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.
By searching the web for a cruise in Douro, I found the site douro.com.pt, belonging to the company Ecotours Portugal.
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.
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 explore the Douro Valley.
Information: do you want to discover the Alto Douro Wine Region in a different way, in the company of an experienced guide who will show you the most beautiful corners of this region considered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site? If so, don’t hesitate and book this activity (affiliate link) with an estimated duration of 10 hours.
A comfortable van will pick you up at your hotel in Porto or Vila Nova de Gaia and will take you on an adventure along the magnificent roads that follow Douro river. You will have the opportunity to enjoy the most beautiful views over the river as well as the terraces where the vineyards of Port wine (among others) grow.
In addition to the fantastic lunch filled with regional products, this tour (affiliate link) through the Douro Wine Region will stop at three wine estates. Here, you will have the opportunity to taste Port wine, but also a wine that has been increasingly recognised worldwide, the DOC Douro. Know that, before finishing this experience, you will still have time for a stop at the beautiful location of Pinhão to take some pictures and contemplate the landscape.
Alternatively, click here (affiliate link) and do the previous activity, but instead of visiting three, visit two wine estates and take a cruise on the Douro. Without a doubt, a different way to explore this region and admire the landscape from another perspective.
Another possibility to consider is this 9-hour experience (affiliate link). Start with a stop in the city of Amarante where you can admire the beautiful bridge of São Gonçalo as well as the Church and Convent of São Gonçalo. Afterwards, you will continue towards the first wine estate on this tour where you will have the opportunity to savour 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 so that you can admire the terraces that cut the slopes of the valley.
To finish this experience (affiliate link), you will visit another wine estate where you will learn more about the techniques and history of wine production in the Douro Wine Region. Given the location of this wine estate, you can also take the opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking views!
You can also consider doing this guided tour (affiliate link) that will show you this beautiful region through the magnificent viewpoints that offer breathtaking views. You will also have the opportunity to get to know more about the history of Port wine and other Douro wines during your visits to two wine estates.
In addition to savouring the magnificent wine, know that during this tour (affiliate link) you will have the opportunity to travel along one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the world, located between the locations of Peso da Régua and Pinhão. In the latter, you will make a stop to admire the beautiful Pinhão train station where you can find glazed-tile panels depicting landscapes of the Douro as well as other aspects.
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!