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The land of intrepid explorers, spectacular coastline and wonderful port wines.

Cruises in Portugal

The sun-drenched charm of Southern Europe has never been so apparent than in the Port-infused cities and landscapes of Portugal. As a land of explorers, fine dining and Iberian charm, Portugal is a refined destination with something for every palate, with golden beaches, whitewashed towns and a viticulture of luxurious class.

Lazily flowing from Spain, along the border and into Portugal is the glorious Douro River. Home to internationally recognised and celebrated wine estates, specialising in Portugal's Port wine, the Douro is full of fruitful vineyards, specially cultivated by the excellent soil conditions and fine climate. This river is also notably untouched by the Portuguese civilisation that has grown around it, leaving it as an oasis of calm in an ever-moving country.

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Douro Cruise onboard The Spirit of Chartwell

Iconic port wine, enigmatic cities and Portuguese charm, all on a boat used by Her Majesty the Queen, makes this cruise one to remember. Discover the unique culture of the golden Douro river on board the excellent Spirit of Chartwell as you visit quintas, explore villas and sample Portuguese delicacies.

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The rivers of Portugal

Portugal's main river is the gentle, golden Douro River. A beautiful ancient waterway wending its way down from northern Spain, across the border and into the sundrenched hills of Portugal, the Douro flows through vineyards and towns on its way to Porto and the Atlantic. Beginning in the Castile and León region of Spain, the Douro continues

The Douro is truly a river which has carved its very own identity on the Iberian Peninsula, thanks to the port wine viticulture which has developed in the towns, quintas and villages on its banks. Ships navigating this winding river are presided over by steep hills lined by miles and miles of green and yellow vineyards, all of which produce an excellent standard of grape under the gentle gaze of the Portuguese sun.

The prevalence of port wine production in Portugal, combined with Spanish and Portuguese trade, saw the Douro become a major trade route inspiring the planning and population of several charming towns and villages including Peso da Régua and the enchanting Lamego, with its striking church and remarkable steps.

Portuguese culture

One of the most popular Portuguese exports is the famous port wine, produced in and around the Douro Valley and the city of Porto. A fortified wine used as for dessert, Port takes its name from Porto, where it was often loaded on ships to be take around the world. Ever since the Roman occupation of these shores, grapes have been grown across the country. The consistency of soil and excellent climate in the Douro regions has long been the perfect combination for creating the iconic port wine for which Portugal is so famous. By the 17th and 18th century, Portugal had developed a true port viticulture which has been exported across the world, in particular to the UK, where it was famously one of Winston Churchill's famous drinks.

Another Portuguese cultural offering comes in the shape of the music genre of Fado. Taking its origins as a variety of song which was sung by Portuguese sailors to express longing for homeland, Fado is a truly beautiful musical form, characterized by the sound of the Portuguese guitar. Technically, fado is a form of Portuguese folk music, popularised by singers in the ports and dockyards. Making use of simple rhythms and ancient harmonies, mostly made up of Dorian or Ionian modes, the fado is very much a product of the old world.

Portuguese architecture is another facet of Portugal's culture which is celebrated. A prominent feature is the use of white and blue tiles to decorate homes, plazas and municipal buildings. These 'Azulejo' design of tile has been used across the Iberian Peninsula, and they truly add beautiful colour to proceedings, lending a timeless charm to even the most mundane of buildings.

Helpful hints

The official language of Portugal is Portuguese. The currency here is the Euro € and the capital city is Lisbon.

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