The charming country of Portugal sits squarely on the western portion of Europe’s famed Iberian Peninsula. Notable as a point of departure for 15th and 16th century explorers such as Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan, Portugal offers a comfortable Mediterranean climate, exceptional sightseeing and deliciously diverse cuisine.
Top Portuguese sailing cities
Sailing aficionados find plenty to love about Portugal. Numerous marinas and anchorages dot the coastline from Caminha in the north to Troia on the central coast to Lagos in the south. Sailboat rentals, houseboat rentals and fully crewed boats for hire are available in many if not most Portuguese ports.
Approximately 1,360 km (850 miles) west of continental Portugal lie the Azores. The remote archipelago comprises nine major islands and a small array of islets. Horta, Ponta Delgada, Graciosa and Corvo are not nearly as crowded as mainland Portuguese ports and offer an ideal place for SCUBA divers to rent a bareboat or hire a crewed charter boat with which to tour virtually unexplored reefs and grottoes. Horta is especially well known as a welcomed landfall for Trans-Atlantic sailors.
Things to do
Sailing, fishing, football games and watersports are popular among Portuguese locals and visitors alike. Explore cobblestone streets in the medieval town of Pinhão or spend an afternoon sampling ruby red port wines in the dramatic Douro Valley. Catamaran rentals are an attractive option especially during sunny summer months. Rent a yacht or motorboat and visit the Berlengas nature reserve where energetic dolphins splash in crystal clear waters.
Clean coastal seas provide a bountiful assortment of seafood and shellfish that local chefs serve with pride. Rent a boat in Portugal and try your luck trolling for a local cod called bacalhau.
The 550 NM route across the shimmering Bay of Biscay from Plymouth to Bayona is beloved by mariners for its exceptional scenery and wide-open waters. If a day sail with plentiful stops at ports along the way is to your liking, and you have a sailing license, hire a bareboat and cruise to your hearts content.
In Portugal, sailing conditions are generally good with trade winds of up to 20 knots blowing more than 300 days of the year. Twice-a-day tides range roughly three meters. Expect southerly currents in summertime and northerly currents during winter months. Heavy swells are known to shut down smaller ports, especially along the country’s rugged northern coast.
Best time to visit
If you prefer the scent of almond blossoms to that of tourists slathered in sunscreen, visit Portugal in springtime. Early autumn is another alternative to the always-busy months of June through September when beaches are crowded and prices tend to skyrocket. November through March are typically the rainiest months in Portugal.
How to get there
A number of airlines offer regularly scheduled flights to main hubs like Lisbon, Faro and Porto.