The guardian of the Arade River

The origin of the name Ferragudo is uncertain. Some historians say it may have origins in an ancient iron pulley that once existed at Praia da Angrinha; this mechanism would have been used to raise fish and other goods from the docked ships.

Ferragudo, a coastal village in the municipality of Lagoa, beats the drum for its Prehistory, while Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans also disputed its coast. Nevertheless, the village as we know it today only emerged in the 14th century. With a privileged location, Ferragudo (as well as Portimão) has always been the guardian of the Arade estuary and an authority in its surrounding waters.

Canning industries played a key role in the apogee of this village, even reaching an enviable position in the national fisheries market. As this industry declined due to maladaptation to new demands and to lack of innovation, Ferragudo was once again heavily dependent on fisheries. Then tourism arrived, creating opportunities and developing new services; so, the village just took this chance and now tourism represents its main economic activity.

There are about 17 active boats in Ferragudo and about 25 fishermen. Within the context of the Western Algarve, this is an example of preservation of a fishing community, at least in regard to the most recent years (2000). Furthermore, maritime tourism activities are taking sound steps towards sustainable development.

Pots are the most popular fishing gear; octopus is abundant and highly profitable, providing a quality catch, especially comparing with other species. Gill and trammel nets are also used on a regular basis in this region, aiming the capture of soles, sea bream, gilt-head bream, sea bass and red mullet. Squid is also caught using toneiras.

The fishermen’s associations of Ferragudo, the parish council, the municipality and regional entities linked with the sector work together in order to develop future projects. These include new facilities for fishing gear storage and a launching ramp.


When speaking about Ferragudo gastronomy, old fishermen say that “all the food from the sea is good food“. Actually, this saying applies to fish stew (caldeirada), grilled sardines, fish cataplana (deep copper pan with a sealable lid), octopus rice, beans with octopus (or whelks) and octopus eggs.


Regarding ancient customs, the main celebration is the procession in honour of Nossa Senhora da Conceição (Our Lady of Conception), on the 15th of August. Fishing boats are decked and then launched to pay homage and to attract good omens. In modern days, Ferragudo’s fishing community also celebrates the Fisherman’s Day. It offers a lively programme, enhancing conviviality among the sea people; it takes place every year on the 31st of May.


Ferragudo seafront, Molhe dos Pescadores, Ponta do Altar, Forte de São João do Arade ou Ferragudo Castle, Nossa Senhora da Conceição Church, Peer, Praias Angrinha, Praia Grande, Pintadinho, Caneiros, wildlife watching – birds and marine mammals, sport fishing, boat trips on the Arade river, water sports.

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