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Discover Portugal and the Douro River Valley

Updated: May 6, 2020

Discovery is defined as “the act of finding something that had not been known before.” Travel is full of discoveries. New experiences. Different cultures. Beautiful vistas. Historical connections. Remarkable architecture. Delicious cuisines. Awe-inspiring art.

Portugal delivers all these discoveries – and then some. That’s why discovering the wonders of Portugal and the Douro River Valley is the focus of one of our 2021 Trips of a Lifetime. Here’s a small peek at what we have planned for this one-of-a-kind, all-inclusive river cruise, May 13-23, 2021.

At the beginning: The Age of Discovery

Our curated trip will appropriately begin with three days in Lisbon. The capital city of Portugal is steeped in history. During the 15th through 18th centuries, also known as the Age of Discoveries, the city launched many explorers, including Vasco De Gama and Ferdinand Magellan.

Today’s Lisbon is experiencing a rebirth. As you explore, you’ll find a unique mix of historic charm and modern metropolis. For a view of both, take the Santa Justa Lift from Baixa neighborhood in lower Lisbon to the Bairro Alto district. This historic, iron elevator opened in 1902 and today doubles as a transport system and favored tourist spot, offering stunning views from its observation deck.

As you explore the city, don’t make the mistake of walking past the São Roque Church. While its exterior is remarkably plain, the inside reveals nine opulent chapels, filled with Baroque masterpiece paintings, mosaics, and sculptures. Belém Tower is another must-see. With its majestic 16th century architecture, Belém Tower once protected Portugal’s coast and today serves as the ceremonial gateway for the city.

Next: Surprises at every turn

On day four, we’ll make our way to Porto by way of Coimbra. This vibrant town is home to an ancient university you have to see to believe. One highlight is a visit to its Biblioteca Joanina, the ornate baroque-style home to 57,000 books, and the inspiration for the magical library in the Harry Potter series.

After a traditional Portuguese lunch, you’ll have the choice of exploring Porto via a city tour or a “do as the locals do” walking tour. Whichever you choose, you’ll be mesmerized by the blend of modern and historical in this bustling city named for its most famous export, Port wine.

Later, we’ll board our ship, the S.S. São Gabriel. As one of the newest and most luxurious ships cruising the Douro River, the S.S. São Gabriel was designed to reflect the style of the region, with its décor and lavishly appointed suites. We’re so excited to have chartered this exceptional vessel for our 2021 Trip of a Lifetime.

As we cruise the Douro River, the picturesque views are punctuated by small chapels along the banks. While dams have now tamed the waters, the river was once quite hazardous, with the chapels marking spots where boat crews perished while attempting to deliver their cargo of Port wine to Porto.

The experiences: Memories to last a lifetime

As we cruise along the Douro, each port offers unique local experiences and unforgettable hidden gems.

In Pinhão, choose a guided tour of Quinta de Seixo, an ancient vineyard and modern winery. Or, opt for an up-close view with a local vineyard hike. Both options include wine tastings featuring the rich regional wines cultivated in the river valley since Roman times.

When the ship docks near the Spanish border, take the opportunity to visit the historic university town of Salamanca, also known as the “Golden City” for its many sandstone buildings that seem to glow in the sunlight. Salamanca is famous for its food culture, which draws from a variety of historical influences and unique local ingredients.

Upon arrival in Barca d’Alva, a tiny village surrounded by mountains, you will feel like you’ve stepped back into medieval times. Stroll the streets and take in the views. Or, hike even further back in time with a visit to Foz Côa, an archaeological park centered around the discovery of prehistoric engraved rock drawings that date from 22,000 to 10,000 years B.C.

On the final day of our trip, you’ll choose between exploring historic Guimarães, Portugal’s first capital, or Porto’s scenic Ribeira district, which is often called the soul of the city. No matter which you elect, it’s sure to be a perfect finale to an amazing trip full of discovery.

The sights of Portugal and the Douro River Valley await. Please join us for this exclusive Trip of a Lifetime, May 13-23, 2021. For more information and answers to any questions, call us at (877) 999-4533 or email us at travelplans@cruisedreams.com today.

Waves to you and smooth sailings ahead!

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