Rivers in Portugal: from Tagus to Douro River


Rivers in Portugal: from Tagus to Douro River


Have you ever wondered how important rivers are in our life? Not only they were a big part in our development as a society and as a source of drinking water, rivers are also a part of many of our happy memories. 

In today's article we share some facts about the main rivers in Portugal. It’s always nice to learn something new, right?


The main Rivers in Portugal

We’ll be focusing on the 5 biggest portuguese rivers. Douro River in the northern region,Tagus and Mondego in the center region and Sado and Guadiana in the southern region - they all have their own characteristics. Let’s get to know them better?


Tagus River

Tagus River is the biggest river in Portugal and one of the biggest of the Iberian Peninsula, with around 1100 kms. It starts in Spain, at the Albarracin mountains, at an altitude of 1593 meters.

In Lisbon, the Tagus estuary is crossed by two bridges: 25 de Abril Bridge, one of the biggest suspension bridges of the world and Vasco da Gama Bridge, with around 17 kms of length, (the largest bridge in the European Union). 


Sado River

It starts in Alentejo region and its course is fully portuguese. Sado runs from south to north, something rare in Portugal. Its estuary has been classified as a Natural Reserve for more than 30 years, where we can watch hundreds of fish, birds and Bottlenose dolphins, the only community in Portugal and one of the few in Europe. 


Mondego River

The only portuguese river that starts in a street side fountain. Mondego starts not so strong at an altitude of 1425 meters, gaining strength and becoming the biggest portuguese river

Nearby Figueira da Foz, the river is a great place for birdwatching, where you can see flamingos and herons, for example. 


Guadiana River

It starts in Spain and runs into Vila Real de Santo António, Algarve. Here, the river turns into a waterfall with 20 meters of height, “Pulo de Lobo”, creating an amazing scene. You can also find the biggest artificial lake in Europe here, the Alqueva dam. 


Douro River

With about 970 kms of length, Douro is the third biggest river in Iberian Peninsula. It starts at Serra de Urbión, Spain and goes into Porto. It’s one of the rivers in Portugal with the most history. Let’s get to know more about Douro? 


Why Douro?

We can’t tell for sure the name’s origin. There are, however, two main theories that give us some clues. On one hand, some believe that the name Douro comes from the ancient celtic language, where  “dur” or “dubr” meant water. On the other hand, there’s a tale that says that there were stones that rolled and shone in the region, that they believed were made of gold, or “ouro” in portuguese. 


The importance of Douro

The river was classified as a World Heritage by UNESCO in 2001. And what’s its history?

Back in the day, the river was the main connecting element between the Douro region and Porto. This connection was important to take the Porto Wine to its aging process in Gaia. At the time, there weren't any railways, so the river was the only option. 

It’s possible to cross over the Douro River between Porto and Gaia through 6 bridges: Luís I, D. Maria Pia, Infante D. Henrique, Freixo, Arrábida e São João. You can also take a cruise under the bridges and get to know more about their history. More information here!


A region full of history

Its banks, made of shale, provides a microclimate perfect to produce Porto Wine. This region, with more than 2000 years of history, is also known by its beauty - it’s not by chance that the road that connects Peso da Régua to Pinhão has been considered as “the most beautiful road in the world”!

We can list many reasons to visit Douro River and its region. Its beauty and history are definitely amongst them. If you are interested to know more about these regions, we invite you to learn about our new Lisbon to Douro Cruise. Discover the best of the Douro Valley in a 2-day all-inclusive programme!

Portugal offers an infinite variety of landscapes and culture. From north to south, the odds of finding breathtaking views are endless. 
We should always seek every opportunity to get to know more of our amazing world. If you’re looking for the right Douro Cruise for you, explore our website and find your next unforgettable experience. See you soon!

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