Douro River Cruises through Portugal to Spain
A Douro cruise combines delightful scenery with rural, unspoilt villages and towns and an opportunity to visit the great cities of Porto and Salamanca
The River Douro, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of Europe's most untouched and beautiful rivers. The River of Gold (D'Oro) meanders through northern Portugal through gorges terraced with thousands of vineyards to the ocean and the fascinating city of Porto. Along the way, visit restored palaces, places of pilgrimage, cultural centres and vineyards.
Porto is Portugal's second largest city and one of the most beautiful cities of the Iberian Peninsula. Its charm stems from its dramatic position above the river, with little gabled houses closely terraced down the hill. Porto owes its wealth and fame to Port wine, first discovered and exported by the British in the early 17th century.
Birthplace of the navigator Diego Cap who discovered the mouth of the Congo, Villa Real is an attractive old Episcopal town surrounded by fruit orchards and vineyards Nearby is the little village of Maters with a beautiful Baroque country house and gardens belonging to the Counts of Villa Real, and featured on labels of Mateus Rosé wine.
Situated south of the Douro, Lamego is a major market centre, and is charmingly set amid vineyards and lush, fertile countryside. The town boasts several fine Baroque buildings including the 18th century pilgrimage church Nossa Schrum, a Gothic cathedral, and an 11th century castle where in 1143 Don Alfonso Henriques was elected first King of Portugal.
On certain itineraries you will visit Salamanca, Spain's ancient seat of learning with its grand buildings and the Plaza Mayor, the country's most magnificent square.
One of the loveliest and best preserved of the old Spanish cities, Salamanca justly deserves its place as a World Heritage Site. With a tumultuous past, the city has been conquered, influenced and shaped by Hannibal, the Romans, the Moors and the French. Today it is a city of golden stone architecture, narrow cobblestone streets and beautiful plazas.
NEW: Read our diary of a Blue Water Holidays River Douro cruise