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WorldNorth AtlanticPortugal
40°13.753'N, 006°50.010'W Chart icon.png
Portugal-CIA WFB Map.png
Flag of Portugal.svg
Capital Lisbon
Language Portuguese
Currency Euro €
Time zone WET (UTC+0) , DST: WEST (UTC +1 summer)
Calling code +351

Portugal has a distinguished maritime tradition dating back to the celebrated Age of Discovery in the 15th and 16th centuries, when explorers such as Vasco da Gama and Pedro Alvares Cabral laid the foundations of an empire which once stretched from Brazil in the west to Macau and Timor in the east. While the empire has shrunk today to include just the mainland and the offshore archipelagoes of the Azores and Madeira, contemporary explorers under sail can still cruise almost a thousand miles of coastline, beginning at the northern sea border with Spain just south of Bayona and ending at the eastern sea border with Spain at the Spanish port of Ayamonte on the Rio Guadiana.

Along the west coast of Portugal, most of the harbours and marinas are constructed in river estuaries offering varying protection from the almost continuous Atlantic swell. However, not all of the harbours can be entered in extreme conditions and careful attention is needed to the weather forecast when transiting this coast. The country’s two major cities, Porto and Lisbon lie on this coast, a few miles upstream on the banks of the Douro and Tagus rivers respectively. All of the west coast harbours are equipped with marinas and there are relatively few opportunities (and, indeed, little need) to anchor.

The south coast, popularly known as the Algarve, begins at Cape St Vincent at the SW tip of the Iberian peninsula and extends from Sagres all the way to the Spanish border at Vila Real de Santo Antonio on the Rio Guadiana. This coast is better sheltered from the Atlantic swell and generally has a warmer climate than the west coast. The topography of the shoreline becomes lower lying the further east one sails and there are more anchorages in shallow river estuaries along this coast as well as some of Portugal’s largest marina developments.

At the border with Spain the Rio Guadiana is navigable for nearly 20 miles inland and forms an interesting cruising ground in its own right.

For details of cruising Portugal’s offshore islands, see Offshore Islands.


The pilot books give the pilotage information necessary for small craft within harbour and river entrances. The yachtsman will also need passage charts for navigation between the harbours. Since most harbours shelter on the south side of a headland the charts carried should be of a large enough scale in order to be able to identify headlands and any off-lying dangers. Admiralty charts are based on the Portuguese charts and there is a delay in updated information being published.

The Atlantic Coasts of Spain and Portugal published by the Royal Cruising Club Pilotage Foundation provides detailed information on all the harbours of the coast and is strongly recommended. It may be obtained from Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson or, most nautical booksellers.

Reeds Nautical Almanac - which is published annually - has updated information of the main ports and marinas and also information on Navigational aids.

Chart Number - Chart Name
Chart Number - Chart Name
Chart Number - Chart Name


Most days in summer the Nortada (Portuguese Trade Winds) blow in the afternoon at up to force 6 from midday to about 7 o'clock in the evening. Just right for shopping in the morning and sailing 30 miles in the afternoon if going south.

However, if going north have an early start and be in the next port from between 12.00 hrs. to 18.00 hrs. Expect light south-easterly winds during the mornings.

Many yachts going north have heeded the traditional advice to head out into the Atlantic to search for better winds. Many of these yachts have later limped into Northern Portuguese ports to recuperate after meeting adverse weather and swell.

The northerly wind causes down drafts behind the capes. The wind also increases at river mouths as the wind is sucked up the valley as the sea breeze. Be prepared for this wind to increase considerably in strength when nearing a port.

Weather links

  • Portugal's Met Office
  • UK Met Shipping Forecast The new Area of Fitzroy (named after the founder of the Met Office) covers the north of the area down to Porto (Oporto). The area Trafalgar (which does not seem to cover Trafalgar itself!) covers the southern area


Fuel by Hose Name of Port Lat Long Type of Mooring Miles (Going South)


Viana do Castelo
Figueira da Foz
Marina Parque das Nações
Vila Real de Santo Antonio

41º 45' N
41º 11' N
40º 39' N
40º 09' N
39º 35' N
39º 21' N
38º 42' N
38º 42' N
38º 26' N
38º 31' N
37º 56' N
37º 06' N
37º 07' N
37º 07' N
36º 57' N
37º 10' N

8º 52' W
8º 42' W
8º 45' W
8º 53' W
9º 05' W
9º 22' W
9º 25' W
9º 05' W
9º 07 'W
9º 53' W
8º 51' W
8º 40' W
8º 37' W
8º 07' W
7º 52' W

Full service Marina

32 to Sines
38 to Sines



Add here VHF channel for coastguard, harbor masters. etc.

Also see World Cruiser's Nets


The North West point of Galicia in Spain causes the Gulf Stream to split, giving a 1/2 knot south-going drift along the Portuguese coast. The surface of the sea is blown by the prevailing winds and this surface drift is often more noticeable than the current. Tidal streams, except where influenced by a river valley or bay, are very weak, setting north on the flood and south on the ebb.

In summer, on the west coast, when the Portuguese trade winds (Nortada) are blowing, expect a south-going current of up to one knot. In winter, when the wind is often from the south, expect a north-going flow. Off the Algarve coast expect a weak east-going current except after a period of wind from a particular direction.

The tidal stream is important in certain of the river entrances, where there is a bar, and if there is a swell. In these conditions it is best to enter shortly before high water to avoid conflict of the tidal stream with wind and swell. Approach these harbours with caution in these conditions which usually occur in the winter months. On this coast it is important to remember "If in doubt, stay out".


Sensible seamanship is required because it is an exposed coast and considerable swell can arise from storms far out into the Atlantic. In summer the coast is affected by heavy swell for about 10% of the time - which increases to 30% in winter. The swell cannot normally be avoided by going offshore since it extends out to about 20ºW.

In summer the swell does not normally present a problem to coastal traffic provided that the swell forecasts issued with the weather forecasts are noted and heeded. Navtex is very useful to obtain forecasts in English.

In heavy swell, all the smaller anchorages are dangerous, both on the west coast and the south coast. In addition, the smaller ports such as the River Douro, Aveiro, Figueira do Foz and Olhao are quickly closed. There are now many all-weather harbours with marinas to enable a short handed boat to 'day sail' down the coast in safety assuming proper precautions are taken. Remember that a one metre swell at sea can easily become a four metre breaking wave at the shore or on a shallow bar. If the ports are closed signals are displayed. A list of the Day and Night Port Signals is on the Associacao Nacional de Cruzeiros web site.


July, August and September are the months with the greatest risk of fog on the western Portuguese coast and it has been recorded as about 4% of observations. During periods of rain, the hills are often covered by low cloud which obscures the cliff top lighthouses. In addition to sea fog, there is often fog forming in river valleys in the morning which affects many of the ports. The southern coast is less liable to fog than the western coast but can have extensive banks when the Levante blowing through the Straits of Gibraltar is blocked by Atlantic weather.



On first arrival in Portugal, immediate contact must be made with a designated port or approved marina (these include ports and marinas at Viana do Castelo, Povoa do Varzim, Leixoes, Nazare, Peniche, Cascais, Lisbon (Alcantara and Marina Expo), Sesimbra, Sines, Lagos, Portimao, Vilamoura and Vila Real Santo Antonio.

The authorities in Portugal with whom cruising sailors may come into contact are:

  • The Capitania (Harbourmaster and part of the military)
  • Marine Police
  • Customs

In the marinas of the west coast, the documentation for the authorities is carried out by the marina authority and the authorities will not visit if registration is made at the marina office promptly on arrival. If arriving outside normal hours the authorities will visit your boat and obtain information they require for their control and safety duties. It is also necessary to go to the marina office when open.

In Lagos marina you have to wait while your documentation is distributed to the authorities by the marina staff. In Vilamoura you take a copy of the document produced by the marina to the Marine police and customs at separate desks in the marina office who will confirm the document is correct against passports and ships papers.

When attending the office only one person need attend and you should carry:

  • Ships Papers
  • Crews passports
  • Proof of VAT paid (unless the boat predates VAT)
  • Captain's certificate of competency
  • Insurance cover note
  • Details of any crew changes to be made

Please give the authorities the respect to which they are entitled as representatives of your host country. You will find them very friendly and helpful once official duties are completed. If you tell them that they are not doing their job correctly or efficiently, then expect them to assume that you object to their presence due to some wrongdoing on your part. This attitude accounts for recent published adverse reports!

Crew Changes

There have been published reports that there are problems with crew changes in certain Portuguese ports. The basis for these reports is not known by the authorities and many crew changes have been carried out without problems.

The position would appear to be as follows :

  • Normal crew changes are no problem
  • A 'one off' change of a full crew is not a problem (i.e. delivery crew, joint owners etc.)
  • Operating a charter business from Portugal resulting in regular changes in the whole crew will result in a report to the appropriate authority to see that :
    • The vessel complies to Portuguese safety standards
    • The vessel is correctly registered as a commercial vessel
    • Appropriate insurance is carried
    • The operator is registered with the taxation authorities

These requirements would seem be the same as applies in other countries.

Customs and Immigration


  • Firearms and ammunition MUST be declared on arrival
  • PETS: The Pets Travel Scheme (PETS), requiring all animals to have a Pet Passport, a current Health Certificate, a current Rabies Vaccination Certificate and to have been microchipped and blood tested by a recognised Veterinarian prior to entry, is in effect


Visas are not required for nationals of the EU, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries. Nationals from the countries which do require visas, if travelling on a yacht in transit, are normally granted a limited time visa on arrival. Nationals who require a visa and arrive without one should attempt to clear in at one of the major ports. Visitors that do not require a visa are normally granted a 90 day stay on arrival and a six month stay for Brazilians. Full visa information can be obtained from the Foreigners Registration Service, Avenida Antonio Augusto de Aguiar 18, Lisbon and Immigration Services (Portugal)

Fees and Charges


Health and Security

Submit any health warnings/information. Remove any of these sections do not apply to this particular country.


Key to symbols: |Island icon – island |Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage ||

Portugal West Coast

Harbours, marinas and anchorages along the west coast (from N to S) are as follows:

West Coast harbours and marinas
Viana do CasteloViana do Castelo/wiki/Viana_do_Castelo Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |
Povoa de VarzimPovoa de Varzim/wiki/Povoa_de_Varzim Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Leixoes Leixoes /wiki/Leixoes Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |
Aveiro Aveiro /wiki/Aveiro Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Porto Porto /wiki/Porto Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |
Figueira da FozFigueira da Foz/wiki/Figueira_da_Foz Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |
Nazare Nazare /wiki/Nazare Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Peniche Peniche /wiki/Peniche Island icon – island |Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Cascais Cascais /wiki/Cascais Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Oeiras Oeiras /wiki/Oeiras Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Lisbon Lisbon /wiki/Lisbon Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Sesimbra Sesimbra /wiki/Sesimbra Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Setubal Setubal /wiki/Setubal Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Sines Sines /wiki/Sines Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |

Portugal South Coast

Harbours and marinas along the south coast (from W to E) are as follows:

South Coast harbours and marinas
Lagos Lagos /wiki/Lagos Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Alvor Alvor /wiki/Alvor Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Portimao Portimao /wiki/Portimao Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Albufeira Albufeira /wiki/Albufeira Marina icon – marina |
Vilamoura Vilamoura /wiki/Vilamoura Port of entry icon – port of entry |Marina icon – marina |
Faro Faro /wiki/Faro Island icon – island |Port of entry icon – port of entry |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Tavira Tavira /wiki/Tavira Island icon – island |Anchorage icon – anchorage |
Vila Real de Santo Antonio Vila Real de Santo Antonio /wiki/Vila_Real_de_Santo_Antonio Port of entry icon – port of entry |Harbour icon – harbour |Marina icon – marina |Anchorage icon – anchorage |

River Cruising

There are three rivers in Portugal that are suitable for cruising. See Cruising Portugal's Rivers.


List transportation (local and/or international.)



Give a short history of the port.

Places to Visit

Set out below are some of the things to do and see during a cruise along the Portuguese coast. It is hoped that this will encourage more yachts to cruise along this interesting coast. (Additional information is contained in the entry for each port in this Wiki).

  • The old sailing town of Viana do Castelo
  • A visit to the Port Wine Lodges in Porto
  • A visit to the University town of Coimbra from Figueira da Foz
  • Nazare, with its traditional clothes and possibly a visit to the walled town of Obidos, Alcobaça, Fatima, Batalha and the big wave surfers
  • Diving into the clear seas at Berlenga Island
  • Dining in the fish Restaurants of Peniche
  • Lisbon, the capital city
  • The Algarve with its spectacular coves
  • The Marina and old town of Lagos
  • The beautiful anchorage in the lagoon at Alvor
  • Promenading past the bars and cafes at Vilamoura Marina
  • Algarvian anchorages at Alvor, Culatra Island or Tavira

Plus, of course, enjoying the many facilities provided for the land based tourist.


  • Most of the information on this Portugal section has been submitted by David Lumby, a retired cruiser now resident in Portugal. Assistance also received from Ray Glaister of The Cruising Association, Anne Hammick who revised RCC Atlantic Coast of Spain & Portugal, Neville Featherstone, The Editor of The Macmillan Iberian Guide, Ray Matthewson of yacht Phoenix Child, Nobby Pryor, Commodore of the Vilamoura Cruising Club, 'PedroK' webmaster of the Associacao de Cruzeiros, Robert Whyte, members of the various Port Authorities and marina operators and various cruising yachtsmen who have given information, advice and encouragement. The information is offered in the true "Cruiser's Spirit" to assist all cruisers following in their wake.

    Kindly give David Lumby the support he deserves - Email Website.
    Lighthouse 06:30, 23 January 2008 (MST)


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)




We welcome users' contributions to the Wiki. Please click on Comments to view other users' comments, add your own personal experiences or recommend any changes to this page following your visit.

  • Sailing the coast of Portugal: Portugal`s beautiful coastline is an increasingly popular attraction for sailors, who will find the coastline wonderfully varied – taking in everything from prisitine white sand beaches to rocky cliff faces. Sailing the coastline of Portugal, vessels drift past picture-perfect fishing villages, bustling cities like Lisbon and Porto and verdant green countryside.

    There are many marinas and places to anchor along the coast, although it is vital to check conditions in advance and carry a trustworthy guidebook. Anchorage points in the north include Caminha, Viana do Castelo and Povoa de Varzim. Of these, probably the best spot to drop anchor is at Viana do Castelo – a beautiful old fishing and sailing town. There is a small marina close to the town centre – although sailors should watch out for the tide which flows at pace past the marina`s entrance.

    Further south, the new marina at Nazare is a safe and straightforward place to drop anchor. This interesting town is home to a population thought to have descended from the Phonecians and many still wear the traditional dress of their ancestors. The marina is less than a mile from the town centre, which is well equipped with shops and restaurants.

    Further south still, the country`s capital, Lisbon, is home to six marinas. Note that the most scenic of these, Doca de Bon Sucesso and Doca de Belem, are usually completely full with boats belonging to locals. There is a better chance of succesful anchorage at Doca de Alcantara, a new marina entered from upriver through a swing bridge.

    As sailors travel further south still into the Algarve, they will find plenty of marinas and points of anchor at the region`s many fishing towns and resorts, such as the popular tourist resort of Lagos.

    It is important to consult local forecasts and to note that the swell may create more problems and danger than winds. This swell may be the result of a storm way out in the Atlantic and is not necessarily accompanied by local winds.

    On the west coast, the summer sees the Nortada trade winds blow, creating a southerly flow of up to one knot. In the winter, the flow is to the north.

    Meanwhile, the Algarve coast sees a weak current flowing to the east, although this is occasionally influenced by winds.

    It is easy to arrive on the Portuguese coast by air, road, rail or – of course – sea. There are regular flights from the UK and wider Europe to port cities such as Lisbon and Oporto, while road and rail connections lead to Portugal from across the continent.

    The country itself is awash with opportunities for exploring and sightseeing and sailors are bound to want to spend some time on land. The lively capital city, Lisbon and the nearby scenic fishing town of Cascais are both great spots to visit, while the Algarve is the best place for a round of golf on some world class courses. Accommodation options range from self-catering apartments to large holiday resort complexes and there`s something in every price bracket for sailors wishing to spend some time on dry land.

    Those looking to enjoy the sun, sand and golf of the Algarve will find plenty of accommodation options at the town of Albufeira. To book in advance, visit Albufeira Hotels.

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Names: Lighthouse, Rr7, Athene of Lymington

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