A Portuguese voyage of discovery, this exhilarating tour combines rail travel up the coast of Portugal with a memorable cruise on the sparkling Douro River.
About the Tour
Located on the sunny Iberian Peninsula, Portugal plays host to this impressive rail and cruise vacation. The tour begins on land, exploring the capital city of Lisbon. From here, we move to Sintra and learn why Portuguese royalty chose this location for their summer retreat. Also in Sintra, we board our train for a resplendent ride through the lush countryside of Portugal to the city of Porto. Here, we board the Douro Serenity and set sail down the “River of Gold,” the Douro. The valley that surrounds the Douro is a famed wine region and has a rich history dating back to medieval times and beyond. Ports of call include Regua, from which we travel to Lamego for touring and dinner at a wine estate, and Barca d'Alva, where we stay docked for two days of Spanish excursions. The first day takes us to Castelo Rodrigo, a destination with a heritage dating back to the Roman times; the second day, get acquainted with the beauty and culture of Salamanca through touring and an unforgettable flamenco dancing performance. Back on the ship, we cruise up the Douro once more, making a stop in the Vila Real region to visit 18th-century Mateus Palace. As our cruise ship arrives in Porto, we have one last day of touring and adventure - the ideal conclusion to this vivacious Portuguese discovery.
- Rail travel between Lisbon & Sintra and Lisbon & Porto
- Hotel accommodations for 3 nights
- 7-night cruise on board the Douro Serenity
- 25 meals
- City tour of Lisbon on a chartered vintage tram
- Excursion to Sintra
- Sightseeing tour of Lamego
- Excursion to Castelo Rodrigo with a tour
- Vintage port wine opening ceremony and tasting
- Visit to the Spanish city of Salamanca with a tour and a flamenco show
- Excursion to Mateus Palace & Gardens with a tour
- Portuguese folk dance performance
- Transportation by deluxe motorcoach
- Services of a professional Tour Manager
Day 1 – To Lisbon
Meet your group and Tour Manager at the Hotel Mundial or Hotel Portobay Marques in Lisbon. On arrival, we are greeted with a welcome drink after which you are free to settle into your room. For dinner this evening, we head to our hotel's excellent restaurant for our first meal of the vacation. Afterward, you may wish to acquaint yourself with the city a little before you retire for the night. (D)
Day 2 – Exploring Lisbon
Our excursion today whisks us away on a splendid tour of Portugal's famous capital. As a special touch, our tour includes a segment in a specially-chartered tram from the 1930s and 40s, lending a nostalgic feeling to proceedings. Our tour reveals the brilliant colors of Lisbon, and the history of its streets, squares, and boulevards. We finish in the waterfront district of Belem, famous for its pastries and villas. Here, we stop off at one of the pastry shops to sample the Belem pastries. (B)
Day 3 – Sintra
Today, we travel to the beautiful town of Sintra, located up in the hills behind Lisbon. A tantalizing selection of summer palaces of all colors and shapes await us here, at what is famously the summer retreat of Portuguese royalty. We enjoy free time in this fairytale town, giving you an opportunity to discover its history and the people behind the magnificent buildings lining its streets before dinner tonight. (B, D)
Day 4 – Embarkation in Porto
Leaving Lisbon this morning, we set out on a rail journey through the Portuguese countryside to the historic city of Porto - famous for the explorers who gathered here to journey to the New World.
Upon arrival in this fantastic Portuguese city, we are escorted by coach to our excellent ship, the Douro Serenity, where after settling into our cabins, we are welcomed with a cocktail as the captain and his crew are introduced. Later we are sat down to our first onboard meal, after which you are free to enjoy your first night on the ship. Perhaps take in the evening air with a drink or sit back to the live music in the lounge area. (B, D)
Day 5 – Lamego
Today, our ship docks at Regua. In the afternoon, we pay a visit to Lamego, a picturesque village near the banks of the Douro for a guided tour. The cathedral is the center point of Lamego, a remarkable example of Baroque architecture. Arguably more impressive, however, are 700 steps that lead up to its doors, decorated as they are in cheerful white and blue tiles. Enjoy dinner at a local wine estate later. These marvelous institutions provide the sublime port wines which are such an integral part of the Douro's viticulture. Many of them are housed in delightful, sprawling farmland, lending a memorable touch to our meal this evening. (B, L, D)
Day 6 – Castelo Rodrigo
Our ship sails to Barca d'Alva today where we dock. After lunch, we embark on an excursion to the historic town of Castelo Rodrigo. This charming destination offers a look into the medieval past of Portugal and the Douro region, with a history that goes all the way back to the times of the Romans. The various peoples who have passed through the country and left their mark is evident from the fascinating buildings which line the streets, including a synagogue and the remains of medieval townhouses. We enjoy a tour here, which takes in the old castle from which the town takes its name. Afterward, you have time to wander the ancient streets and discover the stories that breathe life into Castelo Rodrigo. (B, L, D)
Days 7-8 - Salamanca
Our travels today take us across the border into Portugal's beautiful neighbor Spain, where we travel through the enchanting countryside to the golden city of Salamanca in the Castille y Léon region. Salamanca is the academic capital of Spain, and its educational prowess is evidenced in the glorious sandstone university buildings which make up one of the most prestigious centers of learning in the country.
Our tour here takes us to see these buildings, as well as the decorative House of Shells and the thriving Plaza Mayor. Enjoy free time afterward before we sample a traditional Spanish lunch at a local restaurant. Our entertainment during the meal is a dazzling flamenco show, as trained dancers demonstrate an iconic Spanish dance of passion and finesse. On our return to the ship, we take a BBQ dinner on the sun deck (weather permitting).
Day 8 is spent cruising through the stunning landscape to Peso de Regua, and you are at leisure on board. After dinner, we sample some of the region's vintage Port in an opening ceremony. (Days 7 & 8 - B, L, D)
Day 9 – Mateus Palace & Gardens
We pay a visit to the gorgeous Mateus Palace today and its stunning gardens. Located at the heart of the Vila Real region, this 18th century stately home is a delight to explore, with its classic, Italianate exterior, decorative interiors, and beautifully manicured parks and gardens that lead up to the palace itself. Originally built in the 18th century by acclaimed Portuguese architect Nicolau Nasoni, the design lends it a timeless, yet quintessentially Portuguese quality. We take a tour of the building itself, before enjoying free time to visit the built-in chapel and the winery.
On our return to the ship later, we sit down with the captain for a resplendent gala dinner, offering a chance to reminisce about our adventures on Portugal's finest river. After the food, we are given a traditional folk dance performance from a local troupe. (B, L, D)
Day 10 – Porto
Arriving into Porto this morning, you have a choice of excursions to explore this famous port city which heralds the point at which the Douro ends. Your first option is an insightful and engaging tour of the city both by coach and on foot. The tour takes us along the winding streets, cutting between the city's superb architecture, historic townhouses, regal churches, and crossing the famous iron bridge. We continue to the district of Foz at the mouth of the Douro where we see the impressive villas which dot the hills here. Finally, we pay a visit to the magnificent cathedral at the peak of the Penaventosa Hill, where we can look down across the rest of the city in all its splendor. Our tour finishes at a port wine lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia where we have the opportunity to sample the iconic drink for ourselves.
Your second option is to travel to the nearby city of Guimarães. What sets Guimarães apart is its fantastically well-preserved medieval buildings, which date as far back as the 10th century. The city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the jewel in Guimarães' crown is the imposing medieval fortress which watches over the city. We enjoy a tour through the colorful streets and the lively squares before visiting the castle and its gardens. In the afternoon, you are free before your 4-course farewell dinner on board. (B, L, D)
Day 11 – Tour Conclusion
After our final breakfast, your tour concludes and you are free to make your way to the airport for your flight home (airfare not included). (B)
Hotel Mundial is one of the most iconic hotels in Lisbon. Located right in the city center, the hotel boasts breathtaking views and a famous rooftop bar. Settled just a couple of steps away from Rossio Square, this timeless hotel embraces modernity whilst celebrating its own prestigious heritage. Hotel Mundial is near the main entertainment and shopping sites and is the ideal venue to "feel the city" and explore the authenticity of the Portuguese capital.
Hotel Portobay Marques
Hotel Portobay Marques is right around the corner from Marquês de Pombal square and just a few steps away from Avenida da Liberdade, a pleasant walk from the city’s main attractions. The 72 rooms and suites guarantee optimal comfort, space for families and those seeking well-being.
A charming vessel which plies the waters of the elegant Douro in Portugal, the Douro Serenity offers a serene and comprehensive cruising experience from the decks of a superbly well-appointed ship. Built in 2017, the Serenity's 4 decks hold 63 cabins and up to 124 passengers, alongside a wealth of amenities to make your time on board as enjoyable as possible. The majesty of Portugal's favorite river is best seen from this floating hotel.
Relax back into the tasteful environs of your cabins, sample food straight from the destination in the panorama restaurant, take a dip in the on board swimming pool on the sun deck - this is cruising as it was always meant to be; memorable, fulfilling, and packed full of opportunity.
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