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Douro River Cruises & Luxury Riverboats

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The Douro River is one of the most important waterways of the Iberian Peninsula, originating in north-central Spain's Soria province and extending westward all the way to the Atlantic coast of Portugal at Porto. The 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. Along the way, you will pass by eye-catching terraces, the historic districts of Madrid, and Salamanca, where you'll see the architectural & cultural influences of Romans, Celts, Muslims, & the 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. 

10 Best Douro River Cruises for 2017

Douro River Cruises (12 Results)
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Luxury Cruises on the Douro River

Trip NameFromDaysLevelSummary
Enticing Douro - Cruise Only$30998RelaxedJoin the MS Amavida on a fantastic 8-day roundtrip cruise from Porto along the enchanting Douro River and the charming cities and towns along its banks, like Regua, Salamanca, & Vega De Terron, each with its own unique flavors, culture, & history for you to experience. Sites like Jerónimos Monastery and Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies stand out.
Port Wine & Flamenco - Cruise Only$28998RelaxedEnjoy a luxurious 8-day cruise from Porto through the Douro region to Vega Terrón, Spain aboard the MS Amavida. Traverse the rich wine country, home to the Quinta de Avelada wine estate and 16th century fortress Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo. And the historic pilgrimage site of Lamego hosts Nossa Senhora dos Remédios sanctuary & a Gothic cathedral.
Enticing Douro$387911RelaxedSpend 3 magical nights in charming Lisbon followed by a relaxing 7-night cruise through the spectacular Douro River Valley, featuring stops in Regua, Pinhao, and Salamanca & Vega Terron in Spain. Dramatic gorges and lush vineyards highlight this journey as you get to know the laid back culture and savory flavors of this Iberian region.
Enticing Douro (Wine Themed)$387911RelaxedThis 11-day Portugal cruise of the Douro River aboard the MS Amavida is book-ended by several days in modern Lisbon and traditional Porto, featuring stops in Regua, Sintra, Fatima, Pinhao, Vega Terron, and Barca d'Alva. Experience Belem Tower, a Gothic Monastery, a wine tasting & museum tour at Quinto de Sexio, and Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo.
Port Wine & Flamenco$454914RelaxedWine tastings & culture are at the center of this 14-day cruise from Portugal to Spain through the Douro Valley aboard the MS Amavida. Travel past vineyards, dramatic gorges, and steeply terraced hillsides as you visit important historical sites and learn about the ancient history of the region, including stops in Pinhão, Entre-os-Rios, and Madrid.

Top Riverboats Cruising the Douro River for 2017

Douro River Ships
Ship NameCapacityFromSummary
MS Amavida108$The Amavida will bring a distinctive standard of excellence to the Douro River in Portugal. This grand 108-passenger vessel features balconies in the …
MS Fernao de Magalhaes142$Explore the Douro River on board the MS Fernao de Magalhaes, a 4 anchors class ship that provides the amenities and comfort for a unique river cruise …
MS Gil Eanes132$Experience the captivating history of Portugal aboard the MS Gil Eanes, a ship built in 2015, with the capacity to accommodate 132 passengers in 66 …
MS Infante Don Henrique142$Admire the breathtaking views of the Douro, the "river of gold", from the comfort of the MS Infante Don Henrique, a ship small enough to moor at a …
MS Vasco de Gama142$Sail through Portugal and Spain aboard the MS Vasco de Gama, a 142-passenger ship built in 2002 and refurbished in 2009. Let yourself dazzle by the …

Douro River Travel Tips & Guide

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Major Ports & Towns around the Douro River
  • Porto: The 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.
  • Salamanca: This 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.
  • Pinhão: Home 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.
  • Wine: The 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.

Our Favorite Douro River Vessels

Ship NameCapacityFromSummary
MS Fernao de Magalhaes142$Explore the Douro River on board the MS Fernao de Magalhaes, a 4 anchors class ship that provides the amenities and comfort for a unique river cruise …
MS Gil Eanes132$Experience the captivating history of Portugal aboard the MS Gil Eanes, a ship built in 2015, with the capacity to accommodate 132 passengers in 66 …
MS Infante Don Henrique142$Admire the breathtaking views of the Douro, the "river of gold", from the comfort of the MS Infante Don Henrique, a ship small enough to moor at a …
MS Miguel Torga132$Observe the stunning landscapes of Portugal and Spain as you comfortably cruise along the Douro River, aboard the MS Miguel Torga, a European ship …
MS Vasco de Gama142$Sail through Portugal and Spain aboard the MS Vasco de Gama, a 142-passenger ship built in 2002 and refurbished in 2009. Let yourself dazzle by the …

Douro River Travel Suggestions

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. 

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.

Douro River FAQs

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 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?
It's possible, but don't count on it. More and more vessels each year are WiFi capable, but it's not quite standard yet. Plus, you might be out of range of WiFi even if your vessel does have it depending on where your cruise explores. Closer to the big cities, you can generally count on it. 

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 either two round prongs (European style) or three flat prongs (British style). 

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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