Traditional Sailing on the Tagus river, Lisbon

Location: Porto, Aveiro, Peniche, Lisbon, Cascais, Sesimbra, Lagos, Albufeira, Vilamoura

Traditional Sailing on the Tagus river, an old experience brought back to life!

Sailing boats called Canoa were once the most common scene on the Tagus river and the waterside of Lisbon. Once the waters  were filled with these traditional sailing boats and their skippers called Frigateiros.

These boats provided transport for the people and goods and were the vessels used for fishing and trade.

Lisbon was originally a fishing village. It is a city strategically placed on the Tagus river just before the river reaches its final destination in the Atlantic ocean.

In Lisbon the water is already salty but its not yet considered the sea, the river, as it enters the sea, is in an area where sea fish and river species coexist.
Its richness of fish gave rise to a settlement of the fishermen long before Lisbon became the capital of the discoveries and the most important port of Portugal.

The Tagus being a vast river and the longest in the Iberian peninsula became an important part in both transport and trade, providing the fastest means of transportation between many strategic cities in both Portugal and Spain gave rise to the development of a specific type of sailing boat designed to conquer the river and ultimately suited for fishing and transfers in a safe and sturdy vessel named the Canoa.

Not long ago the typical sailing boat, called the Canoa was the most common vessel on the river in Lisbon and one used regularly by the largest part of the population in daily life.

Canoa boat Lisbon
See more historical photos on Almada virtual museum.
The boats specifically designed for the river they belong to, the Tagus.
These boats had many advantages over other boats some of which are still relevant to this day.
First of all their specific design makes its easy to embark but other than that they are almost flat a the bottom meaning they can get right to the shore.

The center of gravity is much better distributed than in modern sailing boats, again because of the undeep kill and the fact that the deck is at water level, the boat is build out of wood and the kill is almost flat and all these aspects make it virtually impossible to capsize and even if the boat would fill for 3/4 full of water it will still not sink!

This boat can, when wished, often be faster than our modern sailing boats.

They are ultimately suitable for people of all ages to use as a means of transport accompanied by the professional Fragateiro or Canoa skipper.

The Canoa can dock at places where no other boat can making it easy to drop people at their locations in Lisbon on or the opposite side of the river. It was deigned to support this as its use was often for transport.

Pulling into the harbour at Praca do Commercio, Canoa sailing, Lisboa
Pulling into the harbour at Praca do Commercio, Canoa sailing, Lisboa

The Canoa sailing boats are low placed in the water giving direct contact with the waves and the river. This provides them with much stability and heightens the joy of sailing in one

Their low placement in the water and their design make it virtually impossible to capsize the boats.
This gves the boats the possibility to go out in rougher weather.
Made for the Tagus, these wooden boats made priced possessions appreciated by all who lived or traveled to Lisbon.

Sadly our modern innovations, the curb on fishing and newer demands almost wiped all these boats from the river views.

In late years much has been done to recover this cultural and historical aspect of Lisbon and though not used anymore in the old sense boats have been recovered and are on show at various locations in Lisbon.

Luis Filipe and Ricardo Conduto
Luis Filipe and Ricardo Conduto providing tours and full day experiences together with Go Discover Portugal

Sailing tours build on nostalgia and passion for a culture and history of Lisbon almost lost

2 schoolteachers, Luis Filipe and Ricardo Conduto, both from fishing family backgrounds, joined forces to bring these boats back to the city scene and after having build a replica and recovering an original boat have managed to bring these gorgeous boats back to the waters and into the lifes of people. Hand painted in original colors, these boats add a touch of nostalgia to the Lisbon harbors.Surrounded by the large modern fleets that inhabit the Tagus these boats still manage to compete and conquer the Tagus waters with an experienced and elite dignity. Being the only boats that can actually dock at places like the Praca do Commercio, some of the islands and many other location not accesible by other boats, these boats will introduce to you the real Lisbon as it once was not so long ago!

Canoa tours, Fragateiro

What makes these sailing tours so unique and pleasurable for tourism and leisure

Some of the reasons why these sailing tours are so unique and pleasurable have already been mentioned. The best parts are, The deck at water level gives the passengers close contact with the water and waves much more than the modern boats allow making this a unique and fun experience. Kids will touch the water and enjoy the waves but grown ups might suddenly find themselves doing the same.
The deep positioning also provides a strong feeling of stability, especially noticeable in rougher water.

The views are the best, sailing closer than other boats can get really gives a feeling of Lisbon’s history and original function. Its a city that lived on the waters and from the waters.

The fact that the boats can dock in many places inaccessible to the other boats make them very useful for a real discovery of Lisbon and the many sites seen best from the water and accessible on land.
The heavy wooden boats provide a strong feeling of safety even on rough water days and they are actually excellent vessels even for sporting and regattas.

Other than the boats technical capacities, they are also spacious and perfect for lounging, relaxing, communicating and doing what the Portuguese enjoy most and what many would have done during a river crossing or an island trip, eating and drinking traditional foods, barbecuing freshly caught fish and enjoying the silence and views while on transit away from the city bustle!


Canoa-saiing Lisbon

The crew enjoy to share with you this unique experience, their stories, local wines, snacks and backgrounds.

Prices for tours start at 240 Euro per group for a private tour, reservation is necessary. Please use the form to request information or let us build your custom trip including the things you want to see and do.

We have various tours available Culinary and wine pairing tours, River crossings, Fishing tours with barbecue on board, Go Discover Lisbon from the water tours. All tours can be customized to fit what you would like to see and experience!

Culinary sailing in Lisbon
Typical Portuguese delicacies presented during a culinary wine pairing tour in Lisbon

To receive more info, make a reservation or let us help your custom event, use the following form or contact 00351 918354714

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