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.