Porto to Douro Valley: A Detailed Itinerary of our River Cruise with CroisiCruise

There isn’t a travel experience out there quite like a scenic river cruise. It’s an inclusive luxury experience like no other and is the perfect way to spend a romantic getaway with your one and only. Sure, you may be on a smaller ship with smaller ports and a smaller group of people compared to the massive commercial ocean cruise lines you see advertised on TV, but that is the very reason why river cruises are so special. They are more intimate, personalized, and authentic, so you can truly immerse yourself in the rich culture every stop along the way. 

Need an insider’s look at what exactly to expect on a Douro River cruise?

As seasoned travelers in the beautiful region of Porto and the Douro Valley, we have got you covered with all our best tips and advice. Let us guide you through this amazing journey filled with stunning landscapes, rich culture, delicious food, and—of course—incredible wine!

In this Article:

  • Things to do before you set sail – Your adventure in Douro Valley can actually start before your cruise! Make the most of it with our recommendations.
  • Pick your program – There are two types of experiences to choose from on the CroisiCruise. We give you a breakdown of each and what to expect.
  • Highlights of every stop – Get a look into where you’ll be and what to expect every day of your cruise. Plus, our favorite activities and excursions!
  • Our overall review – Get our final thoughts on our experience so you can determine whether the CroisiCruise, or any Douro River Cruise for that matter, is right for you and your partner.
Bridges of Port, reflection in widow aboard a river cruise.
Photo Credit: RomanticWeekendGetaways.com
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Disclosure: CroisiEurope hosted my trip. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

There are many river cruise companies out there, but we’re here to talk about the CroisiEurope cruise. This expeditionary cruise takes you through the Douro River Valley to explore and discover the very heart of Portugal. From its gorgeous scenery and delicious cuisine to its distinctive culture and historic wine region. If you and your partner decide to embark on this amazing Douro cruise experience, expect to spend your days basking on the sun deck, venturing through charming small towns, and indulging in the finest local wines!

But of course, there are plenty of other romantic things to do, and plenty of time to do it on a CroisiCruise. To know what to expect and ensure you two love birds don’t miss a single thing, we’ve created the ultimate itinerary based on our own experience on this lovely Douro River cruise. That way, you can get better insight on things to do if you’ve already booked your trip—and if you haven’t—determine if it’s an experience you’re all in on.

View off the bow of MS Infante Don Henrique.
Photo Credit: RomanticWeekendGetaways.com

Setting Sail from Porto

CroisiCruise line is a French cruise line designed to make cruising affordable and appealing to a variety of travelers, with over 50 operating ships worldwide. The river cruise in Douro Valley journeys from the coastal city of Porto to Douro Valley, home of the iconic Portuguese vineyards. 

Porto is Portugal’s second-largest city. It has beautiful, historic architecture and is known for its delicious port wine and stately bridges. We recommend coming to Porto at least two days early. The first day to recover from any jet lag and the second day to explore the city. Although you already get 2 days on the cruise with tours in Porto, there is so much to see and experience in this popular destination. We highly recommend checking out as much as you can!

Upon boarding the river cruise at 5 p.m., we quickly observed that the majority of guests were French. However, if you are not fluent in French, don’t worry. The staff members speak both French and English and will make every effort to ensure that all English-speaking travelers are seated together. We took this time to enjoy our welcome cocktail and get acquainted with our ship. We checked out our room, the lounge, dining room, and top deck. 

The first night, if timing and weather allow, you’ll be able to cruise along the river right out to where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. In this picturesque spot, you and your love can marvel at the beautiful lights of Porto, its iconic bridges, and the Port houses along the coast of the sister city, Gaia. 

Fun fact: the port houses are actually in Gaia, not Porto! It’s across the river from Porto, so you have magnificent views of them as you stroll along the riverfront shops. Gaia is easy to get to by one of the 7 bridges that connect the cities.

Terraces along the Douro river
Photo Credit: RomanticWeekendGetaways.com

Once you set sail aboard the CroisiCruise, you’ll have an 8-day itinerary to look forward to that’s full of relaxation, adventure, and romance. You and your partner will explore historic sites, enjoy local wines and food, and take in scenic views of emerald waterways and rolling vineyards.

There are two programs offered for the cruise: a walkers tour and a non-walkers tour, so you can choose the experience that best fits your physical abilities and/or preferences. We found the hiking one to be more alluring, so that’s what we went with! 

Aside from the daily tours, meals, and onboard activities included in your river cruise package, there are also unique aspects of river cruising in Douro Valley that make it stand out from other types of cruises.

For example, you’ll get to experience the river’s famous locks, which are water chambers that raise and lower the ship as we travel through the different elevations of the Douro Valley. It’s a unique experience to witness firsthand and adds an extra layer of excitement to your journey.

Another notable aspect of this particular river cruise is the opportunity to visit local vineyards and wineries throughout the Douro Valley. You’ll learn about the history of Port wine, taste different varieties, and even have a chance to purchase some bottles to take home as souvenirs!

Highlights of the Cruise Itinerary

Regua, Provesende, & Vila Réal

On day two, you’ll get a guided tour of Porto in the morning before sailing off toward Regua, a city famed for its wine production. 

Once you’ve arrived, we recommend taking a romantic stroll through the city to take in all the sights. The Museo do Douro is also a great place to get a taste of the region’s rich history and culture, and when the evening hits, this city is a good time for dancing and drinking wine!   

The third day is when you’ll truly start experiencing the Douro Valley. If you’re up for a hike, you’ll go to Provesende by walking through lush green forests and rolling hills. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can opt for a trip to Vila Réal instead, where you’ll get to walk around the gorgeous gardens of the Mateus Palace.

In the afternoon, prepare for some breathtaking scenery! During our trip, we couldn’t help but gawk at the stunning vineyards that stretched for miles along the river’s edges. We also got to enjoy an evening of entertainment on board, which was a nice way to relax and unwind for the night. 

Red wine on countertop aboard a river cruise.
Photo Credit: RomanticWeekendGetaways.com


On the fourth day, you’ll venture into Spain and visit Salamanca, a stunning city listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. We decided to hike into the city from the port, which was about 1.5 miles (25-minute walk). It was such a unique experience to cross the border on foot, as we were really immersed in the local culture and surroundings. 

We highly recommend making the most of this city. The university and church are genuinely breathtaking. And be brave! If the tour bus stops at the same rest stop, try the crunchy fried pork from the counter. It was one of our favorite snacks on the whole trip.

Back on board in the late afternoon, we finished the night off with some Flamenco entertainment to soak up the last of Spain’s vibrant culture through dance and music. By this point, you may have already made a few friends with fellow guests on board, so you can fully embrace the lively atmosphere! 

Barca D’alva

Rise and shine as you sail towards Barca D’alva, passing through more scenic landscapes along the way. In Barca D’alva, you can visit Figueria de Castelo Rodrigo, a medieval village with historic buildings and stunning views of the surrounding valley. 

Or, if you’d like to immerse yourself in the wild side of Douro Valley, you can hike up to Vultures’ Cliff, a 3-hour trail that rewards you with magnificent panoramic views of the Douro River and Spain. 

As the day winds down, you’ll set sail to Senhora da Ribeira, where you’ll spend the night. During our trip, the crew arranged a gala evening and dinner on board, which was a lovely way to get glamorous and enjoy a delicious meal while taking in the beautiful scenery.

Terraces of the Douro river speckled with houses.
Photo Credit: RomanticWeekendGetaways.com

Senhora Da Ribeira

The next day, we got to visit the Senhora da Ribeira, a small river Quinta that is known for having one of the most beautiful vineyards. Here, you can either hike through the vineyards or take a “Wines of Porto” excursion, complete with a tasting of the region’s famous Port wines. 

During the hike, you’ll be in a nature-lovers paradise, as the vineyards are protected, and the scenery is stunning. We opted for the hike, and it was one of our favorite moments of the trip, although we heard a lot of great things about the wine tour as well!

Back on the boat, you’ll start cruising towards Bitetos with some Fado entertainment to enjoy in the evening. Fado is a popular Portuguese music genre that often features soulful singing and beautiful guitar melodies. This was a highlight for us as it was beautiful to sit and listen to the local version of The Blues. 


The last full day of the cruise will be spent sailing back to Porto. Depending on the program you choose, you’ll either have a guided tour of Guimaraes, the birthplace of Portugal in the 12th century, or you’ll embark on a hike along the banks of the Douro River. Either way, it’s sure to be an enjoyable day filled with beautiful views and interesting history (as usual).

And, of course, it’s without question that your last night on board will be filled with great food and entertainment. Savor every moment of your dinner together by bopping your head along to some folk entertainment as your cruise comes to a bittersweet end. 

We decided to spend our last night on the balcony with a glass of wine. We toasted to our amazing adventure on the Douro Valley and made plans for when we’ll come back someday. Because one thing is certain — once you experience the magic of this river cruise, you’ll want to return for more. Cheers to that!

Note: If you’re on a smaller budget, book a shorter ride with a local operator stationed at the piers. These operators offer similar rides and tours that are much shorter and more affordable. Plus, it’s a great way to support local businesses!

For instance, many Airbnbs in the area now offer boat rides with locals as an experience. The rides can be anywhere from two to three hours long. This gives you enough time to see the main sights without breaking the bank.

And let’s be honest, taking a boat ride with a local can make for an interesting and entertaining experience. They may know insider tips and hidden spots that you wouldn’t find on a standard tour!

Cup of coffee in front of cabin view on river cruise.
Photo Credit: RomanticWeekendGetaways.com

The Unforgettable Itinerary

Overall, the CroisiCruise on the Douro River was an incredible trip like nothing we’d ever experienced before. Every day felt like a surreal dream as we sailed through stunning foreign landscapes and ventured on exciting excursions.

We did the hiking program and were super impressed with the quality of the hikes and the effort put in by the guides. It was such a unique way to see this beautiful region on the Iberian Peninsula. 

The trails were generally easy, so if you don’t consider yourself an experienced hiker, you shouldn’t have a problem. Each hike was around 2 to 5 hours, with some moderate altitude changes. And even if you’re not that into hiking, there were plenty of other activities to choose from.

Since the CroisiCruise is a French cruise line, expect a fun blend of Portuguese and French influences throughout your trip. And if you’re expecting to be plugged in on this trip, think again. The internet is pretty much non-existent. This was a welcomed change for us as we were able to truly disconnect and enjoy each moment without distractions. 

Important Tips and Things to Know When Traveling with CroisiCruises:

  • The majority of travelers on the ship spoke French, as it is a French cruise line. Consider learning a few words in French to be able to enjoy the trip with your fellow passengers. CroisiCruise does a great job at considering this and groups tables by language to help all the guests enjoy the trip.
  • The tour guides speak French with some English. Have a translation app downloaded to your phone. We recommend Google Translate for speed and ease.
  • The menu reflects local culture and regional cuisines. Come excited to enjoy a memorable menu that isn’t anything like what you will find in America.
  • The tour is aimed at mature couples who enjoy a more relaxed pace. We do not recommend this for young partners looking for packed itineraries.
  • We highly recommend this trip for fun couples in their golden years looking for a bit of adventure and a unique way to discover a stunning region.
  • There is minimal internet or cell service. Be prepared to disconnect.

All in all, we highly recommend this cruise to mature couples looking for a unique and adventurous way to explore the Douro Valley with a slower pace. While enjoyable for all ages, this tour is particularly well-suited for our more seasoned couples looking for an enriching yet unhurried experience. With plenty of activities, delicious food and wine, and jaw-dropping scenery, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience on the CroisiCruise. 

Have your own CroisiCruise experience you’d like to share? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts! And be sure to subscribe to my newsletter for more unique and exciting romantic getaways!


How many days does the Porto to Douro Valley cruise take?

The Porto to Douro Valley cruise takes 8 days, which we believe was the perfect amount of time to fully experience and explore this beautiful region. During these 8 days, you will be able to see and visit various ports along the Douro River, including stops in charming towns such as Barca D’alva and Senhora da Ribeira.

How much free time is there during the cruise?

With river cruising, nothing is mandatory, so you can enjoy as much free time as you want. This means that you have the freedom to participate in any of the planned excursions or activities but also have the option to relax and take in the stunning scenery on board. You could even explore the ports on your own if you’d like. It’s entirely up to you!

What level of physical activity is required for the excursions?

When we went on the CroisiCruise, we weren’t sure what to expect in regard to physical demands. However, we were pleasantly surprised by the variety of people who joined in on the hiking excursions. While none of the hikes were too difficult, there were some rocky and slippery areas to be aware of. 

Overall, we found that the hikes were moderate and definitely worth it for the breathtaking views. Everyone was very kind and worked together as a team to help each other!

Are there any must-see stops or must-do excursions on this itinerary?

If hiking is not your thing, the one-stop that we would recommend for all is the trip to Salamanca. The city had amazing architecture and was beautiful to meander through. We did a half-day tour with 3 hours on our own. The bus ride to and from goes through winding, beautiful hills and valleys with no other option to get from the port to the city. If you are prone to car sickness, you want to be aware of this and prepare for it!

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