Fresh Breezes From the Ocean
The western part of the Iberian Peninsula, Portugal is a popular boat holiday route with its mild climate and characteristic ocean winds. The country offers myriads of sea holiday opportunities with its almost 1000-kilometer long coastline reaching from Porto in the north to the Algarve region in the south. Adding the 670 kilometers of Azures’ coasts and 250 kilometers of Madeira’s, the holiday alternatives of Portugal becomes even richer.
Portugal’s important cities such as Porto and Lisbon are located in the west coast and open to the ocean, which requires a bit more experience in sailing, while the Algarve region is more popular with yacht charter clients as the sea is more tranquil here. Azores and Madeira await those who would like to enjoy a subtropical climate. Portugal is just a few hours away from the other European capitals. With its pleasant coastal cities and towns, delicious seafood and quality wine, Portugal is a promise of absolute happiness, plus it is quite convenient as the prices here are much lower than most Western European countries.
The Sunny Algarve
150 kilometers of sheltered sea in southern Portugal, Algarve is a great destination for a sailing holiday with its fine-sandy beaches and spectacular shores – hills ascending up from the sea. As the climate is milder, Algarve enjoys a longer season. Its rural hinterland is also worthy of dedicating time, with its many vineyards, historical villages and towns.
Algarve’s shores are famous for their sea caves. The most famous of all is the Bengail Cave in Lagos. Contrary to Western Portugal coastline, the sailing distance between Algarve’s ports is quite short, so you can comfily sail between ports-towns. Here, you shouldn’t miss Portimao with its long beaches, coves and caves, and Faro with its lively port. No hurries, though: Before you reach Faro, the Ria Formosa lagoon in front of it will take some nice time to look around, with all its islands and islets, and extraordinary views. And don’t forget to stop by the fish market in Olhao further east, we can guarantee that you’ll find something for your taste here.
Marinas in Portugal
A land of mariners, all shores of Portugal offers many alternatives for all services needed by sailors. Basically, Algarve region has more marinas as port towns are closer to each other here. The sailing distance between marinas in the western shore is a little longer but all offer good quality service.
Most of the marinas here are built into river mouths so that the boats aren’t affected by the ocean swell. You can find Portuguese marinas’ service and navigation information through GotoSailing.com MapGuide, and even see your sailing distance to the closest marinas.
Portugal’s traditional cuisine comes to the fore with the freshness and delicacy of its materials, and has a highly satisfactory diversity. Although you can find all sorts of seafood here, codfish has a special place in Portuguese cooking. Its dry salted form, called Balchau, is especially common. Another popular dish is the angler fish. Pork is also commonly used in Portuguese food, often accompanied by vegetables.
Reviewed by sailors for sailors
Portuguese cuisine is rich in pastries and casserole dishes as well. Such a lucky land!
In addition to wonderful Portuguese wines served next to fish and meat, you should try the Porto wine, which is more like a liquor and mostly consumed as an appetizer.
Another unique taste is the pasteis de nata, sort of a mini tart with a slightly burned top and yummy pudding filling.
Seamen’s Cities of Western Portugal
The Belem Tower built for the memory of Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama, at the entrance of Lisbon port, has taken its place in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Lisbon emphasizes its mariner identity once again through hosting the Volvo Ocean Race and the Tall Ship Race. Along with its modern face, if you’d like to see the traditional Portugal, you should spend some time on the streets of Lisbon. Oh, and you should also visit Cascais, very close to Lisbon, nicknamed ‘the Beverly Hills of Lisbon.’ Cascais is a very nice little holiday town with narrow streets, sweet little houses painted in white, tiny shops, fancy cafés, restaurants and beaches.
To the north of Lisbon you can stop by Peniche town and to the Berlengas Archipelago, an untouched natural reserve 6-to-7 miles offshore the town. You can visit the São João Baptista Castle and discover the coves around. Slowly sailing and watching the shoreline panorama is the best way to get to Porto, further north. And don’t forget to give some to Viana do Castelo, the antique mariners’ city close to the Spanish border.
Subtropical Paradise: Azores and Madeira Islands
Two autonomous regions of Portugal, the Azores and Madeira Islands, differ from the mainland with their soft and mild subtropical climate. If you would like to feel the ocean more intensely, consider taking a flight directly to one of these archipelagos and arrange with a yacht charter there. 900 miles distant from the Portuguese mainland, the rough, volcanic geography of the Azores add to their beauty. In addition to their green hills and crystal-clear sea, the islands are worth discovering for their unique culture and history as well.
Madeira Islands lie 600 sea miles southeast of the Azores, against Africa. They are 215 sea miles north to the Canaries. The laurissilva, meaning laurel forest, the subtropical rainforest of the islands, is also among UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The islands’ wine, made of the grapes grown in this mild subtropical climate, is at least as famous as that of the mainland.
In this visit directly into the middle of the ocean, you are highly likely to see dolphins and whales, and enjoy observing them: The Madeira Islands host 30 different types of dolphins and whales.
Winds and Weather in Portugal
Though the winds are stronger in the northern and midway shores and lighter in the Algarve region, all Portuguese seas are convenient for a boat holiday. It’s true that the western coast with Lisbon and Porto require some more experience, but the foreseeable characteristics of the Portuguese trade winds make things easier for the sailors. The trade winds usually start around noon and cease around 6 or 7 pm. Mornings are the ideal time to set sail with lighter breeze.
Portugal has no shores to the Mediterranean, but it exhibits the typical properties of the Mediterranean climate and reflects a bit of the oceanic climate. The capital Lisbon’s daytime temperature ranges between 30 to 35 °C in July and August, and occasionally rises to 40 °C.
The Azores and Madeira Islands enjoy a subtropical climate where the temperatures are only around 24 to 26 °C even in July and August, which makes it even more pleasant to visit these islands, especially for those who are uncomfortable with hot weather.