Douro’s Valleys & Vineyards
|Resort:||Douro's Valleys & Vineyards|
|Operator:||Viking River Cruises|
As you cruise through the Douro River Valley, sail into the history of fine Portuguese wine. Surrounded by terraced hills, spot some of the areas quintas, or wine estates, clinging to the slopes. Experience the town of Porto, where you can roam the port warehouses and take in the towns rich cultural heritage. Visit quaint Rgua, Barca dAlva, and Favaios, home to one of the last traditional bakeries in the Douro Valley. Explore Salamanca, Spain, a UNESCO Site and one of Iberias oldest university towns.
Day 1: Porto, Portugal
Upon arrival in Porto, proceed to the dock at Vila Nova de Gaia to board your ship. Then, after boarding, you can relax and get settled in your stateroom before a welcome cocktail and dinner is served.
Day 2: Porto, Portugal
After breakfast, take a city tour of Porto, a charming riverside community whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admire its graceful bridges, baroque cathedrals and romantic 16th- through 19th-century buildings nestled together on narrow cobblestone streets.
This afternoon you have time to explore Porto on your own, or take an optional excursion to Guimares and its medieval quarter. Perhaps experience an evening of culinary delights as you indulge in traditional fare paired with wine at Portos famed Grahams 1890 Lodge and sample a selection of their award-winning ports. Sample wines that have been in the making for generations at the historic Quinta da Aveleda estate, or soar over the historic City of Bridges on a thrilling helicopter sightseeing tour.
Enjoy your evening at leisure in Porto, where your ship remains docked overnight.
Day 3: Rgua, Portugal
This morning we sail along the Douro, arriving at Rgua in early afternoon. Disembark for an excursion to Vila Real, site of the extraordinary Mateus Palace (the building depicted on the Mateus Ros wine labels). This stunning baroque palace was the home of the last count of Vila Real; its pinnacled facade, grand stairway, richly appointed interiors and priceless objects on display will astonish you, as will the palaces enchanting formal gardens featuring cedar-lined walkways, exquisite sculpted hedges and statuary and serene bodies of water. As you depart, catch glimpses of the towns ornamental carvings and tiled walls. Visit one of the areas iconic port winemaking institutions. See its vineyard and tour the facility to learn how these unique Portuguese products are crafted, then sample the libation in their tasting room. Rejoin your ship in Pinho for dinner.
Day 4: Barca DAlva, Portugal
This morning, we sail east along the Douro. See dramatic, sheer rock formations, picturesque terraced vineyards, and graceful bridges and trestles along the way; you also pass through two of the rivers locks at the Valeira and Pocinho Dams. We arrive at Barca dAlva, not far from the Spanish border, in mid-afternoon.
This afternoon, enjoy a tour to Castelo Rodrigo. Located approximately 2,200 feet above sea level and surrounded by almond trees, Castelo Rodrigo is one of Portugals 12 historic parishes; its streets are narrow and steep, and its houses still present 16th-century facades and the distinctively Portuguese Manueline-style windows. Here you see Sinagoga Street, a remembrance of the Jewish community established by refugees from the Spanish Inquisition; you can visit the local church as well. As we ride back to our ship, we will stop along the way to admire panoramic views.
Day 5: Salamanca, Spain
Today you have a full-day excursion to Salamanca, Spain. This ancient city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a living museum that takes visitors back to the Middle Ages; yet it is also a cosmopolitan and multicultural city with a large population of international students. Take a ride through the Iberian countryside to Salamanca, then spend some time exploring the shops and cafs of the Plaza Mayor (Main Square) on your own. Your afternoon guided city tour takes you to the Gothic House of Shells, the 13th-century Salamanca University and the New Cathedral, built from 1513 through 1733. The Old Cathedral still exists and can be visited during free time. Rejoin your ship in Vega de Terrn.
Day 6: Pinho, Portugal
This morning, we sail west along the Douro passing some of the areasquintas(vineyards), where you may catch glimpses of vintners tending their vines.
After breakfast, disembark for a scenic drive up to the little village of Favaios, and make your way to one of the last traditional bakeries in the Douro River Valley. Discover how bread was made in the old days and how it tasted with a sample fresh from the oven. Visit the local museum for a wine-and-bread repast, and explore a typical Portuguese village not yet discovered by the masses. Then continue for lunch at Quinta da Avessada, a rustic centuries-old winery in the heart of the Douro Wine District (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and sample some local varieties of port, such as moscatel. Rejoin your ship in Pinho and set sail to Rgua, where you remain docked overnight.
Day 7: Rgua, Portugal
After breakfast, disembark for a visit to Lamego, a small town known for its baroque Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies, dating back to the 14th century and still used by pilgrims today. Visit the shrine, decorated with exquisite tilework in the Moorish manner, and descend the grand baroque staircase. You also see the towns Gothic cathedral and the ruins of 12th-century Lamego Castle, with its unusual vaulted cistern. Return to your ship for lunch and scenic afternoon sailing along the Douro, back toward Porto. After arriving in port, enjoy a festive farewell dinner; we are docked overnight, so feel free to take an evening stroll or join the activities in the Lounge.
Day 8: Porto, Portugal
After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the airport for your return flight.* Or, extend your time in the region with a 2-night extension to Braga, Portugal and Santiago de Compostela, Spain.