A Portuguese voyage of discovery
Travel to shimmering Lisbon and resplendent Sintra on a Portuguese voyage of discovery before continuing on a fantastic 7-night cruise along the golden Douro.
We meet at the airport today, where you are introduced to your Tour Manager. From here, we board our flight to Lisbon where we are transferred to our hotel. On arrival, we are greeted with a welcome drink after which you are free to settle into your room. For dinner this evening, we head to our hotel's excellent restaurant for our first meal of the holiday. Afterwards, you may wish to acquaint yourself with the city a little before you retire for the night.
Our excursion today whisks us away on a splendid tour of Portugal's famous capital. As a special touch, our tour includes a segment in a specially-chartered tram from the 1930s and 40s, lending a nostalgic feeling to proceedings. Our tour reveals the brilliant colours of Lisbon, and the history of its streets, squares and boulevards. We finish in the waterfront district of Belem, famous for its pastries and villas. Here,we stop off at one of the pastry shops to sample the Belem pastries.
Today, we travel to the beautiful town of Sintra, located up in the hills behind Lisbon. A tantalising selection of summer palaces of all colours and shapes await us here, at what is famously the summer retreat of Portuguese royalty. We enjoy free time in this fairytale town, giving you an opportunity to discover its history and the people behind the magnificent buildings lining its streets before dinner tonight.
Leaving Lisbon this morning, we set out on a rail journey through the Portugese countryside to the historical city of Porto - famous for the explorers who gathered here to journey to the New World.
Upon arrival in this fantastic Portuguese city, we are escorted by coach to our excellent ship, the Douro Serenity where, after settling into our cabins, we are welcomed with a cocktail as the captain and his crew are introduced. Later we are sat down to our first on-board meal, after which you are free to enjoy your first night on the ship. Perhaps take in the evening air with a drink or sit back to the live music in the lounge area.
Today, our ship docks at Regua. In the afternoon, we pay a visit to Lamego, a picturesque village near the banks of the Douro for a guided tour. The cathedral is the centrepoint of Lamego, a remarkable example of Baroque architecture. Arguably more impressive however, are 700 steps which lead up to its doors, decorated as they are in cheerful white and blue tiles. Enjoy dinner at a local wine estate later. These marvellous institutions provide the sublime port wines which are such an integral part of the Douro's viticulture. Many of them are housed in delightful, sprawling farmland, lending an memorable touch to our meal this evening.
Our ship sails to Barca d'Alva today where we dock. After lunch, we embark on an excursion to the historical town of Castelo Rodrigo. This charming destination offers a look into the medieval past of Portugal and the Douro region, with a history that goes all the way back to the times of the Romans. The various peoples who have passed through the country and left their mark is evident from the fascinating buildings which line the streets, including a synagogue and the remains of medieval townhouses. We enjoy a tour here, which takes in the old castle from which the town takes its name. Afterwards, you have time to wander the ancient streets and discover the stories that breathe life into Castelo Rodrigo.
Our travels today take us across the border into Portugal's beautiful neighbour Spain, where we travel through the enchanting countryside to the golden city of Salamanca in the Castille y Léon region. Salamanca is the academic capital of Spain, and its educational prowess is evidenced in the glorious sandstone university buildings which make up one of the most prestigious centres of learning in the country.
Our tour here takes us to see these buildings, as well as the decorative House of Shells and the thriving Plaza Mayor. Enjoy free time afterwards before we sample a traditional Spanish lunch at a local restaurant. Our entertainment during the meal is a dazzling flamenco show, as trained dancers demonstrate an iconic Spanish dance of passion and finesse. On our return to the ship, we take a BBQ dinner on the sun deck (weather permitting).
Day 8 is spent cruising through the stunning landscape to Peso de Regua, and you are at leisure on board. After dinner, we sample some of the region's vintage Port in an opening ceremony.
We pay a visit to the gorgeous Mateus Palace today and its stunning gardens. Located at the heart of the Vila Real region, this 18th century stately home is a delight to explore, with its classic, Italianate exterior, decorative interiors and beautifully manicured parks and gardens which lead up to the palace itself. Originally built in the 18th century by acclaimed Portuguese architect Nicolau Nasoni, the design lends it a timeless, yet quintessentially Portuguese quality. We take a tour of the building itself, before enjoying free time to visit the built-in chapel and the winery.
On our return to the ship later, we sit down with the captain for a resplendent gala dinner, offering a chance to reminisce about our adventures on Portugal's finest river. After the food, we are given a traditional folk dance performance from a local troupe.
Arriving into Porto this morning, you have a choice of excursions to explore this famous port city which heralds the point at which the Douro ends. Your first option is an insightful and engaging tour of the city both by coach and by foot. The tour takes us along the winding streets, cutting between the city's superb architecture, historical townhouses, regal churches, and crossing the famous iron bridge. We continue to the district of Foz at the mouth of the Douro where we see the impressive villas which dot the hills here. Finally we pay a visit to the magnificent cathedral at the peak of the Penaventosa Hill, where we can look down across the rest of the city in all its splendour. Our tour finishes at a port wine lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia where we have the opportunity to sample the iconic drink for ourselves.
Your second option is to travel to the nearby city of Guimarães. What sets Guimarães apart is its fantastically well-preserved medieval buildings, which date as far back as the 10th century. The city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the jewel in Guimarães' crown is the imposing medieval fortress which watches over the city. We enjoy a tour through the colourful streets and the lively squares before visiting the castle and its gardens. In the afternoon, you are free before your 4-course farewell dinner on board.
After our final breakfast, we depart our ship for a transfer to the airport. Here we board our flight back to the UK, where your Portuguese adventure comes to an end.
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
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
A Portuguese voyage of discovery