Portugal River Cruises
Historically, the Douro has been - and continues to be - crucial to the growth of Portugal's wine trade. Both the river and the aesthetic appeal of the region drew in farming communities - and led to the abundance of vineyards and olive groves which sprang up along the Peninsula. Once cultivated and fermented, wine shipments were taken downriver in ‘rabelos’: flat-bottomed boats which also transported the olives and almonds grown on the farms either side of the Douro.
As a gateway to the Iberian Peninsula, Porto was the eventual destination for trade shipments moving down the river - and remains hugely popular with visitors and native Portuguese alike. Our Douro river cruises make the most of the city: in which the architecture of a seafaring past combines with dazzling modern flourishes. For a taste of the city, visitors to Porto may seek out the 19th century Palácio da Bolsa, walk the bustling Santa Catarina shopping street or climb the soaring Clérigos Tower. Porto benefits from its centuries-old status as the hub of the Port wine trade and trips to the city's famed Port cellars are highly recommended.
Passengers on-board a Douro river cruise can expect diverse environments and experiences. Beyond the sprawl of its cities, the Douro gives way to the stunning vistas of the Iberian region. River cruises glide past the towns of Bitetos, Regua and Pinhão,
Our ships, like the Royal Barge, stop regularly throughout the region, letting passengers explore for themselves attractions like the baroque Mateus Palace and Gardens and the Douro Museum, both of which turn a rural perspective on the river's history. Close to Regua, the fascinating city of Guimarães, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, was Portugal's 12th century capital and the lavish home of the country's first king, Don Afonso Henriques. The smaller town of Pinhão is considered the epicentre of the area’s Port wine making tradition and our itinerary includes a dinner appointment at the local Quinta da Avessada winery - an unmissable opportunity to sample the region's finest food and drink.
Towards the border with Spain, our cruises arrive in Barca d'Alva, where passengers have the opportunity to make the overland trip to the Spanish city of Salamanca, which continues the region's cultural legacy as a UNESCO World Heritage City. Our Salamanca excursions place visitors amidst stunning medieval architecture, beautifully preserved and fashioned from striking gold-coloured sandstone. The city overflows with Spanish flavour: visitors can explore its 13th century university, relax in the grand Plaza Mayor or enjoy a flamenco show before they return to their cruise vessel in Portugal.
While the stunning beauty of the Douro and the surrounding Iberian countryside make any journey through the region memorable, our hand crafted itineraries ensure your time on the river is unforgettable. Our VIP home departure service provides chauffeur-driven transfers at either end of your journey and, once your trip is underway, our Tour Managers work to make every moment of your time on the Douro special, offering information and assistance 24 hours a day.
Whether you are sampling the finest of the region's Port varieties, exploring a medieval town or simply relaxing on the deck of your ship, we are sure you will agree: the Douro is a river synonymous with luxury.