Douro River Cruises
Douro River cruises are from Porto, Portugal to Vega de Terron, Spain. Most trips are roundtrip from Porto, which is a coastal city in western Portugal located near the Atlantic Ocean. Vega de Terron is located about 125 miles west of Porto and is the farthest east cruise ships travel.
Although, it’s becoming a more popular river to cruise, many companies still do not offer itineraries on the Douro River.
What We Like About Douro River Cruises
- Beauty meets brains. The Douro River Valley has been a UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2001. It’s not only gorgeous but also culturally significant.
- Friendly people. The Portuguese are among Europe’s friendliest – and warmest – people.
- Port wine and paella. You get a mix of Portugal and Spain on Douro River Cruises. That means good Port wines from Portugal and paella from Spain, along with Flamenco dancers and Portuguese pingo (like espresso).
About the Douro River
The Douro River is located in the Iberian Peninsula. It flows for about 550 miles from northern Spain through Portugal. Much of the river in Spain is not considered navigable. Therefore, river cruises take place mainly in Portugal and on the far western portion of the river in Spain.
Between Portugal and Spain, the Douro forms a natural border for about 70 miles. A few protected areas along this part of the river, include the International Douro National Park in Portugal and the Arribes del Duero National Park in Spain.
After joining the Agueda River near Barca de Alva, Portugal, the Douro River begins to flow into Portugal and away from Spain.
Check out our videos in the player below for a day-by-day replay of our cruise along the Douro with AmaWaterways.
Douro River Cruises
Douro River cruises usually begin and end in Porto, Portugal. However, there are two companies that offer a cruise that begins in Vega de Terron, Spain and travels one way to Porto.
Douro River cruise packages range in length from 6 to 15 days. The longer itineraries include land travel along with a cruise and may include cities, such as Lisbon or Madrid. The cruise itself generally lasts for an average of 8 days.
One of the highlights of Douro River cruises is the Douro River Valley. This region was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2001. It’s located between the cities of Barqueiros and Mazouco in northeast Portugal near the border of Spain.
Most of the river cruise is spent in Portugal. Ships only travel as far east as Vega de Terron, Spain. While docked in this city, most itineraries include a trip to Salamanca. It’s located about 165 miles southeast of Vega de Terron. Transportation to Salamanca is by motor coach.
Prominent cities often visited on Douro River cruise include:
- Porto, Portugal
- Régua, Portugal
- Pinhão, Portugal
- Barca d’Alva, Portugal
- Vega de Terrón, Spain
- Salamanca, Spain
Companies That Offer Douro River Cruises
This information is intended to give you an overview and a general idea of what different river cruise companies offer. With regard to itineraries – they change from year to year and sometimes within a year. For instance, it’s likely that more companies will add Douro River cruises to their portfolios.
AmaWaterways offers two options for all cruise packages – land and cruise or cruise only. This makes a significant difference in the length of the trip. The cruise only lasts for 8 days, and the cruise and land packages last 12 to 15 days.
Travel begins in either Lisbon, Portugal or Madrid, Spain. And the cruise begins in either Porto or Vega de Terron, depending where the itinerary begins.
- Douro River Cruise Packages: 8 to 15 days
- Cruise only: 8 days
- Land and Cruise: 15 days
- Number of Douro River Cruise Itineraries: 2
- Ships on the Douro: AmaVida
Interesting to Note: AmaWaterways is one of the only companies that offers a one-way Douro River cruise and that has a departure from Vega de Terron, Spain. It is the only company that visits Fátima on the way to or from Lisbon.
A-ROSA does not offer cruises on the Douro River.
Avalon Waterways does not offer cruises on the Douro River.
CroisiEurope is the only company that offers 6-day cruises on the Douro River. There are quite a few cities visited that are not listed in itineraries for other river cruise companies. Some of the additional cities mentioned, include Ferradosa, Folgosa and Leverinho in Portugal.
- Douro River Cruise Packages: 6 to 8 days
- Number of Douro River Cruise Itineraries: 4
- Ships on the Douro: MS Fernao de Magalhaes, MS Gil, MS Infante don Henrique Eanes, MS Vasco de Gama
Interesting to Note: CroisiEurope is the only company that has more than one or two vessels cruising on the Douro River.
Emerald Waterways launched cruises on the Douro in 2017. See my report, Douro River Cruises: Six Reasons To Choose Emerald Waterways.
Grand Circle does not offer cruises on the Douro River.
Scenic Cruises offers Douro packages ranging from 8 days (Porto roundtrip) to 31 days (Paris to Porto). Cruises are on Scenic Azure, owned and operated by Scenic as opposed to some cruise companies that charter from Douro Azul. Carrying only 96 guests, the 5-star Scenic Azure (launched in 2016) features the same all-inclusive luxury experience that has become synonymous with Scenic.
- Douro River Cruise Packages: 8 to 31 days
- Number of Douro River Cruise Itineraries: 12
- Ships on the Douro: Scenic Azure
Interesting to Note: Scenic’s Douro itineraries can include Bordeaux, Madrid, Paris, Lisbon and more.
Tauck does not offer cruises on the Douro River.
Uniworld offers two different packages and both include travel to or from Lisbon, Portugal. One of its itineraries begins in Madrid, Spain. With the latter package, cruises begin in Vega de Terron and travel westward to Porto.
- Douro River Cruise Packages: 11 to 13 days
- Number of Douro River Cruise Itineraries: 2
- Ship on the Douro: Queen Isabel
Interesting to Note: Uniworld is one of the only companies that offers a one-way Douro River cruise and that has a departure from Vega de Terron, Spain.
Viking River Cruises has only one package for Douro River cruises. It’s a 10-day cruise roundtrip from Porto.
- Packages: 10 days
- Number of Itineraries that include the Douro River: 1
- Ships on the Douro: Viking Hemming and Viking Torgil
Interesting to Note: Viking River Cruises is the only company that offers 10-day cruises on the Douro River.
What’s the Best Choice for a Douro River Cruise?
If you’re just looking for a river cruise, Viking River Cruises’ 10-day Portugal’s River of Gold package spends the most time on the Douro River. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a shorter trip, CroisiEurope has two 6-day packages.
If you would like to spend some additional time in Portugal or Spain, both Uniworld and AmaWaterways offer land travel in addition to an 8-day Douro River Cruise. Their packages are comparable in terms of where the trip begins and ends. Both companies have two packages that begin or end in Lisbon and one that begins or ends in Madrid.
Depending on how much time you have to travel, Scenic has the longest itinerary. Its ‘France & Douro Masterpiece‘ spans 31 days and offers a nice combination of both land and cruise travel.
Read more about Douro River Cruises.