Inland cruises are a great way to see the best of Portugal and enjoy the stunning scenery at a relaxed pace. Medieval cities, mountains and verdant valleys decorate the banks of the river Douro which runs from the heart of Spain to the border and then through Portugal, spilling out into the sea at Porto.
Having been on a few similar trips before I knew what to expect, but was excited to visit an area of Europe relatively unknown to me. Once aboard I was instantly overwhelmed by Portugal’s rural beauty and fascinated by the wine making culture that has grown up around the river. With all this presented to us from the deck of the boat, a river cruise tour seemed to be the perfect way to experience traditional Portugal.
The landscape around the Douro has been shaped by the cultural and social aspects of wine production. Vast hillside vineyards and quintas (vineyard estates) decorate scenes little changed over hundreds of years. Whitewashed villages, old stone churches and winding hillside roads provide glimpses into another time.
En route it is fascinating to see the terraces cut into the hillside, first constructed centuries ago. They add an intricate pattern to the landscape which runs with the natural curves of the gentle Portuguese hills. Olive, almond and orange trees give the hillsides a fresh scent and colour between terraces filled with vines.
The World’s Oldest Wine Region
As the oldest wine region in the world, the Douro Valley has been given UNESCO world heritage status and is one of Portugal’s most enticing assets. Port wine has been produced there for over 2,000 years, and traditional methods continue today. The history of the area is visible in the landscape, and it was fascinating to learn about the many civilizations that settled in the area from out knowledgeable guide.
The Port Tradition
Renowned for being one of the most quality wines in the world, Portugal’s port wine has a distinct flavour developed by generation of farmers. On a walking tour of a vineyard our guide told us all about the history of the port wine making process as we were treated to stunning views across the surrounding hills. In the evening we ate a traditional Portuguese meal which ended with a superb cheese board and a variety of ports to sample and enjoy. - Travel Feeder, your ultimate travel photo blog
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