Over 14 days, discover the delights of the picturesque Douro Valley from Porto to Madrid. Visit the award-winning Côa Valley Museum & tour elegant Lamego.
Itinerary also travels in reverse.
Arrive in Porto, a World Heritage-listed city straddling the Douro River. Embark the Scenic Azure and enjoy a welcome reception and dinner on board.
On a walking tour of Porto’s historic old town the following morning, explore medieval treasures, examine azulejo tiles, and visit the Palácio da Bolsa—the city’s old stock exchange. Later, we begin our cruise along the Douro.
Delve into history at the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança in Guimarães, or venture to the stunning Quinta da Aveleda winery and gardens in the Vinho Verde wine region, where we’ll sip on sparkling whites. Cruise into the stunning Douro Valley this afternoon and get introduced to the history and culture of the region at the award-winning Douro Museum in Peso da Régua.
Today, explore the Varosa Valley, home to the elegant town of Lamego and a rich Cistercian heritage that dates back to the 12th century. On an afternoon excursion, choose to delve into the region’s past at the ruins of the Mosteiro de São João de Tarouca, Portugal’s first Cistercian monastery, and at the Monastery of Santa Maria de Salzedas’ historical collections. Or visit the opulent Mateus Palace, famously featured on bottles of Mateus rosé.
On the Douro
Take in scenes of the Douro Valley as we wind our way past charming terra-cotta-roofed towns, through towering locks, and past the vine-striped hillsides that earned the region its World Heritage designation. Watch the terroir transition from granite outcroppings to slate-terraced vineyards, and spend time documenting these picturesque scenes with your National Geographic photographer; or listen to an afternoon lecture given by your National Geographic Expert.
Cross into Spain for a visit to Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Two options for exploration await you in this fabled city. Visit the storied hallways and classrooms of the University of Salamanca, founded in 1218, and enjoy a discussion with students and professors about their studies and research. Alternatively, take in the city’s Renaissance splendor on a guided city tour, then enjoy some time to explore on your own. Have lunch in town with live entertainment before returning to our ship.
Côa Valley, Portugal
Explore notable tributaries of the Douro River today, choosing from adventures on the Côa and Sabor Rivers. Venture into the Côa Valley to learn about the prehistoric rock art at the World Heritage-listed Foz Côa. Opt for a thrilling ride in a 4x4 vehicle, and then hike to the archaeological site to witness these fascinating carvings. You may instead choose a canoeing excursion along the pristine Sabor River, a rugged tributary of the Douro. Or, for those more interested in the flavors of the region, set out on a culinary excursion to the Casa Painova estate and taste their delicious almond and olive products. Tonight, local musicians join us on board to perform traditional Portuguese songs.
Drive into the hills of the Douro Valley to the time-locked town of Provesende. Wander this quaint village and get a glimpse into daily life during visits to the town church and the local bakery, and enjoy a glass of port wine at the charming Morgadio da Calçada manor house. This afternoon, experience a tasting at a winery along the river, opting for a walk through the vineyards, if you choose.
Enjoy a relaxing day onboard as we sail back toward Porto. Expert talks, wine tastings, and handicraft workshops are all options as we cross back over the coastal range. Upon arrival in Porto, head to Igreja de São Francisco for a private concert in this opulent church.
Tour the Douro Estuary on foot, spotting birdlife and then tapping into the rhythms of a nearby fishing village. There are also options to visit Porto’s oldest canning factory, or go for a tasting in one of the city’s most celebrated port cellars.
Porto > Madrid
Today you’ll board your included flight from Porto to Madrid. On arrival transfer to your luxurious hotel, your residence for the next three nights.
Enjoy a tour of Madrid, including the 17th century Austrian Quarter, the Sabatini Gardens and the famous Cibeles and Neptuno Fountains.
This afternoon, you can choose between a visit of the exceptional Prado Museum, renowned as one of the best museums in the world or a visit of the equally delightful 18th century Royal Palace of Madrid.
This evening, enjoy fine Spanish cuisine at a welcome dinner with your fellow travellers.
Today is yours to enjoy at leisure in Spain’s largest city. Stroll the fashionable boutiques that adorn the city centre’s many plazas, relax in one of Madrid’s manicured gardens or simply explore the surrounding area.
After breakfast, transfer to Madrid airport with memories of a truly unforgettable journey.