Douro river cruises provide a delightful way to experience the dramatic scenery and sun-soaked landscapes of Spain and Portugal. At just over 550 miles in length, the Douro is the third largest river on the Iberian Peninsula. Originating near the town of Duruelo de la Sierra in northern Spain, the river flows gently across central Spain and northern Portugal to its outlet into the Atlantic Ocean, where you’ll visit beautiful Oporto, Portugal’s second largest city.
The Douro may be one of Europe’s lesser-known rivers, but it is surely one of the most beautiful as it meanders its way through the spectacular rural Iberian countryside. The scenic journey takes you through deep gorges terraced with riverside vineyards whilst the passing landscape is dotted with restored palaces and churches, baroque buildings and picturesque fishing villages where regular stops are made.
Douro river cruises also provide ample opportunity to visit hidden gems and great cities such as Porto, one of the most beautiful cities in the Iberian Peninsula and stunning Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a tumultuous past and arguably the best preserved of the old Spanish cities, as well as the Portuguese capital of Lisbon.
Porto is situated on the banks of the shimmering Douro River and is Portugal second largest city. The metropolis’ stunning city centre has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historical significance and visitors will find an abundance of beautiful landmarks and architecture to discover here.
Porto also has plenty of other wonderful districts to explore, each one with its own unique charm and character. Shop for souvenirs on a local market, dine out at a local restaurant and sample authentic Portuguese cuisine or simply wander the city streets and soak in the region’s enchanting ambience under the warm Mediterranean sun.
Although the city is not located on the banks of the Douro, most Douro river cruises offer the opportunity to visit the beautiful Portuguese capital of Lisbon either at the beginning or end of a voyage. This beautiful coastal capital is made up of many fabulous districts and charming neighbourhoods, where an array of stunning architecturally quaint areas can be found.
Visitors to the city will also relish the opportunity to take a ride on one of several fantastic funiculars, including the Gloria, Bica, Lavra and Santa Funiculars which help to connect the city. From parks, gardens and palaces to museums, galleries and areas of natural beauty, Lisbon is a city of true culture and charm.
Located in western Spain and dissected by a tributary of the Douro, Salamanca is an incredibly historic city with both a fascinating heritage and a contemporary modern culture. Some of the city’s most impressive historic sites include the old university, the 15th century House of Shells as well as Plaza Mayor – a bustling square filled with wonderful cafes, restaurants and shops.
Just outside of Salamanca lie a number of tranquil Spanish villages, including the charming commune of Bejar, which offers a look at authentic Spanish culture outside of the lively city centre.