In a world that urges us to rush from place to place and never sit still, the emergence of the slow travel trend in recent years is a welcome shift in perspective regarding how we should be exploring the world. Gone are the days of hopping from city to city and simply taking in the most famous tourist sites: slow travel celebrates the beauty and awe to be found in each country’s more quiet corners and prioritises more eco-friendly forms of travel such as walking and cycling which allow you time to really take in your surroundings. Retirees and others lucky enough to be free from the constraints of a 9-5 job will uncover magical experiences by embracing this beautiful travel trend that is grounded in kindness and understanding.
A fantastic example of this type of holiday are Europe river cruises which cover several countries, allowing travellers to discover contrasting cultures and landscapes on one smooth sailing journey. Cruising along the Douro River is a popular choice for those with a passion for history and great food: this slow amble downriver passes through rustic authentic areas of Portugal and Spain famed for art, architecture, and wonderful wine. Discover the hidden gems of the Douro in style as you sit back, relax, and watch the views unfold.
Porto, a city of steep cobblestone alleyways, museums, and impressive architectural structures that date back to the Middle Ages, stretches along the meandering curves of the Douro River. The best restaurants and wine bars in northern Portugal are often found here, so it is a great place for food lovers to explore. One of the most popular things to do in Porto is The Torre dos Clérigos, a landmark of a mammoth 76 metres (249 feet) that was built in the 1700s by Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni. Visitors can climb the baroque tower's 225 stairs to the summit for expansive views of the whole city.
The charming town of Pinhão, situated at the junction of the Douro and Pinhão rivers, is the centre of northern Portugal's renowned Port wine-making region. Its very attractive riverbank setting makes it an excellent site for a leisurely stay, especially for those who dream of incredible destination dining. This is often renowned as Portugal’s wine district as the soil and climatic conditions are said to be ideal for producing grapes. Many local vineyards provide guided tours, a great day excursion.
Salamanca, a historic university town in the west of Spain dominated by carved sandstone cathedrals, is home to one of the country's most beautiful squares – the Plaza Mayor. Its serene atmosphere, spectacular architecture, and relaxed restaurants make it a perfect final stop for your cruise. Salamanca itself is a World Heritage Site and in 2002 served as the European City of Culture! Take in the endless views of heritage buildings as you stroll around the old district, then stop for churros or a quick lunch before doing some early-evening shopping or visiting the incredible cathedral. In true Spanish fashion, the evenings are filled with wine and tapas, an unbeatable end to your holiday.