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Douro River Cruises

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Most Douro River cruises start and finish at Porto, Portugal, and sail up the river of gold towards its source in north-central Spain's Soria province. Sail past steeply terraced vineyards and tranquil fishing villages. The riverboat MS Amavida ("Love Life" in English) lives up to its name, as it puts you right in the romantic heart of Spain's centuries-old culture. Extend your river cruise with a trip to the historic districts of Madrid and Salamanca, where you'll see the architectural and cultural influences of the Romans, Celts, Muslims, and Spanish. Delight in the flavors of exceptional wines from local Spanish and Portuguese vineyards. You'll also spend some time getting to know a couple of Portugal's most important cultural centers: Lisbon & Porto, where the Douro River flows into the Atlantic. Contact one of our Douro River cruise experts for assistance planning your trip.
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10 Best Douro River Cruises for 2024-2025

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Top 6 Luxury Cruises on the Douro River 2024-2025

Trip NameFromDaysNext DepartureSummary
Delightful Douro$101908Jul 8, 2024From windswept seaside meanderings in Porto to the astonishing beauty of the Douro Valley, this 8-day Douro River cruise aboard Scenic Azure will let …
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The Unforgettable Douro$1429011Jun 28, 2024Cruise the beautiful Douro Valley on an 11-day river cruise. Discover the treasures of Porto, the vineyards in Regua, Vinhateiro & the Côa Valley.
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Delightful Douro with Lisbon$1124011Jul 5, 2024Start your 11-day tour and cruise with a 3 night stay in Lisbon before a stunning all-inclusive river cruise along the Douro river from picturesque …
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Lisbon & Secrets of the Douro$901511Jun 26, 2024Immerse yourself in authentic Lisbon before heading to the Douro aboard Emerald Radiance. Leaving the metropolis of Porto behind, navigate a path …
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Secrets of the Douro$82908Jun 22, 2024Board Emerald Radiance and leave the metropolis of Porto behind, navigate a path through Portugal’s countryside, where vineyards and landmarks …
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Secrets of the Douro & Lisbon$901511Jun 22, 2024Aboard the Emerald Radiance to travel to the Douro, and immerse yourself in real Lisbon. Navigate away across Portugal's countryside to reach …
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Douro River Cruise Deals in 2024

Trip NameSaveFromDaysNext DepartureSummary
Enticing DouroSavings$36998Jun 22, 2024Board the MS Amadouro for this 8-day roundtrip river cruise of the Douro River Valley departing from charming and historic Porto. As you cruise the …
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The Unforgettable DouroCustom Label$1429011Jun 28, 2024Cruise the beautiful Douro Valley on an 11-day river cruise. Discover the treasures of Porto, the vineyards in Regua, Vinhateiro & the Côa Valley.
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Best Douro Riverboats for 2024-2025

Top-Rated Douro Riverboats for 2024-2025

Find the Perfect Douro River Cruise

How to Choose a Douro River Cruise

Where to Go?  
The Douro River cuts through central Spain towards the coast of Portugal. You will start or end your cruise in Portugal's coastal city of Porto and visit major destinations of the Douro River Valley like Braga, Regua, Vila Real, Lamego, Barca d'alva, Ferradosa, and Pinhao in Portugal, and historic Salamanca in Spain
 
How Long?
The average Douro River cruise is 8 days, and this is definitely the most popular option. It gives you a chance to see the major highlights of the Douro River and explore the region in a number of engaging ways. However there are several tours that are as short as 6 days and a few that are between 11-14 days. You will find that the longer itineraries explore other sites of the Iberian Peninsula that aren't on the Douro River, like Portugal's capital of Lisbon and the sun-drenched Spanish capital city of Madrid. Several go as far as France and the United Kingdom as they explore coastal Europe. The 6-day itineraries tend to be Porto round-trips that visit fewer towns and focus specifically on the Douro River Valley. 

On which riverboat?
The vessels we have hand-selected for the Douro River cruises were specifically designed to explore this part of Europe. Their length, comfort, and style reflect classic riverboat design. All of the vessels feature a panoramic sun deck, a lounge and bar, elegant dining rooms, and comfortable air-conditioned rooms. The MS Amavida takes it to the next level, offering a massage spa, heated pool, fitness room, and a piano bar.  Contact us if you need guidance in selecting the best boat for you. 

What is there to do and see?
Wine tasting, urban exploration, visits to small towns, and wildlife viewing are at the heart of many of our itineraries, while hiking is featured on just a few. Light walking tours and day excursions are led by local guides who will acquaint you with the culture and cuisine of scenic Portugal as you cruise along the smooth and gorgeous Douro River.
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Major Ports & Towns around the Douro River
  • PortoThe second largest city in Portugal, located on the coast, and the starting and ending point for most of our cruises through Portugal & Spain.
  • Régua & Vila Réal: Located along the Douro River and home to gardens, palaces, and notable architecture.
  • Braga: Nicknamed the "Rome of Spain" for its notable religious architecture.
  •  SalamancaThis is one of Spain's treasured cultural centers, with architectural highlights of Roman, Arabic, and Christian influence.
  • Ferradosa: A historic city in Portugal where you can sample some of the delicious regional wine.
  • Lamego: An important pilgrimage site in Portugal for the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios (Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies) and the Gothic cathedral.
  • PinhãoHome to the Baroque Palacio de Mateus and Quinta da Roeda & Quinta do Seixo where you can sample their well aged wines.
  • Guimarães: A well preserved historic town with buildings dating back to medieval times.
Highlights of the Douro River

If you're hoping to see the best of Portugal and Spain's cultural centers, then a cruise along the Douro River provides an excellent way to do just that! Originating in the coastal city of Porto, Portugal, it winds through Portugal and into Spain, past centuries-old towns and villages, and ultimately past the treasured city of Salamanca. Along the way, highlights include:
  • Architecture: You will be delighted by the Baroque and Gothic architecture that can be seen in the cathedrals, towns, and even residential architecture that hallmarks western Spain & Portugal.
  • WineThe wineries of this region produce some of the most celebrated wine in all of Europe, and almost every cruise features wine tasting tours.
  • Scenery: The rolling hills and rugged valleys along the Douro River have been inspired artists for centuries. 
Douro River Fun Facts
Did you know...
  • The Douro River Valley is where some of the most famous and flavorful wine in all of Europe is produced.
  • There was once a time when Portugal had land holdings throughout the world, including a large portion of South America, Africa, and the Atlantic Ocean. 
  • Because of this global conquest, Portuguese is the official language of nine countries.
  • In addition to being Europe's oldest country, Portugal hosts the world's oldest bookstore and one of Europe's oldest universities.
  • The country also holds the record as having the longest bridge in Europe.

Douro River Cruise FAQs

When is the best time to visit Portugal & Spain?
Comprising the entire Iberian Peninsula on the southwestern tip of Europe, Spain & Portugal enjoy all four seasons, with hot summers and chillier winters. The best times to visit are generally in the fall (August-November) and spring (March-May) months. Since winter is more mild throughout Spain, that makes these shoulder seasons ideal for warm temperatures that aren't too hot yet. In the deep winter months (December-February) in northern Spain and Portugal, the temperatures can get pretty cold, which makes this a bad time for river cruises overall. The summer months (June-August) are a popular time for river cruises, and the constantly moving river vessel makes for a nice breeze. However, prices are higher and there is considerably more tourist traffic throughout all of Iberia during these months.

What is it like aboard a river vessel?
River vessels offer a nice change of pace from your standard cruise on the open sea. While Mediterranean and Scandinavian cruises around Europe visit only coastal cities, river cruises offer the unique opportunity to explore the inland cities throughout Spain and Portugal, like Braga, Vila Real, Salamanca, and others. The design and atmosphere aboard the river vessels is quite different as well. Generally over 100 meters in length with capacity for just under 200 passengers, there is a feeling of sociality and intimacy on your cruise. The cabins are not typically spacious, but you can count on comfort no matter which boat you choose. Plus, there are plenty of open social spaces on the riverboat, including a lounge, dining room & restaurant, and the sundeck, which is especially popular during the sunny days along the Douro.

How long is an ideal Douro River cruise?
The average Douro River cruise is 8 days long, which is ideal for most travelers who are hoping to experience the culture, history, and scenic beauty that the region has to offer in just over a week. We do offer several cruises that are six days if you have less time or if you want to combine your cruise with other destinations throughout Europe. These cruises are a snapshot of the region, and while they are jam-packed full of exciting activities, they will leave you wanting more time. If you're lucky enough to have a couple weeks to travel, then the 11-14 day cruises go as far as France and the United Kingdom, in addition to their stops along the Portuguese coast. 

Why should I choose a river cruise?
As one of the main arteries from coastal Portugal into Spain, the Douro River makes for a great way to see all that the Iberian Peninsula has to offer. And the best part is that it's all-inclusive, meaning that once you've purchased your ticket, you won't have to worry about meals, tours, or lodging. Plus the transportation is the same as your hotel, so every morning when you wake up, you'll have brand new views out of your cabin window without ever having to pack and unpack your bags. 

What should I look for on a Douro riverboat?
Our hand-selected riverboats were designed specifically to offer passengers comfort and style for their Douro River cruises. You will enjoy a panoramic sun deck, comfortable rooms, and a spacious dining area and bar, accompanied by a friendly captain and crew. While these aren't considered five-star vessels due to their space-limited amenities, they are guaranteed to offer an unforgettable and wonderful experience as you explore Portugal and Spain. 

Should I get a room with a balcony?
Balconies tend to be an unneccesary expense on Douro River cruises. The boats feature large panoramic sun decks, and balconies can cost hundreds of dollars more. Unless you have your heart set on a balcony, then a great alternative is getting a room with large windows or a sliding glass door that opens right out towards the fresh air (known as a "French balcony"). 

What is dining like?
You'll get a fantastic taste of the Iberian palate on a Douro River cruise. Spanish and Portuguese cuisine and a variety of international plates will be prepared and served by expert local chefs. 

Do river cruises ever visit destinations that aren't on the river?
Not really. The Douro River cruises tend to be shorter than many of the other cruises in Europe. On the cruises that last more than a week, you might depart the Douro River towards a vineyard or village further inland, but generally you'll find that the Douro River cruises stay close to the river.

Will my vessel have WiFi?
Most but not all Douro Riverboats have WiFi. the newer riverboats have free WiFi access in your room, a few riverboats charge, and some have reception only in public deck areas and not in the rooms. It's important to check with your Adventure Life representative to confirm that your riverboat of choice has WiFi onboard.

What kind of power outlets are there? Will I need a converter?
In Europe the power is 220v, not the 110v like in North America, but typically devices can handle both without the need for a converter. You will need plug adapters for European style with two round prongs.

How can I save money on a river cruise?
A great option to save money on a river cruise is consulting our deals page to see what the latest promotions are. You can also let us know which cruises interest you or which destinations you'd like to visit and we'll let you know as soon as there are promotions. It's advisable to NOT try to save money by reserving cheaper cabins since this often results in less space or worse views.

Are Douro River cruises a good family vacation?
Douro River cruises are a great way to enjoy a family vacation, and you can find more information on our Family Travel page. Wine tours are more suited for adults only, but all of the other options are a great way to share time with your whole family.

Do Americans and Canadians need a passport and visa to travel to the Douro River?
All citizens of North America traveling to Europe need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months. In recent years, it has not been necessary to apply for a visa before traveling to Europe if you plan to stay less than three months, however, this situation may change in the future. See current European visa requirements.

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