Oporto, or Porto as it is known, is famous for its port wines (which were named for the city of Oporto) It is a large city consisting of many different areas including a UNESCO historic city center with narrow winding and cobbled pedestrian streets dating back many centuries. It is located on the Douro River that plays an important role in the development of the region.
There are many boutiques, department stores, specialty shops and street markets within the historic old town section of Oporto, as well as along some of the more modern shopping streets in Oporto itself. Port wine may be purchased in numerous wine stores at incredible values. There are also many tourist boutiques selling ceramics, lace work, local jewelry, furniture, men’s and women’s fashions and other collectibles. Exploring Oporto’s historic old quarters is a “don’t miss” event. There is also an excellent cathedral dating back to the 12th century and a tall (246 feet) granite structure, the Torre dos Clerigos, which is quite interesting.
Entre-os-Rios is situated 19 miles inland from the sea on the Douro River in the Penafiel, Tamega, Norte, or north-east Portugal. A bridge links Entre os Rios and Castelo de Paiva.
Most cruises are round trips from Porto at the mouth of the Douro River, one of Europe's most untouched and beautiful rivers. Rising in the hills north of Madrid, The Douro River meanders through northern Portugal to the fascinating city of Porto and then into the Atlantic. The Douro River takes you on a winding easterly course between steeply terraced vineyards, stopping at ports of call, including Entre-os-Rios. This area of Portugal has been largely unchanged for centuries. The towns are charming; there are colorful castles, panoramnic vistas, baroque mansions and historic monasteries.
The sun-bleached town of Régua abuts the Rio Douro at the western edge of the demarcated port-wine region. As the region’s largest riverside town, it grew into a major port-wine entrepôt in the 18th century, and remains an important transport junction – thanks in part to the hulking IP3 bridge that soars above the river valley. The town itself, set along a busy highway above the river, doesn’t have a lot of charm, and most visitors stop in just long enough to get recommendations, maps and directions to nearby wineries, but it makes a convenient base to visit the port-wine country, cruise the Rio Douro and ride the Corgo railway line to Vila Real. Most tourists stick to the scenic riverfront, but the quaint old town one block uphill is an almost exclusively local scene, and well worth a wander.
Encircled by terraced hillsides that produce some of the world’s best port – and some damn good table wines too, little Pinhão sits on a particularly lovely bend of the Rio Douro, about 25km upriver from Peso da Régua. Wineries and their competing signs dominate the scene. Even the delightful train station has azulejos depicting the grape harvest. The town itself, cute though it is, holds little of interest, but does makes a fine base for exploring the many surrounding vineyards. In addition to drinking your fill, this is a good setting for country walks, and there are some fine day-trip possibilities.
Vega de Terron (Salamanca), Spain
Whether floodlit by night or bathed in the sunset, there's something magical about Salamanca. This is a city of rare beauty, awash with golden sandstone overlaid with ochre-tinted Latin inscriptions; an extraordinary virtuosity of plateresque and Renaissance styles. The monumental highlights are many, with the exceptional Plaza Mayor (illuminated to stunning effect at night) an unforgettable highlight. But this is also Castilla's liveliest city; home to a massive Spanish and international student population that throngs the streets at night and provides the city with so much youth and vitality.
The last Portuguese village along the Douro, BARCA D’ALVA is less than 2km from the Spanish border. Overlooked by mountains on all sides, and on a placid bend in the Rio Douro, it’s a curious spot – on one hand, a long-abandoned railway line and a row of elderly cottages; on the other, a sparkling quayside with huge pontoons to accommodate the large Douro cruisers which disgorge passengers for a quick souvenir hunt. A few cafés and other places soak up any passing trade, but in the end it’s the drive here, from north or south, that really warrants the trip, through beautifully sculpted Douro terraces of olives and vines, with sweeping views across the hills and into the river gorge.