An Iberian River Journey - View from the Inside

"Whenever I looked out from the picture window or went up to the sundeck, I was not disappointed at the magnificent vineyards that were reflecting in the meandering river. "

March 2019 • Vash Patel, Personal Travel Expert

An Iberian River Journey - View from the Inside

Our first visit was to the famous UNESCO city of Porto - a coastal city in Northwest Portugal known for its scenic bridges and port wine production. We visited Sao Francisco Church which is known for its lavish baroque interior with ornate carvings; passed by the world famous book shop that inspired J. K. Rowling's novels; and saw one of the smallest houses in the city between two churches, and the tallest clock tower in the city.

Just before we set sail along the Douro we visited a port wine cellar in Vila Nova de Gaia. This was our first introduction of many, to the history of Port wine and how the family traditions are still continuing in this main industry along the Douro River.

I was very lucky to be on board the small but charming MS Douro Prince for my very first River Cruise. The amazing Douro River is in the heart of the UNESCO wine region - the Douro Valley is just so picturesque. Its steep hills are covered with vines and olive trees, and lovely old and friendly villages that we got the opportunity to visit. It is truly a gorgeous and peaceful place. Whenever I looked out from the picture window or went up to the sundeck, I was not disappointed at the magnificent vineyards that were reflecting in the meandering river. We got to experience the navigation through 5 locks the highest being a lift of 35 metres.

You will get many chances to sample Port wine and learn about the aging process of famous ports and the production of Mateus Rose and it's connection to the 18th-century Mateus Palace. The Palace was one of my highlights with the beautiful topiary work in the box gardens, and Baroque style furniture dating back to the 16th, 17th and 18th century.

We visited the enchanting Castelo Rodrigo on the hilltop with its medieval streets and for almonds; sampling almond liqueur with a touch of sparkling wine was delicious. This area is home to around 40 locals who are proud to live in one of the very few historic parishes of Portugal.

 

Venturing out of Portugal and drove towards Salamanca; an hour and a half later we reached the "Golden City", rich in history and glorious architecture, its golden light is wonderful and it’s no wonder this city is listed by UNESCO.
Don't forget to sample the famous varieties of hot chocolate here, whilst searching for the elusive frog on the facade of the university building!

We visited Sandeman’s Quenta with its astonishing view over the river and its steeped terrace vineyard. Breath in the panoramic view while tasting a specially selected range of fine wines.

Our final excursion was to the ancient town of Lamego; a picturesque historic town with the important 18th-century pilgrimage site of the Shrine of Our Lady of Remedies, reached via an impressive staircase of blue and white patterned tiles.

As we sailed back to Porto I felt sad that my first ever river cruise experience was coming to an end. I was mesmerised by the deep gorges and verdant vineyards that line the banks of Portugal’s stunning Douro River. It was the most relaxing and stylish way to discover the delights of Europe’s waterways, and of course the Port wine varieties that the region has to offer. 

Experience Portugal on our Iberian River Journey cruise >

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