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River Cruises On The Douro

Highlights Of The Douro River

Scooping Rio Douro – Canadair CL415 Marrocos

Portugal famously prospered during its Age of Discovery and you will find monuments to this vibrant era everywhere. Port wine, too, put the nation on the maps of travelers and oenophiles. A Douro cruise with Viking brings it all into sharp focus for you, providing rich insight into fascinating highlights such as these:

  • Lisbons stunning Manueline architecture
  • Lisbons Moorish-flavored Alfama District
  • Ancient universities in Coimbra, Portugal and Salamanca, Spain
  • Port warehouses of Porto
  • Portos historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Scenic vineyard-laden hills along the Douro River
  • Vila Reals extraordinary Mateus Palace
  • The hilltop fortress town of Castelo Rodrigo
  • The tiny village of Favaios, nestled among picturesque hills
  • Port wine tastings at elegant estates

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Culinary Highlights Abound On The Douro

With its fertile slopes, historic quintas and close proximity to the seafood larder of the Atlantic, the Douro Valley is among the most esteemed regions for authentic local food and produce in Europe. Youre promised exceptional eating from the moment you arrive in this pristine corner of Portugal.

Among the many dishes we would recommend seeking out in the Douro Valley is bacalhau à bras, a hearty seafood plate consisting of cod, eggs, fried potatoes and black olives. Washed down with a glass of local white Port, theres no better pairing for this dish especially if its accompanied by the timeless sounds of authentic fado music.

Cruises On The Douro River


Through to the end of the 19th century, the Douro was the major means of accessing inland parts of the region and the way of transport products and people from lands rendered effectively distant.Difficult to navigate, impeded by natural barriers, only a unique and ancient vessel, the rabelo boat, could manage, due to both its robustness and the courage of the men who crewed it, to overcome the adverse conditions encountered over its long course.Currently, after the building of various dams, the river is navigable, smoothly and calmly, for 210 km, between Oporto and Barca d´Alva.The cruise boats leave Porto on trips generally lasting a day to Peso da Régua, passing through the locks of Crestuma/Lever and Carrapatelo. The beautiful stepped slopes of Port wine terraces start at the heights of Barqueiros and stretch to Pinhão, offering one of the most impressive hand-built and hard-worked rural landscapes.Should you opt for a cruise lasting more than a day, you´ll be staying in a 4-star hotel or in countryside accommodation with complete programmes available including visits to regional monuments, themed dinners, folk music and dancing, wine tasting, among other options. All to ensure your visit is truly unforgettable!The cruise up the river provides a wonderful vantage point for this region´s unique landscapes and the opportunity to encounter its traditions, culture and gastronomy. Discover the unique heritage the Douro has to show its visitors.

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Quinta Do Seixo Guided Tour With Tasting

As you journey through the hills to Quinta do Seixo, a prestigious Port wine estate, you will see a unique landscape that has been shaped by wine growers for two millennia. The stone terraces curving around the steep slopes hold soil that is largely the creation of human intervention: People have laboriously broken up the native silver schist stone over the centuries and turned it into usable sandy earth its called anthroposoil. The process of producing Port wine is a fascinating blend of tradition and modernity the steepness of the slopes requires that grape vines be tended almost entirely by hand, but the wine itself is made using the most modern techniques. Youll tour the state-of-the-art facility and sample some exceptional Ports in a tasting room whose wall of windows looks out over spectacular views of the Douro Valley.

Vineyard hike and wine tasting at a local quinta

Although many Port wine estates are owned by international corporations nowadays, the tradition of the family-owned estate remains strong. Start this expedition in pretty Pinhão, heading up into the hills to a family-owned quinta, where you can get a firsthand look at how the vineyards are…

Guimarães city tour

Portugal was born here. So the sign on the city wall proclaims. Guimarães was home to the first king of Portugal, Afonso I, who managed to win his kingdoms independence in the 12th century from neighboring suzerains. The wonderfully well-preserved Old Town, with its…

Douro River Cruise Tips: From Weather And Climate To Pre

Cruising Portugals River Douro by Air

Considering Tagging Extra Days onto Your Vacation to Explore Porto, Madrid or Lisbon

While most cruise lines offer a handful of tours showcasing the attractions of Porto and, just across the river, the city of Vila de Gaia, it’s a fascinating place to visit. The cruise-ship tours, while good overviews of the making of port and the history of the area, are by no means satisfying enough. While most of the cruise lines do offer pre- and post-cruise trips to better-known cities like Lisbon and Madrid, consider spending a few extra days there.

Be Prepared for a Ride to Reach Off-ship Douro River Attractions

One of the benefits of a mostly rural itinerary is that you’re not cruising through industrial regions. One of the downfalls? Most of the attractions are well off the river, requiring motorcoach transportation that averaged about 45 minutes per place. The good news is the scenery is just gorgeous and varies throughout the region, so there’s a lot to look at. The motorcoaches are new, clean and comfortable . Still, be prepared, as the most interesting places to visit are not accessed by simply walking off the gangway.

Get to Known Basic Spanish and/or Portuguese or Pack a Phrase Book

In Porto and in Salamanca, where the primary languages are Portuguese and Spanish, respectively, English-speakers can get around well enough. In the more rural stops, however, English isn’t necessarily understood away from your group and guide a phrasebook comes in handy.

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Douro River Cruise Itineraries: Cruises To Suit Every Traveler

Itineraries vary very little between cruise lines. Typically, seven or 10-night trips begin with land tours in Lisbon before passengers are transported by motorcoach to their ships. The seven-night cruise itself travels between the delightful UNESCO World Heritage city of Porto and either the last little village in Portugal, Barca de Alva or, just over the Spanish border, another tiny village called Vega de Terron both are the jumping-off point for the two-hour bus ride to .

You will find most of the itinerary highlights on all the lines. Bookended by two genuinely intriguing cities — Spain’s Salamanca and Portugal’s Porto — a fair portion of the weeklong itinerary is actually pastoral and laid-back. While there’s plenty to do, one oddity of the Douro experience is that there’s no night navigation, so ships must cruise from sunrise to sunset. The good news? For those who love being “at sea” on the river, there’s plenty of time spent cruising.

Winemaking Traditions In Portugal’s Douro Valley

White-painted quinta estates sprawling farms surrounded by terraced vineyards are a particularly popular feature of Portugal’s historic Douro River Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its multicultural heritage, the unique grape varieties that grow in its fantastic climate, and a winemaking culture that stretches back centuries. The region entices with museums and historic sites in Porto, its chief port on the Atlantic ancient monasteries and castles along the river picture-perfect villages like Pinhão and Pocinho and lush winemaking estates set within cliff-lined riverscapes.

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Douro River Cruise Faqs

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Immerse In The Rich History Of The Douro Region

Douro Valley, Portugal: Tasting Port Wine – Rick Steves Europe Travel Guide – Travel Bite

As one of the oldest continually inhabited regions in Europe, northern Portugal has a colourful timeline dating back to the Neolithic period. From the Celts and Romans to the Moors and the Spanish many civilisations have influenced the shaping of Portugal throughout history gifting the country an incredible array of antiquities and cultural highlights.

Explore the architectural marvels of Porto, from the magnificent Palácio da Bolsa to the 12th-century Sé do Porto Cathedral, or step back in time at the exquisite Mateus Palace. Vega de Terron boasts its share of ancient infrastructure, including the charming village of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, while the Spanish city of Salamanca, located just beyond the Portuguese border, offers a feast of inspirational buildings in its UNESCO World Heritage-listed centre.

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Douro River Cruises Offer Tantalizing Scenery Gastronomy And Relaxing Sailing

Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city, has some 2,000 years of history behind it. While it’s best known for the production of port wine , it’s also a bustling, cosmopolitan metropolis. Being so close to the ocean gives Porto a bit of a San Francisco feel it’s every bit as hilly, there are plenty of trams, street life is colorful, and occasionally a dense fog rolls in off the Atlantic.

Once you leave Porto, everything changes. For the rest of the trip, you’ll be stopping at places like Bitetos, Regua, Pinhao, Barca d’Alva and Vega de Terron — small rural villages that you’ve likely never heard of. Some of the places in which you’ll dock are actually nothing much but piers with access to a place to board the motorcoaches.

What’s most heartening about a cruise on the Douro is the small surprises. The tiny town of Pinhao, lying at the heart of Douro’s wine country, reminds you of a cross between California’s Napa Valley and Italy’s Tuscany . It’s simply gorgeous country, whether in the lush vineyard regions closer to Porto or in the wild, craggy landscapes to the east, near the border with Spain.

The only motorcoaches you may see on the twisting winding roads are those from your own ship, though the river is getting busier as more river lines add ships. Visits to a range of quintas, the Portuguese term for wineries, mostly focus on the region’s famed port wines, but the winemakers in the Douro region also produce beautiful reds and whites.


Selecting The Right Douro River Cruise Line For Your

In the last decade, Douro River cruises have become increasingly popular. Lines sailing this Portuguese-Spanish waterway include AmaWaterways, APT, A-ROSA, CroisiEurope, Scenic, Uniworld, Viking River Cruises and Emerald Waterways.

In some cases, ships are operated by DouroAzul, a Portugal-based company that owns much of the region’s cruising infrastructure, from docking facilities to a fleet of river ships. Each company does have input into their own operations, whether it’s menus, tours or onboard ambience. And they have input to a degree into their own ships AmaWaterways, for instance, has incorporated its popular balcony/picture window suite design.

CroisiEurope, Scenic, Viking, Uniworld and Emerald fully own and operate their ships.

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River Cruises Along The Douro

Famed for its mountainous landscapes, centuries of rich history and abundance of wineries, the Douro Valley makes for a truly captivating cruise experience.

Stretching the 200 kilometres from Porto in Portugal to the Spanish border, the Douro River offers more than its fair share of exceptional sights and experiences. However, having only been fully navigable since the construction of a dam and lock system in the 1980s, Douro cruises remain something of a hidden gem, with relatively few visitors having experienced the enchanting sight of the Douro Valley as seen from the river. A journey on this beguiling stretch of water encompasses stunning countryside, complete with sleepy villages and vineyards aplenty, as well as an exquisite mix of ancient history, delectable dining and elegant ‘quintas’, or estates.

The region is probably best known for its long history of winemaking, and few cruises of Douro would be complete without taking advantage of the extraordinary vintages on offer here. The region has its own microclimate that make it perfect for growing grapes, as well as olives and almonds, and sweet Port wine is said to have been produced here for more than two thousand years. The region is also home to an expansive area of ruggedly beautiful natural landscapes, boasting an abundance of plant and animal life. Totalling 112 kilometres, this area forms part of the Douro International Natural Park that borders Spain.

Explore The Douro’s Rich Port Winemaking Legacy

Titan River Cruises The Enchanting River Douro

As one of Europes most beloved wine-producing regions, the Douro Valley provides plenty of opportunities to sample delightful vintages. As part of your Emerald Cruises river cruise along the Douro, youll be able to make the most out of exclusive opportunities to learn more about the local produce and find your inner sommelier.

A tour of the Douro Museum is a must-do for wine lovers on board the Emerald Radiance during a Secrets of the Douro river cruise. This museum explores the regions Port wine heritage and secrets introducing you to the history, flavours and varieties of this popular aperitif.

One of the undoubted highlights of our Douro River cruises is an EmeraldPLUS dining experience within the grounds of Pinhão wine estate. Regional dishes and local wines provide an exceptional taste of local life as you raise a glass to toast the beauty of the Douro.

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Ms Andorinha A New Riverboat Inspired By The Destination

Purpose-built for cruising to historic quintas and villages along the golden Douro River from coastal Porto to the Spanish border, our newly built riverboat, ms Andorinha, offers spacious accommodations for just 84 guests, with 12 300-sq.-ft. suites plus more 225-sq.-ft. cabins, to maximize the onboard experience in every way. Add a small pool atop the Sun Deck, lounge and dining venues, plus built-in amenities designed to delight, and experience the advantages of a riverboat truly inspired by the destination.

Only On The Douro The Romance Of The Rabelo

With a name that translates to “little tail” , the traditional wooden Rabelo boat carried passengers and cargo along Portugal’s Douro River for centuries. Found nowhere else in the world, this flat-bottomed, shallow-draught sailboat became the fastest and most efficient way to transport casks of prized Port wine between Douro Valley vineyards and the city of Porto at the river’s mouth. Although no longer used commercially, these iconic workhorses can still be seen plying the waters of the Douro today.

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Through The Birthplace Of Port

The scent of dried spices and grass hangs in the air an intoxicating landscape presents itself with towering slopes and wine terraces of many different shapes, with their plump grapes straining towards the sun. The river gracefully makes its way through what is probably the most spectacular wine region of the world – the birthplace of port. This uplifting view will double your enjoyment of the famous wines.

From its source in Spain, the Douro flows across Portugal from east to west and ends in the Atlantic at Porto. Wine has been cultivated here intensively for centuries. In former times, mariners would transport the barrels on boats all the way to the port wine cellars. Picturesque vineyards adorn the river banks. Along the river are enchantingly beautiful medieval towns boasting wonderful architecture. This region historically attracted Romans, pilgrims and nobles, all of whom created idyllic beauty spots here.

Douro River Cruise Destinations: Witness Ancient History And Quaint Quinta

Explore Europe with Viking River Cruises

Porto: Porto serves as a port of embarkation and/or port debarkation for Douro cruises. The ancient city, one of the most historic in Europe, dates back to the Roman Empire and also has influences from periods such as Gothic and Baroque, tucked within Romanesque city walls. The old town of Porto, which is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is Ribeira, and it’s home to the gold-laden Sao Francisco Church, its most elaborate. It’s also where you’ll Se Cathedral, built in the 12th century to serve as fortress as well as church. Don’t miss the train station at Sao Bento for its lively tile murals depicting the Portuguese people working, playing, living. The Dom Luis Bridge, which you can cross by tram, car or on foot on either upper or lower levels, was designed by a disciple of Gustave Eiffel.

On a somewhat smaller but no less enchanting scale, the city’s Clerigos district is home to one of the world’s most famous bookstores. The Gothic-esque, multi-story Livraria Lello was the inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. But note: It has become so popular that they charge to get in, and if don’t want to wait in line for an hour, buy your tickets online and get there early. And while there are tons of souvenir shops scattered all over the old town selling magnets and such, don’t miss A Vida Portuguesa for high-quality, handmade products that are designed and crafted in Portugal.

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Expect A Long Season Of Douro River Cruises

The Douro has a long cruise season, typically beginning in late March and running into November, though Viking has sailings into December.

The premier times to visit the Douro are in springtime, May and June, and then again during harvest season — in fall months of September and October.

For the best value pricing, shoulder season months, like March to early May and then again in November, offer the cheapest fares, but weather can be cool and rainy. Mid-July through August is another good time for snagging deals the region can be very hot then.

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