Unforgettable Douro River Cruise

  • Trip Type: River Cruise
  • 11 Days | Round-trip Porto
  • Group Size: Max 96

Expedition Details


In northern Portugal, the Douro River curves through the terraced vineyards of Douro wine country, a World Heritage-designated region celebrated for its spectacular beauty and centuries-old viticulture. Step back in time in medieval villages, examine world-renowned rock art, and cross into Spain to roam the Renaissance streets of Salamanca. Along the way, taste excellent wines in the cellars of Porto and historic countryside estates, and listen to traditional rhythms of fado and flamenco in spectacular settings.

Trip Highlights

    • In the company of a National Geographic expert, see the fascinating engravings of Foz Côa—widely considered the world’s most important open-air Paleolithic rock art site.
    • Explore the wetlands at the edge of Porto on a morning walk, looking for birdlife and meeting fisherman as they pull in with their catch. Attend on board photo talks led by a National Geographic photographer, and practice landscape shots on the sinuous vineyards that flank the Douro.
    • Enjoy a festive flamenco performance in Salamanca and a private concert in the spectacular gilded nave of Porto’s Igreja de São Francisco.

Itinerary - 11 Days

Day 1 — Porto, Portugal

Arrive in Porto, a World Heritage-listed city straddling a gorge on the Douro River. Embark the Scenic Azure and enjoy a welcome reception and dinner on board.
Scenic Azure (D)

Day 2 — Porto

On a walking tour of Porto’s historic old town, explore medieval treasures, examine famous azulejo tiles, and stroll the waterfront. Visit the Palácio da Bolsa, the city’s old stock exchange, and gaze at the gilded Moorish motifs coating the walls of its Salão Árabe—or Arabian Room. This afternoon we begin our cruise along the Douro, tracing the river through the rural landscapes of northern Portugal.
Scenic Azure (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Guimarães/Douro Valley

Delve into history at the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança in Guimarães, Portugal’s first capital and the birthplace of its first king, Afonso Henriques; or venture to the stunning Quinta da Aveleda winery and gardens in the Vinho Verde wine region, where we’ll sip on this producer’s famous sparkling whites. Glide into the stunning Douro Valley this afternoon and stop in Peso da Régua to visit the Douro Museum for an introduction to the area and its wine-making history.
Scenic Azure (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Douro Valley

We continue our exploration of the Douro Valley at the skeletal ruins of the 12th-century Mosteiro de São João de Tarouca, Portugal’s first Cistercian monastery. En route to the site, stroll the Ponte de Ucanha, a fortified medieval toll bridge, then wander the abandoned monks’ quarters and restored church. Alternatively, choose to tour the elegant town of Lamego, home to a stunning baroque staircase leading to the Senhora dos Remédios pilgrimage church; or join a guide to explore the opulent Mateus Palace, famously featured on bottles of Mateus rosé.
Scenic Azure (B,L,D)

Day 5 — On the Douro

Take in scenes from the Douro Valley from the comfort of the ship lounge as we wind our way past the charming terra-cotta-roofed towns and vine-striped hillsides that earned the region its World Heritage designation. Enjoy the amenities on board, including a plunge pool, fitness center, and expansive sundeck.
Scenic Azure (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Salamanca, Spain

Cross into Spain for a visit to Salamanca. Take in the city’s Renaissance splendor on a guided city tour, then enjoy some time to explore on your own. Gaze at façades of golden sandstone, soak in the grandeur of the Plaza Mayor, and see the pair of cathedrals that crown the city. Enjoy lunch in town, with live entertainment from flamenco dancers before a visit to the historic university in the afternoon.
Scenic Azure (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Côa Valley, Portugal

Venture into the Côa Valley and visit the Côa Museum to learn about the prehistoric rock art at the World Heritage-listed Foz Côa, where thousands of stone carvings created over thousands of years have been found. Opt to ride a 4x4 vehicle to the archaeological site, and set out on a hike to view these fascinating carvings. You may instead choose to paddle a canoe along the pristine Sabor River, a rugged tributary to the Douro that has remained virtually undeveloped. Or set out on a culinary excursion to the Casa Painova estate and taste their delicious almond and olive products. Tonight, local musicians join us on board to perform traditional Portuguese songs.
Scenic Azure (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Provesende

Drive into the hills of the Douro Valley to the time-locked town of Provesende, perched high above the river. Wander the stone streets of this quaint village, and get a glimpse into daily life here while meeting with local residents. Pop into the town bakery, enjoy a special recital in the church, and sip on wine at the charming Morgadio da Calçada manor house. Later, visit the Quinta da Roêda estate to try their famous ports and, if you wish, walk among the vines for a special al fresco tasting.
Scenic Azure (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Porto

Relax on board today and enjoy a tasting of Douro Valley wines as we sail back toward Porto. This evening, head to Porto’s Igreja de São Francisco for a private concert in this baroque church’s spectacular gilded nave.
Scenic Azure (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Porto

Cruise just beyond the city to the Douro Estuary, home to a nature reserve harboring an array of birds, including kingfishers, cormorants, and several species of heron.  Set out on an extended walking tour from the edge of town into the reserve, spotting birdlife amid the salt marshes. Meet fishermen returning with the day's catch along the way, and sample fresh sardines grilled on an open fire. There are also options today to visit Porto’s oldest canning factory, or go for a tasting in one of the city’s most celebrated port cellars.
Scenic Azure (B,L,D)

Day 11 — Porto

Enjoy a final breakfast on board, then transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Optional Extensions

This trip is offered in partnership with Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours.

Special Offer

Book any departure by June 30, 2018 and receive round-trip economy airfare between the U.S. and Europe for $395 per person. Offer is subject to availability and valid for new bookings only, and may not be combined with other promotions. Please call for details.

National Geographic Expert

Krista Rossow

Krista RossowFor more than a decade, Krista Rossow has worked as a photographer, photo editor, and educator for National Geographic. She began her career as a photo editor at National Geographic Traveler magazine, where she shaped compelling stories from world-class imagery. In her freelance career, she has shot feature stories as a contributing photographer for Traveler in South Africa, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Japan, and various U.S. cities. She regularly judges Instagram contests for @NatGeoTravel and photo edits for National Geographic Books. Krista travels with National Geographic Expeditions teaching photography around the world–from the Galápagos Islands, Patagonia, and Morocco to Alaska, Antarctica, and the Arctic. She enjoys traveling and photographing throughout Europe as well, and she sees the camera as a tool for understanding new cultures, meeting the locals, and exploring the natural world. Her images are represented by National Geographic Creative. 

Krista will join the following departure:

May 25 - Jun 04, 2019



  • May 25 - Jun 04, 2019
  • Sep 23 - Oct 03, 2019

Expedition Cost

Jewel Deck
Standard Suite (E) $7,545
Standard Suite (D) $8,040

Sapphire Deck
Riverview Suite (C1) $8,640
Balcony Suite (C) $9,140
Balcony Suite (BB) $9,240
Balcony Suite (B) $9,340
Junior Suite (BJ) $10,140

Diamond Deck
Balcony Suite (PA) $9,640
Balcony Suite (P) $9,740
Junior Balcony Suite (RJ) $10,540
Royal One-Bedroom Suite $11,940

Jewel Deck
Standard Suite (E) $7,845
Standard Suite (D) $8,340

Sapphire Deck
Riverview Suite (C1) $8,940
Balcony Suite (C) $9,440
Balcony Suite (BB) $9,540
Balcony Suite (B) $9,640
Junior Suite (BJ) $10,440

Diamond Deck
Balcony Suite (PA) $9,940
Balcony Suite (P) $10,040
Junior Balcony Suite (RJ) $10,840
Royal One-Bedroom Suite $12,240

Prices are person, double occupancy. Airfare to and from Porto is not included in the expedition cost.

Activity Level

Light or Moderate

Travelers can choose between a light or moderate activity level. For a light level of activity, they should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives on bumpy roads, or easy hikes.

For a moderate level, travelers should be prepared for multiple hours of physical activity (e.g. hiking, kayaking, biking) each day.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.