Centuries of wine-growing history and timeless Port traditions along an enchanting “river of gold”… white-painted quinta estates lined with terraced vineyards… art and architecture royally inspired and the joys of tapas in Madrid… Lisbon’s treasures from the Age of Discovery and beyond…
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 Madrid, Spain’s bigger-than-life capital, with its bar culture and bevy of baroque and belle époque architecture – and Lisbon, gate to the “New World,” enticing with palaces aplenty and azulejos chronicling life from Moorish times to present day...
Tour begins: 5:30 PM, The Westin Palace Madrid. A transfer is included from Madrid-Barajas Airport to The Westin Palace, Madrid, 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. Settle in and join your fellow travelers for a welcome reception and dinner tonight at the hotel.
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. 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.
Salamanca Sights & Your Riverboat Hotel
Drive to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Salamanca for free time and 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. Cross the border into Portugal, where Tauck’s brand new riverboat, ms Andorinha, is docked on the Douro and awaiting your arrival. Settle into your cabin and enjoy dinner onboard at your leisure tonight.
A Medieval Castle & Cave Art on the Douro
The Douro River cuts a 200-mile path through rugged wilderness on the Spanish frontier and one the world’s most beautiful and prolific wine regions as it courses through Portugal and the city of Porto on the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, it passes the castle ruins hidden in the hills; disembark for a visit to 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 reveals remnants of its storied roots, before your cruise continues along the river. 20,000 years ago prehistoric man called the nearby 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 and its ancient sites. Enjoy the chef’s signature dinner onboard ship tonight.
Pleasures of Pinhão
A choice of shore excursions today includes a walk in pretty Pinhão, nestled in the heart of port wine country, with a visit to its historic tile-covered train station, a vision of blue and white Azulejo tiles, or an active hike through the sloping terraced vineyards that surround this town. Return to your riverboat for an afternoon cruise to Folgosa where dinner tonight entices with a special culinary experience at DOC, an acronym for “Degustar Ousar Comunicar” (translated: “Taste, Dare, Communicate”), savoring gourmet cuisine by acclaimed Portuguese chef Rui Paula who delights in marrying traditional dishes with contemporary fare along with the Douro’s famous wines.
A Rendezvous in Peso da Régua
Its 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. Visit the 12th-century Monastery of St. John, resplendent with tiled tableaus, or, join a local guide for an active walk through the vineyards this morning to a local wine-making estate called a quinta, rewarding with a port cocktail making class. Afternoon shore excursions offer an opportunity to learn more 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; or explore the 18th-century Casa de Mateus on a guided tour – a Baroque masterpiece you may recognize from the label on bottles of Mateus Rosé, with its fantasy garden of manicured hedges and dignified statues.
The Charms of Guimarães
Spend a leisurely morning cruise on the lower Douro through a region known for its Vinho Verde wines. Disembark for a choice of excursions that include a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Guimarães, the birthplace of Portugal renowned for its well-preserved medieval buildings and national monuments. As an alternative, you can join a local guide for a bicycle ride that entices with scenic views of terraced vineyards.
Vinho Verde Wines
The wine growing regions of the Douro surprise visitors with an array of vintages, young and old. Discover them at a wine tasting at a quinta in a Vinho Verde vineyard where they specialize in green wines uniquely produced here. 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 Porto this afternoon.
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 waterfront views that take your breath away. Explore the city by land, river and air when you ride a historic tram from Foz Quarter through the upper part of town and board a water taxi that takes you across the river for a cable car ride to the top of the Luiz I Bridge, rewarding with panoramic views. If you prefer, join a local guide for a tram ride and a robust walking tour of Porto’s historic center with stops to taste local culinary treats. Your day concludes with a tasting visit to a port wine cellar in Gaia.
Captivating Coimbra & On to Lisbon
Disembark your riverboat in Porto this morning for a 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, and university traditions still in play today. Enjoy free time for lunch and exploring before continuing on to Lisbon for a two-night stay.
City Sightseeing & a Palace Dinner
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, and visits the National Coach Museum. After enjoying time at leisure, join us for an exclusive royal dinner at 18th-century Queluz National Palace, a blend of Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical architectural designs graced with gardens inspired by French styles.
Tour ends: Lisbon. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the InterContinental Lisbon to Lisbon Airport. Allow a minimum of 3 ½ hours for flight check-in.