31 Oct 2022

Explore the Douro valley highlights


a river ship passing by on the river with hills behind it a river ship passing by on the river with hills behind it

River Cruising


Excursions and Experiences

The Douro River is one of Portugal’s most stunning natural treasures, where the beauty of the country can be seen with every twist and turn along its riverbanks.  

As you sail from Porto down the waterways, many Douro Valley highlights will open up to you such as the bountiful vineyards and the charming, quintessential towns and cities that dot the landscape.

Below, we detail the best sights and excursions to experience while sailing on a Douro Valley cruise. 

The Côa Valley Museum was constructed to celebrate and educate the public on the history found deep within the Côa and Douro valleys. With rock art dating back over 25,000 years, the valleys provide a fascinating insight into the life of early humans.

The museum itself serves as a hub for researchers, as it contains the largest library on the subject of rock art in Portugal, and it offers visitors a different take on the museum experience.

Côa Valley Museum doesn’t contain many ‘real’ pieces, but instead uses replicas, information panels, interactive sections, and a range of activities to educate visitors. The actual artwork is mostly found in one place; its natural setting, where it remains undisturbed and undamaged from excavation attempts.

And the good news? You can observe these pieces first hand. 

One of the most unique Côa and Douro Valley highlights to experience is a tour of the archaeological park. A very recent attraction to Portugal, the rock art was only found during the construction of the Côa Dam in 1991, a project that was eventually scrapped and replaced with the park in 1998 to preserve drawings estimated be between 10 and 20 millennia old. 

The park is divided into three sites: 

  1. Canada do Inferno 
  2. Penascosa 
  3. Ribeira de Piscos 

The Canada do Inferno site is our particular favourite, offering views of Palaeolithic motifs and providing an invigorating trek. 

Quinta do Tedo Vineyard, Portugal Quinta do Tedo Vineyard, Portugal
Quinta do Tedo Vineyard, Portugal

Quinta do Tedo is a beautiful 18th-century estate surrounded by luscious, terraced vineyards; one of the true Douro Valley highlights. A site of both natural and architectural wonder, Quinta do Tedo is one of the best estates in the Douro Valley to enjoy a picturesque tour of the region’s viticultural heritage, and of course, to indulge in a wine tasting masterclass.

Famous for its Port wines, red wines, and even olive oil, you’ll have the opportunity to sample the finest examples that Quinta do Tedo has to offer. The estate’s Bistro Terrace has also become a popular hotspot with foodies, as a range of gourmet local dishes made with fresh, seasonal produce can be found on the menu daily. 

Douro International Natural Park, Portugal Douro International Natural Park, Portugal
Douro International Natural Park, Portugal

One of the many nature-centric Douro Valley highlights, the Douro International Natural Park stands as the largest protected natural space in Portugal. While exploring the beauty of nature, you’ll see an array of flora, fauna, and wildlife native to Portugal and Spain. The park gets the ‘International’ part of its name for being the natural border between the two countries.

Many birdwatchers find the park to be a fantastic place to while away the hours while on their Douro Valley cruise. Rare birds on the national and international endangered lists call the area their home, and it’s not uncommon to see species such as the:

  • Bonelli’s eagle
  • Golden eagle
  • Red kite
  • Black stork
  • Egyptian vulture 

Lamego is a stunning city located just seven miles from the Douro River. While small in size, Lamego is steeped in history and character.

Arguably its most treasured landmark is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies, which is reached by climbing the beautiful baroque steps built into Saint Stephen’s Hill. If you visit on the 8th September, you’ll see flocks of Portuguese pilgrims make their way to the shrine to celebrate the Nativity of the Virgin—which is believed to be the birthday of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Lamego’s reputation for wine production is also famed throughout Portugal, having established itself between the 16th and 18th centuries. To this day, it’s still one of the best places to enjoy a glass of authentic Raposeira sparkling wine. 

Emerald Radiance, Douro River  Emerald Radiance, Douro River 
Emerald Radiance, Douro River 

Of course, one of the best and most simple Douro Valley highlights for you to enjoy is the views from the river itself as you sail on your Douro Valley cruise.

There’s nothing more relaxing than taking in the landscape from either your own private balcony or from the Sun Deck on board Emerald Radiance - our custom-built Star-Ship designed specifically to sail the Douro River. Alternatively, make your way to the Spa Pool to enjoy the cooling waters as you take in the natural beauty of your surrounds.

You’ll feel a calm serenity as you gently traverse the waterways, with vineyards, charming villages, and the riverbanks providing a peaceful backdrop to your journey. Many of our guests take this time to reflect on their adventure so far with a glass of wine in hand sourced from the Douro Valley. 

Experience the Douro Valley highlights with Emerald Cruises

The beauty of an Emerald Cruises river cruise is that you have the freedom to enjoy your adventure in any way you see fit. Many Douro Valley highlights include exploring the landscape and journeying to the quintessential towns and cities - but taking some time to sit back, relax, and to simply enjoy the moment is a highlight in itself.

Choice is what will make your Douro river cruise unique to you. To learn more about our itineraries and the captivating beauty of the Douro Valley, download or order your free Europe river cruise brochure for additional details. 

A luxury river cruise brochure, featuring a ship sailing past a hilly region, near a town with Medieval-style buildings
A luxury river cruise brochure, featuring a ship sailing past a hilly region, near a town with Medieval-style buildings

Your guide to Europe river cruising

Download your free Europe river cruise brochure to start planning your journey. 

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