Douro River Cruise – find out if it is a good or bad idea

During my trip to Porto and the North of Portugal, I wanted to explore Douro region in many ways and one of them was doing a one day cruise tour in Douro. In this article, I’m going to show you how was my day and, in the end, tell you my opinion about doing a Douro river cruise.

Ticket Purchase

By searching the web for a cruise in Douro, I found the site douro.com.pt, belonging to the company Ecotours Portugal.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning i get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info.

After choosing a cruise between Porto and Régua on a Saturday for 77.50 € (at that time, the same cruise cost 15 € less on weekdays) I received an e-mail with the schedule for the day and they even asked me if I wanted to visit a Port wine cellar in Régua.

I accepted the offer, believing that these cellars in Régua are much more interesting than those of Porto. Final price, including a visit to the cellar, was 85 € per person.

Having paid the cruise, I had to send an e-mail with a proof of payment and they sent me back a map with the departure point and the tickets that I had to print.

Douro River Cruise (from Porto to Régua)

I arrived around 09h30 to Freixo marina (Porto), and boarded as scheduled at 09h45 and around 10h30 the cruise set sail.

When we got to the ship, we were escorted to our table where a wonderful breakfast was waiting for us – great way to begin our Douro river cruise. Next, the ship took us to the historic centre of Porto where we could admire the amazing views over Ribeira and the bridges over Douro river.

After visiting the city, the ship took us back and we went in the direction of Régua.

Before the first dam, I had the opportunity of trying Port wine – supposedly to motivate me on my first unevenness of 14 metres.

I asked myself how we were going to the other side of the dam, which was higher than the one I was in – once inside the dam I figured it out! When the ship is inside the dam, the door behind us closes and the door above us slowly opens so that the water begins to push the ship up.

After this “discovery”, we had lunch and one of the things we loved the most was the main course, delicious!

The most incredible thing inside the ship was when I got to the second dam, with an unevenness of 35 metres. The first dam was just a taste of what was waiting for me.

When we were at the bottom and looked up, we saw two giant walls and, at the same time, we heard the sound of water filling the “tank” we were in – it must be difficult for those who are claustrophobic.

From that moment on I could finally admire the Port wine vineyards, the beautiful houses close to the river, the bridges and even an abandoned ship.

At 16h45 we arrived to Régua. There, a bus was waiting for us to take us to a Port wine cellar.

At the cellar, they showed us around and let us taste a local wine. Aside from the wine, people could buy all sorts of souvenirs from Portugal.

Before taking the train to Porto at 19:14, I had some time to go for a walk and see the sights. The train arrived to Campanhã train station at 21h and from there to Freixo marina was a 1.5-km walk (20 minutes) to get to our car.

Is a Douro river cruise really worth 85 €?

I had a pleasant day on this Douro river cruise; I had the chance to discover this region in a different way; the food was very good; I enjoyed being in the ship when the water pushed it to pass through the dam; and, finally, the amazing view over the Port wine vineyards.

The downside was the visit to the cellar; in the bus, when I saw the candy seller I thought that it was another opportunity for them to earn some money. Before I got to the cellar I was hoping for a place full of barrels filled with wine.

The tour lasted just 2 minutes. As you can see in the photos, they took us to a room and then we went downstairs to a second room and what did we see? Hum… nothing! OK, we saw some bottles that were protected behind bars.

At the end of the hall, I got to a room where I could buy souvenirs and, of course, the wine that I had tasted before.

My first impression, on the bus, just came true – the visit to the cellar is just another way for them to earn more money from tourists! For 7.50 €, that I paid for the visit, you should visit the Taylor or Sandeman cellars in Porto instead. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with the visit.

To conclude, I recommend this Douro river cruise – it is well worth the 77.50 € (if possible, do it on week days – it’s cheaper), because you’ll discover Douro region. However, you should choose to visit the cellars in Porto.

Important information: the cruise between Porto and Peso da Régua won’t show you the vineyards because the wine region begins close to Peso da Régua. If you want to admire Douro Valley and its vineyards you should take a cruise to Pinhão or Barca de Alva.

Guided tours to the Douro Wine Region

As an alternative to taking a cruise in Douro river, know that you can discover this wonderful region in other ways: by car, by train or by taking a guided tour.

Find below my suggestions to explore the Douro Valley.

Let’s start the day with this activity  with an estimated duration of 9 hours. A comfortable van will pick you up at your hotel and take you on an adventure along the magnificent roads that follow the Douro river. You will have the opportunity to admire the most beautiful views over the river as well as the terraces (socalcos) where the vineyards of the famous Port wine (among others) grow.

In addition to the fantastic lunch filled with regional productsthis tour  through the Douro Wine Region will stop at three wine estates. Here, you will be able to taste Port wine, but also other wines from this region.

Another possibility to consider is this 9-hour experience . Leaving from Porto, make a first stop at the city of Amarante where you can admire the beautiful bridge of São Gonçalo as well as the church and convent Igreja e Convento de São Gonçalo. Afterwards, you will continue towards the first wine estate on this tour where you will have the opportunity to taste internationally awarded table wines and Port wines directly from the barrels.

After lunch, you will stop at Pinhão where you will board the typical rabelo boat that will take you on an unforgettable tour on the waters of the Douro river in order to admire the terraces that cut the slopes of the valley. To finish this experience , you will visit another wine estate where you will learn more about the techniques and history of wine production in Douro Valley. Given the location of this farm, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking views!

Are you going to visit Douro? Then don’t hesitate to book your hotel room, your car or the best activities by clicking the links below. This way you are helping me in the development of my blog and I’ll be able to offer you free tips and travel guides so that you can better prepare your visit to Portugal. Thank you!

What will also interest you: