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An online cruising guide for yachts sailing around Spain.

Capital Madrid
Language Spanish
Currency Euro €
Time zone CET (UTC+1); WET (UTC​)ª , DST: CEST (UTC+2); WEST (UTC+1)
Calling code +34
See Spanish for Cruisers
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ª Spain observes CET/CEST, except the Canary Islands which observe WET/WEST

Spain offers an enormous variety of experiences for the cruising sailor, from the traditional fishing harbours of the Biscay coast, where yachts still jostle for space with local fishing vessels, to the huge, purpose-built marina developments of the southern, Mediterranean coast and the packed picture-book anchorages of the Balearic islands. The Spanish cruising experience can even include a quick tack across the Straits of Gibraltar to the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the North African coast or a longer haul down to the Canary Islands off the West African coast. Like France, Spain boasts a rich range of regional cultures, each with its own distinctive dialect or language, customs, sports, cuisine and lifestyle. One could be forgiven for imagining that a passage from the Basque country to the Rias of Galicia or the coast of Andalusia up to Catalonia took the cruising yachtsman across national rather than regional boundaries, especially since linguistic differences are often surprisingly large. During the peak sailing season on July and August, most of the harbours and marinas along the Mediterranean coast - and especially the Balearics - are full to bursting point, but there are still quiet anchorages and unspoilt harbours to be found in many other areas, particularly along the less cruised Biscay and Atlantic coasts and the area between the Portuguese border and Gibraltar.

Starting at the Atlantic border with France, Spanish cruising grounds divide roughly into eight principal areas. From the French port of Hendaye, a cruise west along the little-frequented Biscay coast takes in the major cities of San Sebastian, Bilbao, Santander and Gijon before reaching the start of the Galician coast at Ribadeo. Along this coast, which includes the Spanish regions of the Basque country (Pais Vasco), Cantabria and Asturias, are also some charming smaller harbours such as Lequetio, Guetaria, Castro Urdiales and Ribadesella. From Ribadeo, a yacht sailing west and then south will be greeted by one of the loveliest sailing areas in the whole of Europe, the sea inlets or Rias of Galicia. Along this stretch are the major ports of A Coruna (Corunna), Vigo and Bayona, but the true delights of this coast are the smaller harbours tucked into its deep sea inlets, such as the Rias of Ribadeo, Viveiro, Cedeira, Corme, Camarinhas, Muros, Pontevedra and Vigo. Fifteen miles south of Bayona, a yacht will enter Portuguese waters and will not return to Spanish waters until passing the mouth of the Rio Guadiana at the eastern extremity of the Portuguese Algarve coast. This, the western coast of Andalucia, includes the major port of Cadiz as well as smaller harbours at El Rompido, Chipiona, Puerto Santa Maria and Barbate before reaching the major port of Algeciras opposite Gibraltar. A diversion from Cadiz to the south west along the coast of Africa will bring a yacht after a passage of some 700 miles to the Spanish-administered Canary Islands. A similar diversion 20 miles south from Gibraltar leads to the Spanish North African enclaves of Ceuta and - 150 miles further east - Melilla. Staying on the Spanish coast from Gibraltar, another cruising area opens up along the continuing coast of Andalucia and on into the regions of Murcia and Valencia. Along these coasts are the major ports of Marbella, Malaga, Almeria, Cartagena and Alicante as well as numerous smaller, purpose-built marinas. Much of this coast is sadly characterized by dreary concrete high-rise construction and the harbours rarely have much character, although they are a convenient base for visiting the fascinating and historic inland cities of Seville, Granada and Cordoba. From Valencia, a yacht may either continue NNE along the coast, which is initially flat and featureless until arriving at the coast of Catalonia and its famous capital of Barcelona, or head eastwards to the Balearic Islands about sixty miles away. On the mainland, a yacht will pass the major harbours of Tarragona and Barcelona and smaller harbours such as Sitges, Blanes, Llafranc, Roses and Llansa before arriving at the French border at Banyuls. If heading eastwards - probably from Denia or Valencia - a yacht will have the holiday islands of Ibiza, Mallorca, Formentera, Menorca to explore, usually in company with half the yachts in the Mediterranean during the peak months of July and August.

As might be expected from such a large country, weather conditions are extremely variable. Along the Biscay coast, yachts have less tide to contend with than further north in Brittany, but the frequency of Biscay storms in Autumn and early Spring mean than careful passage planning is necessary. The Rias of Galicia are famous for fogs, and a yacht proceeding here without radar is hoping for a charmed life. Along the Atlantic coast, the main feature is the heavy Atlantic swell, which often reaches 4-5 metres or more and makes passagemaking decidedly queasy at times. Once through into the Mediterranean, coastal sailing is mostly characterized by seabreezes, usually blowing onshore from later morning until sundown, whereas the Balearics seem to have a local weather pattern entirely of their own and it pays to be alert to changes in the forecast in view of the paucity of marina berths in the islands. Finally, the enormous variety of the regions of Spain mean that visiting yachtsmen will encounter many different facets of the Spanish character. By nature, the Spanish tend to be more reserved than many other nations and there is definitely a 'macho' element to the average Spanish male that can make him seem sullen and unapproachable. However, once this initial reserve is overcome, a Spaniard can quickly become one of your most generous and loyal friends. Do not be surprised, however, if Spaniards you encounter in tourist offices, marinas or even just strolling along the quay in a harbour fail to reciprocate your nod of friendship or welcome you with a cheery smile. It's not that they dislike you - they're probably just wondering why this foreign yottie is nodding at them like some vacuous half-wit!


British Admiralty (BA)
3133 Casablanca to Islas Canarias (including Arquipélago de Madeira)
1831 Arquipélago de Madeira
1869 Gran Canaria to Hierro
National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA)
52140 Islas Baleares
52060 Cabo de Gala to Cabo de Palos and Cap Milonia to Cap Ivi
52040 Strait of Gibraltar to Cabo de Gata and Cao Milonia

See also Mediterranean coast of Spain.


Because of Spain's geographical situation and orographic conditions it has several different climates, these can be roughly categorized by geographical areas:

  • A Continental Mediterranean climate in the inland areas of the Peninsula (largest city, Madrid).
  • A Mediterranean climate region extends from the Andalusian plain along the southern and eastern coasts up to the Pyrenees, on the seaward side of the mountain ranges that run near the coast.
  • An Oceanic climate in Galicia and the coastal strip near the Bay of Biscay.

Sources of weather forecasts:




Also see World Cruiser's Nets.


Any navigation notes here. If this section does not apply remove it.


Requirements: Vessel's registration documents (original or properly certified copy), insurance policy (and a Spanish translation) and ship's radio station licence. At least one crewmember must have a radio operator’s licence. For EU registered vessels, proof of the VAT status is required.





Customs and Immigration


Visas are not needed for visitors from Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Slovakia, Slovenia, U.S.A., Estonia, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua, Norway, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Czech Republic, Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Switzerland, Uruguay, Venezuela and any visitor from an EU country. Children under 14 years of age, of any nationality do not require visas if they possess their own passports.

Note: Sometimes the officials do not stamp passports of visitors entering on yachts, but if planning to leave Spain by another means of transport (air, etc.), an entry stamp will be required.

Most nationalities are granted a 90 day stay on entering Spain. Visas are required for all other nationals or for stays longer than 90 days and are to be obtained in advance from a Spanish embassy or consulate abroad.



Health and Security


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




External Territories

Spain maintains several small military territories (plazas de soberanía) on the coast of Morocco, Africa for defence. These were originally built as a guard against piracy.

The independent Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla are also on the Moroccan coast.


See the individual regions above.


List transportation to other countries, etc.


  • Cruiser Log moderator NAUSIKAA (Stephen) is currently living and working in Vigo. Visiting yachts are welcome to contact Stephen, using the messaging facility on the Cruiser Log site, who will be glad to offer any assistance he can.


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


References & Publications




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Names: Lighthouse, Atheneoflymington, Alan Teed, Nausikaa, Istioploos, TaoJones, Haiqu, Rr7

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