Fabulous scenery, wine and history along the Douro 

If you are looking for a river cruise with a little different feel, consider a cruise down the Douro (pronounced Daw-row) River in Portugal. The experienced travel advisors at GetAway Travel are ready to book your dream cruise on the Douro or arrange your memorable travel experience. 

Cruises on the Douro begin and end from Porto, Portugal and they offer a fabulous snapshot of the Alto Douro wine region — and much more! 

 Porto may seem familiar 

 Porto is Portugal’s second largest city. More than 2,000 years old, it has an ambiance that reminds many of San Francisco. 

It has hilly countrysides, trams and when the fog rolls in off of the Atlantic Ocean over the lively streetscapes, it sure seems like the city by the bay. 

But what Porto and the area are famous for is Port wine, a wine fortified with brandy. 

The city is surrounded by lush vineyards and quintas. Quintas are estates where grapes are grown and wine is processed. 

Although the area is renowned for Port wine, it also produces some fabulous reds and whites.  

Traditionally, the wine was floated down the Douro River in flat-bottomed boats to be stored in cellars in and around Porto. 

Harvest time for grapes is in September and some quintas even let tourists help with the harvest. Be warned, though, it is hot, back-breaking work. 

Almost every quinta welcomes tourists and tours, but arrangements need to be made ahead of time to ensure, especially during the harvest season, that staff is available for tours. You can, of course, try to arrange a tour when you arrive, but arranging through GetAway Travel ensures you will be guaranteed a spot when you are in the area. 

Tours include tastings of ruby, tawny, white and a vintage port or two. 

Visitors to the area can experience a different sort of harvest December through February when olives are picked and processed. 

 The Douro Valley and its attractions 

 Wine was taken down the river to Porto for a reason, the area is pocketed with lush vineyards surrounded by hilly landscape. Ports along the Douro have stunning scenery and historic architecture, but much of it can only be accessed by motor coach. 

But, a climate controlled motor coach with a guide is a great way to see the area. 

Pinhao is a nugget of a town nestled in a valley with vineyards around it. At Pinhao as well as other towns along the Douro, you can do some hiking or kayaking on some of the river’s calm tributaries.  

There are train rides that take you through the countryside and the Douro Valley has a charming steam train that offers rides on Saturday afternoons in the summer. Enjoy the scenery as well as performances by local musicians and beverages on your train ride. 

A gigantic nature preserve spans large areas of the Douro Valley. The Parque Natural do Douro International is home to more than 170 bird species including eagles, peregrine falcons and vultures. Let a travel advisor at GetAway Travel set up a hiking or driving tour through the park. 

The Santuario de Nossa Senhora dos Remedies or the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies in Douro Valley’s Lamego is one of the finest examples of baroque architecture. 

A climb to the top means 600 steps, but you will be rewarded with dozens of statues, fountains and art pieces on the staircase and terraces as you make your way up. The pelican fountain at the base of the staircase is considered an architectural highlight. 

And who doesn’t love a museum that includes a bar, restaurant and wine tasting? The Museu do Douro in Peso da Regua is a modern museum that highlights the history of the region and, of course, port making as well as traveling art exhibits. 

 We’re ready to book your next adventure 

 Travel options for next year, including Douro River cruises are filling up, but GetAway Travel can give you a heads up on open spots. Have an adventure, make a memory — but the best of all is to do both! We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140,

e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 

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