In northern Portugal, the Douro River curves through the terraced vineyards of Douro wine country, a World Heritage-designated region celebrated for its spectacular beauty and centuries-old viticulture. Step back in time in medieval villages, examine world-renowned rock art, and cross into Spain to roam the Renaissance streets of Salamanca. Along the way, taste excellent wines in the cellars of Porto and historic countryside estates, and listen to traditional rhythms of fado and flamenco in spectacular settings. As we sail these storied waterways, enjoy the freedom and flexibility to tailor the itinerary to your interests, choosing from a variety of available excursions at each port of call—and benefit from the insights provided by the National Geographic Expert and the National Geographic photographer who accompany us on the journey.

Trip highlights

Tour some of the Douro Valley’s most prestigious vineyards, sip port at a celebrated cellar in Porto, and enjoy interpretive wine tastings onboard as we sail.

In the company of a National Geographic expert, see the fascinating engravings of Foz Côa—widely considered the world’s most important open-air Paleolithic rock art site.

Take in a festive flamenco performance in Salamanca and a private concert in the spectacular gilded nave of Porto’s Igreja de São Francisco.

Attend onboard photo talks led by a National Geographic photographer, and practice landscape shots on the sinuous vineyards that flank the Douro.

Itinerary - 11 Days

1 Porto, Portugal

Arrive in Porto, a World Heritage-listed city straddling the Douro River. Embark the Scenic Azure and enjoy a welcome reception and dinner on board.

2 Porto

On a walking tour of Porto’s historic old town the following morning, explore medieval treasures, examine azulejo tiles, and visit the Palácio da Bolsa—the city’s old stock exchange. Later, we begin our cruise along the Douro.

3 Guimarães/Douro Valley

Delve into history at the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança in Guimarães, or venture to the stunning Quinta da Aveleda winery and gardens in the Vinho Verde wine region, where we’ll sip on sparkling whites. Cruise into the stunning Douro Valley this afternoon and get introduced to the history and culture of the region at the award-winning Douro Museum in Peso da Régua.

4 Douro Valley

Today, explore the Varosa Valley, home to the elegant town of Lamego and a rich Cistercian heritage that dates back to the 12th century. On an afternoon excursion, choose to delve into the region’s past at the ruins of the Mosteiro de São João de Tarouca, Portugal’s first Cistercian monastery, and at the Monastery of Santa Maria de Salzedas’ historical collections. Or visit the opulent Mateus Palace, famously featured on bottles of Mateus rosé.

5 On the Douro

Take in scenes of the Douro Valley as we wind our way past charming terra-cotta-roofed towns, through towering locks, and past the vine-striped hillsides that earned the region its World Heritage designation. Watch the terroir transition from granite outcroppings to slate-terraced vineyards, and spend time documenting these picturesque scenes with your National Geographic photographer; or listen to an afternoon lecture given by your National Geographic Expert.

6 Salamanca, Spain

Cross into Spain for a visit to Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Two options for exploration await you in this fabled city. Visit the storied hallways and classrooms of the University of Salamanca, founded in 1218, and enjoy a discussion with students and professors about their studies and research. Alternatively, take in the city’s Renaissance splendor on a guided city tour, then enjoy some time to explore on your own. Have lunch in town with live entertainment before returning to our ship.

7 Côa Valley, Portugal

Explore notable tributaries of the Douro River today, choosing from adventures on the Côa and Sabor Rivers.  Venture into the Côa Valley to learn about the prehistoric rock art at the World Heritage-listed Foz Côa. Opt for a thrilling ride in a 4x4 vehicle, and then hike to the archaeological site to witness these fascinating carvings. You may instead choose a canoeing excursion along the pristine Sabor River, a rugged tributary of the Douro. Or, for those more interested in the flavors of the region, set out on a culinary excursion to the Casa Painova estate and taste their delicious almond and olive products. Tonight, local musicians join us on board to perform traditional Portuguese songs.

8 Provesende

Drive into the hills of the Douro Valley to the time-locked town of Provesende. Wander this quaint village and get a glimpse into daily life during visits to the town church and the local bakery, and enjoy a glass of port wine at the charming Morgadio da Calçada manor house. This afternoon, experience a tasting at a winery along the river, opting for a walk through the vineyards, if you choose.

9 Porto

Enjoy a relaxing day onboard as we sail back toward Porto. Expert talks, wine tastings, and handicraft workshops are all options as we cross back over the coastal range. Upon arrival in Porto, head to Igreja de São Francisco for a private concert in this opulent church.

10 Porto

Tour the Douro Estuary on foot, spotting birdlife and then tapping into the rhythms of a nearby fishing village. There are also options to visit Porto’s oldest canning factory, or go for a tasting in one of the city’s most celebrated port cellars.

11 Porto

Disembark on our final morning and depart for home.

Please note: Pre–release itinerary, subject to change

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