Douro River Cruises

Sail Portugal's "River of Gold"

Explore the Spectacular Douro Valley

Travel with Emerald Waterways through the Douro River Valley, where the Age of Discovery began.  Meaning "River of Gold" and now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Douro River was not navigable until a series of dams built in the 1950s and '60s allowed a more controlled flow of the river. On this unforgettable river cruise, you’ll travel the Douro aboard our 112 passenger Emerald Radiance Star-Ship.

Visit the lively city of Porto, famous for its riverside cafés and extensive wine cellars in the area of Vila Nova de Gaia. Traditional villages of Pinhão, Pocinho and Regua have occupied the shores of the river for many centuries. It’s like time has stood still, with secret methods in fortified winemaking being handed down by each generation. Salamanca lies just over the border in Spain. Enjoy exploring this lively student town known as the ‘Oxford’ of the Spanish language.

Rich historical significance of the Douro region

As one of the oldest continually inhabited regions in Europe, northern Portugal has a colourful timeline dating back to the Neolithic period. From the Celts and Romans to the Moors and the Spanish; many civilizations have influenced the shaping of Portugal throughout history – gifting the country an incredible array of antiquities and cultural highlights.

Explore the architectural marvels of Porto, from the magnificent Palácio da Bolsa to the 12th-century Sé do Porto Cathedral, or step back in time at the exquisite Mateus Palace. Vega de Terron boasts its share of ancient infrastructure, including the charming village of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, while the Spanish city of Salamanca, located just beyond the Portuguese border, offers a feast of inspirational buildings in its UNESCO World Heritage-listed centre.

Belém Tower over a body of water

A Port-Producing Legacy

Traditional wineries have long enriched this beautiful part of the world, helping to shape local culture and drive Portugal’s economy. To this day, traditional methods and small-batch production reign supreme, with the delightful family-owned vineyards honouring centuries-old techniques. As part of an Emerald Waterways river cruise, you’ll have the chance to explore this wine-making history – from vineyard walking tours to tastings in the ancient wine cellars of Porto.

A tour of the Douro Museum is a must-do for wine lovers during our Secrets of the Douro river cruise. This museum explores the region’s Port wine heritage and secrets – introducing you to the history, flavours and varieties of this popular aperitif. Another undoubted highlight is our EmeraldPLUS dining experience within the grounds of Pinhão wine estate. Regional dishes and local wines provide an exceptional taste of local life as you raise a glass to toast the beauty of the Douro.

Culinary Highlights

With its fertile slopes, historic quintas and close proximity to the seafood larder of the Atlantic, the Douro Valley is among the most esteemed regions for authentic local food and produce in Europe. You’re promised exceptional eating from the moment you arrive in this pristine corner of Portugal.

Among the many dishes we would recommend seeking out in the Douro Valley is bacalhau à bras, a hearty seafood plate consisting of cod, eggs, fried potatoes and black olives. Washed down with a glass of local white Port, there’s no better pairing for this dish – especially if it’s accompanied by the timeless sounds of authentic fado music.

Sweet tooth? Portugal is the perfect place to indulge your love of puddings, with a roster of fine desserts to enjoy any time of day. Discover some of the Douro’s best-loved desserts in our in-depth guide.

Douro River Cruises Collection