We will starting our Portugal trip in Porto and of course want to see the Duoro Valley. I have thought about renting a car (if they will rent to a 75 year old) and spending 2 nights in either Paso da Regua or Pinhao. We would want to leave the morning of the second day in order to get back to Porto and catch a train for Coimbra. I have checked train and bus schedules and that seems doable in one day. We will then be spending 2 nights in Coimbra before going on to Lisbon for 5 days. We if we decide not to rent a car how would you suggest doing the best part of the Duoro Valley?
If you are driving you can take the N108 road on the north side of river Douro or N222 on the south side, either road only occasionally is beside the the river , most of the time it isn't. I suggest you pre-plan your drive and have GPS ( I use Navigator app from the play store (Android), this app allows for offline use by pre downloading maps).
Take a 1 or 2 day cruise. The 2 day cruise includes a hotel overnight already included in the price along with breakfast. Some of the cruises use the boat in one direction and the train or bus in the opposite direction.
Take the modern train from Porto. Modern train as opposite the old tourist coal train that while romantic for some, burning coal has a horrific sulphur smell.
The train follows the river for most of its duration.
The train is my favourite but driving offers more flexibility. The road is quite twisty in some places, which require focus on the driving instead of sightseeing, while on the train you can just relax and enjoy the views.
Go on Google maps choose satellite view and street view, click on the blue line of the train line beside the river and on the blue line on roads N108 and N222, you will be able to see the views from ground level and that may help you decide which you prefer.
Take the train then stay in a Quinta on the river. The train is easy, inexpensive and doesn’t require paying attention to anything but the ride and the views.
Many of the Quinta’s are over my price range but Quinta de la Rosa in Pinhão is more reasonable and is lovely. They have a nice restaurant and you can do a tour of their winery while there. It’s also possible to do a two hour boat ride on the Douro - which was just about right for me.
I did it without a car and contacted the Quinta for recommendation of a driver. He met us at the train station and drove us around for the two full days we were there. I’m pretty certain he charged us €40 for the entire time.