Vila Real de Santo Antonio

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Vila Real de Santo Antonio
Port of Entry
37°11.67′N, 07°24.6′W Chart icon.png
The marina of Vila Real from the north

Vila Real de Santo Antonio is a relatively new town, founded in 1774 on the order of King José I on the west bank of the Guadiana river, which forms the boundary between Portugal and Spain (Ayamonte in Spain sits on the opposite bank). The town replaced the former nearby mediaeval settlement of Santo Antonio de Arenilha, which was destroyed in the tsunami that followed the 1755 earthquake, and acquired its predecessor’s name along with the ‘Vila Real’ prefix to denote its royal foundation. The town was completed in just two years under the direction of the Marquis de Pombal, the King’s first minister, using a pioneering method of prefabricating the buildings and tranporting them to the site for assembly. An important fishing and fish processing port in the 19th century, the 20th century saw a slow decline in fishing activity, to be replaced by tourism as the town’s main source of income. A 360-berth marina, Porto Desportivo do Guadiana, has operated here since 1998 and is a useful point of departure for exploring the upper reaches of the Guadiana river.


Please provide a good map or chart that clearly shows details (depths, where to dock, scale etc.) of the harbor.

Give charts applicable to this port or refer to a Chart section of another page (Country or Region) that lists the charts.

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


Give local weather conditions or refer to another page (a region or island group) that covers these conditions.

Sources for Weather forecasts:


See Portugal.


Also see World Cruiser's Nets.


The entrance to the Rio Guadiana lies about 12 miles east of Tavira and is easily identified on approach by a 600-metre long mole projecting from the western side of the river channel. The entrance is buoyed from about one mile off. Once the mole is passed, the deeper water is on the port side of the channel. The entrance to the marina of Vila Real is just over two miles upriver on the west bank. Note: the strong tidal cross-current at the entrance can make entry dangerous at anything other than slack water.


Vila Real de Santo Antonio iis a port of entry/exit to Portugal.

For entrance details see Portugal.


Marinas & Yacht Clubs

  • Porto Desportivo do Guadiana - ofers a total of 360 berths for yachts of up to 20 metres and maximum draft of 3.0 metres. Click on the link for separate Wiki entry.


Anchorage in the river is possible anywhere where you will not be in the way of ferries (frequent between Vila Real and Ayamonte on the Spanish side). It is preferable, however, to continue upriver under the Guadiana suspension bridge (clearance 23 metres) and anchor out of the tidal streams.

Yacht Repairs and Services

Marine Stores

Submit addresses and contact details of marine related businesses that are of interest to cruisers.


See Porto Desportivo do Guadiana.

Fuel, Water, & Electricity

Fuel station in the marina. Water and electricity on the pontoons.

Things to do Ashore


Vila Real is a pleasant resort, with a good beach and lots of souvenir shops (textiles are a good buy here), but not much else. For most cruising yachts, the town is simply a staging post on passage to Spain or for a trip up the beautiful Rio Guadiana, which is navigable by all but very deep draft (or tall-masted) yachts as far as the village of Alcoutim 35 miles inland. The river offers a rare opportunity to cruise calm and peaceful waters with rural Portugal to port and rural Spain to starboard. The suspension bridge across the river two miles upstream from Vila Real has a minimum clearance of 23 metres, but it may be better for your nerves if you pass under it near low water (my own crew renamed it the ‘Laxative Bridge’ - Athene of Lymington). Shallow draft or lifting keel yachts can proceed with caution a further 12 miles as far as the village of Pomarão, although depths in the river are more unreliable in these upper reaches. The small village of Foz de Odeleite roughly halfway upriver to Alcoutim makes a convenient spot to stop overnight if the tide turns. There are mooring buoys in the river here which can be picked up if you do not wish to anchor.

On arrival at Alcoutim, pick up one of the mooring buoys in the river (the tide runs quite strongly - especially on the ebb - and care is needed). Both Alcoutim and Sanlucar de Guadiana on the Spanish side are charming villages, with strong castles showing solid defiance to the former enemy. A run ashore in the dinghy to Alcoutim allows you to explore its old Moorish castle and quiet, untouristy streets where yachtsmen still attract curious stares. A short ferry glide across the river (not forgetting to switch courtesy ensigns as you go) brings you to Sanlucar de Guadiana, where there is a pontoon to tie up to with water and electricity (a charge is made by a brusque Spanish official). Sanlucar is even quieter than Alcoutim and, if you arrive here during the afternoon siesta, you may be forgiven for thinking you have stumbled onto the filmset for a remake of ‘Fistful of Dollars’, with unseen bandidos eyeing you from the rooftops.

For further, excellent information on cruising the Rio Guadiana click on the link: A history of the Guadiana river.

Rio Guadiana
The Guadiana suspension bridge
Alcoutim moorings looking over to Sanlucar
Sanlucar pontoon berth looking over to Alcoutim

Grocery & Supply Stores

  • Supermarket nearby
  • Also chandlery






Motorbike & Car Rentals

Garbage Disposal



List transportation (local and/or international.)


Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.


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



See Portugal.


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.

  • It’s a very memorable experience to motor upriver to Alcoutim and sit in your cockpit as the sun goes down listening to the Alcoutim church clocks chiming eight while the Sanlucar clocks chime nine. You’re suddenly reminded that you’re on the border of two different countries --Athene of Lymington

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Names: Lighthouse, Athene of Lymington

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