FEATURE DESTINATION – DOURO RIVER PORTUGAL
About the Douro River
One of the major rivers of the Iberian Peninsula, the Douro flows from its source in north-central Spain through Portugal and runs about 560 miles to its outlet at Porto on the Atlantic Ocean. Its name comes from the ancient Celtic tribal word for water. The river is wild and meandering; only certain parts of it are navigable by small river vessels. The area is beautiful and unspoiled and features a very habitable microclimate where olives, almonds and especially wine grapes are grown. Scenery along the river is picturesque, dotted by terraced hills, small towns and traditional rabelo sailing boats with their casks of port wine.
The area in and around Pinhão is considered to be the center of port wine, with wine-producing quintas (farms) dotting the slopes that line the river.
The Douro is quite narrow in parts and water levels have historically been inconsistent, but there are now five dams on the Portuguese section of the river which have helped to stabilize water levels and also produce some electric power. The dams have allowed the scheduling of river cruise excursions along the Douro River Valley.
Discover one of Europe's most pristine destinations—Portugal. Explore Lisbon, then see unspoiled vistas, stop at ports of call largely unchanged for centuries and sample the local cuisine and port wines on your Douro River cruise.
Welcome to Lisbon; we will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in the heart of Lisbon. Relax this afternoon and evening or explore the city a bit on your own.
After breakfast, embark on a half-day tour of Lisbon. Guests sailing with us on Viking Osfrid or Viking Torgil will begin at Belém with a tour of Jerónimos Monastery, one of the most prominent examples of Portuguese late Gothic Manueline style of architecture. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Tower of Belém, where you will stop for a photograph. Guests sailing on Viking Hemming and Viking Helgrim will enjoy a guided tour of the Maritime Museum, located in the monastery’s West Wing. This afternoon you may join an optional tour to explore more of Lisbon or get a taste of its cuisine. (Breakfast)
RICK STEVES EUROPE – APRIL 2019 – LISBON
Lisbon, built with the riches of Portugal's New World discoveries, has a rustic charm. We'll remember great navigators, eat lots of cod, enjoy pastries hot out of the oven, stroll the city's back lanes and its reinvigorated waterfront, marvel at an exquisite church built with spice taxes, and enjoy some soulful fado music. Then we'll side-trip to Sintra to explore the fanciful castles of Portuguese royalty and climb hilltop ramparts with grand views.
Have breakfast, then check out of your hotel and take a scenic ride to Porto. Stop for lunch in Coimbra, birthplace of six Portuguese kings and home to one of Europe’s oldest universities. 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. This evening, you can join an optional tour to experience culinary delights at Porto’s famed Graham’s 1890 Lodge and sample a selection of their award-winning ports. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
History of Port Wines
Learn about Port Wines with Karine Hagen as local experts in Porto, Portugal describe the history and production of Portugal's famous Port wines. This fortified sweet red wine, produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in northern Portugal, is most often served as a dessert wine though it also comes in a dry, semi-dry and Muscat varieties. It has a long history dating back to the early 18th century when the British, at war with France at the time, needed a new source of wine. Port wine is enormously popular in Britain and around the world and is still used today as the official wine to toast the Queen at formal dinners.
Viking River Cruises – May 2013
This morning we sail along the Douro, arriving at Régua in early afternoon. Disembark for an excursion 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 facade, grand stairway, richly appointed interiors and priceless objects on display will astonish you, as will the palace’s enchanting formal gardens featuring cedar-lined walkways, exquisite sculpted hedges and statuary and serene bodies of water. Visit one of the area’s iconic port wine–making 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 Pinhão for dinner. (B, L, D)
Régua🍷DOURO WINE REGION | Portugal
The Régua is the center of the demarcated region of the Douro. It is in the central part of the Douro Line between Porto and Pocinho. The fact that it is the junction point of two railway lines, and crossing several roads here, has made Régua an important communications center between the regions of Beira and Trás-os-Montes. It is also known as the international capital of wine and vineyards. When visiting Régua, we were surprised by the pedestrian promenade that runs through the city along the Douro River.
The best combination of summer: Sun and the Douro river passing through Pinhão. The Douro Valley is an Unesco site as world heritage landscape. It was the first wine region with designation of origin certification in the world.
A short film of Pinhão station and its famous tiles, in Portugal's Douro wine region. The station dates back to 1880 but the tiles weren't installed until 1937. They depict the Douro valley as it would have been in the past.
Jamie Goode – May 2018
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 river’s locks at the Valeira and Pocinho Dams. We arrive at Barca d’Alva, 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 Portugal’s 12 historic parishes; its streets are narrow and steep, and its houses still present 16th-century facades. 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. (B, L, D)
Barca D'alva - 4K
Hugo Filipe - July 2020
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 cafés of the Plaza Mayor (Main Square) on your own. At the local market, enjoy sampling regional cuisine. Your guided city tour takes you to the Gothic House of Shells, 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 Terrón. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Tourist Junction – November 2020
This morning, we sail west along the Douro passing some of the area’s quintas (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. 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 local fortified wine such as muscatel. Rejoin your ship in Pinhão and set sail to Régua, where you remain docked overnight. (B, L, D)
Dona Manuela's family has been making their famous bread for centuries. Join Karine Hagen as Manuela teaches her how to make her delicious bread and learn how the bakery even helps the environment.
Viking River Cruises - July 2013
Born along the waterfront, the dramatic songs of Fado speak of life, struggle and passion. The genre originated in Portugal in the early 1800's and quickly took its place as the music of the country. In 2011, UNESCO recognized Fado on its Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Viking River Cruises - 2013
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 town’s 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 as you head back toward Porto. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Go behind the scenes with Karine Hagen to see how quick and easy it is to make this local variation of everyone's favorite dessert.
Viking River Cruises -Feb 2014
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, grand cathedral 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 Guimarães and its medieval quarter. 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. This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner. (B, L, D)
Watch Chef Rui Paula show Karine his nouvelle cuisine twist on Bacalhau, the Portuguese national dish that's based on cod, Norway's national fish.
Viking River Cruises – Feb 2014
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)
Everyone who comes to Porto feels like they are coming home. They can make themselves comfortable. Striding down slopes of glossy cobble stones, asking and ordering with the ease of a local.
Some say that the North of Portugal begins in Porto, others say that it ends there. What is certain is whether it is the beginning, middle or end, Porto welcomes everything and everyone. It is history and modernity. It is river and sea. It is work and leisure. It is a never-ending party and it is melancholy.
Our doors are open for you. Talk to us about Porto.
We ❤️Porto. Who doesn't? This northern Portuguese city exudes so much detail and soul, it's hard not to be captivated every single time I visit this Invicta city. Sit back and relax, while I tour you around this place and show you Porto's distinctive features, from UNESCO heritage sites to azulejo masterpieces, from the tallest bell tower of Portugal down to the bustling yet relaxing Douro riverside. No wonder this city has won Best European Destination for three years in this decade, y'all. It's never too late to visit Portugal!
Janz Anton-lago – August 25, 2019
The much-(delayed)awaited sequel to In The Mood for Porto! All of the footage were filmed in August earlier this year, when I captured all that glorious late-summer vibes and that breathtaking sunset over old Invicta city. I've probably said 'beautiful' about 10 times here, as there is, indeed, so much beauty to discover and experience in Porto. It’s time to visit Portugal , and discover the best attractions in the world !
Janz Anton-lago - Dec 19, 2019
Lead photo credit: 2427999 – Pixabay
Any destination and other content featured which is not specific to JWH tours provided in this newsletter is for general information and knowledge purposes only and not an endorsement. The information is gathered through various sources and is subject to change at any time without notice. It is the sole responsibility of the traveller to check with the proper authorities regarding travel to all past, current and future JWH newsletter featured destinations.