The Rabelo boat regatta is an annual race on the Douro River, featuring the historic rabelo boats that were once used to transport port wine from the vineyards to the caves on the river bank at Vila Nova de Gaia.
The race is a great afternoon occasion the day after one of the largest street parties in Europe – São João – celebrated the night before.
The boats all congregate near the mouth of the river and then sail upstream, where crowds gather on both sides of the river to watch the spectacle.
The race starts at around 4pm and finishes around 5pm in Ribeira. Make sure you have appropriate weather protection, i.e. hats and sun cream, or arrive early to nab a shady position under the Arrabida bridge or along the grassy banks in Vila Nova de Gaia.
The Rabelo Boat Regatta is organised by the Port Wine Brotherhood. The boats’ sails display the name of the wine producer to which they belong. The boats sail from Cabedelo, past the Foz do Douro and towards Casa Sandeman.
At the finishing line, prizes are handed out in an atmosphere of celebration. Spend a few days in Porto at this time of year and experience São João in an unforgettable way, making sure you overcome your hangover in time for the afternoon regatta.