Must-Do Activity in Portugal: Douro River Cruise with Rota do Douro
We visited Porto in the off-season during autumn school holidays, which fell on the end of October- beginning of November in 2018. One of things I always wanted to do is to go on a river cruise in the Douro Valley, which has been placed on UNESCO World Heritage List, because wines were produced in this region for over two thousand years.
When I started looking for cruise companies, I realised that majority of them sailed only until the end of October and Rota do Douro was the only company I managed to find with sailings in November.
I have done my booking via email and paid for the trip on the day. There is a variety of cruises you can choose from and during the season the choice is much better than in winter months.
I went for Porto-Regua- Porto Upstream Cruise, which departed Porto in the morning and sailed all the way to Regua, where we had around an hour and a half before heading back to Porto by train.
Rota do Douro did a fantastic job in how the cruise was organised. All meals were served promptly, and we were informed about the activities by a helpful staff member. At the end of the trip, we were provided with train tickets and again there was a member of company’s staff on the train until Porto if any assistance was required.
When you board the boat, all the tables are set for breakfast and it is a fantastic start to the day.
I also loved that the cruise was very child friendly, you can bring the buggy on board, the kids were occupied either by food, drawing or reading at the table or looking out of the window or enjoying the fresh air on the upper deck.
Parents will also manage to have a rest, as you will not be pushing the buggy, but still seeing new places, while having a glass of wine and a delicious meal. Luca also managed to have a sleep in the afternoon on the open deck, which meant a happy child later during the day.
After breakfast the boat is going through 2 river dams, where the boat gets raised by the water to travel upstream. We had a chance to peek inside the captain’s cabin and sit on the captain’s chair! Exciting!
Also, there was a running commentary in different languages on the boat about the things that you saw on the way, so the cruise was educational and entertaining at the same time.
The view is always changing and we were either passing pretty landscapes or enjoying the sunshine on the upper deck.
Around midday the lunch is served and the food was of a very good standard and child friendly. On our cruise we had soup to start with, then followed by roast pork, potatoes and vegetables and for dessert we had chocolate mousse. The food is plentiful so you will not go hungry, in fact we were not able to finish our main course for lunch. They serve a full bottle of wine for 2 adults, which can be enjoyed in the afternoon.
After lunch the landscape is changing to beautiful wineyards and wine lodges dotted here and there. We were lucky as the sun came out and we decamped to the open upper deck to enjoy the view and the wine.
When we arrived to Regua it was a public holiday and majority of places were closed, but it is a bustling little town, where you can have coffee and a local pastry before you board the train. There are plenty of pretty buildings and small shops to have a look at, as well as couple of museums which you will probably have enough time to visit before your train departs.
Train journey back takes approximately 1.5 hours and you arrive to a gorgeous Sao Bento station, full of azulejo panels as far as an eye can see.
We absolutely loved the day on a boat and if you have enough time in Porto to go and visit Douro Valley, I certainly recommend a cruise with Rota do Douro. I would not hesitate to go back for a longer cruise, which lasts a few days allowing to enjoy all pleasures and sights of the Douro Valley.
The tickets for the river cruise were provided at media rate but all opinions are my own.