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Home » Destinations » Europe » Portugal » Riviera Travel History of the Douro
Embark on a journey through the rich history of the Douro Valley, where medieval towns, terraced vineyards, and rolling hills reveal over 800 years of captivating stories. Europe’s hidden gem, this region unfolds its secrets against the backdrop of our luxurious ship’s sun deck, offering breathtaking views.
Delve into the valley’s tumultuous past with expert-guided tours that showcase famous battlefields, nearly impregnable fortresses, and lavish palaces. Explore ancient cities like Salamanca and Porto, unravelling the tales of Peninsular Wars on sombre battlefields. Discover opulence at Mateus Palace and the formidable fortress of Almeida. As you cruise through port wine territory, indulge in local tipples at charming quintas, adding a touch of conviviality to this immersive historical experience.
Day 1 – Arrival in Porto
Arrive in Porto and transfer to the ship
Day 2 – Mateus Palace Gardens
Enjoy breakfast then explore the ship as it sets sail upstream. Head to the deck to witness the picturesque morning landscape, solidifying the Douro as one of Europe’s most beautiful river valleys. After lunch, visit the landscaped gardens of Mateus Palace, known for the iconic Mateus Rosé label. In the evening, you’ll drive to Quinta da Pacheca, a stunning 18th-century estate owned by the formidable Mariana Pacheco Pereira. Wander the estate, revel in Douro views, and indulge in dinner accompanied by the quinta’s wines. The overnight mooring is in Régua.
Day 3 – Alameida Fortress
Relax while scenic views unfold through the windows. The once wild and challenging Douro River has been tamed by dams and locks, creating a picturesque landscape reminiscent of Scotland’s lochs. Onshore, explore Almeida Fortress, a fortified town with a fascinating history from the Peninsular War. Witness its intricate defensive system and visit the Museu Histórico Militar de Almeida, showcasing weaponry and military artifacts in underground rooms. After dinner on board, celebrate with a vintage port wine opened in the traditional way.
Day 4 – Salamanca & Battlefields
Explore historic Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, founded by Romans. Visit the oldest university in Spain, founded in 1218, housing the Spanish Inquisition’s records. Wander through immaculately preserved lecture halls and envision historical moments. Enjoy free time to explore cathedrals, medieval squares, or delve into Salamanca’s history at sites like the former Colegio de San Ambrosio or the Palacio Episcopal. After lunch, experience a traditional flamenco show, followed by a visit to the Battlefields of Salamanca with a guide detailing the military strategy that shaped Wellington’s reputation.
Day 5 – Peso da Régua
This morning, don’t miss the engaging lecture on Portuguese history with the ship’s on-board expert. Later, arrive in the charming town of Peso da Régua, where we visit a local historic quinta to discover the wine production stages. From vine planting to harvesting, winemaking, and tasting, the process unfolds, culminating in a delightful tasting session before returning to the ship.
Day 6 – Lamego
Following breakfast, drive to historic Lamego, renowned for Portugal’s sparkling wine, Raposeira, and its 12th-century Moorish reclamation. Explore the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios atop a baroque staircase with 686 steps, offering panoramic city views. Return to the ship for a delectable lunch as we depart for Cais da Lixa. Join an expert for an enlightening on-board talk on the region’s untold history. Relax during an afternoon cruise down the Douro before the evening’s Captain’s Dinner, featuring regional specialties and a vibrant performance of traditional Portuguese folk music.
Day 7 – Porto
Embark on the last leg of your journey with a captivating morning lecture on the ‘Crossing of the Douro,’ enhancing your appreciation for Porto’s historic sites. Tour Porto, witnessing the Monastery de Serra do Pilar’s circular dome and the site of Soult’s destruction of the Bridge of Bridges. Explore the legendary Crossing of the Douro and the Seminary’s battlegrounds. The afternoon is yours to delve into Porto’s charm, wandering its cobbled streets, admiring architecture, and savoring pastel de nata in cozy cafes. Conclude the day with a final dinner on board.
Day 8 – Return Home
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home
MS Douro Elegance
*All transfer times listed here are approximate and dependent on traffic
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