Finally I took the main boat trip in Porto Alegre, through Lake Guaíba and Rio Jacuí. I found very confusing information when I went to plan the tour, so here are practical tips, with prices, boarding place and if it is worth literally embarking on this experience.
I confess that I expected less from the tour, carried out by the company Cisne Branco. But the quality of the boat and its route through the murky waters surprised me, with the right to a beautiful view of Porto Alegre and emblematic places, such as Usina do Gasômetro.
Know more: What to do in Porto Alegre
Guys, I made this video below so you can better understand what it’s like inside the boat and what to expect from the tour. It’s like, let’s say, a root video, because it was the first one I narrated and edited. It’s corny but it can be useful.
There are currently six types of boat trips operated by the same company, the White Swan. I took the basic and cheapest tour called “navigating through Guaíba”, with 1 hour duration. I paid BRL 40 for the ticket, purchased at the local box office . It is the same value informed by the official website of the company and accepts credit cards.
Longer tours are also offered, such as the happy hour with live music and the night tour. There’s even a tour with lunch included. But, for a first time, I recommend taking the fastest tour, which is a kind of “city tour” on the lake.
Prices of the main tours:
- Navigating the Guaíba: R$ 40 (the one I did)
- Lunch tour: BRL 100
- Happy Hour with live music: R$45
- Night tour: BRL 65
- Ecological project: BRL 72
My boarding on the Cisne Branco tour took place in front of the company’s ticket office, located on the Porto Alegre Waterway Terminal.
It’s very easy to reach. In the heart of the Historic Center of Porto Alegre, in front of the Public Market, is the Mercado Train Station. Just go down to the station and cross it to the other exit, from there on the avenue. Walk a few meters in a secluded place and you will already see the Guaíba river and the Cisne Branco ticket office.
I went on foot during the day and found it peaceful, despite the heat and being given wrong information along the way. But if you go at night, it’s safer to take a taxi/transport app to the departure point. Well, as I said, the region is pretty abandoned.
How is the white swan boat
The vessel used on the tour surprised me. I was expecting an old, single-deck boat, like a ferry. None of that.
The Cisne Branco boat has three floors. The “ground” floor is where the restaurant is located, serving snacks, drinks and cold meats. But honestly, on the one-hour tour, there’s no reason to eat. It has several tables, from where we can see the lake through the windows. Ahead, at the bow, there is a small open space, in case you want to stage with open arms, à la Titanic.
On the lower floor, partly below water level, is the boat’s nightclub, complete with a dance floor and flashing lights. The only environment with air conditioning, it was where I spent a good part of the tour, trying to withstand the heat of Maranhão that was in Porto Alegre.
The Bacchus terrace is the coolest setting and from where we have the best views. I spent little time there due to the strong sun. In winter, I imagine the cold is the downside.
Boat trip on Lake Guaíba
The tour is “guided” by a recording, in good volume and well narrated. So I think the route is always the same as I did.
In the first few meters of the tour, we can already see the silhouette of the Historic Center of Porto Alegre, framed by the yellow warehouses of Cais Mauá.
Next, we head towards the Delta do Jacuí, which brings together several rivers in the formation of Lake Guaíba. Entering the Jacuí River itself, we pass between Ilha da Casa da Pólvora and Ilha da Pintada, all with explanations by the audio guide.
For me, the most anticipated part of the tour was Ilha das Flores, made famous in the award-winning documentary by Jorge Furtado, narrated by Paulo José.
So is it worth taking the tour?
I thought the tour was really cool and I think it’s worth it to get on the Cisne Branco boat.
We passed through forests and small towns by the river, watching other boats and jetskis doing maneuvers to show off in front of the passengers. An ordinary landscape for some, but very interesting if you observe the locations while paying attention to the audio guide.
The most interesting part is really seeing Porto Alegre from another angle, where you will probably take the best pictures of your trip.
This tour I took happens three times a day, every day of the week. Departure times:
I went on the 3pm boat and I think it was the worst possible choice for the summer. It was horribly hot and, as I said, there is only air conditioning on the floor of the club, from where you have the worst view. If it’s a hot day, I recommend boarding at the last time, at 4:30 pm.
According to the official website, the 3pm tour needs at least 15 payers to take place. That is, one more reason to avoid this schedule. The other schedules have a guaranteed departure.
On my tour, on a Sunday, the boat wasn’t even half full. I bought the ticket right away. I imagine it’s hardly going to get crowded. Anyway, you can buy the ticket in advance on the official website if you prefer.