Barca d’Alva, Portugal
Less than 2 kilometres from the Spanish border, Barca d’Alva is a small rural village perched on the banks of the Douro River in north east Portugal. Picturesque to a tee, this charming village is set amidst rolling hills and terraces of olives and vines, and is relatively isolated from the rest of the country, making it a quiet stopover on a cruise along the winding Douro River.
Known as the richest wine producing region in Portugal, Barca d’Alva offers passengers the chance to sample traditional port-wine overlooking breathtaking landscape. It’s also a town with lots of history: wine has been produced here since Roman times over 2,000 years ago, and the old railway station and other historic buildings lend the village a certain charm that is sure to win you over.
Apart from its visual beauty, Barca d’Alva is also no stranger to commerce, and passengers can buy all sorts of souvenirs produced in the region, including bags, jewellery, handicrafts and of course wine, often at a considerable discount.
Cruise ships dock at a small pier along the Douro River in the heart of the village. From here, it is only a short walk into the small village centre.
The pier in Barca d’Alva is equipped with only the most basic facilities (e.g., public toilets). However, once in the village centre, passengers will be able to find most things they need for an enjoyable stay.
Facilities nearby include:
- Public toilets
- ATMs and Foreign Exchange
- Restaurants and cafés
- Tourist Information Centre.
There are also a handful of hotels found throughout the village.
Taxis can be hired, although these will need to be prearranged before arrival.
How To Get Around
Barca d’Alva is small enough to explore on foot. Passengers are advised to wear suitable footwear to make their stay as enjoyable and comfortable as possible.
- Currency – The local currency in Barca d’Alva is the Euro (EUR). Coins come in 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, €1 and €2 denominations, while notes come in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 denominations.
- Time Zone – Barca d’Alva is on Western European Time (WET), which is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
- Weather – Barca d’Alva has a mild and slightly cooler climate than other regions in Portugal. The average daytime temperature in summer hovers around 23 degrees Celsius, while in winter, average daytime temperatures hover at around 8 degrees Celsius. The region also sees around 650mm of rainfall every year, most of it falling between November and February.
- Village walking tour – Take a stroll around the old cobblestone streets of Barca d’Alva and walk amongst the history that literally surrounds you. As a medieval village, the town is awash with historic buildings, including elderly cottages overlooking the mighty Douro River and an old Railway Station. The very best views of the town are certainly to be had along the banks of the river where you can also marvel at the iconic Barca d’Alva Bridge. The more adventurous can make their own way along the long-abandoned railway line, which includes elevated railway tracks and tunnels fashioned out of the mountains.
- Feast on some traditional Portuguese food – Thankfully, Barca d’Alva is blessed with excellent restaurants serving up traditional Portuguese food in some of the most beautiful surroundings imaginable. That perfect blend between spicy and sweet, traditional Portuguese dishes include salted cod (bacalhau), roast suckling pig (leitao assado), bread soups (acordas) and rice pudding flavoured with cinnamon and lemon (arroz doce). Be sure to wander through the village, comparing restaurant menus and prices.
- Wineries – A handful of traditional wineries can be found throughout the village, giving passengers a unique insight into the production processes behind port-wine. Although there are numerous wineries scattered about, it’s best to enquire at the Tourist Information Centre for their recommendations and a map. Most wineries offer tours that include a wine tasting at the end. Some even serve food.
- Hike through the terraced hills – Get out of the village centre and spend a couple of hours hiking through gorgeous mountain scenery which includes a patchwork of pastoral plains, olive groves and countless vineyards. The views here are amazing, as is the fresh country air. Take a break from all the walking by stopping off at a traditional winery and sampling the local vino. Or bring a packed lunch and a bottle of wine and enjoy a nice picnic whilst watching the sun set behind the rolling hills of Barca d’Alva.