Portugals River of Gold, Duoro
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This is a very popular tour and some dates for 2014 are already sold out so we suggest your contact us as soon as possible to secure your cabin.
Discover one of Europe’s most pristine destinations - Portugal. Begin with two fascinating days and nights exploring the capital city of Lisbon, then proceed to Porto at the mouth of the Douro River to embark your cruise ship. The river takes you on a winding easterly course between steeply terraced vineyards, stopping at ports of call largely unchanged for centuries with charming town squares, colorful castles, baroque mansions and historic monasteries. At the Spanish border you’ll indulge in a scenic ride into Spain to visit the medieval city of Salamanca before the voyage back to Porto. See unspoiled vistas and sample Portuguese specialties like salt cod, hearty soups and stews and of course the area’s sensational port and tawny wines. If you have never visited Portugal, you are in for a treat; or, see a dramatic new side of this beautiful country on the Douro River.
DAY 1 -Lisbon
Welcome to Lisbon; we will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the superior first class Hotel Tivoli Lisboa (or similar) in the heart of Lisbon.* Relax this afternoon and evening or begin exploring the city a bit on your own.
DAY 2- Lisbon
After breakfast, embark on a half-day tour of Lisbon. Begin at Belém with a tour of the Jerónimos Monastery—a Hieronymite monastery that is arguably the city’s most beautiful building. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Tower of Belém which you also visit. Then you will ride up a steep hill for a walking tour of the maze-like Bairro Alto (old town) during which you learn about Lisbon’s long, multicultural history; explore the narrow streets of the Alfama as you walk back down toward the water’s edge. This evening you are free to discover Lisbon’s many delightful restaurants, or you may choose a Lisbon By Night evening featuring a visit to a fado club for dinner and a fado show. (B)
DAY 3 -Porto
Have breakfast, then check out of your hotel and take a scenic ride up the Portuguese coast to Porto. You will stop at Coimbra, birthplace of six Portuguese kings and home to one of Europe’s oldest universities, for lunch. Upon arrival in Porto, proceed to the dock at Vila Nova de Gaia to board your ship. After boarding, you have free time to relax and get settled in your stateroom before a welcome cocktail and dinner aboard. (B, L, D)
DAY 4- Porto & Bitetos
After breakfast, take a city tour of Porto, a charming riverside community whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See its graceful bridges, baroque cathedrals and romantic 16th- through 19th-century buildings set among narrow cobbled streets. You will see Foz, an old fishing village where wealthy Porto families keep their summer homes. This afternoon, visit a typical port wine–making facility before embarking for an afternoon sail to Bitetos. Or, after your Porto tour, take an optional excursion to Guimarães. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Guimarães has a medieval quarter with narrow streets, a main square and palaces and monasteries dating back as far as the 10th century. This city was Portugal’s first capital in the 12th century and home to its first king, Don Afonso Henriques. On the way back to your ship we stop at one of Porto’s famous port wine lodges, where you can see and sample from the traditional wooden casks; you will rejoin your ship in Bitetos. This evening, disembark and proceed to the 11th-century Alpendurada Monastery—now a small inn and museum with a sweeping view of the river—for a leisurely dinner. (B, L, D)
DAY 5 -Régua & Pinhão
This morning we sail along the Douro, arriving late morning in Régua. Disembark for a visit to Lamego, a small town famous 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 town’s Gothic cathedral and the ruins of 12th-century Lamego Castle with its unusual vaulted cistern. Rejoin your ship in Pinhão for dinner and a Portuguese folk music show on board this evening. (B, L, D)
DAY 6- Pinhão & Barca d’Alva
Your morning is free to explore Pinhão on your own—take a stroll, visit the railway station with its spectacular azulejos (Portugal’s distinctive blue and white tiles), do some people-watching. Sail to Barca d’Alva during lunch and then disembark for a trip to Quinta do Seixo, one of the area’s iconic port wine–making institutions. See the vineyard and tour the facility to learn how these unique Portuguese products are crafted, then sample the wares in their tasting room. Return to your ship and enjoy a festive Captain’s dinner and dancing in the lounge. (B, L, D)
DAY 7 -Salamanca
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 a cosmopolitan, 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 cafés of the Plaza Mayor (Main Square) on your own. Lunch is at a local restaurant and features an unforgettable flamenco show. 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 is still there and can be visited during free time. Rejoin your ship in Vega de Terrón. (B, L, D)
DAY 8 -Vega de Terrón & Pinhão
This morning, enjoy a half-day tour to Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo. Located about 2,200 feet above sea level and surrounded by almond trees, Castelo Rodrigo is one of Portugal’s 12 historic parishes; its streets are narrow and steep and its houses still present 16th-century façades and the distinctively Portuguese Manueline-style windows. Here you will see Sinagoga Street, a memento of a Jewish community established by refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, and visit the local church as well. Ride back to your ship, stopping here and there to admire panoramic views. This evening, dine at Quinta da Avessada, a beautiful winery in the heart of the Douro Wine District (a UNESCO site); sample some local varieties of port, such as Moscatel from nearby Favaios. (B, L, D)
DAY 9 -Pinhão & Régua
Arrive in Régua during breakfast, then take a morning tour to Vila Real, site of the extraordinary Mateus Palace—the building depicted on the Mateus Rosé wine labels. This stunning baroque palace was the home of the last Count of Vila Real; its pinnacled façade, grand stairway, richly appointed interiors and priceless objects on display will amaze you, as will the palace’s enchanting formal gardens featuring cedar-lined walkways, exquisite sculpted hedges and statuary and serene bodies of water. As you depart, catch glimpses of the town’s ornamental carvings, tiled walls and Manueline windows. Return to your ship for lunch and scenic afternoon sailing along the Douro, back toward Vila Nova de Gaia. Arrive in port during a festive farewell dinner; we are docked overnight so feel free to take an evening stroll or enjoy the activities in the lounge. (B, L, D)
DAY 10 -Porto
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. (B)
The following meals are included: B = Breakfast; L = Lunch; D = Dinner
Prices from £1095 per person low season
How to book
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