Portugal, Spain & the Douro 2019 (Round Trip from porto) - Uniworld | Pavlus Travel

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Itinerary & Activities

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Itinerary map of Portugal, Spain & the Douro 2019 (Round Trip from porto)

Day 1: Porto (Embark)

Arrive in Porto, the port city at the mouth of the Douro.

Day 2: Porto, Cruising the Douro River, Porto Antigo

There’s much more to Portugal’s second city than its eponymous fortified wine—historic architecture, cutting-edge design, fabulous food and wine, and a hip, laid-back vibe. Discover its many charms with your choice of distinctively different tours today. Portugal’s second city (after Lisbon), Porto gave its name to the nation’s most famous export, Port wine, and to the nation itself. The city is a fascinating combination of historic buildings and cutting-edge architecture, tradition and vivacious modernity. You must choose between two distinctive—and distinctively Portuguese—ways to explore Porto.Featured Excursions:
Panoramic city tourOf course it is the longtime hub of the Port wine trade, but Porto is also much more. Take in the UNESCO-designated, 19th-century Stock Exchange Palace, seeing its famous Moorish Revival–style Arab Room, during your panoramic tour. Get a feel for this vibrant town, which is simultaneously profoundly urban and moodily romantic. Colorful multistory townhouses sheathe the hills that climb precipitously from the Douro estuary, medieval alleys snake through UNESCO-designated neighborhoods enclosed by 14th-century walls—which were erected on Roman foundations—and baroque church towers crown the hilltops. The Clérigos Tower is an unmistakable landmark, visible from almost anywhere in the Old Town—in fact, at one time sailors used it as a guide to navigate their way through the estuary. Visit Porto’s austere hilltop cathedral before driving down to the Ribeira.

Exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” Porto walking tour with local tastings and vintage tram rideYour ship sets sail after your tour, cruising up the Douro toward Porto Antigo.

Day 3: Cruising the Douro River, Régua, Pinhão

As you cruise along the river today, take note of the little chapels you see along the banks. Though the river is slow and calm now that it has been tamed by dams, it was once extremely hazardous. These tiny chapels mark spots where entire rabelo boat crews perished attempting to get their cargo of Port wine to Porto. Today we learn about wine, which has been cultivated in the Douro River Valley since ancient Roman times. Get a crash course on the history of Port during your visit to the Douro Museum.Featured Excursions:
Douro Museum and Quinta de Avessada wine estateThe Douro Valley is the oldest demarcated wine-growing district in Europe. Why? What makes Port the wine it is? Learn about the region’s unique geology and winemaking history—Romans planted vines in this region 2,000 years ago—at the Douro Museum. Exhibits laid out in buildings that were once home to Port winemaker Real Companhia Velha let you see how the process of making Port evolved over the centuries: You’ll find the tools of the trade and even a rabelo (a boat that carried wine from the vineyards to Porto) on display. An interactive map shows where the quintas are and how the region developed; and by sniffing vials of concentrated fragrance, you can learn to identify the many aromas that a good Port exhibits. It’s fun and informative—plus you can sample some regional Douro wine.

Next, travel up winding roads with spectacular views—and breath-stealing drop-offs—to the hilltop winery Quinta da Avessada. Built a century ago, this quinta produces delicious Moscatels, a wine that is very popular in Portugal; in fact, it’s so popular that most of it is consumed within the country—only about 10 percent of it is exported. Luis Barros, who was determined to revive both his family vineyard and his village when he took over the management of Quinta de Avessada a few years ago, is eager to welcome visitors and help them learn how the sweet, floral Muscat grapes are grown in this region’s extreme climate.
Scenic sailing lunch onboardScenic wine route to Pinhão Valley

Day 4: Pinhão, Vega de Terrón

Feel the centuries fall away as your ship winds its way through the pristine, dramatic, UNESCO-protected landscapes of the Douro River Valley. Head ashore for a choice of excursions, a tasting at a prestigious port wine estate or a vineyard hike with a wine tasting at a local quinta.Featured Excursions:
Quinta do Seixo guided tour with tastingAs you journey through the hills to Quinta do Seixo, a prestigious Port wine estate, you will see a unique landscape that has been shaped by wine growers for two millennia. The stone terraces curving around the steep slopes hold soil that is largely the creation of human intervention: People have laboriously broken up the native silver schist stone over the centuries and turned it into usable sandy earth; it’s called “anthroposoil.” The process of producing Port wine is a fascinating blend of tradition and modernity; the steepness of the slopes requires that grape vines be tended almost entirely by hand, but the wine itself is made using the most modern techniques. You’ll tour the state-of-the-art facility and sample some exceptional Ports in a tasting room whose wall of windows looks out over spectacular views of the Douro Valley.

Vineyard hike and wine tasting at a local quintaAlthough many Port wine estates are owned by international corporations nowadays, the tradition of the family-owned estate remains strong. Start this expedition in pretty Pinhão, heading up into the hills to a family-owned quinta, where you can get a firsthand look at how the vineyards are tended and grapes harvested. Although some 80 varieties of grapes are approved for the creation of Port, six grape varieties dominate. Discover which ones are grown here and learn why.

In the evening, a special Gala Dinner will be prepared for you.

Day 5: Vega de Terrón (Salamanca), Barca d’Alva

What adventures await you in Spain today? The ship docks near the Spanish border today, where you may head across the country to the historic university town of Salamanca—the “Golden City”—famous for its sand-colored buildings and abundance of churches.Featured Excursions:
Salamanca - the Golden City and Spain's oldest universityCalled the “Golden City” for its tawny sandstone buildings, Salamanca boasts a dozen beautiful and historic churches, including two cathedrals: the new one, built in the early 16th century, and the Old Cathedral, which dates to the 12th century and can only be entered from the New Cathedral. Walk with your guide through Plaza Mayor, lined with wonderful baroque buildings, to the university, which was founded by Alfonso IX in 1218. The ornate plateresque façade is stunning, and the interior rooms you see are equally beautiful. Salamanca’s food hall is one of Spain’s best, as you will discover when you sample chorizos, cheese, olive oil and ham with your guide’s assistance. You have time to browse through the shops on Rua Mayor and enjoy a tapas lunch on your own (your guide can recommend some great places to dine).

Day 6: Barca d’Alva, Pochino, Cruising the Douro River

A tiny village surrounded by mountains, Barca d’Alva is your base for today's adventures. Go medieval today at Castelo Rodrigo, both the name of a hilltop castle as well as the village that surrounds it. It has been singled out as one of Portugal’s 12 historic villages for its medieval beauty. The view from the top is incredible and the village is a charming place to ramble, relax and replenish. Or, if you wish, you can also lace up your hiking boots and unleash your inner Indiana Jones with an up-close gander at some prehistoric carvings during a visit to Portugal’s first archaeological park, Foz Côa.Featured Excursions:
Castelo RodrigoRide through wonderfully scenic countryside—the region is noted for its honey, which derives its flavor from the fields of wild lavender and the almond groves you’ll pass—to Castelo Rodrigo, the name of both a castle and the village it shelters. The castle ruins stand high atop Marofa Mountain, telling the tale of border strife and Portugal’s struggle for independence in a single structure. Construction on the citadel began in 1209 under the auspices of the king of Leon, but it became part of Portugal within a century—though its local lords sided with Spanish rulers from time to time over the next four centuries. That’s why the palace adjoining the castle lies in ruins: Outraged citizens destroyed it after its lord sided with Castile. Take in the amazing view from the ancient stone walls, then step down through the tiny cobbled lanes of the village, passing the old pillory, the Manueline church, and the town’s market square. It’s not all history, of course. You’ll also get to sample delicious local treats, such as honey, almonds, olive oil and cheeses, and a newly restored tea-house invites you to relax over a cup of tea or a cool drink.

Archaeological Park of the Côa ValleyReady for an expedition worthy of Indiana Jones? Today’s your chance. In the 1990s, scouting for a proposed dam project on the Côa River revealed an astonishing collection of prehistoric carvings, among them horses, deer and aurochs that span eons. The oldest images etched into the schist walls around the river date to approximately 22,000 to 20,000 BC, with younger carvings ranging from the Epipaleolithic, Neolithic and Bronze ages to the 17th century—images that represent human interaction with the natural world for more than 30,000 years. Your visit starts at the Côa Museum, where you can see both reproduction and original rock art and learn about the amazing area. Then you can go out with your knowledgeable guide into the valley to see these sites for yourself. It will be an illuminating adventure. Note: Exploring these sites will require sturdy hiking footwear and considerable physical fitness: You’ll take a four-wheel drive down dirt roads and hike into rocky and hard-to-access locations.

Day 7: Cruising the Douro River, Porto (Guimarães)

Guimarães or Porto? That’s the question of the day today (you really can’t go wrong either way). Guimarães is the town where Portugal was born and its well-preserved architecture and stylish young residents make it a pleasure to visit. Or opt to explore one of Porto’s oldest neighborhoods, picturesque Ribeira, considered the soul of the city. A tough choice awaits you today: Do you venture off to historic Guimarães, Portugal’s first capital, or do you stay in Porto and explore the Ribeira district on foot?Featured Excursions:
Guimarães city tour“Portugal was born here.” So the sign on the city wall proclaims. Guimarães was home to the first king of Portugal, Afonso I, who managed to win his kingdom’s independence in the 12th century from neighboring suzerains. The wonderfully well-preserved Old Town, with its unique architecture (houses here combine granite with half-timbering) and charming little plazas, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; overlooking it is the grand castle that appears on Portugal’s coat of arms. Rove with your guide from the castle toward the beautiful main square, the Largo da Oliveira, and to the splendid Monastery and Church of Our Lady of Oliveira and the 14th-century Gothic Padrão do Salado. But remember that despite these historic beauties, Guimarães has the youngest population of any city in Europe, so the pedestrian area is full of lively and fun cafés and shops.

Porto surprise discovery tourPrince Henry the Navigator was born in this historic waterfront neighborhood in 1394, and, more than 600 years later, the building is still standing: It became Porto’s first customs house, which seems appropriate, considering that Prince Henry began Portugal’s international trade. Stroll with your local guide through the oldest part of the city—check out some of the Roman ruins excavated here—simply breathing in the atmosphere. It may be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s no museum: People hang their laundry from upper floors of brightly painted houses, dogs mosey down the alleys, cafés nestle under 500-year-old arches, and traditional rabelos flat-keeled sailboats that once carried barrels of Port from the vineyards to the Port cellars) bob at the quay. As lively as it is picturesque, Ribeira is indeed the soul of Porto.

Day 8: Porto (Disembark)

You’ve experienced the best of Portugal, Spain and the pristine Douro River, but now the journey comes to a close and it’s time to disembark the ship. If your cruise/ tour package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Porto Airport for your flight home. Your Uniworld adventure may be over, but we know you’ll enjoy the memories you’ve made for years to come.


Things to Know

Preparing For Your Trip
  • Make Sure to Bring All of Your Important Documents: Passport, Foreign visa (if applicable), Itinerary, Trip confirmation, Airline ticket, Drivers license, Credit cards, Travel documents.

  • Vaccinations Are Required for Entry to Some Countries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) can provide you their recommendations for vaccinations and other travel health precautions for your trip abroad.

  • Are You Taking Any Prescriptions or Other Medications? Pack enough to last your entire trip, including some extra in case you are unexpectedly delayed.

  • Insurance: Purchase travel insurance to cover yourself against unexpected situations. You never know when something might happen, so always be prepared.
While Traveling
  • Keep an eye on your belongings. Do not leave your belongings unattended in public spaces

  • Always have local cash. Not every place takes credit cards.
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