3 DAYS FROM $499
4 DAYS FROM $799
Dive into one of Europe’s most intriguing regions as you experience the people, places, and culture that helped shape Spain and Portugal into the top European destinations that they are today. This illuminating Douro River tour is bookended by stays in vibrant Lisbon and cosmopolitan Madrid — two of Europe’s most historic capitals. Then, come aboard your privately chartered European river cruise ship, the 126-passenger ms Douro Serenity or its sister ship the ms Douro Splendour, and glide past graceful terraced vineyards, narrow canyon walls, and bucolic villages.
You'll explore the treasures of Oporto (including its eponymous wine), see the place where Portugal was “born,” and set off on an excursion to the magnificent university town of Salamanca, Spain, as well as experience five incredible UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You’ll also find a wonderful selection of food and wine throughout this Portugal exploration, served up to you in a number of tantalizing venues, including the historic Avessada Winery. From grand palaces and medieval towns to folk music and port wine tastings, you’ll experience the rich history, vibrant spirit, and serene landscapes of Portugal and Spain in an enriching and unforgettable way. Join us in 2018 and discover what makes Vantage the best cruise line for deluxe travel.
You'll experience an exciting new side of Portugal while visiting Madeira, the “Floating Garden of the Atlantic.” Prince Henry the Navigator claimed this mid-Atlantic island for Portugal in the early 15th century, and since the 19th century, it has been a favorite of travelers seeking a pastoral retreat. During your three-day stay in the island capital, Funchal, enjoy a half-day city tour—including a ride in a wicker toboggan, once a common mode of local transportation. Immerse yourself in local life as you visit the covered market at the edge of the Old Town and pay a visit to a traditional Madeira wine cellar, where you’ll sample the trademark sweet wine named for the island. This visit gives you the unique opportunity to explore the cellars, get an inside look at the production process, and learn about the winery’s culture and history (Madeira Wine was used to toast the Signing of the Declaration of Independence). Of course, you’ll also enjoy a small sampling of Madeira wines. You’ll also have the option of an Espetada evening complete with dinner and a folklore show. It’s the perfect complement to your European river cruise on the mainland!
Depart home for Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon
After an overnight flight, you'll arrive in Portugal’s capital.
Arrive in Lisbon
If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, our representative will meet you outside the arrivals area and assist you with your transfer to the hotel. Enjoy a Welcome Briefing and Dinner this evening.
A tour of Lisbon’s famed monuments
The Age of Discoveries launched in Lisbon, so it’s fitting that you begin the day with a guided panoramic tour of the city’s famed monuments, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Monastery of Jerónimos and Belém Tower. Later in the afternoon, enjoy a balance of leisure time as continue to explore Lisbon’s cobblestone alleyways on your own. Cultural Connection: While on your city tour, you'll sample a classic Portuguese pastry: pastéis de nata. One taste of this creamy egg custard wrapped in buttery, flaky crust, and it's easy to see why this is Portugal's favorite treat!
Further explore historical Lisbon on your own, or opt for a scenic coastal tour
Enjoy a day at leisure in this splendid city. Get a taste of the city’s dynamic culinary scene at a gourmet food market or corner tavern, or relax at a café and enjoy a hot bicas (espresso) or refreshing glass of vinho verde. Active travelers can embark on a hike through Lisbon’s trademark seven hills for must-see views of the city. Or, make your way down the scenic Portuguese coast during an optional day tour and visit two waterside destinations: the historic town of Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the fishing village of Cascais.
Your tour begins with a scenic drive along the coastline to the quiet fishing village of Cascais. Once you have arrived, you can enjoy lunch on your own and take in the postcard-perfect scenery before continuing to our next destination: Sintra. The town of Sintra has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the wealth of 19th century Romantic architectural monuments it contains, as well as its predominance in Portuguese culture. You'll visit the town's ornate palace before enjoying some time on your own to explore this whimsical site.
The storied walls of Obidos and the seaside town of Nazaré, then embark your ship in Oporto
Your exploration of Portugal continues as you travel to Oporto, Portugal’s second-largest city and the center of the port wine trade. First, stop in Obidos, where you’ll enjoy an orientation walk through this beautifully preserved walled town that was once part of the “Queen’s Estate.” Known as the "Wedding Present Town," Obidos was gifted to Queen Isabel from King Dinis on their wedding day in 1282. Later, you’ll make another stop in the seaside town of Nazaré, a beach famous for its monstrous waves and surfing culture. You’ll have free time here to enjoy lunch on your own. Then it’s onward to Oporto, where you’ll embark ship and enjoy a Welcome Reception with fellow travelers.
An exploration of celebrated Oporto, topped with a Port sampling at a local wine cellar
Following breakfast onboard, get to know Oporto better with a full city tour and panoramic drive, including a visit to the historic center (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the market area. You’ll also have the option of paying a visit to the stunning Livraria Lello, named one of the world's most beautiful bookstores. Make your way up the famous red staircase (be sure to pause and admire the stained glass skylight as you climb!) and peruse the shelves of this one-of-a-kind gem, said to have been an inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series.
Cultural Connection and Unforgettable Moment: One can’t visit Oporto without enjoying its signature wine, of course, so you'll head across the river for a visit to one of the city's best-known port-wine cellars. Sample this world-famous drink while enjoying the ambiance of the surrounding gardens and incredible river views below. Back on board this evening, enjoy a lively performance by a local Tuna Band after dinner.
Your choice of tours, Oporto’s medieval Ribiera District or the historical center of Guimarães
You’ll have a choice of how to spend your day today: set off on a walking tour of Oporto — which includes an exploration of the quaint, medieval Ribiera district — or take a guided tour of the historical center of Guimarães. Inscribed on the city walls here is the phrase Aqui Nasceu Portugal – “Portugal was born here” – and you’ll learn how true this statement is as you explore this town’s historical center. Back on board, enjoy a fascinating lecture entitled “Society and Economy of Portugal” as you cruise along the lovely Douro River Valley. Following dinner this evening, let music carry you back through the decades as you enjoy a performance by local musicians.
Sample vintages and regional delicacies at Aveleda Winery before touring Regua
A plethora of cultural delights awaits you today. Cultural Connection: We begin the day with a visit to Aveleda Winery, producer of a variety of popular Portuguese wines (many of which are favorites in New England as well). You’ll enjoy a tasting of Vinho Verde expertly paired with grilled Portuguese sausage, a cheese and jam spread, and other regional delicacies before returning to the ship for lunch. Back on board, enjoy an authentic Portuguese tea experience complete with pastries while learning about the traditions surrounded tea drinking and tea production.
In the afternoon, we'll embark on a walking tour of Regua, including a visit to the Douro Museum, where you’ll learn all about the picturesque Douro River Valley you’ve been admiring from the deck of the ship.
Tour the highlights of Lamego, followed by a regional tasting at Quinta do Roêda
Your day begins with a walking tour of Lamego, a town well known for its wine and the Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios shrine. The elaborate structure is a regular stop for Catholic pilgrims, who climb its nearly 700 steps to walk in order to ask the Virgin Mary to rid them of their afflictions. Reboard the ship this afternoon and continue to Quinta do Roêda, where you will get to sample the fantastic local foods and wines of the region. Cultural Connection: This evening, experience the tradition of Portuguese folk music as you enjoy a performance onboard.
Wander the fabulous Mateus Manor House & Garden before sampling vintages at Avessada Winery
Today, you'll experience the beauty of the Alto Douro Wine Region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. First, you’ll see the magnificent palace depicted on Mateus rosé wine bottles come to life on an excursion to the 18th-century Mateus Manor House & Garden. Spend some time admiring the Baroque architecture and elaborately manicured gardens at this stately property. Then, visit the Avessada Winery to sample the finest vintages of this area and savor a delectable lunch. Cultural Connection: Later, learn about the importance of the cork industry here in Portugal during an included lecture onboard.
Savor Portugal’s culinary culture at Figueira Castelo Rodrigo
Enjoy more scenic sailing before an excursion to Figueira Castelo Rodrigo. This medieval town features some fascinating architectural accents, including 16th century facades and Manuelino-style windows. You’ll enjoy a small tasting of local products here, introducing you to the culinary culture of the area. Culinary Feature: Get a taste for regional delicacies during an onboard cooking lesson before dinner. This evening, discover the recipe behind one of the treats you've been savoring, pastéis de nata.
Explore Salamanca’s ornate architecture and historic university
Unforgettable Moment: The word “magical” has frequently been used to describe Salamanca, and you’ll find out why on a walking tour today. We disembark the ship in Vegga Terron for a scenic ride to this treasured city. Once in Salamanca, We’ll spend time exploring the Old City, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and learn about the esteemed University of Salamanca. Founded in the 13th century by King Alfonso IX, the university is the oldest in Spain and considered among the finest in Europe. You’ll also see the remarkable cathedral as well as the gorgeous main square, where you'll have some free time to wander and shop. After lunch on your own, we depart for the lively city of Madrid. Tonight you'll enjoy a buffet dinner at the hotel.
Uncover the fascinating gems of Madrid during a city tour
Explore this vibrant city today. Truly one of the world’s great capitals, Madrid is teeming with fascinating sights. Unforgettable Moment: Your included tour will take you past all the fascinating faces and personalities of Madrid: people watching in elegant squares like Oriente and España Plazas, strolling along the new Madrid-Rio area, driving down the grand Mayor Street. Other highlights we'll spot include the lovely memorial Retiro Park, the Fountain of Neptune, the famous Las Ventas Bullring, and the Santiago Bernabéu Football Stadium.
Enjoy your afternoon at leisure – perhaps visiting the world famous Prado Museum or simply wandering the various shops and restaurants near your centrally located hotel – or set off on an optional tour of Toledo and the charming, narrow lanes of its UNESCO-listed historic center.
Transfer to the airport for your flight home or remain in the city for your optional extension
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or continue enjoying your time in the Spanish capital on your optional extension.
Get to know Spain’s capital in depth by extending your stay here. Madrid will come alive as you discover its most important avenues and gathering places, such as Retiro Park and Plaza Mayor. You’ll also have plenty of time to explore on your own, giving you a chance experience treasures like the Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums.
Important Notice:The above day-by-day itinerary is preliminary and subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert. In addition, should there be an extreme change in water levels, Vantage will do everything possible to provide either the included excursion or an alternate excursion at Vantage’s discretion.
Please Note: Port Times & Itineraries are subject to change. Fluctuating water levels may affect itinerary.
*Note that in this special itinerary, winery visits may occur on days other than advertised.