A River Cruiser’s Guide to the River Douro
Perhaps not the first river cruise that comes to mind when you first consider a river cruise… unless you have done your research! But the Douro is one of the best rivers for stunning scenery – and of course for wine!
Where is the River Douro?
The Douro is the third longest river of the Iberian Peninsula, flowing 500 miles from North-central Spain and West across Northern Portugal! Best known for its vast vineyards the Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage, has been producing wine for an estimated 2000 years! Sailing through the Douro Valley you will enjoy the spectacular natural landscapes learning the local history of surrounding towns and of course their famous Douro Wines!
Highlights of a Douro River Cruise
Without a doubt, one of the key reasons to choose a Douro River Cruise is to visit the magnificent vineyards! But whether you are a massive wine lover or not, the Douro is a remarkable destination to visit! There are various itineraries to choose from and if you’re struggling to decide why not choose an itinerary which includes one of the following highlights of the Douro?
Found amongst the dramatic landscapes of the Douro region is one of the most beautiful Spanish cities - Salamanca! Famous for its culture and often referred to as Europe’s City of Culture, Salamanca has been a University town since the 13th century; in fact, Salamanca University is one of the oldest universities in Europe! While in Salamanca take a stroll through the Plaza Mayor; a beautiful Spanish baroque style square, surrounded by remarkable sandstone buildings. The busy square is in the centre of the old city – full of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants.
Figueira De Castelo Rodrigo
Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo is a small fortified village found high on a hilltop in the District of Guarda – over 800 meters high, the view from the village is stunning! The village is rich in historical heritage – whilst there you will most likely visit the main church which was founded in 1192 and see the ruins from a former castle! And if you have time visit Chafariz dos Pretos, a unique fountain decorated with black faces! Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo is included within most itineraries as a half day tour – and well worth it, even just for the view from the top!
Full of history and wine making culture, Regua is the official centre of the port wine-making region and home of the Port Wine Institute!
Most river cruise operators will berth in Regua for access to Lamego - a beautiful little town, home to ‘the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies’; a stunning baroque sanctuary that dates back to the 14th Century and is still used today!
Throughout a Douro river cruise there are many wine tasting opportunities BUT Quinta de Avessada is the perfect location to experience Portugal’s famous wines, found in the heart of the Douro Wine District!
When to go?
Although river cruise lines operate on the Douro from March through to November it has been said that late September/early October is a great time to visit the Douro because this is when the grapes are collected!
Who is a Douro river cruise for?
There is no doubt about it, the Douro is perfect for wine lovers!! Throughout the itinerary there are various wine tasting opportunities!
However there is, of course, a large focus on history and culture and makes a fantastic trip even if you are not a huge fan of wine!
Cruise lines that operate on the Douro
Currently only a hand full of cruise lines operate on the Douro which means they book up very quickly!! If you are looking for a Douro river cruise you need to be looking at booking ATLEAST 6 months prior – earlier if you can to avoid disappointment!
Scenic, APT River Cruises, Uniworld River Cruises and Viking River Cruises all have atleast one ship operating on the Douro! View a selection of Douro River Cruises here. Your choice will of course depend on personal preference – you may be looking for a premium, modern river cruise that offers great value for money - in which case Emerald Waterways is a great choice! Or perhaps you are looking for exclusivity and all-inclusive luxury - in which case you should have a look at Uniworld river cruises!
Looking for a great deal? Visit www.rivercruising.co.uk to find the right river cruise for you!
Alternatively, call one of our friendly river cruise experts on 0800 810 8229.
Come back soon. Jess Nuttall - RiverCruising.co.uk