Villages and Vintages: Cruising the Douro River Valley - 8 Days

Villages and Vintages: Cruising the Douro River Valley

Our new eight-day riverboat cruise on Portugal’s Douro River offers an authentic taste of life and world-class wines in a region steeped in winemaking for over 2,000 years. Explore the colorful city of Porto, an enticing labyrinth of winding streets, baroque churches and blue-tiled houses, where port wine is made and stored. Board ms Andorinha and trace the wine to its source, the quintas and picture-postcard villages of the Douro River Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site… discover terraced vineyards and enjoy tours, tastings, wine pairings, and a lesson in port cocktail-making… tour baroque Mateus Palace… and immerse yourself in local history and culture, the prehistoric art of Foz Côa, the views from hilltop Castelo Rodrigo and more…

ONLY WITH TAUCK

  • Private dinner with wine pairings at Quinta do Poral, a Douro Valley wine estate
  • Port wine cocktail-making workshop

Cruise prices are per person in U.S. dollars. All riverboat accommodations, motor coach transportation, port charges, land excursions, admissions, entertainment, special dinners, beverages while on the riverboat (including unlimited soft drinks, regional wine, beer and premium spirits), sightseeing, porterage, and the services of the Tauck Directors, the Tauck Cruise Director, hotel and ship staff, and local guides and drivers are included. Transportation from Porto International Airport to the riverboat is included provided you have furnished us with accurate flight arrival information at least three weeks prior to the start of your tour. Transportation from the riverboat to Porto International Airport is also included when you disembark the riverboat. Transportation to and from airports and train stations may be shared with other Tauck guests.

Rates and schedules are not guaranteed until booked and will vary based on departure date.

Day 1
Arrive Porto

Tour begins 5:00 PM. A transfer is included from Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (Porto Airport) to your riverboat, ms Andorinha, on the Douro River. Settle in, then join us for a welcome reception followed by dinner and onboard entertainment.

MEALS – Dinner

Day 2
Porto and The Douro Valley

Rising on staggered hills along the river, colorful Porto beckons you to its labyrinthine streets and stairways, medieval alleys, Baroque churches, fountains, and bell towers, Beaux-Arts buildings, and bohemian neighborhoods. Choose a walking tour of the town’s historic center or a guided stroll through Ribeira, the riverfront district. It’s hard to take a bad picture in Porto, where houses are clad in painted tiles and beguiling, eclectic architecture is around every corner. Return to your riverboat and sail to the Douro River Valley and its astonishing landscapes. All along the winding river, rugged conical mountains and shale hills carved by concentric vineyard terraces tell of a winemaking history thousands of years old. Inhospitable to most kinds of farming, the terroir is perfect for Portugal’s indigenous wine grapes, whose hardy roots can go down 30 feet or more in search of water. And since the 18th century, when Britain discovered that Porto’s sweet fortified wine could travel long sea journeys without spoiling, the Douro Valley has been the premier Port supplier to the world, and the oldest demarcated wine region.

MEALS – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3
Peso da Régua and Pinhão

Dock in the historic town of Peso da Régua, once a busy hub where wooden boats called rabelos, laden with barrels of Port, sailed downriver to Vila Nova de Gaia. At the Museo do Douro, housed in a renovated 18th-century mansion, multimedia exhibits offer a history of viniculture in the Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site; you also have the choice of a port cocktail-making workshop. This afternoon, sail to the idyllic, tranquil village of Pinhão, nestled at a dramatic bend in the river; Pinhão is known as the gateway to the valley’s quintas (vineyards) and large wine estates. From here it’s a short drive to Quinta do Portal, a family-run estate in the Cima Corgo region where renowned Port and non-fortified wines are made. Your visit includes an introduction to the vineyards and winemaking process, and a private dinner with wine pairings.

MEALS – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4
Along the Douro to Vega de Terron

The Douro River Valley and its unique landscapes of terraced mountains, villages, and wine estates unfolds today on a full day’s sail to the small Spanish port town of Vega de Terron, where the Douro forms the border between Spain and Portugal. The landscape, at a confluence of rivers, is tranquil, beautiful and unspoiled, at the edge of Douro International Natural Park.

MEALS – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5
Castle ruins and Paleolithic art

At the town of Pocinho you have a choice of shore excursions. Visit Castelo Rodrigo, a medieval hilltop village with a turbulent history, where battles were once fought against Moors and Spanish rule; the empty ruins of its 13th-century palace still stand guard over the walled town with its churches, Manueline pillory, cistern, and panoramic vistas. Alternatively, travel to the Museu do Côa in the Vale do Côa Archaelogical Park, for stunning exhibits of rock art from the valley’s Paleolithic era, discovered in the 1990s when excavations began for a Côa River dam; unlike cave art found in other parts of Europe, the thousands of petroglyphs in the Côa region were created in the open air by the valley’s earliest inhabitants, and the museum explores their mystery through state-of-the-art multimedia exhibits. Return to the riverboat for lunch and sail back to Pinhão, arriving this evening.

MEALS – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6
Mateus Palace or Vinho Verde & Amarante

Your choice of excursions this morning includes a walking tour of Pinhão and its exquisite early- 20th century train station, adorned with blue-painted tiles (azulejos) depicting scenes of everyday life in the winemaking region; or a vigorous hike in the hilltop vineyards with striking views of the town and river. Sail to Régua, and drive to Vila Real for a visit to 18th-century Mateus Palace, a lavish Baroque residence designed by Nicolau Nasoni, now a museum with period furnishings and artwork, a heraldic hall, formal gardens, a winery, and a chapel with tombs and reliquaries. Alternatively, take a bicycle tour through the picturesque Vinho Verde (“Green Wine”) region along the Tâmega River, ending at the romantic, storybook town of Amarante with its Baroque palaces, Renaissance churches, and medieval stone bridge; the town was once home to São Gonçalo, Portugal’s St. Valentine, and famous Portugese artists and writers, but it’s also known for its cozy cafes and enticing local cuisine. Begin the return trip to Porto, and dock overnight in this verdant wine country, where some traditional farms grow vines on pergolas and fences so high the grapes must be harvested with ladders.

MEALS – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7
Guimarães to Gaia

Explore the medieval town of Guimarães, known as the “Cradle City; the kingdom of Portugal was born here after a famous battle in 1128. The city center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers a wealth of architectural treasures, including the ruined Castle of Guimãraes, with its tempestuous history and sweeping views, the opulent Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, lush with 17th-century furnishings and tapestries, and the 13th-century Church of São Miguel do Castelo. Arrive late afternoon in Porto and cross the river to Vila Nova de Gaia, the destination of wines shipped from the vineyards, and home to many Port wine warehouses and cellars; visit one of its “caves” for a tour and tasting, and toast the end of your Douro River journey. Join us this evening for a farewell reception and dinner aboard ship.

MEALS – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8
Homeward bound

Tour ends 8:00 AM. Disembark and fly home anytime. A transfer is included from your riverboat to Porto Airport. Allow at least 3 hours for flight check-in.

MEALS – Breakfast

What's Included

  • Gratuities to ship staff, drivers, local guides, Tauck Directors and Tauck Cruise Director
  • All private Tauck shore excursions – $1,215 Value!
  • Seven nights on the Douro aboard ms Andorinha, a new riverboat designed for Tauck
  • Guided walking tour of Porto's colorful historic center
  • Visits to wine caves and wine tastings in Vila Nova de Gaia
  • Choice of a visit to Castelo Rodrigo, a hilltop medieval village with castle ruins, or Museu do Côa in the Vale do Côa Archaelogical Park
  • Guided tour of 18th-century Mateus Palace in Vila Real or a bicycle tour through Vinho Verde country
  • Visit to the Museo do Douro, a museum of local viticulture in Peso do Régua
  • Visit to a museum of Paleolithic rock art in Foz Côa
  • Guided visit to the opulent Dukes of Braganza Palace in Guimaraes
  • Unlimited complimentary beverages aboard ship include regional wine, beer and premium spirits in addition to specialty coffee, water and soft drinks
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure as noted
  • 20 meals; service charges, gratuities to local guides, mission fees, taxes and porterage

NIGHTS 1 – 7

ms Andorinha

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Purpose-built for cruising to historic quintas and picturesque villages along Portugal’s golden Douro River from coastal Porto to the Spanish border with Tauck in 2020, our newly constructed custom riverboat offers spacious accommodations for just 84 guests, with 12 300-sq.-ft. Tauck Suites and more 225-sq.-ft. cabins, to maximize the onboard experience in every way. Add a small swimming pool atop the Sun Deck that refreshes body and spirit as you drink in the passing UNESCO World Heritage Site scenery, onboard dining venues, and built-in amenities custom- designed to delight, and you’ll experience a riverboat truly inspired by the destination. We look forward to welcoming you aboard!

AMENITIES

Open seating in main dining room, The Compass Rose; flexible dining times; vegetarian meals always available

Alternate dining venue, Arthur’s, offering classic favorites at lunch and dinner and lighter breakfasts in the morning

Al fresco dining on Sun Deck, weather permitting

American breakfast room service available in Category 5 Tauck Suites

Complimentary snacks served 10:00 AM – midnight

Unlimited complimentary beverages aboard ship include regional wine, beer and premium spirits in addition to specialty coffee, water and soft drinks

Onboard entertainment includes enrichment lectures, piano music nightly, in-room movies, culinary demos, local entertainment and “themed” fun

110-volt and 220-volt outlets included in every cabin for small electronics; minibar stocked with complimentary water and soft drinks

Complimentary Internet & Email available Small Swimming Pool on Sun Deck Laundry service available

You can send your inquiry via the form below.