Welcome to Lisbon; we will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the superior first class Hotel Tivoli Lisboa (or similar) in the heart of Lisbon.* Relax this afternoon and evening or begin exploring the city a bit on your own.
After breakfast, embark on a half-day tour of Lisbon. Begin at Belém with a tour of the Jerónimos Monastery—a Hieronymite monastery that is arguably the city’s most beautiful building. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Tower of Belém which you also visit. Then you will ride up a steep hill for a walking tour of the maze-like Bairro Alto (old town) during which you learn about Lisbon’s long, multicultural history; explore the narrow streets of the Alfama as you walk back down toward the water’s edge. (B)
Have breakfast, then check out of your hotel and take a scenic ride up the Portuguese coast to Porto. You will stop at Coimbra, birthplace of six Portuguese kings and home to one of Europe’s oldest universities, for lunch. Upon arrival in Porto, proceed to the dock at Vila Nova de Gaia to board your ship. After boarding, you have free time to relax and get settled in your stateroom before a welcome cocktail and dinner aboard. (B, L, D)
Day 4Porto & Bitetos
After breakfast, take a city tour of Porto, a charming riverside community whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See its graceful bridges, baroque cathedrals and romantic 16th- through 19th-century buildings set among narrow cobbled streets. You will see Foz, an old fishing village where wealthy Porto families keep their summer homes. Visit a typical port wine-making facility, then return aboard for lunch.
This afternoon enjoy some free time to explore Porto on your own, or take an optional excursion to Guimarães. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Guimarães has a medieval quarter with narrow streets, a main square and palaces and monasteries dating back as far as the 10th century. This city was Portugal’s first capital in the 12th century and home to its first king, Don Afonso Henriques. Rejoin your ship which has sailed to Bitetos.
This evening, disembark and proceed to the 11th-century Alpendurada Monastery—now a small inn and museum with a sweeping view of the river—for a leisurely dinner and fado concert. (B, L, D)
Day 5Régua & Pinhão
This morning we sail along the Douro, arriving late morning in Régua. Disembark for a visit to Lamego, a small town famous for its baroque Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies, dating back to the 14th century and still used by pilgrims today. Visit the shrine, decorated with exquisite tilework in the Moorish manner, and descend the grand baroque staircase. You also see the town’s Gothic cathedral and the ruins of 12th-century Lamego Castle with its unusual vaulted cistern. Visit Quinta do Seixo, one of the area’s iconic port wine-making institutions. See the vineyard and tour the facility to learn how these unique Portuguese products are crafted, then sample the wares in their tasting room. Rejoin your ship in Pinhão for dinner. (B, L, D)
Day 6Douro River & Barca d’Alva
This morning, sail east along the Douro. You will see dramatic, sheer rock formations, picturesque terraced vineyards and graceful bridges and trestles along the way; you will also pass through two of the river’s locks at the Valeira and Pocinho Dams. Arrive at Barca d’Alva, not far from the Spanish border, during lunchtime.
This afternoon, enjoy a half-day tour to Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo. Located about 2,200 feet above sea level and surrounded by almond trees, Castelo Rodrigo is one of Portugal’s 12 historic parishes; its streets are narrow and steep and its houses still present 16th-century façades and the distinctively Portuguese Manueline-style windows. Here you will see Sinagoga Street, a memento of a Jewish community established by refugees from the Spanish Inquisition, and visit the local church as well. Ride back to your ship, stopping here and there to admire panoramic views. (B, L, D)
Day 7Salamanca & Vega de Terrón
Today you have a full-day excursion to Salamanca, Spain. This ancient city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a living museum that takes visitors back to the Middle Ages, yet it is a cosmopolitan, multicultural city with a large population of international students. Take a ride through the Iberian countryside to Salamanca, then spend some time exploring the shops and cafés of the Plaza Mayor (Main Square) on your own. Lunch is at a local restaurant and features an unforgettable flamenco show. Your afternoon guided city tour takes you to the Gothic House of Shells, the 13th-century Salamanca University and the New Cathedral, built from 1513 through 1733. The Old Cathedral is still there and can be visited during free time. Rejoin your ship in Vega de Terrón. Spend your evening at leisure as your ship remains docked overnight. (B, L, D)
Day 8Douro River & Pinhão
Today, you can relax and enjoy the views while sailing in a westerly direction along the Douro. As you pass some of the area’s quintas, you may catch glimpses of the vintners tending to their vines or some of the barcos rabelos, wine boats that carry casks of port down the river toward Porto.
After arriving in Pinhão this afternoon, drive up a scenic road to the little village of Favaios, and make your way to one of the last traditional bakeries in the Douro Valley. Discover how bread was made in the old days and enjoy a fresh sample. Visit the local museum for wine and bread and explore a typical village not yet discovered by mass tourism. This evening, dine at Quinta da Avessada, a beautiful century-old winery in the heart of the Douro Wine District (a UNESCO Site), and sample some local varieties of port such as Moscatel. (B, L, D)
Arrive in Régua during breakfast, then take a morning tour to Vila Real, site of the extraordinary Mateus Palace—the building depicted on the Mateus Rosé wine labels. This stunning baroque palace was the home of the last Count of Vila Real; its pinnacled façade, grand stairway, richly appointed interiors and priceless objects on display will amaze you, as will the palace’s enchanting formal gardens featuring cedar-lined walkways, exquisite sculpted hedges and statuary and serene bodies of water. As you depart, catch glimpses of the town’s ornamental carvings, tiled walls and Manueline windows.
Return to your ship for lunch and scenic afternoon sailing along the Douro, back toward Vila Nova de Gaia. Arrive in port during a festive farewell dinner; we are docked overnight so feel free to take an evening stroll or enjoy the activities in the lounge. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the airport for your return flight.* Or, extend your time in the region with a 2-night extension to Braga, Portugal and Santiago de Compostela, Spain. (B)