Friday, 1 April 2011 12:00 AM
If you're looking for a relaxing break with plenty of beautiful scenery, why not consider holidays in Portugal?
This cultural hotspot boasts some fantastic natural and man-made sights, so explore your options and make the most of your time here.
A must-do while visiting Portugal is a cruise on the Douro River, which begins in Spain and flows through the north of Portugal. The waterway runs along the border line between the two nations and has historical significance - it was a barrier for invasions in years gone by.
The regions of Pinhao and Sao Joao da Pesqueira are particularly well-known as grape growing centres for port wine and in the past the river was used to transport the wine to Vila Nova de Gaia, just across the river from Porto, where it was stored in barrels.
If you choose a cruise during tailor made holidays in Portugal you can expect to find out more about the rich history of the waterway, as well as take in some stunning landscapes. Parts of the river run through protected areas where you'll be able to see firsthand the native flora and flora.
One such area is Douro Vinhateiro, an area of the Douro Valley, which is a Unesco World Heritage site. Here you can expect to travel through beautiful surroundings that comprise farmland and vast numbers of vines where the famous grapes grow.
The river runs through areas like Bragansa, Guarda, Viseu, Vila Real, Aveiro and Porto, with the latter being one of northern Portugal's main cities. It's here you'll find another Unesco site if you decide to step off your boat and explore.
Venture into the city centre and you can find out more about this beautiful settlement, built along the hillsides that overlook the mouth of the Douro River. The city has a 2,000-year history and you can find out more about its maritime past by clicking here.
During a cruise along the river you might also call in at the Episcopal town of Villa Real, which is surrounded by orchards, and the tiny village of Maters where mateus rose wine originates from.
And there's plenty more to see on a cruise along the Douro, so delve into the heritage of the area during your break.