Experience a scenic cruise, overnight rail journey, and tour through the Douro Valley and Spain
About the Tour
Flowing from northern Spain to the ocean, the Douro River carves our route through a rolling landscape of vineyards towards historic Porto on this 14-day voyage. We explore the ever-changing scenery, as well as the gastronomic delights, along the way, as we travel from Biarritz, France to the coast of Portugal. We enjoy sights of the “glowing” sandstone buildings of Salamanca, a cruise through the Douro Valley on the “Golden River,” the vibrant city of Lisbon, the beautiful art of the Guggenheim Museum, guided city tours and so much more. First-class rail travel between destinations and beautiful hotel accommodations throughout both Spain and Portugal further enhance this journey.
- Rail travel on Sud Express (1 night on train)
- First Class travel on local and high-speed rail networks, unless otherwise described (Standard Premier Class on Eurostar journeys with a light meal and drinks)
- Hotel accommodations for 12 nights
- 22 meals, including a farewell meal in San Sebastián
- Guided tours of Salamanca, Porto and Lisbon
- Cruise along the River Douro and 2 Port tastings
- Visits to Pinhão, Guimarães and Sintra
- Guided excursion to Bom Jesus do Monte
- Entrance to the Guggenheim in Bilbao
- Exclusive meeting point at our dedicated Departure Office in St Pancras
- Transportation by deluxe motorcoach
- Services of a professional Tour Manager
Days 1-2 - To Biarritz and Salamanca
We depart St Pancras International by Eurostar to Paris, in Standard Premier Class. In Paris we join the TGV to Biarritz, where we stay overnight. On Day 2 we transfer by coach to San Sebastian, where we board the train to Vallodolid in First Class, before transferring to a regional train for the short journey onward to Salamanca (Standard Class). Our hotel for the next two nights is the Catalonia Plaza Mayor. This evening we dine in a traditional restaurant on the Plaza Mayor. (Day 1 - Eurostar Meal, D; Day 2 - B, D)
Day 3 - Discovering Salamanca
This morning we take a guided tour of Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage site, also known as the 'Golden City' because of the glow from its sandstone buildings. During the tour we see the 15th-century cathedral, the Plaza Mayor and the unusual Casa de las Conchas. (B)
Day 4 - Cruise to Peso da Régua
Today we travel by coach into Portugal to Barca d'Alva. Here we board a cruise boat for a journey through the magnificent Douro Valley, one of the highlights of the vacation. Our cruise on the 'Golden River' takes us through the heart of the Port-producing region of Portugal. Here, terraced hillsides surround the riverbanks, with vineyards plunging from the hilltops to the very edge of the Douro River.
We pass splendid, isolated Port 'quintas' - wine growing estates that produce the region's high-quality fortified wines. As we enjoy lunch on board we pass quietly through the undulating landscape of sleepy towns and villages which appear on the riverbank. We glide past delightful almond orchards and through dramatic gorges, eventually arriving in Peso da Régua, the official center of Port production in Portugal. The town lies in a peaceful spot beneath the Serra do Maoro Mountains and was traditionally the place where barrels of Port were loaded onto wooden cargo ships to be transported along the Douro to Vila Nova de Gaia. On arrival in Peso da Régua we transfer to our hotel for two nights, the Hotel Régua Douro. (B, L, D)
Day 5 - Exploring the Douro Valley by train
Today we travel by train to Pinhão, a small town located at the confluence of the Douro and Pinhão rivers which is the epicenter of the Port-making region. We enjoy a Port tasting in Pinhão, followed by some free time to explore the town at leisure. We return to Peso da Régua for an afternoon at leisure, during which you could visit the celebrated Douro Museum, located in the town, which includes exhibits relating to the history of Port production in the region. Tonight, we dine in a beautiful local Port wine estate, a short distance from Peso da Régua. The excellent Quinta da Casa Amarela is set in beautiful surroundings with terrific views of the Douro. (B, D)
Day 6 - By Rail to Porto
Today we continue by train down the beautiful Douro river valley to Porto, the city which was once the very edge of the known world and a port from where daring explorers risked their lives to discover the New World. On arrival, we enjoy a guided tour of the city, which has a wonderful unspoiled charm. We stay at the 4-Star Hotel PortoBay Teatro for the next three nights. (B, D)
Day 7 - Bom Jesus do Monte and Guimarães
This morning we head to the vast Bom Jesus do Monte, known for its grand staircase up to the church that climbs a staggering 381 feet (116 meters).
After time to explore, we continue to Guimarães, the first capital of Portugal, whose attractive, narrow streets have UNESCO World Heritage status. We spend this evening at the famous Taylors Port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. We enjoy a tasting of port and dinner at the cellars. (B, D)
Day 8 - At Leisure in Porto
Today you are free to further explore the city of Porto. You could head to the ancient Ribeira (Riverbank) district to explore the narrow winding streets or visit the charming little Harry Potter bookshop with its beautiful staircase. (B)
Day 9 - To Lisbon
Today we take a high-speed train to Lisbon arriving in the afternoon. The rest of the day is free to explore Lisbon, Portugal's vibrant capital. You could perhaps stroll through the streets to Rossio Square or ride the unique public elevators of Santa Justa or Glória to the Barrio Alto. We spend two nights at the PortoBay Marquês Hotel. (B, D)
Day 10 – Sintra
This morning we take the train to Sintra, the summer residence of many Kings of Portugal. Sintra is a beautiful village surrounded by wooded hills, home to the spectacular and brightly colored Pena Palace. Your time in Sintra is free to explore at leisure. (D)
Day 11 - Discovering Lisbon
Today we take a guided tour of Lisbon by historic tram, before free time. In the evening, we board an overnight sleeper train to San Sebastián in Spain. (B)
Days 12-14 - San Sebastián and the Guggenheim
On arrival into San Sebastián this morning we check into our hotel, the NH Collection Aranzazu. The rest of the day is free for you to explore. Perhaps stroll along the seafront or explore the beautiful old quarter with its many wonderful tapas bars.
On Day 13 we travel by coach to nearby Bilbao to visit the famous Guggenheim Museum with its impressive art collection. We return to San Sebastián in the afternoon and you have time at leisure before a farewell dinner later tonight. On Day 14 we travel to Paris, and board the Eurostar to London as our vacation concludes. (Day 12 - B; Day 13 - B, D; Day 14 - Eurostar meal, B)
Hotel PortoBay Marquês
Our accommodation in Lisbon is at the 4-Star Hotel PortoBay Marquês. Situated in a quiet area of the city, it is close to many of Lisbon's attractions, such as Rossio square, Marquês de Pombal square, and the lovely tree lined boulevard Avenida da Liberdade, that boasts luxury boutique shops. The comfortable rooms include tea & coffee making facilities, a minibar, air-conditioning, a television, and complimentary Wi-Fi. Outside your room, you can relax in the outdoor pool or the sauna. There is also a gym, a restaurant, and two bars.
Hotel Régua Douro
Our accommodations at the 4-Star Hotel Régua Douro are in river facing rooms. This hotel is situated on the Douro River across from the train station, and has an outdoor pool, fitness center, tennis court, jacuzzi, salon, cocktail bar and several restaurants. Room amenities include minibar, hairdryer, telephone television and air conditioning.
Hotel PortoBay Teatro
This 4-Star hotel is an excellent location for exploring the city of Porto and its many sites such as the Clérigos Tower, 249 feet, which boasts of stunning views across Portugal. The hotel was formerly the site of the historical Baquet Theater, which dates back to 1859.
Rooms at Hotel PortoBay Teatro include tea and coffee making facilities, minibar and free Wi-Fi.
Hotel Catalonia Plaza Mayor
The 4-Star Hotel Catalonia Plaza Mayor is in the heart of Salamanca, just a few steps from the Plaza Mayor. The hotel has air conditioning, a restaurant, bar and lounge. Its rooms come equipped with conveniences such as a television, telephone, safe, minibar and hairdryer.
NH Collection Aranzazu
In the upmarket district of Ondarreta in San Sebastián, the 4-Star NH Collection Aranzazu is near to both the city's cathedral and beach. The hotel is decorated in a contemporary style, from the gym offering state of the art equipment, to the restaurant, serving delicious traditional cuisine in sleek modern surroundings. The stylish rooms offer amenities such as a television, a minibar, an in room safe, coffee making facilities, and complimentary Wi-Fi. This is the ideal base from which to explore San Sebastian in style.
The high-speed Eurostar trains link St Pancras International in London with Paris and Lille in France as well as Brussels in Belgium.
The highest class of Eurostar travel available for leisure customers is Standard Premier Class. In your dedicated Standard Premier carriage, you'll find a less dense seat configuration, meaning the seats are larger and you have ample space to relax and stretch out. As part of the service you'll enjoy complimentary drinks and refreshments, served at your seat by friendly, helpful waiting staff.
Introduced in 1981, France's TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) was the original European high-speed train. Linking Paris with Lyon, the new service revolutionized train travel and meant that traveling by air over medium and short distances was no longer seen as the best option, even for business travel.
The network has expanded rapidly and today these sleek, stylish trains offer links to over 60 destinations throughout France. Operated by SNCF, the French national rail operator, TGV trains travel over specially constructed high-speed lines. The trains can achieve speeds of up to 186mph (300km/h) on most long-distance routes and 200mph (320km/h) on the new TGV Est line, which links Paris with Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Basel. With the exception of shorter journeys, TGVs almost always have an on-board buffet car, serving a selection of drinks and light refreshments.
Tour Dates & Prices
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