along the Douro. I assure you that the landscape is breathtaking. The Parque Biológico do Douro offers fantastic trips on the river from 10 euros per person. The natural flora of the Tua Valley also deserves special attention, from its forests to its meadows and heaths, among many other natural riches that you must visit.
Finally, go up to the Senhora da Graça Viewpoint, from where you can see the entire region of Trás-os-Montes, and don’t forget to taste the regional traditional delicacies such as sausage and meatloaf, the fantastic cheese, wine, and ham.
These are experiences you will never forget!