• Segunda - Sexta 9.00H - 18.00H
  • Urbanização Qtª Amarela - Lote 10 R/C 5085-038, Pinhão
  • (+351) 254 732 702 / (+351) 963 934 951
  • Segunda - Sexta 9.00H - 18.00H
  • Urbanização Qtª Amarela - Lote 10 R/C 5085-038, Pinhão
  • (+351) 254 732 702 / (+351) 963 934 951

About Us

     The “Companhia Turística do Douro, Lda“, is a company dedicated to the organization and promotion of Cruises and Tourist Circuits.

     In a region of excellence that is the Douro Vinhateiro, the core purpose of this Company is to promote the Region’s brand, based on three main pillars: the vineyard, the wine and the river. We strive to ensure that people get the opportunity to know the Douro region, by providing a wide range of services that covers the entire region.

    The Douro’s discovery and exploration includes boat trips, train rides, farm visits, wine tastings, by combining and bringing together cultural components that give the tourist an added value that they can only find in the region.

    We have invaluable experience in regard to tours in the Douro, since we have been operating in this river since 1993. The Company’s headquarters is located in Pinhão, a geographical center of the Demarcated Region classified by UNESCO. We have excellent boarding and disembarkation space for passengers on the Pinhão’s dock, in a privileged location where our boats are stationed throughout the year.

     We have established partnerships with tourism agencies and hotels in the region. We always strive to find the best solution for each client in a personalized way, in order to meet all their requirements and necessities.

    We are completely flexible in terms of logistics, in the organization of programs and tours, and we have a diversified fleet suitable for different budgets, namely Rabelos boats and speedboats. We also have a crew that is thoroughly knowledgeable about the River, the Region and the Culture “Duriense”, as well as being fluent in English and French.

Our Fleet

The Rabelos

     The river Douro begins in the Sierra de Urbion, in the north of Spain, at about 2000 meters of altitude. It is the second largest river in Portugal with a total length of 927 km. In the Portuguese territory, this river is only 207 km long and is navigable along this route thanks to the five dams that also became an attraction due to its unevenness: namely the dams of Pocinho, Valeira, Bagauste, Carrapatelo and Crestuma. The Carrapatelo  Dam has a water level difference of 35 meters, making it one of the largest gaps in Europe.

     It was this river, once very narrow and dangerous, that brought prosperity to the region. It was through this river that the precious nectar, the Port wine, was transported. At the time, the river represented an almost insurmountable challenge for those who sailed it. It was also known for its violent currents and submerged rocks, for only a small wooden boat – the Rabelo – was able to navigate in these waters and transport the wine from the Douro Valley to the river’s mouth, where the cities of Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia stand.

     The “rabelo” boat was a typical vessel on the Douro River, used to carry the wine casks, while being a boat specialized to operate in mountain rivers, with a total length between 19 and 23 meters. The “rabelos” had no keel and were built with overlapping boards on a flat bottom.

     The square sail ships were usually run by six or seven men. As for the masts, the first ones only used one, some later appearing with mast to the bow and a long row to the stern – the “espadela”. When necessary, these boats were pulled from towpaths by men or by oxen thrusted carts.

Capable of carrying up to 100 barrels of wine, the Rabelos were instantly recognized by their long, elegant maneuvering oar. Incredibly brave and strong men made up the crew of every rabelo, while knowing that the next journey could be their very last one. In order to sail safely, the rabelos needed to be positioned with great precision in the river. As soon as it would be released and get caught in the current, the crew would have no other choice but to wait and pray that they would emerge out of the trip safe and unharmed. Then, the master in the quadrant would release the direction of the oar, take off his cap and then cross his arms exclaiming: “Now go with God.”

     After the commitment and interest of Mrs. Antónia Ferreira, or Ferreirinha, the first railroad of the Douro was concluded in 1887, so that the “Rabelo” ceased to be the only viable option for transporting wine and bulky goods to the coast. Yet, these brave vessels remained active for many more decades. It was the emergence of roads that changed this reality forever. The last commercial trip of a rabelo is believed to have occurred in 1964.

     However, we all know that without the “Rabelos” and their courageous crews, the wine trade would had never prospered, so that all the Durienses have joined forces in order to save them from extinction. Many built “Rabelos” to remember their former days of glory, spreading them on the Douro’s river flow. Currently, they are still used by tourists for tours on the Douro River.