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Gastronomy of the Douro – from Portugal to Spain - MS Douro Splendour

Gastronomy of the Douro – from Portugal to Spain - MS Douro Splendour

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tourhub | Riviera Travel | Gastronomy of the Douro – from Portugal to Spain  - MS Douro Splendour | RCOSFT
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8 Days
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$2739

Gastronomy of the Douro – from Portugal to Spain - MS Douro Splendour

8 Days

Visiting: Porto, Fundação da Casa de Mateus, Castelo Rodrigo, Salamanca, Enoteca - Quinta da Avessada, Pinhão, Lamego, Régua

Tour operator:

Riviera Travel

Tour code:

RCOSFT

Trip Styles:

River Cruise

From:
$2739 (USD) including Flights from the UK

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Tour Overview

The Douro may be one of Europe's best-kept secrets but the food that is grown and eaten along its banks is not. The Portuguese are renowned for their love of good food - the flavours are fresh and wholesome (and locally grown) - so expect sweet treats, flavourful dishes and, of course, plenty of port wine. We'll visit the Roman city of Porto, the home of Port wine, and sample Portuguese wine in historic quintas. Taste the delicious almond products that Castelo Rodrigo is famous for while following in the footsteps of St. Francis and hop over the border to Salamanca for a delicious tapas lunch as we explore one of Spain's oldest cities. And that's just the onshore adventures - Portugal's once-wild river Douro may have been tamed by locks but there's still an untouched wildness to the valley's breathtaking rolling hills.

This holiday combines our popular Porto, Douro and Salamanca river cruise with a mouthwatering adventure through the culinary landscape of this stunning region. 

Highlights

  • Enjoy a guided tour of a famous port producer in Porto with plenty of opportunities to taste their fortified wine.

  • Follow in the footsteps of St. Francis with a visit to Castelo Rodrigo in the highland ranges near the Spanish border.

  • Visit a historic Quinta to learn all about the stages of wine production, from planting to tasting and labelling.

  • Experience regional delicacies accompanied by a traditional Portuguese folk music show. 

  • Click here to see our departures exclusively for solo travellers

  • Enjoy a guided tour of a famous port producer in Porto with plenty of opportunities to taste their fortified wine. 

  •  

  • Follow in the footsteps of St. Francis with a visit to Castelo Rodrigo &

  • taste some of the fabulous almond products the area is famed for. 

  • Visit two historic – but very different - Quintas to enjoy traditional Portuguese food and learn all about the stages of wine production. 

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Itinerary

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Day 1
Location: Porto

Arrive in Porto and, from the moment you board, the welcoming crew are at your service. In no time you’ll be settled into your luxurious, thoughtfully furnished accommodation and familiarising yourself with all the first-class aspects of this floating boutique hotel. 

Day 2
Location: Fundação da Casa de Mateus

As dawn breaks over Porto, the adventure begins as our elegant vessel starts the journey upstream. Whilst you linger over another coffee after a leisurely breakfast, you can watch the city skyline shrink - here's where the real relaxation begins. You could head up on deck to appreciate the changing landscape as the river weaves its way between the lush hillsides. We're sure you've heard the Douro is one of the most photogenic rivers in Europe - and the introduction to the river valley as we cruise this morning will leave you in no doubt. 



This morning we will enjoy an introductory talk on the cuisine of Portugal to set your tastebuds at the beginning of our gastronomic journey.  There's lots to discuss as Portuguese food is one of the most varied cuisines in Europe. It incorporates fish, meat, and cheese (all the good stuff) as well as spices, fruits, and vegetables that have been a staple of their cooking since the Portuguese Empire brought them back from far-off lands in the 16th Century.  



After all that talk of food, you'll be ready for lunch on board as we cruise into the small town of Peso da Régua. From here we'll visit the grounds of the splendid Mateus Palace. Anyone familiar with Mateus Rosé and its characteristic ‘squashed’ bottle will recognise the palace from the label. The palace has an impressive 18th-century Baroque edifice, mirrored in its tranquil pond, and surrounded by landscaped French gardens. 



This evening, we'll take the short drive to the 126-acre Quinta da Pacheca for dinner. With dramatic views over the river, you can enjoy seeing the Douro from a new perspective. There’s plenty of time to explore the estate - which is one of the most beautiful and distinguished properties in the region. In 1738, it was the first quinta to bottle wine under the name of the owner, aristocrat Mariana Pacheco Pereira, an imposing woman who took care of the property by herself. 



We are moored in Régua overnight.

Day 3
Location: Castelo Rodrigo

Relax over a leisurely breakfast while the ever-changing scenery slips by through the restaurant’s superb panoramic windows. As we cruise, you might find it hard to believe the Douro was once a wild river, notoriously challenging to navigate, especially for the traditional flat-bottomed boats like ours which often foundered in its waters. Today, it has been tamed by a system of dams and locks, which have raised the water level to produce a topography similar to Scotland’s lochs and enhance the valley’s charm.  



You should remember to save some room at breakfast as we'll get to indulge in the most Portuguese of treats on board, the Pastel de Nata (egg custard tarts). We will learn the history of the recipe and see how they are made - which will make savouring one at the end even more enjoyable. 



Then make use of the onboard facilities as we cruise into ever more rural territory towards the Spanish border, where the river is at its most peaceful. You could take a refreshing dip in the sun deck pool – a rare treat on a cruise ship – or catch up on some reading (although we can't guarantee you won't get distracted by the view). Perhaps, instead, you'll choose to just soak up the sights of the Douro River valley with a cool pre-lunch glass of vinho verde, the local, gently fizzy white wine. (Portuguese wine is simply outstanding, but production is low, so the best is rarely exported.) Our wine list includes some excellent regional wines - hand-picked by sommeliers. A little experimentation can reap great rewards - you may even find a new favourite. 



This afternoon, we'll visit Castelo Rodrigo, a delightful 12th-century walled village tucked away in the picturesque highland ranges bordering Spain. Its church was a resting place on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela and it is said that Saint Francis himself stayed here. The views stretch out across the almost deserted ochre hillsides. While we are here, we will get to sample some of the region's traditional fare, including flavoured almonds, cheese and chorizo, which you can wash down by sampling cherry and almond liquor (made from the trees that grow on the nearby hillsides, naturally) and a range of Portuguese wines. 



Later, we'll see a celebratory vintage port wine opened in the traditional way - with port tongs (if you watch closely, you might be able to recreate the experience for friends when you return home). 





+ Included Experiences - On-board Pastel de Nata demonstration and visit to Castelo Rodrigo with food tasting

Day 4
Location: Salamanca

Hopping over the border to Spain, we'll visit historic Salamanca, regarded by many Spaniards as one of the best gastronomic cities in the country (and we have to agree). 



Founded by the Romans, who erected its 389-yard-long bridge, Salamanca is mostly built from local sandstone that emanates a gorgeous rose-coloured glow in the sunlight. Perched on a hill on a bend in the serene River Tormes, the city is a picture of tranquillity, but its history is turbulent. It’s been successively fought over by Hannibal, the Moors, then the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon and their influence can still be felt in the local cuisine.



Salamanca is dominated by its two cathedrals and its university. Founded in 1218, the university is the oldest in Spain and was one of the civilised world’s most important seats of study for over 400 years. The Spanish Inquisition’s records are still kept here, and as early as the 16th century it boasted some 12,000 students. Seeing its immaculately preserved lecture halls with their vaulted ceilings, it’s easy to imagine Christopher Columbus addressing the learned men of the day or legal experts constructing the international laws that originate here.  

 



On our visit to Salamanca, there's plenty of time to stop to admire the ornate interiors of its cathedrals – the more recent dates from the 16th century – and wander its tiny streets, medieval squares, traditional shops, gardens and marketplaces. The main square, the Plaza Mayor, is also a must-see. It was built in the 18th century in Spanish Baroque style with colonnaded walkways all around at ground level, ideal for finding a shaded spot to sit and watch the locals pass by.



And nearby, we’ll shop like the locals do in the city’s marketplace. This small (but perfectly formed) building next to the main square is a bustling hub of locals who come here to buy fresh produce - what better place to find the finest Iberian ham and, of course, sample it for yourself.



Our included lunch today also is an opportunity to taste some of Spain's most notable tapas dishes.



Back in Portugal, the chef will present a mouthwatering array of traditional Portuguese dishes for tonight’s on-board dinner.

Day 5
Location: Enoteca - Quinta da Avessada, Pinhão

One of the benefits of life aboard a river cruise is the sheer sense of relaxation it brings; our elegant ship sets sail during breakfast, after which there is plenty of time for a spot of pampering in the on-board spa, or simply watch the seamless changing of the riverbank scenery passing by from the comfort of a cosy seat in the lounge. 



We’ll be in port wine territory, where the lush hillsides give way to a patterned landscape of terraced vineyards. Inland from the Atlantic, the climate has changed too; it’s noticeably warmer and drier, and the area has a Mediterranean appearance with orangey, earthy colours replacing verdant greens. 



We’ll leave our ship and head to Quinta da Avessada. Located in the centre of the Douro Demarcated Region in the heart of the wine growers' village of Favaios. If the air feels a little different here, it's probably due to the altitude - we're about 600 meters up in the flattest point of the whole region. Thanks to its prime location, Moscatel de Favaios is produced here. The national apéritif is a golden-hued liquid with honey and orange notes. Production of the drink is exclusive to the whole of the Adega Cooperativa de Favaios, but it began life in Quinta da Avessada and our visit here will teach us how this famous wine came to be. 



Here we will enjoy a traditional Douro Valley lunch in which we’ll taste some of Portugal’s favourite dishes – meaty rojões (fried pork), delicious Portuguese sausages, delectable salt cod fritters, to name just a few, followed by a hearty Naco de vitela à Portuguesa – a traditional Portugues beef stew – accompanied by some of their world-famous drinks. And of course, no feast is complete without desert so you can take your pick of pêra bêbeda (pear cooked with port wine), chocolate cake or crème brûlée. 



Returning to the ship we will moor overnight in the wine town of Pinhão. This evening, we'll enjoy free time in the picturesque town of Pinhão, where we’ll moor overnight. Wander through the town of white buildings and terracotta-coloured roofs and visit the delightful train station decorated with azulejos - Portuguese hand-painted tiles - celebrating Pinhão history with images of the grape harvest.



 



+ Included Experience – Traditional lunch and wine-tasting at a local quinta & visit to Pinhão  

Day 6
Location: Lamego, Régua

Enjoy breakfast on board before we take a short drive to historic Lamego. Home of Portugal’s sparkling wine, Raposeira, it was one of the first places to be reclaimed from the Moors in the 12th century. Situated at the top of a beautifully tiled baroque staircase - and overlooking the town - is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies church. If you’re up for a challenge, it’s worth climbing the 686 steps to the top of the staircase for stunning views of the city - don't worry, you can stop to admire the fountains, mosaics and hedges along the way. 



We can't visit Lamego without trying another of the area's many delicacies. You can sample traditional bôla - a mouthwatering savoury bread which hides all sorts of delicious meats and cheeses to create the ultimate comfort food (it's no wonder it's one of the most popular local snacks) - accompanied by other delicious local produce. And you’ll have the chance to try the region’s sparkling wine for yourself.  



By the time we return to our ship, our chef and his team will be adding the finishing touches to another delicious lunch, ready to be served as we leave for Leverinho.  



Afterwards, there’s the perfect opportunity to take to the sun deck to enjoy the kaleidoscope of Douro views – or perhaps a spot of reading in the lounge over a cup of tea. This evening is the Captain’s Dinner, a truly memorable experience featuring exquisite regional specialities, followed by a colourful performance of traditional Portuguese folk music.



 



+ Included Experiences – Visit to Lamego with food tasting & Captain’s Dinner & traditional Portuguese folk music show

Day 7
Location: Porto

As we sail into our last port, there's one of your last opportunities to take advantage of the ship's five-star facilities this morning. Those who wake up with bags of energy may want to try our fitness room before heading up to the sun deck to enjoy coffee with new friends. From the sun deck you can watch our last city, Porto, appear on the horizon and see the city's spectacular bridges up close as we pass beneath.  



Porto is, of course, synonymous with rich port wine. All the famous port producers are here - Cálem, Sandeman, Graham's and Ferreira - so a visit here would not be complete without a tour of one of them. You’ll learn about this fortified wine’s fascinating history and its close connections to Britain. Port is made from grapes still pressed in the traditional way – by feet – then lovingly matured, sometimes for decades, before you can enjoy its subtle flavours. We couldn't visit Porto without the opportunity to sample various port styles. At the end of our visit, you can enjoy a port tasting along with the perfect accompanying snacks which enhance the flavours even further.



After lunch on board, we'll enjoy a guided tour of Porto. Strategically overlooking the Douro as it empties into the Atlantic, Portugal’s second largest city was originally a Roman town, but its wealth derived from its knowledge of the sea routes to India, with fortunes made from trading spices, silks and other fine goods. Our tour unveils some of its major and more surprising sights. 



You’ll have the rest of the afternoon to explore the truly fascinating city; so perhaps return to the terraced streets of the old town and wander the sloping maze of cobbled alleyways, soaking up the atmosphere whilst stopping to admire the architecture, bell towers, baroque churches, golden rooftops and beautiful tiles of this slice of traditional Portugal. Stop for a drink in a cosy café and be tempted by an array of delicious cakes and pastries – perhaps sample one more pastel de nata, the traditional Portuguese custard tart (we know you'll be hooked).



This evening, enjoy a final dinner on board expertly served by our restaurant staff under the supervision of the maître d’. Afterwards, perhaps settle into the lounge to chat into the evening and reflect on the splendours of the remarkable River Douro – over a glass of port, of course.



 



+ Included Experience – Visit to port wine producer with tasting & guided tour of Porto 

Day 8
Location: Porto

After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to the airport at the appropriate time, with memories of one of the most unspoilt corners of Europe to savour for a long time to come. 

What's Included

  • Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a twin cabin with a limited number of sole occupancy cabins available on all decks, at the relevant supplement. The price includes: All meals on board - from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day - including welcome cocktails and the Captain's dinner. Complimentary on-board tea and coffee All visits and excursions as mentioned; Airport/station transfers Coach travel as mentioned Travel to and from port of embarkation The services of a Riviera Travel cruise director

  • Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a twin cabin with a limited number of sole occupancy cabins available on all decks, at the relevant supplement. The price includes:; Full board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day; Complimentary tea and coffee on board; All visits and excursions as mentioned;; Airport/station transfers; Coach travel as mentioned; Travel to and from port of embarkation; The services of a Riviera Travel cruise director;

Check out our Q&As

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    For almost 40 years

  • I have reduced mobility; can I still travel?

    We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to contact us to discuss these concerns

  • Do I require travel insurance?

    It is a condition of booking that you carry suitable travel insurance.

  • What is my luggage allowance?

    You will receive details of your luggage allowance with your final travel documents, which are sent approximately 10 days prior to your date of departure.

Reviews of this Operator

David Clarke (Google Reviewer)  

This review is for the...

08-Aug-2023

This review is for the italian Lake Como trip Aug 1-8 Wow what a trip. Riviera from start to finish were excellent the booking and help line answering questions were very good and clear. The travel booklet you get is laid out that it is simple to read and follow with step by step info from booking in to flights to meeting the guides. Our guide Matt Purse was just the best guide and real credit to Riviera with his knowledge and straight forward approach to running the trips. Matt kept us informed and told us all the sort of info you want to know without going over the top....This chap should teach other reps ..thank you so much. The coaches they use are all clean and well equipped with usb chargers and have aircon. The places chosen to visit were well researched even down to where coaches park or drop you off. The Bernina Express was the highlight for our family and matts photo tip was welcomed. The only down point was the hotel,a little dated and evening meal in main restuarant was a bit of a let down. I think we were lucky with our room on level 7 and with balcony as the walls are very thin and noise travels. We would book again with riviera

Barbara Shillaker (Google Reviewer)  

I have been on three...

11-Jan-2024

I have been on three trips with Riviera Travel so far, with two more booked during 2024. Highly recommended. Excellent tour guides. Great program of visits. Great hotels used.

Valerie Pascoe  

We would go again in a heartbeat

22-Jan-2022

Oh my goodness, what a relief it was to actually get away! Full marks to all at Riviera for keeping us up to date before our trip and for the help so cheerfully and patiently given with the extra admin that Covid brought our way. We felt totally safe with the measures taken on board, thank you very much for this. Without exception, Staff were fantastic and our every need was attended to. The additional Covid testing ran smoothly, organised by our Riviera Reps. The guided tours were most interesting: the guides very knowledgeable and more importantly, interesting to listen to. We loved this trip and would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you again Riviera, you were FAB!

Chris Wilson (Google Reviewer)  

Second escorted tour with this...

25-Jul-2022

Second escorted tour with this company. Did 5 days in Iceland tour. Everything went smoothly, excellent tour guide, Per. Extremely knowledgeable and interesting guy. Very friendly too. Highly recommend. Just let down by the room given at the hotel, but I guess the travel company doesn't have control over this.

Kathryn Jurin, GB  

Riviera South Africa tour - awesome

21-May-2021

Riviera have amazing holidays and tours to choose from. The one we chose was South Africa and wow! It turned out to be our best trip ever - incredible memories we will never forget. We’ve been all over the world which was because of all our experiences, this one was awesome. The organisation of the holiday, the guide and the travel was e cells that. The choice of hotels, meals, restaurants, trips was absolutely fantastic - very good quality and character - nothing bland or boring! The Riviera guide was permanently with us along with a South Africa guide and they were both extremely friendly, professional, informative and you could ask any questions you want! I would massively recommend this holiday/trip and when you’ve experienced it, you realise how reasonable the price is. We reflect on this trip a lot and thank you Riviera for giving us such a wonderful experience.

Trustpilot
Barry, GB  

Rhine Christmas markets cruise

09-Dec-2019

Just completed a 5 day trip on the Rhine. Our first river cruise and a tester for future cruises. The boat was well appointed and the cabin and public areas were spotlessly clean. The staff were attentive and contributed to the very relaxed atmosphere on the boat. The quality of the food surpassed that which we have experiened on sea cruises in recent years. I have written little because it was a faultless experience. We have booked a further cruise (in France) on the basis of our experience.

Trustpilot
Joan Yarker (Google Reviewer)  

My first cruise and I...

23-Sep-2023

My first cruise and I couldn’t have done better than my recent Seine River cruise. Carmen the tour organiser was excellent and always willing to go the extra mile to sort out any problems. The crew were amazing , friendly and helpful, the captain was great when explaining the controls on the bridge. Everything was very clean, food truly delicious and the pianist a delight and I was able to indulge my passion for dancing. My fellow guests were a delight and I made many new friends. Thank you Riviera

Christine Hardy (Google Reviewer)  

Although most people seem to...

10-Mar-2024

Although most people seem to book and pay for their holidays online, because we live close by we prefer to make a personal visit. In my opinion if they are offering this as an option they should be better equipped to accommodate visits in person. We have not been on our river cruise yet, so can't comment on that yet.

Rob Steele (Google Reviewer)  

My 3rd Riviera trip within...

16-Feb-2024

My 3rd Riviera trip within a year and I wasn't disappointed 😁 This time it was https://www.rivieratravel.co.uk/escorted-tours/southern-india-coastal-route-solo-travellers This trip, although not cheap, it really offers exceptional value for money as you see a lot of Tamil Nadu and Kerela, stay in fantastic hotels, excellent breakfasts every day as well as some lunches and dinners also included. George Bareham, our "Tour Manager" was brilliant, very professional, but also friendly and diligent. Satheeshan, our local guide was helpful and picked me up antibiotics when I got ill, he was a nice chap, if (for my taste) went on a bit and used 20 words when 1 would suffice. Mr Sweeny, our coach driver was fantastic,really professional and an exceptionally good driver. His assistant, Murgon wad a delight, always smiling and attentive. This is a full on trip, early morning starts and quite a packed itinerary, but still leaving time to laze around some brilliant hotel swimming pools. Only a couple of suggestions to improve the holiday. More shopping time in Cochin and change carriers from Etihad who, unfortunately aren't the excellent airline they used to be. But, will I use Riviera Travel again - Yes 😁

Barbara Parkes (Google Reviewer)  

Presently in Croatia staying at...

22-Sep-2023

Presently in Croatia staying at Arauana Hotel, supposedly a 4 star property, but wouldn't give it any star rating. Rooms are small and dirty. Wallpaper blistering. Meals served in a shed like lean-to. Food like warm, greasy and always self service. Second holiday with Riviera this year and neither at standard advertised. Have travelled with them previously and everything was fine, but standards have really dropped. Have booked a holiday with them next year and now dreading it. Certainly don't provide the standard advertised. We have never stayed in such a hovel and have visited youngsters in back packers accommodation which was far better than this supposedly 4 star accommodation. There are no indoor bars or lounges only a shed as a so called restaurant. Absolutely disgusting. Won't be boking with them again

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Apr 13, 2025 - Apr 20, 2025
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Sunday - Sunday

Jul 27, 2025 - Aug 03, 2025
$2739 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Aug 17, 2025 - Aug 24, 2025
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Book with Confidence

  • Low Deposit

    Riviera Travel requires a minimum deposit of 200 GBP per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 75 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of riviera travel charges.

    Up to 75 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 74 days before tour starts: Forfeit 50% of booking price.

    At 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 70% of booking price.

    At 30 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 14 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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