Douro River cruises take you from Porto, Portugal to Vega de Terron, Spain. Although these cruises have a few different itineraries, most of them start and end in Porto.
Cruise packages range from 6 to 15 days, and most longer itineraries also include land travel to cities like Lisbon or Madrid. Our cruise was 8 days, which felt like the perfect amount of time on the river.
Unlike most other river cruises, the ships can only travel during the day due to the difficulty of navigating the Douro river at night and the locks you have to pass through.
The five locks dictate your ship’s schedule and the captain has to coordinate times each day. This also makes it very important to pay attention to each day’s schedule as it can change.
The cruise director makes announcements as you approach each lock, and it’s worth paying attention to at least once if you’ve never been through a lock before. They have very little margin of error.
You spend most of the cruise exploring the beautiful landscapes of the Douro River Valley in Portugal, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001. You also typically get one day trip to Salamanca, Spain.
Compared to other popular river cruises in Europe, the Douro River is still relatively unknown. Not too long ago, there were only 5 ships that cruised the river, but as its popularity has grown, there are 25-30 ships now.
Some of our favorite moments on the cruise were spent being the only foreigners exploring small towns and villages.