Boat trip Lisbon to see dolphins

The estuary of the river Tejo is one of the biggest in the world. Once affected by pollution, its waters are cleaner and cleaner and that has brought back maritime life. Today, we are happy to say that you can do a Lisbon Boat Trip to see the dolphins.

The water mammals play in front of Belém. Credit: CML

Who doesn’t love dolphins? They are beautiful, highly intelligent, playful and have cute families. Very common along the Portuguese coastline and in the Azores and Madeira archipelagos, they are easily spotted by sailors and fishermen. All through the Summer of 2021, our partners of the Lisbon Sunset Sailing Tour have reported dolphin sightings in the Tejo.

Up until recently, the best way to see them, if you were in Lisbon, was to do the short one-hour drive to Setúbal, get on a boat and navigate the river Sado. That ecosystem is home to several families of dolphins. But now, they have returned to the Tejo estuary! And even if they are not here permanently, it is more and more common to spot them in the waters in front of Lisbon.

The dolphins choose the Tejo waters to feed. Credit: CML

Playground waters

Once, seeing dolphins in front of Lisbon was extremely rare. The industrial and city pollution of the Tejo waters affected the number of fish and, without food, the Atlantic dolphins almost never entered the mouth of the river.

Today, due to anti-pollution laws that date back to the early 90s, the situation is much better. Maritime life is thriving in front of Lisbon. Fishermen say that they catch fish and shellfish like never before in the last 30 years. The waters are cleaner and if humans know it, dolphins know it too. And they are back!

Scientists report the Tejo has now feeding waters for this kind of mammals. Normally, the groups enter the mouth of the river when the tide is high, then hunt for shoals of mackerel and sardines, fill their bellies, wait for the next high tide and return to the Atlantic. In the meantime, they play. A lot! And that’s precisely the best time to do a Boat Trip Lisbon to see dolphins.

Respect and education

The best experiences are the ones that go along with the dolphins. Credit: BMW Sailing Academy

The number of dolphins in the Tejo has become so impressive, that even public institutions are joining the fun. Recently, Lisbon’s municipality offices created a traditional boat trip for the city’s schools. The goal is to watch the animals and, at the same time, educate children about environmental and sustainability topics.

The best companies that provide trips to see dolphins in Lisbon are the ones that respect them. This means that the vessels never cross the groups path and never get too close. But, don’t worry: very often, they are so curious and playful that they swim in front or alongside the boat. And that’s the perfect time to enjoy your time with these amazing animals that have returned to our city!

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