ENCHANTING DOURO RIVER CRUISE
Lisbon to Guimarães
Start your amazing journey in Lisbon, where you will marvel at the cobbled alleyways, ancient ruins and white-domed cathedrals; a captivating scene crafted over centuries. There are many opportunities to explore Lisbon’s rich heritage and surrounding towns including Sintra and Fatima, one of the holiest places of pilgrimage on earth.
We begin our luxury cruise in Porto for seven nights and savour the sights as we cruise through the dramatic Douro River Valley. To celebrate the authenticity and quality of the wines produced in the Douro, you’ll be treated to several visits to typical Portuguese quintas, including at Quinta da Avelada, Quinta do Seixo and Quinta da Roêda. Visit picturesque Lamego, home to one of the most important pilgrimage sites in all of Portugal, the Lamego steps and Spain’s golden-hued city, Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Throughout your travels, soak up the genuine beauty and breathtaking charm of one of Europe’s most unadulterated landscapes.
Lisbon - Porto - Régua - Barca d’Alva - Pinhão - Braga - Guimarães
* Roundtrip airfare
• Plaza Premium airport lounge pass
• Lisbon: two nights 4-star hotel accommodation with breakfast
• AmaWaterways cruise: seven nights luxury sailing onboard Amadouro with all meals (onboard the cruise only)
• Porto: two nights 4-star hotel accommodation
• Free-flowing beer and wine served with lunch and dinner
• Private motor coach transportation
• Shore excursions
• Merit Travel tour host**
• All transfers, taxes and gratuities***
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Merit Travel Hosted
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DAY 1 | Aug. 28, 2019 | Toronto/Vancouver - Lisbon
Board your overnight flight to Lisbon.
DAY 2 | Aug. 29, 2019 | Lisbon (D)
Upon arrival in Lisbon, meet your local guide and join your city tour.
Start in the Belém district and learn interesting facts about Portugal's sailing history and see the UNESCO World Heritage-listed monuments in the area. Visit the church at the 16th century Jerónimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém, two great examples of Manueline art. You will also see the Monument to the Discoveries, which commemorates Portugal's important role in the discovery of the Americas. You might like to sample the famous “Pastéis de Belém”, a famous Portuguese pastry.
Continue with a panoramic tour of the Baixa district, Lisbon’s downtown, passing the beautiful Gothic-style Rossio train station and Rossio Square (Lisbon’s main square). Find out how much the city has changed since the devastating earthquake of 1755 that destroyed 85% of the city. In the evening enjoy dinner at your hotel.
Accommodation at Hotel Mundial (2 nights)
DAY 3 | Aug. 30, 2019 | Lisbon (B)
After breakfast, depart for Sintra a charming town known for its natural beauty and historical buildings and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will also visit Pena Palace and enjoy free time at leisure to explore the city. Continue to Cabo da Roca the westernmost point of continental Europe. On the way back to Lisbon, soak up the scenic views along the Atlantic Coast with photo stops in Cascais and Estoril.
DAY 4 | Aug. 31, 2019 | Lisbon - Porto (B, D)
After breakfast, transfer to Aveiro, a picturesque town, known as the Venice of Portugal due to its canals and colourful boats named Moliceiros, similar in design to gondolas. Enjoy free time for lunch.
Continue to the pier in Vila Nova de Gaia to board your luxurious seven-night AmaWaterways cruise. Enjoy dinner onboard the ship.
Accommodation onboard AmaDouro (7 nights)
DAY 5 | Sept. 1, 2019 | Régua (B, L, D)
Cruise to Régua where you can visit the Baroque-style Palacio de Mateus and its gardens, located in the lovely Trás-os-Montes region.
Inside the house, you’ll see interesting furnishings, paintings and a ceiling of intricately carved wood. The gardens here are considered some of the most beautiful in Portugal.
DAY 6 | Sept. 2, 2019 | Barca d'Alva (B, L, D)
Spend time soaking up the beauty of the Douro River as you cruise to Barca d’Alva, where you will visit Castelo Rodrigo, a small fortified village perched high on a hilltop with centuries-old walls, steep narrow streets and fantastic views. You can also opt to hike up to the village if you'd like to explore more actively. While here, taste some delicious locally grown produce.
DAY 7 | Sept. 3, 2019 | Barca d'Alva (B, L, D)
Built of golden sandstone, Salamanca is known as a living museum, and you will have an opportunity to step back in time to the Middle Ages during your escorted tour. Explore the city’s elegant university buildings, the New Cathedral of Salamanca, the intriguingly decorated House of Shells and Plaza Mayor. While here, enjoy lunch as well as a traditional Flamenco show.
DAY 8 | Sept. 4, 2019 | Pinhão (B, L, D)
Be treated to an exclusive lunch at Quinta da Avessada, where you’ll enjoy an authentic and traditional dining experience complete with entertainment. The warm, spirited hospitality of this family-run Quinta is quite special as you will discover. Several family members play in a band, and while dining, they will entertain you. Quinta de Avessada is also a fascinating interactive museum commemorating the history and culture of wine in the Alto Douro region, so you’ll have fun discovering all the various stages of wine production as well as doing plenty of tasting.
Later in the day, venture to Quinta do Seixo, producers of some of the most traditionally made wine in the Douro region. An expert from the Sandeman Winery will take you on a tasting and private tour of the wine cellars, teaching you about the centuries-old winemaking methods.
DAY 9 | Sept. 5, 2019 | Régua - Entre-os-Rios (B, L, D)
Travel to picturesque Lamego, home to one of the most important pilgrimage sites in all of Portugal, where you’ll go to the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios (Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies). The shrine features a staircase of nearly 700 steps, beautifully decorated with white and blue tiles.
You will also have the opportunity to sample local traditional specialties, such as bôlas de Lamego, bread filled with smoked ham, presunto, a type of dry-cured ham and Espumante, a Portuguese sparkling wine.
You’ll then go to the formal Episcopal Palace Museum. Later, savour a pre-dinner glass of Vinho Verde from the terrace of the centuries-old Alpendurada Monastery, followed by a traditional “home-cooked” meal.
DAY 10 | Sept. 6, 2019 | Porto (B, L, D)
The colourful city of Porto blends the best of old and new, which you can discover on an escorted tour of the historic quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit and explore the Cathedral, one of the city’s oldest monuments and the São Bento Railway Station, known for its blue and white tile panels depicting scenes from Portuguese history. You’ll also enjoy a tasting of Port, Portugal’s most renowned contribution to the world of wine. If you prefer to get more active, you can go on a guided hike and then enjoy a Port wine tasting.
DAY 11 | Sept. 7, 2019 | Porto (B, D)
After breakfast onboard, transfer from the ship in Vila Nova de Gaia to your hotel in Porto.
Enjoy dinner this evening at your hotel.
Accommodation at Hotel Ipanema (2 nights)
DAY 12 | Sept. 8, 2019 | Porto - Braga - Guimarães (B, D)
After breakfast, depart for a full day trip to the cities of Braga and Guimarães. This will be a unique journey, starting in Braga, one of the oldest religious cities in the world. Here you will see the holy shrines that constitute the triangle of faith; Cathedral, the Sanctuaries of Sameiro and Bom Jesus. After lunch in a local restaurant, the trip continues with a visit to Guimarães, the cradle of Portugal.
Behind the Castle you will have the opportunity to see a small church where even today it is believed to have been the site of the baptism of the first King of Portugal; King D. Afonso Henriques. The city celebrated being the European Capital of Culture in 2012.
At the end of the day, return to the hotel for dinner.
DAY 13 | Sept. 9, 2019 | Porto - Toronto/Vancouver (B)
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight home.
*CDN$ p.p. dbl. occ. Taxes included. Based on an outside stateroom cat. E with window or similar. Upgrade to a cat D deluxe stateroom with window or similar: $328. Upgrade to a cat. C deluxe stateroom with balcony: $986. Upgrade to a cat. B deluxe stateroom with balcony: $1,528. Upgrade to a cat. A deluxe stateroom with balcony: $1,857. Upgrade to a suite stateroom: $3,603. Airfare available from most Canadian airports, please enquire. **Minimum 15 passengers required for a Merit Travel tour host. ***Gratuities are included onboard the cruise.
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