Imagine gliding down a historic river while sampling fine wine and being attended to by the crew of a modern cruise ship. This delightful image comes true when you take a cruise down the Douro River in Portugal.
The Douro River is the lifeblood of northern Portugal. Its shores are home to some of the oldest and best vineyards in Europe. The area is internationally acclaimed for its fine port and table wines. Monasteries and castles also line the riverbank.
Douro cruises generally start and end in Oporto, though some depart in Lisbon and end in Oporto. They last about a week, but can be as long as 11 days. Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and contains a lot of Portugal’s history. It was built over 2,000 years ago, but Oporto is even older. The ancient and beautiful city at the mouth of the Douro is over 5,000 years old. There is always time to visit both remarkable cities before embarking.
Every day of the cruise brings another remarkable shore excursion. You will get to visit ancient vineyards, tour wineries and sample their products. There will be shore trips to Benedictine monasteries and impressive country houses, including the Mateus Palace and Gardens, which is said to have one of the most beautiful gardens in the world.
Your tour would not be complete without visiting a number of the charming villages built along the river. Castelo Rodrigo is a 12th-century walled village that still has medieval streets and houses. You may also get to see Salamanca, which is a World Heritage city nicknamed the “Golden City” for the beautiful golden glow of its sandstone buildings.
Many meals are served aboard the ship, but others are reserved for fabulous local restaurants. There are a number of fine eating establishments along the Douro, many of which also offer the famous flamenco show.
There will also be time for personal sightseeing and shopping in the delightful stores and tiny boutiques that exist in villages along the river. Of course, there will be time to relax as well and enjoy all the benefits and amenities of the cruise itself.
- Glass of Porto, anyone? (mrsoaroundtheworld.com)
- A Pocket Guide to Portuguese Winemakers and Vineyards (greatmentor.net)
- Oporto (leggotunglei808.wordpress.com)
- Douro River Valley (leggotunglei808.wordpress.com)
- Port Wines (winebookclub.org)
- Portugal – Our country I (slideshare.net)