To get to know one of the largest rivers in the Iberian Peninsula, the Douro River, as well as its magnificent surrounding landscapes, there is no better way than by boat. There are various alternatives, such as short mini-cruises, one-day or several day cruises and the cruises on hotel boats with accommodation included. On these longer cruises, meals on board are included.
The tourism boats that are currently offering trips up and down the Douro River have capacity for between 20 and 350 passengers. The shorter trips include a trip under the six bridges of the Douro River. This is the most popular mini trip. On this trip, you will have the chance to admire the architecture of the bridges that link Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia as well as the beautiful sight of Porto as seen from the Douro River, a city with such characteristic colours cascading down the hillside.
These shorter cruises normally last approximately between one and two hours and some of them are made in boats resembling the ‘rabelos’, the typical Douro River boats that were traditionally used to transport the wine from the green hillsides of the highland Alto Douro wine-producing region to the port wine lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia. There are also trips that only sail up or down the river. Normally the other journey up or down river is made by train.
In the case of the longer river trips, the journey can sometimes be hundreds of kilometers long if the trip is to neighbouring Spain. There are various itineraries between the Gaia pier and more distant destinations such as Peso da Régua, Pinhão, Pocinho and Barca de Alva. In these cases, there are seven day trips on hotel boats on which you can spend the night. These trips offer the possibility of discovering and putting in locations along the journey and of having lunch or dining in iconic landmarks, such as the wine producers’ estate homes or ‘quintas’.
On these river trips you will travel through the oldest demarcated wine-producing region and appreciate the unique beauty of the scenery. It must be remembered that the highland wine-producing region of the Alto Douro is a World Heritage site in recognition of the region’s two thousand year history of wine producing and of its unique landscape of hillside terraces molded by man and covered with vines that change colour with every changing season.
For special occasions, corporate events or simply for tailor-made trips, there are firms that rent out yachts. There are also firms offering special packages for groups or bespoke events. Various companies offer these trips on the Douro River, including Douro Azul, Via d’Ouro/Tomaz do Douro, Cenários d’Ouro, Barcadouro, Rentdouro, Douro.com.pt, Portodouro, Rota do Douro and Douro Acima.