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CruiseDirection - Magazine Sep 2019

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Cruise the Douro River

A cruise on the Douro River is not one of the most common European river cruises, but nonetheless, it has much to offer. The Douro is the third-largest river on the Iberian Peninsula, and a cruise along its waterways is a largely rural experience through Portugal and Spain. The climate of the region is a mild one, offering a long cruising season from March to November, with the spring and autumn proving to be the most popular times. Douro cruises are becoming increasingly in demand, and more river cruise operators are adding these trips to their schedules.  

There is no night cruising on the Douro, so compared to other river cruises, you are likely to find yourself spending more waking time on the river, making this a relaxing experience as the magnificent countryside slips by. Sometimes, excursions will leave in the morning to re-join the boat for lunch at a different dock. You will also have the chance to enjoy some of the features of the river, including a series of locks.

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Douro Cruise Partners


Why Visit Douro?


Douro scenery image by cruisedirection

The journey starts and ends in beautiful cities

The Douro flows into the Atlantic at Porto, Portugal’s second-largest city

As there may not be much time to explore Porto once you have embarked, it is well worth spending some time in the city prior to your cruise. The old town is one of the most ancient in Europe, and its diverse history is reflected in the buildings. Visit the 12th-century Se Cathedral as well as the Sao Francisco Church, which is adorned with gold. Across the river is Vila Nova de Gaia, with stunning views of Porto, and many opportunities to sample the famous Port wine.  

Wine tasting is likely to be a regular feature of a Douro cruise, as the river winds its way through Portugal’s premier wine-making regions. Port may be the most well-known wine that you can sample, but it is by no means the only one. In wineries along the way, you will discover a good selection of both red and white wines. When docked in Pinaho, one of the most popular excursions is to Quintana do Seixo to discover how Port is made.  

Cruising to Vega de Tarron in Spain brings you to the end of the navigable section of the Douro, where trips are made to the Spanish city of Salamanca. With its historic Old and New Cathedrals and the Plaza Major surrounded by buildings of golden limestone, it is easy to see why this is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. There are a number of museums to be visited in Salamanca, or you can simply relax in one of the cafés in the square and enjoy your picturesque surroundings.  

Because a Douro cruise takes you through some of the less touristy places in Portugal and Spain, you may find that the locals, although very welcoming, are less likely to speak English. So, take a phrasebook and enjoy getting to know this unspoilt part of the Iberian Peninsula.

Douro destination image by cruisedirection

Douro Cruise Inspiration


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