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5 reasons to cruise The Douro with Saga

Embark on a cruise on the Douro River aboard our boutique river ships and experience a different side to Europe. Away from the popular river cruise waterways of the Rhine and Danube, the Douro is a lesser travelled route that offers the chance to immerse yourself in the scenery of the historic waterway.

Protected from the changeable Atlantic weather by mountains, the weather in the Douro Valley is classical continental – summers are typically hot and dry, with temperatures dropping in spring and autumn, meaning there’s a month to cruise along the Douro Valley for everyone.

As you cruise through Portugal’s UNESCO-recognised wine region, sit back, relax and spend your days soaking up the lush landscape. Pass by sweeping granite formations, quaint wine-producing estates and steep, vine-covered terraces.

Along the way take the opportunity to stop off and explore a collection of the Douro River’s cities, visit charming churches and try out a spot of wine tasting in the Douro Valley.

Here’s a roundup of some of the amazing experiences you can enjoy on a Douro cruise.

Dinner at a local quinta

Vineyards on the Douro River

Wine has been produced in the Douro Valley for some 2,000 years. Over the centuries, the landscape of the Douro has been shaped by its terraced vineyards and white-washed farm estates known as quintas. Take time to try the rich array of food and wine produced along the slopes of the river valley on a Douro Valley wine tour. Enjoy the opportunity to visit bucolic vineyards such as Quinta do Seixo, set in the heart of the valley, and linger over long meals paired with locally grown wine at charming estates.

Lisbon tour

Lisbon tram

No Douro Valley trip would be complete without exploring the Portuguese capital. Step ashore and spend the day seeing the sights and enjoying a slice of local life in Portugal’s second-largest city, famed as the centre of port wine production. This iconic city on the Douro River is picturesquely set along the banks of the Douro estuary. From stopping off at the 16th-century Belem Tower, built to protect the city from pirates, to glimpsing the 12th-century Cathedral, with its Baroque detailing and beautiful rose windows, there’s plenty of chances to experience the history and culture of this enigmatic city.

Visit Castelo Rodrigo

Castelo Rodrigo

Perched up high on a scenic hilltop in Serra da Marofa, the medieval village of Castelo Rodrigo dates to at least 1209. The fortified town has been the centre of numerous territorial disputes over the course of its history, evidenced by the protective walls that still encircle it. Once an important stopping off point for pilgrims embarking on the Camino de Santiago, the quiet village welcomes visitors to step into its past. Spend some time strolling around the storied streets of Castelo Rodrigo, making sure to visit its 18th-century Baroque church, all while soaking up the views of the surrounding scenery.

Mateus Palace and Gardens

Mateus Palace and Gardens

Take the opportunity to stop off on your Douro Valley cruise and stroll among the opulent interiors and lush gardens of the 19th-century House of Mateus. The work of Italian architect Niccolò Nasoni, the Baroque manor house is opulently decorated with a large collection of notable pieces of art and antique furniture. Join a guide as your learn about the story of the estate, and discover its tranquil gardens replete with skilful topiary work and centenary camelia trees.

Pass through some of Europe's Deepest Locks

The Carrapatelo Dam

Taking a river cruise along the Douro River means navigating some of the waterway’s five locks and 15 dams. Construction began on the Douro’s first dam, the Carrapatelo Dam, in 1960. It took 18 years to complete. With a height of around 35 meters, it holds the title of the deepest dam in Europe. Marvel at this feat of modern engineering from your front-row seat as the ship passes through the dam.

Enjoy all of these fantastic experiences as you sail through Europe in the comfort of our hand-picked river ships. Wake up to a different view every day and dine on delicious dishes in our all-inclusive, specialty restaurant – all with attentive service from our friendly onboard team.

Find out more about Saga river cruises.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.