(a 10 minute read)

Portugal in Panorama is a captioned photo collection of 22 locations captured with the Apple iPhone camera.



It was my honor to join a select group of 22 travel writers, photographers, PR executives, and social media influencers as guests for Viking’s River of Gold cruise on Portugal’s Douro River.

Portugal in Panorama

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Our group gathered near sunset on the eve of our journey at the open-air Sky Bar atop the Tivoli Lisboa hotel.

This was our view.

And this was the first of many times over the course of our journey that I would utter the adjectives, “breathtaking” and “sun-kissed,” and the oh-so-banal interjection, “Wow!”





As I confessed in my European Panoramas photo gallery, I am not a photographer, but I wish I were . . . .

While many members of our esteemed group captured the stunning beauty of Portugal like true professional journalists with their high-end DSLR cameras, I continued to do my best with the iPhone camera in my pocket.

We visited the UNESCO World Heritage Tower of Belém on the Targus River the following morning while still in Lisbon.

I used the iPhone panorama feature to take this photo. Although the tower blocked the sun, the ambient light was so bright that I could barely see the screen and basically took the photo on faith.

The picture is not perfect. It bugs me that I cropped the top of the tower. But I love the gradient shades of blue sky, the vibrant green of the palms, and the tower’s reflection in the foreground.





Later in the day we walked the winding alleyways of Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest district.

I took this distorted Portugal in panorama photo in the small plaza that fronts the Church of São Miguel.





Leaving Lisbon by coach, we headed out to meet our ship, the Viking Torgil docked in Porto.

We stopped to tour Portugal’s oldest learning institution, the University of Coimbra, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This distorted panorama shows the Old University from inside Scholar’s Square.


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Rounding the bend I caught a glimpse through the coach window of what I now believe to be one of the world’s most beautiful cities.


And it’s neighboring city across the Douro River.


Rabelo boats, like the one pictured, were originally used to transport wine from the Douro valley to Porto. Today the boats carry passengers on tours of the Douro river.

The UNESCO Historic Centre of Oporto (Porto), made me utter those adjectives again.

I did not capture this image of Porto in my iPhone’s panorama mode. Instead, I cropped a standard image to create the expansive view I love so well. Other images in this post were also cropped. I’ll let you determine whether it matters.



Porto & Gaia


I soon learned that Porto was equally beautiful at any time, day or night.

This was the Portugal in panorama view from the Sun Deck of the Viking Torgil the first morning after we boarded our ship.

Porto and Gaia are connected by six magnificent bridges, the most prominent being the Dom Luis I bridge, designed by Teófilo Seyrig, a student of Gustavo Eiffel.

Eiffel himself designed the Maria Pia Bridge a short way upriver.





The city was still shrouded in mist when we set out on our morning excursion through Porto’s city center. This was our Portugal in panorama view from an overlook near the Porto Cathedral.

The narrow streets, winding stairways, and twisted alleyways . . .

. . . the red tile roofs and laundered linens hung out to dry . . .

. . . will always be Portugal to me.





Nothing like European open air markets.

I was drawn to them last summer in Germany, and Portugal is no different.

Regional grapes, apples, oranges, olives, almonds, and chestnuts abound.





A canopied allée in Porto’s Jardim da Cordoaria.

The unusual thickening of the tree trunks is the result of a virus.



Vila Real


Surely you recognize this scene.


Think again . . . .

Remember your youth and the image imprinted on the iconic flask-shaped bottle of Mateus Rosé?

Yes, the 18th-century baroque Mateus Palace is real, and with a visit you can bring your memories to life.



Vila Real


The formal gardens surrounding the Mateus Palace are equally as stunning.

Descending the back steps into the verdant maze, I was confronted with the heady scent of boxwood, a fragrance to some, and to others a stench.

Either way, gravel paths soon led me through roses and orchards and vineyards beyond . . . .



Vila Real


Late in the harvest, occasional clusters still hung from the vine.

Ripe for the picking, sweet to the palate.

Tasty reminders of the Douro Valley’s greatest gift to the world.



Quinta do Seixo


Framed by olive trees and rosemary shrubs, the city of Pinhão is situated at a bend in the Douro River.

I took this Portugal in panorama shot from the Sandeman winery.

Views of the UNESCO World Heritage Alto Douro Wine Region from this vantage point were not to be believed.



Castelo Rodrigo


Rising from its mountain peak, the ruins of Castelo Rodrigo speak to the history of this 16th century fortress.

Walking the narrow winding alleys through the walled medieval village below, with its stone houses and church, is a journey back in time.



Alto da Sapinha


This Portugal in panorama photo in no way captures the exhilarating view from a roadside overlook on the return drive between Castelo Rodrigo and Barca d’ Alva.

It was, however, my favorite view of the trip.

In the distance, the Águeda River flows toward the point where it joins the Douro. The river is a physical border between Portugal and Spain.

We spotted a pair of griffon vultures perched on a jutting rock in the distance. Later, they took flight, soaring the air currents over the valley below.



Barca d’ Alva


A morning view from my stateroom veranda of the Douro north bank and the Almirante Sarmento Rodrigues Bridge.

Sometimes I get lucky . . . .



Salamanca, Spain


The 18th century Plaza Mayor was built in the baroque style and hosted bullfights for the first one hundred years of its existence in the “Golden City.”

Today the plaza is the central gathering place in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Old City of Salamanca.

The day excursion to Salamanca, Spain, by motor coach was a highlight of the Viking River of Gold cruise.



Vega de Terrón, Spain


Ending our day trip to Salamanca, the coach delivered us to the Viking Torgil docked in Vega de Terrón, Spain, at the confluence of the Águeda and Douro Rivers.

Portugal lay just across the river, and this was the view from my cabin balcony at sunset.

Lucky again . . . .


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I took this Portugal in panorama photo through the bus window en route to Favaios.

The village of Brunheda framed by the Tua River, the railway, the sky, and the distant hills creates an idyllic scene so typical of this region.

I learned that pressing the iPhone flat to the window glass removed the glare and added a pleasant tint to images.

Most of my bus window photos did not turn out this well . . . .





The terrace of the Museum of Bread and Wine in Favaios provided this Portugal in panorama view of vineyards as far as the eye can see.

Just below this image, hidden from view, was an elderly woman cultivating the land.





I have not yet visited Ireland, but I have always been fascinated by the iconic stone walls lining roadways and dividing fields.

Driving through the Portuguese countryside, our guide would occasionally point out stone walls in fields built by Iron Age Celts, but my camera was never quick enough to capture a quality image through the bus window.

According to our host, the stone walls that border the gravel road leading to the Quinta da Avessada were built approximately 160 year ago.

Not exactly ancient, but the ambience and imagery were all there . . . .





The Shrine to Our Lady of Remedies overlooks the city of Lamego.

Many pilgrims ascend the series of 686 steps to the church on their knees.

On our final excursion, our coach driver Vladimiro (AKA Jessica) dropped us at the top of Mount Santo Estevão, and we walked the 686 steps down.

This Portugal in panorama image shows the shrine after descending the first of twelve levels to the city below.


In Summary

At Backroad Planet we favor off-the-beaten-path locations over commercial tourist destinations.

That said, Portugal itself is an undiscovered treasure all too often overlooked by travelers to Europe.

Whether driving Portugal’s backroads or cruising the Douro River, you are guaranteed exceptional scenic beauty, intriguing history, and plenty of wine.

And there is no easier way to capture great widescreen images on your travels than with the panorama feature on the iPhone camera app or by cropping your images for the effect later on.

I should know.

I am not a photographer. I take pictures.

And I still get lucky . . . .

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Final Words

The images in this Portugal in Panorama collection were taken during a Viking River of Gold cruise on the Douro River. If you would like to combine the luxuries of an all-inclusive resort with travel to authentic scenic and historical destinations (and panoramic photo ops galore), then a Viking river cruise is your best bet!

Read on, for more tips on how and when to explore Portugal’s Douro Valley.

As always, Jerry and I love hearing from our readers. Do you use the panorama feature on your iPhone camera, or have you ever cropped standard images for a widescreen effect? We invite you to leave your comments and questions about iPhoneography, Portugal, or Viking River Cruises below, and we always respond!

More Viking Content on Backroad Planet

Learn more from my first-hand experiences sailing with Viking Expeditions, Rivers, and Oceans at the links below.

Viking Expeditions

Viking Rivers

Viking Oceans

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Portugal in Panorama: An Annotated Photo Gallery is a captioned collection of 22 locations captured with the Apple iPhone camera.

Portugal in Panorama: An Annotated Photo Gallery 1
Howard Blount is founder and co-owner of the travel blog BackroadPlanet.com. He has traveled internationally since boyhood and lived abroad in Mexico, Chile, and Paraguay. Now his passion is navigating the roads-less-traveled of this amazing planet in search of anything rare and remote. On the stuffy side, “Mr. Blount” has been a writer, consultant, and published author with the likes of Simon & Schuster and McGraw-Hill. Recently retired from a 35-year career as a middle school teacher, Howard enjoys spending his time on anything that includes mountains, waterfalls, dachshunds, gospel choirs, books, restored classic movies on Blu-ray, HDTV, autumn, sandhill cranes, hot springs, Florida springs, rain and other gloomy weather, log cabins, cracker shacks, abandoned sites, unearthed history, genealogy, museums, documentaries, To Kill a Mockingbird, scenic and historical sites, castles, cathedrals, the Civil War, cold sheets, National and State Park Passports, quotes, the Rambos, Dionne Warwick, Steely Dan, Doobies, Diet Pepsi, Fish City Grill, anything Apple, all things British, Jesus, and lists. And on a random note, Howard is a fourth cousin once removed to Truman Capote.