A major river on the Iberian Peninsula, the Douro River (Rio Douro) flows from Duruelo de la Sierra in northern Spain all the way to Porto in Portugal, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. More than just the region’s lifeline, it’s also the centerpiece of the Douro Valley, Portugal’s most famous wine region and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Douro River cruises leave from Porto and cruise into the heart of the Douro Valley wine region. Set sail aboard a traditional Rabelo boat for a scenic cruise, stopping to visit historic waterfront towns such as Peso da Régua and Pinhão; discover the winemaking heritage of the Douro region; and sample authentic port wine during guided wine tastings. Full-day tours leave from Porto or Lisbon and typically include hotel pickup, wine tastings, and lunch at a local restaurant.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The legal drinking age of 18 applies for all wine tasting in the Douro Valley.
- Douro cruises range from 1-hour wine-tasting cruises to multi-day sightseeing cruises.
- Some cruises are wheelchair accessible, but it’s best to check in advance.
How to Get There
Boat trips down the Douro River leave from the quays around Alfândega and Cais de Ribeira in Porto. Both quays can be reached on foot from central attractions such as the Clérigos Tower, Porto Cathedral, and São Bento train station, while tram Line 1, which runs along the river, stops at Alfândega and Infante near the quays.
When to Get There
It’s possible to explore the Douro River region at any time of year, but the busiest time is during the summer season (July–August), when it’s best to book tours and accommodation in advance. The area is at its most picturesque in spring, when the vines are lush and green, or in autumn, when the harvest is in full swing and the vines begin to drop their leaves.
Portugal’s world-renowned port wine is produced exclusively in the Douro Valley. With a history of winemaking dating back to the 12th century as well as 300 years of exporting port wines, it’s impossible to explore the region without sampling its legendary elixir. The sweet fortified drink is typically known as a red dessert wine, but tawny port (wood-aged red port), rosé port, white port, and vintage ports are also available.