The Douro is a guardian river, a river of flavours, tradition and wine, and it offers scenery with landscapes that are well worth the trip. Surprise your soul mate and come to Portugal to discover Porto’s charm and wonder by taking a boat ride on the river Douro.
- Gastronomy and Wines
Experience Porto from one of its most characteristic perspectives: the river! With Douro Azul, a leading company of river cruises on the Douro, follow the six bridges aboard a Rabelo boat – a typical vessel which, a long time ago, was used to carry Port wine barrels from Douro to Gaia – admire the old part of the city, with its typical houses and the hustle and bustle of the Ribeira locals.
The journey, about an hour long, can start at Cais da Ribeira or at Cais de Gaia, and the programme, focused on the emblematic bridges of Porto, allows visitors to also get to know a little of the city’s history.
The symbolic and centenarian Maria Pia bridge was baptised after a queen and is the first great work of Gustave Eiffel.
The magnificent D. Luís I bridge was designed by Theóphile Seyrig, Eiffel’s partner and disciple.
But the Arrábida bridge was designed by a Portuguese and a northerner! The engineer Edgar Cardoso designed a bridge with a 270 metres span, which, for a while, held the world record for arched bridges of reinforced concrete.
São João bridge, also by Edgar Cardoso, was inaugurated on 24 June 1991, on the day of São João – from 23 to 24 June the city holds a large celebration honouring this popular saint, with dances, roasted sardines and toy hammers.
The Freixo bridge, designed by Professor António Reis, is upstream from all the others. The most recent bridge got its name after Infante D. Henrique.
You will like
- Getting to know the capital of the north of Portugal from the river Douro
- The beautiful landscapes of the valley of the river Douro that will take your breath away
- Witnessing how an old wine cellar in Pinhão originated a five star hotel
During the pleasant and memorable journey observe how city houses are displayed as a cascade, originating labyrinthine narrow streets. After the “acknowledgement” of the historical centre, classified as world heritage since 1996, you will want to discover the oldest area of the city on foot, but, the truth is, the best and most complete view of Porto is from the river.
It is not by accident that on the night of S. João the traditional fireworks are set off from D. Luís I bridge and from boats positioned in the middle of the river, to the delight of thousands of people watching the show every year from both bank of the river.
When you arrive at Foz do Douro and the beaches – take the tram in the Ribeira, the trip by the coast is beautiful – you can take the boat that crosses between the area of the Real Clube Fluvial Portuense and the Jardim do Calém and, on the Gaia side, the Afurada fishing community, where you can find good fish and seafood restaurants and old taverns where you can still listen to fado vadio – sung by amateurs, but also by professionals on their spare time, without commercial purposes.
Speaking of eating, on the piers of the Ribeira and Gaia, there are several places where you can taste typical dishes, such as, tripas à moda do Porto, the famous francesinha, the cozido à portuguesa or the bacalhau à Gomes de Sá – a delicacy invented precisely in the Ribeira – and enjoy a good DOC Douro table wine.
The bridges cruise is merely one of the experiences promoted by Douro Azul on the river Douro. If you visit Porto and the north of Portugal with enough time to spare, it is worth taking one of the cruises organized by this touristic business company in luxuriant and comfortable hotel ships and visiting some locations of the Douro, the oldest demarcated wine region in the world.
Barca d’Alva, Régua and Pinhão await you, formerly trading posts used by Port wine houses and a cultural landscape of remarkable beauty that the ancient wine tradition has helped to build.
Considered as world heritage by UNESCO, it is in Alto Douro Vinhateiro that the famous Port Wine is produced. In the tranquillity of your boat trip on the Douro, taste some of this wine internationally known for its quality and taste.
What to do
- Take the six bridges cruise aboard a Rabelo boat, a typical vessel that, in the past, was used to carry Port wine barrels
- On a longer boat trip, discover the landscape of the Alto Douro Vinhateiro, with its hillsides covered in vineyards
When you stop in Régua visit the Solar do Vinho do Porto, which integrates the Rota do Vinho do Porto, and where experts will explain to you the differences between the various types of this nectar.
Renting a yacht to watch the sunset or going on a romantic trip aboard a royal vessel – The Spirit of Chartwell – are other possibilities.
You can select the trip in order to leave open the possibility of your return – you can go back on another day or you can take the train, for example. Thus, you may experience all the richness of the region and spend the night at a farm with a unique environment.
If you are staying in Porto, we suggest you stay at the Hotel Carris Porto Ribeira. Just a few metres from the river and the popular esplanades of the Ribeira, this hotel unit is the result of a complete rehabilitation of five listed buildings, which were converted into a four stars superior, with 90 rooms.
If you choose to spend a night in the Douro, stay at the CS Vintage House (Pinhão), a hotel that offers comfort and sophistication, where all rooms have a view over the river, where you can taste regional dishes and wines, and whose atmosphere is marked by a quiet and enchanting landscape, still dominated by old farms and great vineyards on slopes.
What you need to know
- The touristic boat trips leave from Cais da Ribeira or from Cais de Gaia
- There are boat trips with different durations, from about an hour to an eight days journey
- The Hotel Carris Porto Ribeiro is only a 5 minute walk from Estação de S. Bento (train and metro) and a 20 minute drive from the airport
How to get there
There are flights from Bremen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, Munich, Dortmund, Zurich, Liverpool, London, Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Dole, La Rochelle, Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Paris, Rodez, St. Etienne Toulouse, Tours, Barcelona, Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Bologna, Milan, Pisa, Rome, Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and New York.
The best way to go from the International Airport Francisco Sá Carneiro to the city centre is to take the underground. The trip takes about 30 minutes.