Spain & Portugal River Cruises

River cruises in Spain and Portugal are available in two main regions - each with its own unique attributes. In the northern region, you can explore the Douro River; and in the Andalusia region of southern Spain, you can travel along the Guadalquivir and Guadiana Rivers.

Roman Bridge Across the Guadalquivir River in Cordoba, Spain

Roman Bridge Across the Guadalquivir River in Cordoba, Spain

By James (Jim) Gordon [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Douro River

Cruises on the Douro River are offered by most major river cruise suppliers. Packages vary in terms of availability, itinerary length and price. The season typically runs from March through November; however, Viking River Cruises has a few that also depart in December.

The Douro River is located in northern Spain and Portugal. Although, it is the 3rd longest river in the Iberian Peninsula, fewer than 125 miles of it is navigable.

Your trip might begin in Lisbon, it could also begin in Porto. Although, flights are usually to Lisbon, Porto also has an airport. Prior to embarkation, you’ll have a chance to visit the city of Porto.

Douro River cruises begin and end in Porto, and most of the land tours and travel by water are in Portugal.

Highlights of the cruise feature a visit to a few UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a cruise through the Douro River Wine Valley, and a visit to some of the vineyards and wine-making facilities – and of course, the opportunity to sample some wines! 

Douro River Valley Near Regua, Portugal

Douro River Valley Near Regua, Portugal

By Husond (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Most itineraries include a visit to Vega de Terrón and to Salamanca. Neither city is located on the Douro River, though.

Salamanca is about 50 miles east of the Portugal border and about 124 miles west of Madrid. There is much to see and experience in this culturally and historically-rich city. You'll find more than 20 palaces and 20 museums as well as many other historical buildings to see throughout Salamanca..

The Old City of Salamanca is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites you’ll visit on your trip.

Douro River Cruise packages range in length from 6 to 14 days and between $1457 and $5299 per person. River cruises suppliers that offer itineraries on the Douro River, include AMA Waterways, CroisiEurope, Uniworld, Vantage Travel and Viking River Cruises.

Guadalquivir & Guadiana Rivers

In the Andalusia Region of southern Spain and southwestern Portugal, river cruises are available on the Guadalaquivir and Guadiana Rivers

Both rivers are located in the Iberian Peninsula. The Guadiana River is the 4th longest river in the peninsula and the Guadalquivir is the 5th longest.

Only the Guadiana is located in both Portugal and Spain. The Guadalquivir is located entirely in Spain passing through Córdoba and Seville. An itinerary along these waterways will be mainly in Spain. Travel into Portugal will be along the coast of the Cadiz Bay and the Guadiana River and will include Alcoutim, Portugal and the Spanish city of Cadiz. 

Tower of Gold on Guadalquivir River in Seville, Spain

Tower of Gold on Guadalquivir River in Seville, Spain

By MontyRamone89 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Seville is where Guadalquivir River cruises begin and end. Most of the city is located on the east side of the river. Seville Harbour is about 5 miles from the Atlantic and is the only river port in Spain.

The Alcázar of Seville is the oldest royal palace in Europe that still serves today as a residence for a royal family. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage SiteCathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville”.

As your journey continues, you’ll take a motorcoach ride from Seville to Granada. It’s located about 150 miles east of Seville at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The city is also situated at the confluence of the Monachil, Beiro, Darro and Geril Rivers.

The city of Cordoba is one of the sites included in the itinerary. It’s located about 90 miles northeast of Seville. Transportation is provided by motorcoach from Seville.

The Historic Centre of Cordoba is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Spain.


River cruises in southern Spain and Portugal have not grown in popularity like other European river cruises have. CroisiEurope is one of the few companies that offers cruises on the Guadalquivir and Guadiana Rivers. Itineraries are 8-days in length and start at about $1500 per person.

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Lauri Wakefield is a travel writer who specializes in  river cruises in Europe and the U.S. Connect with her on Twitter and Google+.

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