This is one of Europe’s most beautiful and unspoiled rivers. From its source in the Serra de Urbión mountains, the Douro flows through Spain and crosses the border into Portugal, where the pace slows as it makes its way to Porto on the Atlantic coast.
Much of the valley has nurtured vineyards for over 2,000 years and it is here that port wine was first produced. This history and tradition led UNESCO to bestow World Heritage status on an outstanding 24,600 hectares, and today the region is also known for its unfortified wines, both red and white. Wines aside, the rustic landscape combined with the other treasures that line the banks make the Douroan ideal river for a relaxing cruise, with around 124 glorious miles to explore.
At around 557 miles long, the Douro is one of the major rivers of the Iberian peninsula and forms the natural border between Spain and Portugal, flowing through both countries before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean.
It was originally a fast flowing river, with many tributaries branching off into deep canyons, but in the second half of the last century its power has been harnessed by a series of dams which have rendered it tranquil and lake-like. Still, only around a quarter of the river is navigable and many cruise companies do not include the Douro in their programme.
This makes it all the more appealing for it hasn’t been bombarded with tourism and the quaint little towns and villages that line the riverbanks remain much as they were hundreds of years ago. Even the cities offering a fascinating insight into the tradition and culture of the Douro valley, much of which is woven around the cultivation of its famous port wine.
For more information about the Douro, take a look at our cruise itinerary or feel free to contact us.
Barca d’Alva is the last Portuguese village along the Douro, being less than 2 kilometres from the Spanish border.
The little town of Pinhão sits on a scenic bend of the Douro and is surrounding by vineyards.
The historic city of Porto is the second-largest city in Portugal and was proclaimed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.
Régua is the largest riverside town in the port wine region and has a huge bridge that soars above the river valley.
Vega de Terrón
This Spanish port is a favourite stop for cruises along the Douro and is a starting point for excursions to Salamanca.
Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia is a city in its own right, but its proximity to Porto, just across the Douro, means that it is very much a part of Porto.