Porto River Cruises

Cruising the waters of the Douro while enjoying the best views of the city sounds good, right? Here's a list of the best cruises available

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

8 min read

Porto River Cruises

Navigating the Douro | ©Kanan Khasmammadov

The Douro is probably one of the biggest attractions of Porto and besides walking along its banks or having a wine on a terrace with a view, you can take a cruise that passes through the main points of interest of the city.

The best cruises on the Douro in Porto

Aerial view of the Douro
Aerial view of the Douro

When talking about a cruise, think of a relaxing ride on the waters that bathe a city while discovering its most emblematic sites. In Porto there are options and prices adapted to each type of traveler; these are the most relevant:

Cruise along the Six Bridges of Porto

Luis I Bridge| ©Julio Roman Fariñas
Luis I Bridge| ©Julio Roman Fariñas

On this 50 minutes cruise you will sail along the Douro River passing by the six bridges that connect Oporto with the city of Gaia. Each bridge has something that makes it special in a unique way, which added to the spectacular views from the cruise make this experience a fantasy for your camera.

The cruise on the six bridges of Porto is a very nice way to discover the city from another point of view, and you can do it in the morning or in the afternoon. If you are interested in taking spectacular photos in the best possible light, I recommend booking the cruise in the morning. But at sunset you will have, without a doubt, the most beautiful views and it will be an experience with a lot of magic.

Itinerary

  • Luís I Bridge
  • Infante Bridge
  • Dona Maria Bridge
  • S. João Bridge
  • Arrábida Bridge
  • Freixo Bridge
  • Historical Zone of Ribeira
  • S. Francisco Church
  • Stock Exchange Palace
  • Porto Customs House

Book the cruise of the 6 bridges on the Douro River

Excursion to Aveiro with cruise

Aveiro at sunset
Aveiro at sunset

If you are interested in living the experience of a cruise during your trip, you don't necessarily have to do it in the city of Porto. With this excursion to Aveiro you will have access to a ride on a different boat while visiting the town of Aveiro, near Porto. This is a cruise on a moliceiro, a traditional Portuguese boat similar to the gondola.

This tour has an approximate duration of 4 hours and a price of 53 When you book your place online you can choose between the morning or afternoon schedule. A guide will pick you up at your hotel in Porto in a comfortable vehicle and will accompany you throughout the tour of Aveiro, known as the Venice of Portugal.

Itinerary

  • The historical center of Aveiro: your guide will explain the history of this city and will tell you where you can taste its star dish of traditional pastries, the Ovos Moles.
  • The Aveiro estuary: you will cruise along it in a moliceiro while your guide helps you to contextualize the buildings you see along the way.
  • Costa Nova beach: where you can admire the landscape and the traditional fishermen's huts, now converted into tourist residences.

Book the excursion to Aveiro with cruise

Douro Riviera Cruise Excursion

Peso da Régua| ©Turismo En Portugal
Peso da Régua| ©Turismo En Portugal

Another option for cruising the Douro is to do so on a scenic tour of the area known as the Douro Rivera, an excellent sample of the quieter and more traditional Portugal. As part of this tour to the Douro Rivera, you will also enjoy a local lunch and wine tasting. All this in a small group to make the experience more intimate and ideal for getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city crowds.

Itinerary

  • The riverside town of Peso da Régua
  • Two viewpoints
  • Two wineries
  • The village of Pinhão

About lunch

For lunch you can choose typical Portuguese dishes such as roast chicken, spicy rice or fish stew. The complete experience lasts 10 hours 30 minutes, is available in German, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese and costs 98

Book the excursion to Rivera de Duero with cruise

Douro River cruise from Porto to Pinhão

The Pinhão vineyards from the pier| ©David Magalhães
The Pinhão vineyards from the pier| ©David Magalhães

This cruise from Porto to Pinhão is more like the experience you would have on board a yacht visiting different secluded beaches. The difference is that you don't have to embark for a week; one day is enough. This cruise takes you through the most relevant landscapes of the Douro River including breakfast and lunch.

A guide will pick you up at your hotel in Porto and will take you to the place where you will embark to Pinhão, one of the most picturesque and charming villages of the Douro River.

Itinerary

  • Crestuma-Lever Dam in Vila Nova de Gaia
  • Carrapatelo Dam in Marco de Canaveses
  • Peso da Régua Dam
  • Pinhão wine village
  • This tour is priced at 93 euros and is available in Spanish, English, French and Portuguese.

Ana's Traveller Tip

When booking your place on a tour or cruise, always make sure to locate the embarkation point if hotel pick-up is not included.

River cruise, bus tour with free stops and wine tasting

Taste the splendid flavor of Port Wine| ©nicolee.camacho
Taste the splendid flavor of Port Wine| ©nicolee.camacho

As you can see, you can take a cruise through the city of Porto and accompany it with a sightseeing bus tour and wine tasting. To book this option, you will have to choose the day and time that suits you for this activity and you will receive the confirmation details in your email.

Cruise and bus tour of the city of Porto

Although Porto can be toured on foot, the possibility of doing it comfortably aboard a boat or a bus is not negligible (especially if you want to avoid crowds or high temperatures). This option combines a two-day ticket for the Porto sightseeing bus with free stops with a river cruise and a wine tasting at Quinta da Boeira.

The bus ticket will be valid for two days and is a hop on hop off model; this means that during two days you will be able to ride the bus as many times as you want getting on and off at the stops of your choice.

Tourist bus routes

When you get ready to take the tourist bus tour, you will see that there are two routes available. One of them is the Porto Histórico, where you will go through the center and the other is the Porto Castles. Both routes last two hours (although if you decide to get off at their stops, you can extend the visit as long as you wish). Their frequency is only 30 minutes, which gives you a lot of flexibility if you want to get off for a walk and catch the next one.

The stops on the Historic Porto route are:

  • Liberdade Square
  • Porto Cathedral
  • Batalha Square
  • Clérigos Quarter
  • Carmen Church
  • Stock Exchange Palace
  • Cálem Winery
  • Yeatman Hotel
  • Teixeira Lopes House Museum
  • Gaia English Court
  • Gaia Chamber
  • Morro Garden

The stops of the Porto Castles route are:

  • Liberdade Square
  • Porto Cathedral
  • Batalha Square
  • Carmen Church
  • Rosa Mota Pavilion
  • Casa da Música
  • Boavista Avenue
  • Serralves Foundation
  • Porto City Park
  • Sea Life Porto
  • Matosinhos
  • Leixões Port Cruise Terminal
  • Matosinhos Beach
  • Alegre Promenade
  • Tramway Museum
  • Clérigos neighborhood

Ana's Traveller Tip

48-hour tickets for the tourist bus are activated with their first use; try to release them first thing in the morning to take advantage of the service time.

Useful tips for choosing the best cruise on the Douro River

The Douro on a summer day
The Douro on a summer day

If you have never booked a cruise before, you are probably wondering what to consider when choosing one or the other option. In addition to the price (which nowadays is not an excluding factor to live this experience) I recommend that you also make sure of the type of boat in which you are going to do the tour. If you are looking for a more intimate experience, you will probably prefer the Moliceiro cruise as opposed to the one-day cruise to Pinhão, which will be on a larger ship.

The route is also an important point to take into account; if you have already known the city of Porto walking or aboard the tourist bus and what you are looking for now is to travel along the Douro River, consider an excursion to the surroundings that leaves the city and so you will have the opportunity to see other places in Portugal.

As for the guide, it is a not negligible factor; many cruises instead of an expert guide include audio commentary, but these will not be of the same quality as the information and recommendations that a local guide can provide you with.

It is also important to take into account the weather when choosing the date of the cruise, many of the ships are prepared so that, in case of rain, the traveler can still enjoy the experience, but it will not be the same, for example, if the day is cloudy. Choose a tour with the possibility of cancellation 24 hours in advance and thus avoid mishaps.

Finally, a tip: do not obsess about taking pictures and enjoy the tour; to know in depth the places you pass through you will already have time during your visit. This type of boat trips are designed to make a general tour of the area (either the city of Porto or the surrounding area) and enjoy the experience avoiding rush and stress.

If you are interested in taking a cruise on the Douro, you will also be interested in

Enjoy the beauty of Minho| ©Helder Rosa
Enjoy the beauty of Minho| ©Helder Rosa

If you have already toured the city of Porto and its surroundings with a cruise, why not do it also on foot? If you have booked your boat tour as part of an excursion you will have already discovered that guided walking tours have a lot to offer the traveler interested in the history and culture of a city.

In this article about Best Tours and Day Trips from Porto I explain the different options available to hire the services of a guide to show you the city from a local and expert point of view. You can also accompany this type of tours with experiences such as a gastronomic tasting or a wine tasting.

I highly recommend you take a look at these types of tours; in my opinion they are the best way to put any city into context and approach it more like a traveler than a tourist.