The Douro may not be as famous a European waterway as the Danube, Rhine or even the Seine, but it still provides an excellent route for a relaxing river cruise. This river, once personified by the Romans in the form of the God Durius, flows through the Iberian Peninsula from central Spain to Porto on the west coast of Portugal. Along the way, there are quaint Spanish and Portuguese towns and villages as well as the World Heritage site of Portugal’s premier winemaking region – the Douro Valley.
Most of our Douro river cruises are in the form of a round trip from Portugal’s second city, Porto. These itineraries will usually go as far as Vega Terrón, just over the Spanish border, before turning around and visiting different ports on the way back. Here are some of the things you can expect during your Douro river cruise.
When docking at this small but popular river port on the Spanish-Portuguese border, it will be your gateway to the intriguing city of Salamanca. As you transfer to this historic place you will be transported back to the middle ages and get the chance to tour a place that is known as a ‘living museum’. So much so that the entire Old City has been granted World Heritage status for the way that it has preserved history for us to see today. Among the highlights of your tour of Salamanca will be the university, built in 1134, and both the new and old cathedrals which are impressive in different ways.
In the morning, whilst the ship is still docked in Vega Terrón, you will also get the chance to visit the hilltop town of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo. History will again be at the forefront of your mind as you marvel at the original fortifications of a town famous for its castle.
There are many different schools of thought as to where the town of Regua got its name, but many of them highlight links with the monarchy. Peso de Regua, to give it its full name, was heavily inhabited by Romans and so has a rich history. Nowadays, though, it is more famous for its vineyards and the fact that it is right in the heart of the port wine region.
Here, you will get a comprehensive taste of this Portuguese speciality and receive an insight into how it is produced. Tours of estates such as Quinto do Seixo have many highlights; not least the fact that they always culminate in a sampling session that puts a smile on everyone’s face.
Porto is typically where your Douro river cruise will start and finish and is the biggest city you will visit along the way. Apart from getting to taste yet more of the tipple which takes its name from Portugal’s second city, there will be plenty to do as part of your arranged tours and during your free time.
Whilst organised excursions will give you the chance to visit the stunning cathedral and the intricately designed Sao Bento Railway, where scenes throughout Portuguese history are depicted on blue and white tiles, there are many things to choose from when you are given some free time to explore. If you have not had your fill of religious buildings then the Church of Sao Francisco will delight you with its opulent interior; it’s completely covered in gold. Elsewhere, the Crystal Palace Gardens are a lovely place to take a quiet stroll and enjoy the river from a different vantage point, the art nouveau shop facades of the downtown district provide a quirky shopping experience, and the World of Discoveries interactive museum will take you on a journey through Portugal’s exciting maritime history.
Rivers of the World has many different itineraries on the Douro River for you to choose from. Speak to a member of our team for more details or enquire online.
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