- European River Cruises: Free Airfare or $1,000 off
Book by December 31, 2018 and receive free round-trip economy airfare between the U.S. and Europe or take $1,000 per person off the expedition cost on 2019 departures.
Offer is subject to availability and valid for new bookings only, and may not be combined with other promotions. Please call for details.Available Departures
- May 25-Jun 4, 2019
- Sep 23-Oct 3, 2019
- Tour some of the Douro Valley’s most prestigious vineyards, sip port at a celebrated cellar in Porto, and enjoy interpretive wine tastings on board as we sail.
- In the company of a National Geographic expert, see the fascinating engravings of Foz Côa—widely considered the world’s most important open-air Paleolithic rock art site.
- Take in a festive flamenco performance in Salamanca and a private concert in the spectacular gilded nave of Porto’s Igreja de São Francisco.
- Attend on board photo talks led by a National Geographic photographer, and practice landscape shots on the sinuous vineyards that flank the Douro.
In northern Portugal, the Douro River curves through the terraced vineyards of Douro wine country, a World Heritage-designated region celebrated for its spectacular beauty and centuries-old viticulture. Step back in time in medieval villages, examine world-renowned rock art, and cross into Spain to roam the Renaissance streets of Salamanca. Along the way, taste excellent wines in the cellars of Porto and historic countryside estates, and listen to traditional rhythms of fado and flamenco in spectacular settings.
Arrive in Porto, a World Heritage-listed city straddling the Douro River. Embark the Scenic Azure and enjoy a welcome reception and dinner on board. On a walking tour of Porto’s historic old town, explore medieval treasures, examine azulejo tiles, and visit the Palácio da Bolsa—the city’s old stock exchange. Later, we begin our cruise along the Douro.
Scenic Azure for the entire voyage
Delve into history at the Palace of the Dukes of Bragança in Guimarães, the country's first capital; or venture to the stunning Quinta da Aveleda winery and gardens in the Vinho Verde wine region, where we’ll sip on sparkling whites. Glide into the stunning Douro Valley this afternoon and get an introduction to the area at the Douro Museum in Peso da Régua. The next day, visit the 12th-century Mosteiro de São João de Tarouca, Portugal’s first Cistercian monastery; tour the elegant town of Lamego; or join a guide to explore the opulent Mateus Palace, famously featured on bottles of Mateus rosé.
Take in scenes of the Douro Valley from the comfort of the ship lounge as we wind our way past the charming terra-cotta-roofed towns and vine-striped hillsides that earned the region its World Heritage designation. Enjoy the amenities on board, including a plunge pool, fitness center, and expansive sundeck; and spend time with our National Geographic photographer documenting scenes along the Douro’s picturesque shoreline.
Cross into Spain for a visit to Salamanca. Take in the city’s Renaissance splendor on a guided city tour, then enjoy some time to explore on your own. Have lunch in town with live entertainment from flamenco dancers, and visit the historic university in the afternoon.
Venture into the Côa Valley and visit the Côa Museum to learn about the prehistoric rock art at the World Heritage-listed Foz Côa. Opt to ride a 4x4 vehicle to the archaeological site, and hike to these fascinating carvings. You may instead choose to paddle a canoe along the pristine Sabor River, a rugged tributary to the Douro. Or set out on a culinary excursion to the Casa Painova estate and taste their delicious almond and olive products. Tonight, local musicians join us on board to perform traditional Portuguese songs.
Drive into the hills of the Douro Valley to the time-locked town of Provesende. Wander this quaint village and get a glimpse into daily life here while meeting with local residents. Pop into the town bakery, enjoy a special recital in the church, and sip on wine at the charming Morgadio da Calçada manor house. Later, visit the Quinta da Roêda estate to try their famous ports and, if you wish, walk among the vines for a special al fresco tasting.
Relax on board and enjoy a tasting of Douro Valley wines as we sail back toward Porto. Upon arrival, head to Igreja de São Francisco for a private concert in this baroque church’s spectacular gilded nave. Tour the Douro Estuary on foot, spotting birdlife amid the salt marshes; and meet fishermen returning with the day's catch. There are also options to visit Porto’s oldest canning factory, or go for a tasting in one of the city’s most celebrated port cellars. Disembark on our final morning and depart for home.
- Madrid Extension4 days from $1,695
- Lisbon Extension4 days from $895
Madrid has much to savor, with its elegant architecture and world-class restaurants, its celebrated art museums and colorful markets. After your Douro River cruise aboard the Scenic Azure, spend a few days soaking up the energy of Spain’s captivating capital city. Venture into the historic center to retrace the footsteps of Hapsburg royals, wander through stately plazas lined with baroque buildings, and marvel at beautiful neoclassical fountains. Visit the world-renowned Prado museum, sample the local cuisine, and enjoy time to explore the city’s elegant squares and leafy boulevards at your own pace.
¡Bienvenido a Madrid! Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel.
This morning, begin our exploration of Madrid in the historic center, Los Austrias, built during the reign of the Hapsburg dynasty. Explore the quarter’s highlights including the elegant Plaza Mayor, which is dominated by the Casa de la Panadería (Bakery House)—the city’s municipal center. View the impressive Almudena Cathedral and meander through the neoclassical-style Sabatini Gardens, located in front of the 18th-century Royal Palace and named after the Italian architect who contributed to the palace’s design. Then continue to the Cibeles and Neptuno Fountains, two of the most majestic fountains in the city, which were commissioned by King Charles III. In the afternoon, you may opt to visit the world-renowned Prado Museum and its superb collection by Spanish masters, including works by Goya and Velázquez. Or choose to venture inside the sprawling Royal Palace, which boasts over 3,000 rooms. This evening, enjoy fine Spanish cuisine at a local restaurant.
Spend the day at leisure exploring this marvelous city. Stroll amid the boutiques that adorn the famed Barrio de Salamanca, or relax in one of Madrid’s many beautiful parks and gardens. Venture to the “Golden Triangle of Art” to visit the city’s celebrated museums, including the Reina Sofía, home to Picasso’s Guernica, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza, which houses works by a diverse collection of masters, from Rubens to Cézanne. Savor the eclectic cuisine of this culinary capital at a local restaurant, or venture to the historic San Miguel market to browse colorful stalls selling cured meats, cheeses, and seafood. Or simply wander along the city’s lively streets, taking in a contrasting mix of baroque, neoclassical, and contemporary architecture, and soak up the vibrant energy.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.