Centuries of wine-growing history and timeless Port traditions along an enchanting “river of gold”… white-painted quinta estates lined with terraced vineyards… Lisbon’s treasures from the Age of Discovery and beyond… art and architecture royally inspired and the joys of tapas in Madrid…
Cruise through the heart of one of the world’s oldest and most beautiful wine regions on a 12-day journey between Lisbon and Madrid, featuring a 7-night cruise aboard Tauck’s new riverboat ms Andorinha, custom designed for exploring Portugal’s “golden” Douro River. Visit quintas for wine tastings, hike through vineyards and villages, and discover the UNESCO World Heritage city of Porto, where the Douro kisses the Atlantic and timeless Port traditions steal your heart. Spend two nights each in Lisbon, the gate to the “New World,” enticing with palaces aplenty and azulejos chronicling life from Moorish times to present day – and Madrid, Spain’s bigger-than-life capital, with its bar culture and bevy of baroque and belle époque architecture.
Tour begins: 6:00 PM, InterContinental Lisbon. A transfer is included from Lisbon Airport to the InterContinental Lisbon, located between Eduardo VII Park, Marques de Pombal Square and the luxurious Avenida da Liberdade. Join us tonight for a private visit and welcome dinner at 18th-century Queluz National Palace, a blend of Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical architectural designs graced with gardens inspired by French styles.
Historic Monuments and Lisbon at Leisure
Crafted atop seven hills over centuries, Lisbon is home to cobbled lanes, castles in the clouds and maritime monuments that pay lasting tribute to Portuguese explorers like Vasco da Gama who changed the world. City sightseeing today discovers landmark places steeped in history, including Eduardo VII Park, Trade Square, the Monument to the Discoveries and Jeronimos Monastery where Vasco da Gama and Portugal’s kings are buried. Visit the National Coach Museum to see its world-renowned collection of historical carriages before spending the remainder of the day at leisure exploring the sights as you wish.
Captivating Coimbra & On to Porto
Drive back in time to Coimbra, Portugal’s medieval capital for more than a century. A walking tour along the tiered cobbled lanes of this hilltop city brings you to its esteemed university, founded here in 1537, where its caped students evoke images of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School, its majestic buildings line squares steeped in history and cloistered arcades lead to architectural showpieces beautiful to behold. Learn about student life, past and present; many of its centuries-old traditions still exist today with time to explore on your own. Continue on to Porto, where Tauck’s riverboat, ms Andorinha, is docked on the Douro and awaiting your arrival. Settle into your cabin and enjoy a welcome reception followed by dinner onboard the ship.
Discover Porto, Your Way
Culturally rich and historically charming, Porto’s pleasures are diverse and delightful, blending old and new to reveal a fascinating portrait of the city through art and architecture, wine and food, and magnificent waterfront views. Explore the city by land, river, and air when you ride a historic tram from the Foz Quarter to the medieval riverfront district of Porto, before boarding a water taxi that takes you across the river for a cable car ride to the top of the Luiz I Bride, rewarding with a stunning panorama. Or, if you prefer, join a local guide into the historic heart of Porto. Your tram ride will take you up to the top of the city for a robust walking tour with stops to taste local culinary treats.
Vinho Verde and the Charms of Guimarães
The Douro River cuts a 200-mile path through one the world’s most beautiful and prolific wine regions as it makes its way from Porto and the Atlantic Ocean through rugged wilderness to the Spanish frontier. The wine growing regions of the Douro surprise visitors with an array of vintages, young and old. Today unfolds with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Guimarães, regarded as the birthplace of Portugal and renowned for its well-preserved medieval buildings and national monuments. Then, drive to Aveleda to discover uniquely produced “green wines” during a tasting lunch at a quinta in a Vinho Verde vineyard. Green refers to its age not its color; the grapes they use for these wines are typically consumed within three to six months after bottling and can be red, white, or rosé. Chart a course for Peso da Régua this afternoon and enjoy the chef’s signature dinner onboard your riverboat tonight.
A Rendezvous in Peso da Régua
It’s historic role in the production of port wine is written on the landscapes you’ll see today when you step off the boat into Peso da Régua for a day of discovery. An important transport junction, this is where barrels of wine were boarded onto traditional rabelos bound for Gaia in the 18th century, where the wine was aged in local lodges. A choice of morning activities include joining a local guide for a bicycle ride that entices with scenic views of terraced vineyards or a visit to the 12th-century Monastery of St. John, resplendent with tiled tableaus, with an opportunity to learn about Portugal’s sparkling wines during a tour of wine caves of a local producer. This afternoon, learn about the history and cultural treasures of the Douro Wine Region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on a locally guided visit to the Douro Museum. Dine onboard the riverboat at your leisure tonight.
Daily Life Along the River
Enjoy a fabled look at life along the Rio Douro when you embark on a guided tour of 18th-century Casa de Mateus, a Baroque masterpiece you may recognize from the label on bottles of Mateus Rosé, and its fantasy garden of manicured hedges and dignified statues. Or join a local guide for an active walk through the vineyards to a local wine-making estate called a quinta, rewarding with a port cocktail making class! Tonight entices with a special culinary experience when you dine with a riverside view at DOC, an acronym for “Degustar Ousar Comunicar” (translated: “Taste, Dare, Communicate”), savoring gourmet cuisine by acclaimed chef Rui Paula who delights in blending traditional Portuguese dishes with contemporary fare along with the Douro’s famous wines.
Spend the day enjoying a leisurely cruise in the heart of port wine country, past sloping terraced vineyards and picturesque villages, stopping this afternoon for a shore excursion that celebrates the historic beauty and bounty of the region.
Cave Art on the Douro & A Medieval Castle
20,000 years ago prehistoric man called the Coa Valley home, leaving evidence of their residence on rocks in the Coa Valley. Visit the Coa Museum, to learn more about the history of the valley before continuing on your Douro River cruise. As the river courses its way to Spain, it passes the ruins of hilltop castles hidden in the hills; disembark to visit Castelo Rodrigo, standing watch over the medieval village of Rodrigo since the 13th century when its defensive battlements were built and fought over by both Spain and Portugal. A walking tour of the site reveals remnants of its storied roots on the river, before your cruise continues towards the Spanish border.
Salamanca Sights & Magnificent Madrid
Disembark your riverboat and drive to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Salamanca for a guided walking tour of its ancient heart, viewing the “living room of Salamanca,” the elegant arcaded Plaza Mayor, its stunning 12th-century Romanesque Cathedral, and its esteemed 800-year-old university, one of the oldest in the world. Continue on to Madrid for a two-night stay at a legendary palace hotel commissioned by King Alfonso XIII in 1912 and located in the heart of the city’s renowned art triangle with easy access to its three most famous museums, El Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza. Tapas tantalize with small bites of local culinary fare on a tasting walk with an expert guide who knows where to find the best samples of this regional specialty.
Palatial Treasures of Madrid
Take a guided one-mile walk – or a short drive – to Madrid’s 18th-century Royal Palace, home to a succession of Spanish kings from Charles III to Alfonso XIII, and reigning today as the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family in name only. Your visit to this 2,000+ room jeweled palace, by square feet Europe’s largest palace, takes you on a journey through history and time-honored splendor with a local guide as you view rooms and salons overflowing with art treasures and antiques, and gilded, floor to ceiling, with fine fabrics, magnificent mosaics, crystal chandeliers and more. Highlights may include the Reception Room, the State Apartments, the Armory, the Throne Room, the Banquet Room and the Royal Pharmacy. Head-turning art welcomes you to the Museo del Prado, one of the world's premier art museums with over 4,000 works of art masterpieces, including works by iconic Spanish artists Goya and Velázquez, many of them acquired by kings through the ages. Join us for a farewell reception and dinner at your hotel tonight.
Tour ends: Madrid. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from The Westin Palace, Madrid to Madrid-Barajas Airport. Allow a minimum of 3 ½ hours for flight check-in.