Douro Cruises - How to choose?

How to choose a Douro Cruise?

Every year, Douro Cruises transport thousands of passengers along the river from Porto to Régua, Pinhão or Barca d’Alva. The Cruises are carried out in various types of boats, from ships, rabelo boats, hotelships, sailing boats and yachts.

The 1-day cruises departing from the main cities on the river banks, allow you to get to know the Douro in a large extension, entering the heart of the Douro Wine Region where tourists can appreciate the beautiful landscapes of the region classified by UNESCO as World Heritage.

These cruises pass through several dams, and going up or down their locks is a unique experience in Portugal that should not be missed.

However, one day is not enough to cover the whole length of the river (about 200 kilometres), which is only possible on cruises of two or more days on the Douro, such as the hotelships.

Mini-cruises are also available, lasting from 1 hour, departing from the main places along the Douro, such as Porto, Régua or Pinhão.

In the International Douro, there are cruises that allow you to appreciate the cliffs of the Douro near Miranda do Douro and the untouched nature of the landscapes in the reservoir of the Saucelle dam, near Freixo de Espada à Cinta.

Cruise season

The regular Douro Cruises season starts in mid-March and ends at the end of the year. Outside this period the locks on the Douro dams are closed.

Criteria for selection

There are several cruise options so you should choose:

  • Cruise Itinerary: places of origin and destination, going up or down the river
  • Type of cruise
  • Cruise dates / availability
  • Price

Cruise itineraries

To choose the itinerary you must identify the place of departure and arrival of the Cruise, and whether to go up or down the river.

The main  locations of  departure / arrival of cruises are as follows:

The following itineraries are available:

Upstream or downstream?
This is a recurring question. Going up the river from the coast, and in case you don’t know the region, can be an interesting experience because every hour the landscape changes as you get closer to the Douro Wine Region. Climbing the locks is also a unique experience. On the other hand the descent of the river, arriving at the mouth at the end of the day, at sunset, is a wonderful experience.

Cruise dates

The regular season for cruises on the Douro begins in mid-March and ends at the end of the year. During the regular season all types of cruises are available which includes cruises of one or more days and cruises on hotelships. Outside this season, the dam locks are closed so that only short local cruises are available.

Cruise Availability

It is during the weekend that cruises are most in demand, so the offer of cruises and routes available is greater. On weekdays the supply is lower due to lower demand.

The high season for Douro cruises is between June and September (the month of the Douro grape harvests), and it is during this period that cruises are most available. In low season, cruises are less regular.

However, given the wide range of cruises offered by various operators throughout the year, there are always several alternatives available. See here all the offer: Douro Cruises

Types of cruises

There are several types of cruises available on the Douro with different durations, from 1-hour local mini-cruises, 1-day cruises (the most popular), 2-day cruises that combine cruising with overnight stays at a hotel in the region and cruises of up to eight days on a hotelship.

The cruises can be done by ship, hotelship, rabelo boats, sailing boats and yachts or even environmental cruises (on the International Douro).

Below, we present the available options:

Cruise prices

The price of cruises is mainly related to their duration and whether they take place during the week (cheaper) or at the weekend (more expensive).

Check here all Douro Cruises and Prices.