One of Europe’s best kept secrets in one of its most undiscovered corners, explore the sleepy villages and medieval towns unchanged for centuries, amongst the breathtaking rolling hills and terraced vineyard slopes of the stunning Douro Valley.
Leaving behind the Atlantic influenced greenery of the coast, on our unforgettable Douro cruise, you are soon immersed in a Mediterranean land of olives, vines, and picturesque, medieval hilltop villages. On our five-star river cruise, you’ll be able to make the most of this stunning region with an excursion or visit at every port of call, as well as a taste of local Portuguese and Spanish flavours gracing the menu.
Here are just six of many reasons why the Douro Valley makes for a fantastic river cruise…
Savour world-famous wine in Porto
Porto is of course synonymous with wonderful port wine and all the famous producers are here, such as Cálem, Sandeman and Ferreira, so a visit here would not be complete without a tour of one of them. Port is made from grapes still pressed in the traditional way – by feet – then lovingly matured, sometimes for decades, before you can enjoy its subtle flavours.
Step back into the 12th century in Castelo Rodrigo
Visit Castelo Rodrigo, a delightful 12th-century walled village tucked away in the picturesque highland ranges bordering Spain. Its church was a resting place on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela and it is said that Saint Francis himself stayed here. The views are simply astounding, stretching across almost-deserted ochre hillsides.
Wine and dine at a typical ‘quinta’
Enjoy a visit to a historic quinta, translating as country estate, in Pinhão to learn all about the stages of wine production, from the planting of the vines, harvesting, the wine-making process and finally tasting and labelling. Then, a few days later, dinner will be served overlooking the River Douro at another 126-acre quinta in Regua – a truly unforgettable experience!
Soak up the history of UNESCO-listed Salamanca
One of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites on this journey, regarded by many Spaniards as their nation’s most beautiful city. Founded by the Romans, who erected its 389-yard-long bridge, Salamanca is mostly built from local sandstone that emanates a gorgeous rose-coloured glow in the sunlight.
Take a stroll through the majestic Mateus Palace gardens
Found in the small town of Peso da Régua, we visit the grounds of the splendid Mateus Palace. Anyone familiar with Mateus Rosé and its characteristic ‘squashed’ bottle will recognise the palace from the label. Whatever your opinion of the wine, it is an impressive 18th-century Baroque edifice, mirrored in its stunning pond, surrounded by landscaped French gardens.
Be inspired by a time-honoured Portuguese folk music show
After an unforgettable time on the Douro, celebrate with a Captain’s Dinner on board followed by a performance of traditional Portuguese folk music. Taking inspiration from a beautiful blend of African, Moorish and Portuguese culture, the live performance will feature the likes of traditional guitars and string instruments.
Feeling inspired? Why not browse and book our Douro cruise here?