Why not explore the Douro on a river cruise?
Portugal's infamous river the Douro stretches across breathtakingly beautiful sun-drenched countryside. At 557 miles long, it’s the third longest river in the Iberian Peninsula, so there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy the picture-perfect hillside villages and vineyard terraces as you relax on board a luxury river cruise.If you’ve ever wondered if river cruising is for you, then our expert Rob Stapley, can perhaps convince you that this a relaxing way to travel, as well as an immersive way to explore some of Europe’s most spectacular destinations along the Douro.
“The Douro is a quieter river in comparison to the Rhine and Danube,” explains Rob. “But it still offers plenty of interest and scenic beauty. There river has long sections where you won’t see any other boats. And the Upper Douro has narrow stretches between steep, rocky, terraced slopes where you will see the famous port wine grapes growing.”
So what else can passengers expect when travelling along Portugal’s waterways? We reveal more of what you can enjoy a Douro river cruise.
A must-visit destination Porto is known for its historic charm, excellent food and wine, and hospitable locals. Perfect for exploring on foot, you never know what you’ll find around the corner as you wander through the alleys of the charming city with its medieval landmarks. This UNESCO World Heritage site benefits from its centuries-old status as the hub of the port wine trade and trips to the city's famed port wine cellars are an absolute must. As part of your stop, enjoy a guided tour of the city, and port wine tasting in Vila Nova de Gaia.Wander the Palácio da Bolsa, a promenade along the bustling Santa Catarina shopping street, or climb the path to the soaring Clérigos Tower. The city has many beautiful ‘miradouros’ (lookout points), to view the city below and admire the incredible views.
Enjoy famous wine and port
The Douro winemaking region is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. While the region is associated with Port wine production, the Douro also produces ‘Douro wines’ such as a light, Bordeaux style claret to a rich Burgundy style of wine aged in new oak.Though many of us will be familiar with Port as typically a sweet, red wine, often served as dessert wine, it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties – so there really is something for every palette! There’s certainly lots of opportunity for tasting, both on and off the ship. When you’ve found your favourite, be sure to bring a bottle home so you can reminisce on a summer evening.
Enjoy the Upper Douro Valley
The Upper Douro, also known as the Alto Douro valley is a highlight for many on a Douro river cruise, including Rob. He says; “This is where the river flows between vineyards that seem to fall steeply into its sparkling waters. Sit up on deck with a good book, a glass of wine and relax in the tranquil surroundings.”
Another stunning Portuguese city, Lamego is nestled within the beautiful Douro Valley. It’s often described as the capital of Baroque, as there are so many stunning examples of buildings from the 1700s to enjoy. One of Rob’s favourite moments of the Douro tour, is meandering through the small old streets of ancient Lamego to find the tower of the 12th century castle. “Climb to the top and enjoy fantastic panoramic views of the town below.”
Continuing the region's cultural legacy as a UNESCO World Heritage City, a visit to Salamanca means you’ll enjoy the stunning medieval architecture, beautifully preserved and fashioned from lustrous golden hued sandstone. The city overflows with Spanish flavour - explore its 13th century university, relax in the grand Plaza Mayor, or even enjoy a flamenco show.
If you’ve been inspired to explore the Douro region on a river cruise you can find out more here.
Heather loves exploring European islands, her favourites being the Greek islands, particularly Kefalonia. When she's finished exploring for the day, she enjoys nothing more than taking in the sea views in a Greek taverna. Heather is also a great fan of a UK staycation, whether that's a snowy getaway in the Scottish Highlands, exploring the rolling Welsh countryside, or camping in the Lake District.
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