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Portugal and the Douro

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4.4 stars(16 reviews)
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Small Group

A rail and cruise tour through the Douro Valley

You are viewing the 2022 itinerary. Select your departure year
20212022
14 days From £2,995 per person

2022 Tour code: POG22

About the tour

Flowing from northern Spain to the ocean in Porto, the Douro River carves our route through a rolling landscape of vineyards. Discover its ever-changing scenery and gastronomic delights before we continue to vibrant Lisbon, with its Moorish influences, Fado music and charming streets.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - London and Biarritz or Bayonne

We take the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris, continuing to Biarritz or Bayonne for the night.

Includes
  • Dinner
  • Eurostar Meal
Day 2 – Salamanca

Travelling by rail and coach, we make our way to Salamanca for two nights. After checking into our hotel, we dine at a traditional restaurant in the city's bustling main square, Plaza Mayor.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 - Discovering Salamanca

Today includes a guided tour of Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage site known as the 'Golden City' due to the honey-coloured glow emanating from its sandstone buildings. We see the city's two wonderful cathedrals - the 12th-century Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral dating back to the 16th century - as well as the lavish city hall and the mighty Monterrey Palace. In addition to these are the historic colleges of the famous university and the unusual Casa de las Conchas, with its studded medieval façade housing an extensive public library.

Includes
  • Day 3 - Breakfast
Day 4 - Douro cruise and Peso da Régua

We travel by coach to Barca d'Alva in Portugal. Here, we board a boat for a cruise along the 'Golden River' through the heart of the Port-producing Douro Valley. Terraced hillsides surround the riverbanks, with vineyards plunging from the hilltops to the very edge of the water as we pass isolated Port 'quintas' - wine growing estates that produce the region's high-quality fortified wines. As we enjoy lunch on board, we admire the undulating landscape of sleepy towns and villages, gliding past delightful almond orchards and through dramatic gorges, eventually arriving in Peso da Régua, a town that boasts a peaceful spot beneath the Serra do Maoro Mountains. On arrival, we transfer to our hotel for two nights.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5 – The Douro Valley by train

We travel by train to Pinhão, a small town located at the confluence of the Douro and Pinhão rivers that's the epicentre of this Port-making region. We enjoy a Port tasting on arrival, followed by some free time to explore. We return to Peso da Régua for a relaxed afternoon, during which you could visit the town's celebrated Douro Museum, which includes exhibits relating to the history of Port production in the area. Later, we dine in a beautiful local Port wine estate a short distance from Peso da Régua, in the idyllic Portuguese countryside. The excellent Quinta da Casa Amarela is set in beautiful surroundings with terrific views of the Douro.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 – Porto

We take the train to Porto, a city once at the edge of the known world, for two nights. Exploring the winding streets with our guide, we admire the city's superb architecture, historical townhouses and regal churches before crossing the famous iron bridge. We continue to the district of Foz, at the mouth of the Douro, where we see the impressive villas that dot the hills here and pay a visit to the magnificent cathedral at the peak of the Penaventosa Hill, looking out across the rest of the city from our panoramic perch. We also see the Palacio da Bolsa, a beautiful 19th-century palace.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 - Guimarães

We head to Guimarães today, the first capital of Portugal whose attractive, narrow streets have UNESCO World Heritage status thanks to the city's fantastically well-preserved buildings, which date as far back as the 10th century. The jewel in Guimarães' crown is the imposing medieval fortress that watches over the city. We enjoy a tour through the colourful streets and lively squares before visiting the castle and its gardens as well as Bom Jesus do Monte, known for its grand, ceramic-tiled staircase. Our evening is spent back in Porto at the famous Taylors Port wine cellar in Vila Nova de Gaia, where we enjoy a tasting followed by dinner.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 - At Leisure in Porto

Today you are free in Porto. You could head to the ancient Ribeira district or immerse yourself in the local flavour further by sampling Bacalhau, traditional Portuguese codfish.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 9 – Lisbon

We catch the train to Lisbon for a two-night stay, enjoying an illuminated coach tour through the streets at twilight before we continue to a local restaurant for an authentic Fado evening. A traditional form of music whose birthplace is said to be in Lisbon during the early 19th century, Fado music is known for its mournful melodies and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a sentiment of giving one's life over to fate. We enjoy multiple courses of authentic food accompanied by the expressive and melancholic sound of acoustic guitars and mandolins.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10 - Sintra

You have free time in the old Moorish city of Sintra, which was recaptured in 1147 by the Portuguese King Alfons I and has been the summer residence of Portuguese royalty for more than 600 years. Today, Sintra is popular with visitors thanks to its colourful buildings and picturesque location below the Sierra de Sintra. The city's most recognisable landmark is the Palacio Nacional, with its huge, white twin chimneys that rise above the large palace kitchen and are for miles around. The palace is regarded as one of the most important examples of regal architecture in the country and has been classified as a National Monument thanks to its mix of architectural styles.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11 - Vintage tram tour of Lisbon

We take a tour of Lisbon by historic tram and coach, seeing the neighbourhood of Alfama, one of the oldest parts of Lisbon, and the Barrio Alto, a quirky maze of cobbled streets, bohemian boutiques and traditional bars. We pause at a café along the way for a local specialty - Portuguese custard tart. With a free afternoon, if you're still feeling a bit peckish, you may like explore the ancient Ribeira district or immerse yourself in the local flavours further by sampling Bacalhau - authentic Portuguese codfish.

*Please note: your luggage will travel on the sleeper train with you, as opposed to via our luggage service.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 12 – San Sebastián

Arriving in San Sebastián, we check into our hotel for the night ahead of free time. San Sebastián is one of the most beautiful and charming Basque resorts, and sits within the fashionable La Concha Bay, home to deep, calm waters and a stunning beach area. Regarded as the culinary capital of Spain, the city is also celebrated across the continent for its pintxos, the Basque equivalent of tapas, and, after a walk along the seafront or through the beautiful old quarter, you might like immerse yourself in local life, stopping off at different eateries for a small plate or two and a drink before moving on - a tradition known as 'txikiteo'

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 13 – Bilbao

We board our coach for the journey to Bilbao, a city surrounded by lush mountains and boasting a vibrant downtown area. After checking into our hotel for the night, we head to the famous Guggenheim Museum, a unique, postmodern structure designed by the famous architect, Frank Gehry. Here you can spend a relaxed few hours admiring the different modern art exhibitions, featuring works by the likes of Jeff Koons, mark Rothko, Louise Bourgeois and Eduardo Chillida.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 14 – London

Saying goodbye to Spain, we transfer to the station for the train to Paris. From here, we join the Eurostar to London St Pancras.

Includes
  • Breakfast
  • Eurostar Meal

Additional information

Departure times

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.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Hotel PortoBay Marquês

Hotel PortoBay Marquês, Lisbon

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Hotel Régua Douro, Peso da Régua

Hotel Régua Douro, Peso da Régua

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Hotel PortoBay Teatro

Hotel PortoBay Teatro, Porto

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Hotel Catalonia Plaza Mayor, Salamanca

Hotel Catalonia Plaza Mayor, Salamanca

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NH Collection Aranzazu

NH Collection Aranzazu, San Sebastian

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Trains

Eurostar
TGV

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Reviews

4.4 stars4.4 / 5 · 16 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (7)
  2. 4 stars
    (9)
  3. 3 stars
    (0)
  4. 2 stars
    (0)
  5. 1 star
    (0)

Mr P Cooke

5 stars

Submitted 21 Oct 2019

Excellent variety of stopovers and interesting places

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Miss S O'Leary

4 stars

Submitted 17 Dec 2018

A lovely holiday with many highlights to a beautiful country and led by a very well organised and friendly Tour Leader. Unfortunately once again I feel that these tours are designed with couples in mind which makes life difficult for myself as a single traveller. The first part of the tour was fine in terms of my being on my own as most events were attended as a group but toward the end of the holiday there was a lot of free time. As I was the only single person on the tour with 10 couples I found myself wandering around on my own thinking "I've paid a lot of money to wander about alone" and looking for take away services for meals or having a picnic in my hotel room for dinner.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mrs M Cameron

4 stars

Submitted 29 Oct 2018

Great tour with one caveat (see below). Would also have liked a longer time in Bilbao -felt our time in the Guggenheim was far too short given it’s quite a long coach journey to get there.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mr P Brainch

5 stars

Submitted 22 Oct 2018

It proved to be a super 'holiday' (tour!) with excellent weather, a good group of fellow travellers, a well-thought out itinerary, good hotels and a brilliant tour manager.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mr D Cooke

4 stars

Submitted 08 Oct 2018

No holiday is that perfect

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mrs P Harding

5 stars

Submitted 04 Jun 2018

Small group size of 12 couples - like minded people and generally good group - mixed well. Loved the free time available and not feeling like herded cattle - no name badges of Manager with umbrellas. Trains were all good and Manager made sure we had plenty of time and were not rushed. Great places visited and good local guides with tours at good length.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

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Portugal and the Douro

A rail and cruise tour through the Douro Valley

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