A rail and cruise tour through the Douro Valley
Flowing from northern Spain to the ocean in Porto, the Douro River carves our route through a rolling landscape of vineyards towards historic Porto. Exploring not only the ever-changing scenery, but also the gastronomic delights along the way, we continue to vibrant Lisbon, with its Moorish influences and charming streets.
We depart St Pancras International by Eurostar to Paris, in Standard Premier Class. In Paris we join the TGV to Biarritz, where we stay overnight. On Day 2 we transfer to Irún, where we board the train to Vallodolid in First Class, before transferring to a regional train for the short journey onwards to Salamanca (Standard Class). Our hotel for the next two nights is the Catalonia Plaza Mayor. This evening we dine in a traditional restaurant on the Plaza Mayor.
This morning we take a guided tour of Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage site, also known as the 'Golden City' because of the glow from its sandstone buildings. During the tour we see the 15th century cathedral, the Plaza Mayor and the unusual Casa de las Conchas.
Today we travel by coach into Portugal to Barca d'Alva. Here we board a cruise boat for a journey through the magnificent Douro Valley, one of the highlights of the holiday. Our cruise on the 'Golden River' takes us through the heart of the Port-producing region of Portugal. Here, terraced hillsides surround the riverbanks, with vineyards plunging from the hilltops to the very edge of the Douro River.
We pass splendid, isolated Port 'quintas' - wine growing estates that produce the region's high-quality fortified wines. As we enjoy lunch on board we pass quietly through the undulating landscape of sleepy towns and villages which appear on the riverbank. We glide past delightful almond orchards and through dramatic gorges, eventually arriving in Peso da Régua, the official centre of Port production in Portugal. The town lies in a peaceful spot beneath the Serra do Maoro Mountains and was traditionally the place where barrels of Port were loaded onto wooden cargo ships to be transported along the Douro to Vila Nova de Gaia. On arrival in Peso da Régua we transfer to our hotel for two nights, the Hotel Régua Douro.
Today we travel by train to Pinhão, a small town located at the confluence of the Douro and Pinhão rivers which is the epicentre of the port-making region. We enjoy a port tasting in Pinhão, followed by some free time to explore the town at leisure. We return to Peso da Régua for an afternoon at leisure, during which you could visit the celebrated Douro Museum, located in the town, which includes exhibits relating to the history of Port production in the region. Tonight we dine in a beautiful local Port wine estate, a short distance from Peso da Régua. The excellent Quinta da Casa Amarela is set in beautiful surroundings with terrific views of the Douro.
Today we continue by train down the beautiful Douro river valley to Porto, the city which was once the very edge of the known world and a port from where daring explorers risked their lives to discover the New World. On arrival, we enjoy a guided tour of the city, which has a wonderful unspoilt charm. We stay at the Hotel NH Collection Porto Baltha for the next three nights.
This morning we head to Guimarães, the first capital of Portugal, whose attractive, narrow streets have UNESCO World Heritage status. After time to explore, we continue to the vast Bom Jesus do Monte, known for its grand staircase up to the church that climbs a staggering 381 feet (116 metres). We spend this evening at the famous Taylors Port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. We enjoy a tasting of port and dinner at the cellars.
Today you are free to explore the city of Porto. You could head to the ancient Ribeira (Riverbank) district to explore the narrow winding streets, or visit the Port Wine Caves at Vila Nova de Gaia.
Today we take a high-speed train to Lisbon arriving in the afternoon. The rest of the day is free to explore Lisbon, Portugal's vibrant capital. You could perhaps stroll through the streets to Rossio Square or ride the unique public elevators of Santa Justa or Glória to the Barrio Alto. We spend three nights at the PortoBay Marquês Hotel.
Today we take a guided tour of Lisbon, through historic, picturesque neighbourhoods, passing through the steep and narrow streets of Lisbon's traditional quarters. Our tour is held on a privately chartered historic tram complete with all of its furnishings, and offers a true nostalgic journey in to Lisbon's past. We pass beautiful squares and grand architecture as we travel in restored carriages dating from the 1930s and 1940s.
We end the tour in Belem, Lisbon's natural harbour that was regarded as "the historical heart and soul of Portugal". We visit the historic Pasteis de Belem café, where we enjoy coffee and the famous cakes which give the place its name. Continue exploring independently this afternoon - perhaps in Belem take in the Columbus monument and Jeronimo's Monastery.
This morning we take the train to Sintra, the summer residence of many Kings of Portugal. Sintra is a beautiful village surrounded by wooded hills, home to the spectacular and brightly coloured Pena Palace. Your time in Sintra is free to explore at leisure.
We enjoy the day at leisure, before we board an overnight sleeper train to Spain, which takes us from Lisbon to San Sebastián.
On arrival into San Sebastián this morning we check into our hotel, the NH Collection Aranzazu. The rest of the day is free for you to explore. Perhaps stroll along the seafront, or explore the beautiful old quarter with its many wonderful tapas bars. On Day 14 we travel by coach to nearby Bilbao to visit the famous Guggenheim Museum with its impressive art collection. We return to San Sebastián in the afternoon and you have time at leisure.
We transfer across the French border to Hendaye today, where we join the high-speed TGV service to Paris. Here we board the Eurostar service back to London.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Enhancing your tour
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 11 verified reviews
The tour struck the right blend of guided and personal time. The hotels were good to great, both in comfort and location.
No issues at all on this tour
Overall good well run holiday but tiring.
Excellent itinerary. Hotels were very good and on the whole so was the food. The trains were mostly comfortable and the journeys very good.
It wasn't perfect however it was a great holiday.
We felt that an extra night stopover at Biarritz, after a very long day of travel would have been beneficial. The change in the river cruise was also a disappointment, although what we did have was very good.
1. My wife and another couple left on train at France 2. Hotel Mercure gave us a room already occupied 3. Cruise on the River Duoro was 2.5hours rather than a full day cruise - 2 ships did pass us from up river!
Why don't you read the questionnaire already completed for GRJ ?
The hotels were good but not great. The food was generally good but was variable with the hotel in Regua not that great. The local guides were also a little bit hit and miss. The vineyard trip was fun with very good food and wine. The Douro boat trip was the best bit. Perhaps less use of coaches and more trains on some of the day trips where possible would have been better. The overnight was great, could the trip have been done in two stages ?
Alteration to end of tour which did not go to plan.
A rail and cruise tour through the Douro Valley