Come aboard, discover the beauty of the Douro and explore Portugal’s soul. Porto is the port of departure and arrival for our Douro cruises.
This means you will have plenty of time to stroll through the splendid old town, take in the view from Portugal’s highest church tower and sample bacalhau, the country’s favourite dried fish – it is said there are 365 ways to cook it.
While you are here, don’t miss the opportunity to go an excursion to Salamanca in Spain. With its 13th-century university, this already impressive city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A mesmerising city carved in granite: in Porto (population: 238,000, or 1.7 million in the greater area) you’ll find new, exciting perspectives at every turn – whether you’re beside the steadily flowing Douro, with its six different bridges, or in the lively city quarters of this northern Portuguese metropolis. As well as the imposing buildings of light-coloured granite, the symbols of Portugal’s second-largest city include gleaming azulejo tiles adorning church walls and townhouses, which look particularly handsome when it isn’t raining. You’ll need to be in good shape here – Porto is very hilly! But it’s worth the effort, because Porto – whose old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is pure poetry.
In the likeable small town Lamego some beautiful castle houses from the 16th-18th century are preserved. The sparkling wine of Lamego is well known - the Caes da Raposeira can be visited. The charming bishop's town on Monte Penude, about 70 km east of Porto, surrounded by vineyards and fields, has been an important trading centre for agricultural products from the fertile region since the Middle Ages. In 1143 the Portuguese estates gathered in Lamego for the first time to proclaim Dom Afonso Henriques king of the new state.
The little town of Pinhão is located in the famous port wine region, in the area where the Douro and its surrounding landscape are at their most picturesque. It is surrounded by enchanting vineyards and the quintas that produce the wine. You can visit them from Pinhão and enjoy tours and wine tasting. To get there, you can either follow walking trails with glorious views or take a boat that also ferries visitors to interesting stretches of the river. One of the best-known walking trails takes you from the Douro bridge up seven kilometres of the hilly Rua Praça de Oliveira as far as the Casal de Loivos viewing point. The town itself is very unspoilt and has a lovely atmosphere, which makes it a splendid place for a stroll. Be sure to take a look at the Linha do Douro train station, which is decorated with richly coloured azulejo tiles. There are numerous restaurants in town, many of them right on the riverside.
Régua is the largest city on the banks of the Douro in this wine-growing valley. The scenery in this region is simply magical, thanks to the pristine river, which meanders past steep slate slopes and terraces clad with vines. It is such a beautiful place that the Alto Douro has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001. The town played a fundamental role in the production and marketing of port wine – which was transported away by sailing boat – as early as the 18th century. If you would like to learn more, visit the Douro Museum, which provides a wealth of information about the world’s first protected wine-growing area. Then, take a walk to the popular viewing platforms São Leonardo da Galafura and São Salvador do Mundo and enjoy the panoramic views of the river landscape and the elegant bridges that lead into town. It is also worth visiting the old centre, uphill from the river. You’ll find several listed churches and townhouses there.
This provincial capital (population: 146,000) situated at about 800 metres on the banks of the Río Tormes, is in a league of its own. It has one of the most beautiful central squares (Plaza Mayor) and one of the oldest universities in Spain (13th century). The latter gives Salamanca a lively student scene. This city has always been popular – the Romans and the Moors certainly liked it here. In 1085, King Alfonso VI returned it to Spanish rule during the reconquest of Islamic Spain. The old town, with its variety of architectural monuments, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city’s Holy Week processions have a long tradition and are very popular.
Extend your cruise and enjoy more of Portugal! After you have left your A-ROSA ship in Porto, your journey will continue overland. You will head south through the coastal plain to Aveiro and Coimbra, reaching Lisbon – the country’s capital right on the Atlantic – in the evening. You will spend the whole of the next day there. The day after that, you will explore the area around Lisbon, stopping off in Sintra, Cabo da Roca, Cascais and Estoril. On the final day, you will fly home.