Though cruises along the Douro river do not tend to venture very far into Spain, most of them offer a chance to experience the impressive UNESCO World Heritage site city of Salamanca – one of the country’s most significant historic treasures. Salamanca does not sit on the banks of the river itself but cruisers will have the chance to soak up some of glorious scenery on offer in the Iberian countryside during their coach transfer. For those wanting to explore more of Spain itself, the Guadalquivir River offers river cruisers the chance to do this, with itineraries operating from one of the country’s most popular cities, Seville.
On all itineraries along the Douro, Vega de Terron is the port which serves Salamanca, a museum city which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a highlight of any river cruise along this scenic waterway. Salamanca is no abandoned ruin or forgotten city however, but a multicultural and vibrant seat of learning which is still in touch with its rich past. Its glorious Main Square is one of its most popular attractions and the perfect place to shop or simply relax with a coffee and take in the atmosphere. However, most visitors are keen to explore more of this picturesque city so as a result, guided tours are always available, introducing you to such landmarks as the 13th century university and both new and old cathedrals, the former being an eye-catching must-see, whether you’re an aficionado of faith architecture or not. St Stephen’s Convent is another key attraction for many river cruise visitors. Largely Gothic in style, it has a famously ornate Plateresque façade and some beautiful Baroque decoration, too.
Though not as well-known as the Douro when it comes to river cruise itineraries, the Guadalquivir is a hidden gem when it comes to river cruises and a number of river cruise lines offer itineraries on it, which typically operate as round-trips from one of its most historic and popular cities, Seville. Here, there’s the opportunity to join a guided tour to take in the City of Light’s key sights such as its beautiful cathedral and two stunning palaces – Alcazar with its bountiful gardens and Plaza de Espana, with its distinctive twin towers. Cadiz also features on itineraries and though perhaps better known as an ocean cruise port, offers some fantastic sightseeing opportunities for river cruisers too. The most visible landmark is the lofty Torre Tavira watchtower but you’ll also have the opportunity to experience such landmarks as the stand-out Grand Theatre and the Cathedral as well as perhaps enjoying a little beach time. El Puerto de Santa Maria is another coastal treasure, offering plenty of beautiful beach scenery, as well as such architectural landmarks as San Marcos Castel and Plaza de Toros.
Spain travel tips
The currency in Spain is the Euro. In larger tourist-centric cities you’ll find English more widely spoken though locals will always appreciate it if you attempt a little Spanish. Remember to pack as you would for a Mediterranean holiday.