Villages and Vintages: Cruising the Douro River Valley 2021
8 days with Tauck Rating: Deluxe
River Cruise Itinerary
Day 1 Arrive Porto Tour begins 5:00 PM. A transfer is included from Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (Porto Airport) to your riverboat, ms Andorinha, on the Douro River. Settle in, then join us for a welcome reception followed by dinner and onboard entertainment. (D)
Day 2 Porto and The Douro Valley Rising on staggered hills along the river, colorful Porto beckons you to its labyrinthine streets and stairways, medieval alleys, Baroque churches, fountains, and bell towers, Beaux-Arts buildings, and bohemian neighborhoods. Choose a walking tour of the town's historic center or a guided stroll through Ribeira, the riverfront district. It's hard to take a bad picture in Porto, where houses are clad in painted tiles and beguiling, eclectic architecture is around every corner. Return to your riverboat and sail to the Douro River Valley and its astonishing landscapes. All along the winding river, rugged conical mountains and shale hills carved by concentric vineyard terraces tell of a winemaking history thousands of years old. Inhospitable to most kinds of farming, the terroir is perfect for Portugal's indigenous wine grapes, whose hardy roots can go down 30 feet or more in search of water. And since the 18th century, when Portuguese vintners created a sweet fortified wine – now famous as Port – that could make the long sea voyage to Britain without spoiling, the Douro Valley has been the only supplier of Port to the world, and the oldest demarcated wine region. (B, L, D)
Day 3 Peso da Régua and Pinhão Dock in the historic town of Peso da Régua, once a busy hub where wooden boats called rabelos, laden with barrels of Port, sailed downriver to Vila Nova de Gaia. At the Museo do Douro, housed in a renovated 18th-century mansion, multimedia exhibits offer a history of viniculture in the Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site; you also have the choice of a port cocktail-making workshop. This afternoon, sail to the idyllic, tranquil village of Pinhão, nestled at a dramatic bend in the river; Pinhão is known as the gateway to the valley's quintas (vineyards) and large wine estates. From here it's a short drive to Quinta do Portal, a family-run estate in the Cima Corgo region where renowned Port and non-fortified wines are made. Your visit includes an introduction to the vineyards and winemaking process, and a private dinner with wine pairings. (B, L, D)
Day 4 Along the Douro to Vega de Terron The Douro River Valley and its unique landscapes of terraced mountains, villages, and wine estates unfolds today on a full day's sail to the small Spanish port town of Vega de Terron, where the Douro forms the border between Spain and Portugal. The landscape, at a confluence of rivers, is tranquil, beautiful and unspoiled, at the edge of Douro International Natural Park. (B, L, D)
Day 5 Castle Ruins and Paleolithic Art At the town of Pocinho you have a choice of shore excursions. Visit Castelo Rodrigo, a medieval hilltop village with a turbulent history, where battles were once fought against Moors and Spanish rule; the empty ruins of its 13th-century palace still stand guard over the walled town with its churches, Manueline pillory, cistern, and panoramic vistas. Alternatively, travel to the Museu do Côa in the Vale do Côa Archaelogical Park, for stunning exhibits of rock art from the valley's Paleolithic era, discovered in the 1990s when excavations began for a Côa River dam; unlike cave art found in other parts of Europe, the thousands of petroglyphs in the Côa region were created in the open air by the valley's earliest inhabitants, and the museum explores their mystery through state-of-the-art multimedia exhibits. Return to the riverboat for lunch and sail back to Pinhão, arriving this evening. (B, L, D)
Day 6 Mateus Palace or Vinho Verde & Amarante Your choice of excursions this morning includes a walking tour of Pinhão and its early-20th century train station, adorned with blue-painted tiles (azulejos); or a vigorous hike in the hilltop vineyards with striking views of the town and river. Sail to Régua, and drive to Vila Real for a visit to 18th-century Mateus Palace, a lavish Baroque residence designed by Nicolau Nasoni, now a museum with period furnishings and artwork, a heraldic hall, formal gardens, a winery, and a chapel with tombs and reliquaries. Begin the return trip to Porto, and dock overnight in this verdant wine country, where some traditional farms grow vines on pergolas and fences so high the grapes must be harvested with ladders. (B, L, D)
Day 7 Guimarães to Gaia Explore the medieval town of Guimarães, known as the “Cradle City; the kingdom of Portugal was born here after a famous battle in 1128. The city center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers a wealth of architectural treasures, including the ruined Castle of Guimãraes, with its tempestuous history and sweeping views, the opulent Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, lush with 17th-century furnishings and tapestries, and the 13th-century Church of São Miguel do Castelo. You also have the choice of a full-day excursion, partially by bike, through the Vinho Verde region before arriving in the pastoral town of Amarante, famed as being the hometown of São Gonçalo, Portugal’s St. Valentine. Enjoy lunch before your late afternoon arrival into Porto where you’ll cross the river to Vila Nova de Gaia, the destination of wines shipped from the vineyards, and home to many Port wine warehouses and cellars; visit one of its "caves" for a tour and tasting, and toast the end of your Douro River journey. Join us this evening for a farewell reception and dinner aboard ship. (B, L, D)
Day 8 Journey Home Tour ends: 8:00 AM Porto. Disembark and fly home anytime. A transfer is included from your riverboat to Porto Airport. Allow at least 3 hours for flight check-in. (B)
River Cruise Highlights
TAUCK EXCLUSIVE – Private dinner with wine pairings at Quinta do Portal, a Douro Valley wine estate
TAUCK EXCLUSIVE – Port wine cocktail-making workshop
TAUCK EXCLUSIVE – Bicycle tour through Vinho Verde wine country
All This Included
Discover the bohemian heart of the city that gave Port-wine its name... sample its treasures in the wine caves of Vila Nova de Gaia... sail deep into the mountain landscapes of Portuguese wine country to find wine estates, lush vineyards, idyllic riverside villages, baroque castles, hilltop medieval ruins, and rock art from the valley's earliest inhabitants... Our eight-day riverboat cruise on Portugal's Douro River offers an authentic taste of life and world-class wines in a region steeped in winemaking for over 2,000 years. Explore the colorful city of Porto, an enticing labyrinth of winding streets, baroque churches and blue-tiled houses, where port wine is made and stored. Board ms Andorinha and trace the wine to its source, the quintas and picture-postcard villages of the Douro River Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site... discover terraced vineyards and enjoy tours, tastings, wine pairings, and a lesson in port cocktail-making... tour baroque Mateus Palace... and immerse yourself in local history and culture, the prehistoric art of Foz Côa, the views from hilltop Castelo Rodrigo and more…
Gratuities to ship staff, drivers, local guides, Tauck Directors and Tauck Cruise Director
All private Tauck shore excursions – $1,215 Value!
Seven nights on the Douro aboard ms Andorinha, a new riverboat designed for Tauck
Guided walking tour of Porto's colorful historic center
Visits to wine caves and Port wine tastings in Vila Nova de Gaia
Choice of a visit to Castelo Rodrigo, a hilltop medieval village with castle ruins, or Museu do Côa in the Vale do Côa Archaeological Park
Guided tour of 18th-century Mateus Palace in Vila Real or a bicycle tour through Vinho Verde country
Visit to the Museo do Douro, a museum of local viticulture in Peso do Régua
Guided visit to the charming medieval city of Guimarães
Unlimited complimentary beverages aboard ship include regional wine, beer and premium spirits in addition to specialty coffee, water and soft drinks
Airport transfers upon arrival and departure as noted
20 meals; service charges, gratuities to local guides, mission fees, taxes and porterage
Accommodations on this Tour
Cruising: cabin onboard ms Andorinha
Cabin upgrades are available.
Land / cruise price per person, based on double occupancy, includes cruise fare, most meals, port charges, beer and wine with lunch and dinner aboard ship, shore excursions, applicable fuel surcharges, and gratuities to Tauck Directors, Tauck Cruise Director, ship staff, local guides & drivers, as well as on all included meals.
Although not expected, Tauck reserves the right to alter the sequence of ports or omit or substitute scheduled ports or attractions at any time without prior notice. East and west itineraries are similar. Museums and attractions may be subject to closure due to state, local or religious holidays. This cruise includes a fair amount of walking in each city.
Departures of May 8; September 4; September 25; and October 16 will post-stay at the Le Monumental Palace in Porto.
For activities marked with an asterisk (*) in day-by-day descriptions, participation is at your own risk; a signed liability waiver will be required.
Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.