Scenic offers several different itineraries for Douro River cruises. There are two base packages featuring a river cruise only. The Delightful Douro is an 8-day itinerary round trip from Porto, and the Unforgettable Douro is an 11-day cruise from Porto to Porto. Now, let’s take a look at both of these itineraries and some of their variations.
This 8-day cruise is round trip from Porto and includes visits to other cities in Portugal and Spain, such as Régua, Vega de Terrón, Salamanca, Pocinho and Pinhão. There are three additional packages available that also feature a visit to Lisbon, Madrid or to both cities. These itineraries will extend your trip from 8 days to 11 days or 14 days.
Douro River cruises take place on the Scenic Azure. The ship carries up to 96 guests, and like all other ships on the Douro, she is smaller in size in order to naviagate the river. Staterooms on the Scenic Azure are between 172 square feet and 420 square feet in size.
The first day of your trip begins in Porto where your ship will remain docked overnight. You and your fellow guests will be greeted with a welcome reception, and dinner will be served on board.
On day two, you’ll depart for Régua. There will be on board activities, including tile painting, if you choose to participate. Or you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery.
After arriving in Régua, you’ll take a trip to the Douro Museum featuring the wine culture and history of the Alto Douro Wine Region. This area of Portugal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
In the morning on the third day of your trip, you’ll be able to choose between a tour of Lamego or a guided tour of Mateus Palace in Vila Real. Lamego, situated on the Balsemão River, is about 10 miles southeast of Régua. And the 18-century Mateus Palace is located about 20 miles north of Régua.
On day four, you’ll travel to Old City of Salamanca, which is another designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. A guided tour of the Salamanca is featured as well as lunch and a Flamenco dancing show.
You’ll begin your return trip back to Porto on day five. There will be few stops along the way on your 125-mile journey westward along the Douro. The first stop is in Pocinho where you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Côa Valley Museum, or you might opt to take a canoe trip on the Sabor River – a tributary of the Douro. Another option you’ll have is to join the “Tastes of the Côa Valley” excursion.
Coa Valley is another designated UNESCO Site in Portugal, which is known collectively as the “Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde.”
After returning to the ship, you’ll depart for Pinhão where the boat will dock for the evening.
On day six, you’ll visit the small village of Provesende located about seven miles northwest of Pinhão. This wine-producing town has only about 300 inhabitants. It is also part of the Douro Wine Region.
You’ll return to the ship after your tour and depart for Porto. After arriving in Porto, you’ll enjoy another excursion to the São Francisco Church. This gothic building with a baroque interior is located in the Historic Centre of Oporto, another UNESCO World Heritage Site that is located near the Douro River.
Day seven features a visit to the historic building of Palacio da Bolsa. This 18th-century palace is part of the Historic Centre in Oporto.
You’ll also take a guided tour of the city of Guimarães and visit Ducal Palace in Vila Viçosa. Or you may decide to visit the Quinta Aveleda estate instead. This vineyard and winery is located about 25 miles northeast of Porto. You’ll be able to tour the gardens and sample local wines and cheese.
On day eight, your trip will conclude in Porto. You’ll be served breakfast and then be transferred to the Porto Airport for your return flight home.
Cruises are available from April through November; however, many months are sold out for 2018 cruises. 2019 packages start at $3945 per person. Starting prices for 2018 itineraries are higher due to limited availability. Scenic is also one of the most inclusive river cruise companies. So, while the company’s prices might seem higher, there are many items included in fare.
Listed below are a few other itineraries that extend the Delightful River cruise package:
- Delightful Douro with Lisbon – 11 days
- Delightful Douro with Madrid – 11 days
- Delightful Douro with Lisbon & Madrid – 14 days
This is an 11-day cruise round trip from Porto. There are a lot of similarities between this itinerary and the Delightful Douro cruises. Since there are three additional days, a few extra excursions are included.
Another difference between the Unforgettable Douro and the Delightful Douro package has to do with your extended itinerary options. There are nine other packages that will extend your Unforettable Douro trip rather than only three. These itineraries range in length from 14 days to 31 days. Most include another river cruise on the Seine, in Bordeaux or on the Saône and Rhône rivers. And the 31-day France & Douro Masterpiece features three separate river cruises. Let’s begin by looking at the Unforgettable Douro river cruise itinerary.
On day one, you’ll embark on the Scenic Azure in Douro. There will be a welcome reception, and dinner will be served on board the ship.
The next morning, you’ll take a guided walking tour of Porto, which includes a visit to Palacio da Bolsa in the city’s historic centre. In the afternoon, you’ll return to the ship and depart for Entre-os-Rios, which is about 25 miles southeast of Porto. There are no other planned excursions for day two of your cruise.
On the third day, you’ll travel to Guimarães and also visit Ducal Palace in Vila Viçosa. Or, if you would rather, you can visit the Quinta Aleveda estate instead. After your excursions, you’ll return to the ship and begin your cruise to Régua. The afternoon features a visit to the Douro Museum.
You’ll begin day four with an excursion to the city of Tarouca, which is about 12 miles south of Régua. It’s located in the Varosa Valley wine region. A few highlights of this trip include the 12th-century Monastery of Saint John of Tarouca and a walk on the Ucanha Bridge, which crosses over the Varosa River.
In the afternoon, you’ll be able to choose between two different excursions. You can visit the city of Lamego, or you can choose to take a tour of Mateus Palace in Vila Real.
On day five, you’ll enjoy a full day of cruising through the Douro Valley. This region of northern Portugal along the Douro River has been producing wine for more than 2,000 years.
You’ll take a guided tour of Salamanca, Spain on day six. Lunch and a Flamenco dance performance are included in the tour.
Your return trip back to Porto will begin on day seven. The first stop will be in Pocinho where you’ll have the option to visit the Côa Valley Museum, take a canoe trip on the Sabor River or participate in the Tastes of the Côa Valley excursion.
The Scenic Azure will be docked in Pinhão on day eight. Your excursion will include a visit the small village of Provensade where you’ll visit the manor house of Morgadio da Calçada followed by a visit to the Quinta Roeda estate. Both experiences will provide the opportunity to sample local wines.
In the morning on day nine, your ship will depart from Pinhão and return to Porto. During the cruise, there will be on board activities available, including a cork jewellery workshop. Or you may choose to relax and enjoy the scenery instead.
After arriving in Porto, you’ll travel to São Francisco Church, which is located in the UNESCO Historic Centre of Oporto.
On day ten, you’ll visit the fishing village of Afurada located along the Douro River. Tour options for this day include a visit to the oldest remaining canning factory in this region, a visit to a local corking factory or a visit to one of Porto’s most famous wine cellars, the Vila Nova de Gaia located in the historic district along the Douro River.
Your river cruise will end on day eleven in Porto. Breakfast will be served on board. You’ll then be transferred to the airport in Porto.
Cruises are available from April through October. Most months are sold out for 2018. Due to limited availability 2018 packages have a starting price of $6790 per person. 2019 cruises start at $5,895 per person because there is more availability.
Listed below are a few other itineraries that extend the Unforgettable Douro experience:
- Unforgettable Douro with Lisbon – 14 days; Porto to Lisbon
- Gems of the Seine & Unforgettable Douro – 21 days; Paris to Porto
- Gems of the Seine & Unforgettable Douro with Madrid – 24 days; Paris to Madrid
- Breathtaking Bordeaux & Unforgettable Douro – 22 days; Bordeaux to Porto
- Spectacular South of France & Unforgettable Douro – 24 days; Paris to Porto
- Beautiful Bordeaux & Unforgettable Douro with Madrid – 24 days; Bordeaux to Madrid
- Iberian Splendours & Beautiful Bordeaux – 25 days; Barcelona to Bordeaux
- Spectacular South of France with Iberian Splendours – 28 days; Paris to Madrid
- France & Douro Masterpiece – 31 days; Paris to Porto
Comparisons Between the Two Itineraries
So which itinerary is the best option? Well, it depends on how long you want your river cruise to be. If you choose the 8-day Delightful Douro itinerary, you’ll be able to adequately explore Porto, Salamanca and some of the cities located in the Douro Valley.
If you’d rather take a more leisurely trip and have a few extra days to travel, then the 11-day Unforgettable Douro would be a great option. You’ll have more time to stay on the boat and enjoy the scenery. With a shorter cruise, some of the travel takes place overnight; so chances are, you’ll be sleeping and will miss some of the scenery. Also, with the longer cruise, there are additional excursions that might interest you.