Portugal - Profile
- From the cruising point of view, mainland Portugal divides into two distinct areas, the west and the south. The ports on the west coast are situated mostly in estuaries or rivers often with bars at the entrance. Among them, the most interesting landfalls are the capital Lisbon set on the River Tagus, which can be navigated right up into the centre of the city, and the new marina on the river Douro in the beautiful city of Oporto.
- The Algarve coast in the south has better weather and easier approaches to its small picturesque ports. In recent years several new marinas have opened on both west and south coasts, which has greatly improved cruising the Portuguese coast.
- An interesting cruising ground is the River Guadiana, which forms the border between Portugal and Spain. The river is navigable for some 20 miles as far as Pomarao, and the scenery as well as the wildlife are worth the detour. The bridge linking the two banks is reported to have an overhead clearance of at least 20 metres.
- Keep a good way offshore as lobster pots are everywhere on this coast, particularly in the approaches to harbours.
- Repair facilities, with a few exceptions, are below the standards of neighbouring countries. The best repair facilities are concentrated in the three areas which have a local boating community: the capital Lisbon, Oporto on the west coast and the large Vilamoura marina on the Algarve coast.
- If heading into Portugal from Spain, be sure to top up your tanks before departure as diesel is cheaper in Spain than in Portugal. Note also that diesel is even cheaper in Gibraltar, and cheaper still in Morocco.
The climate is mild and varies slightly, being cooler in the north and warmer in the south.
The prevailing winds of summer are northerly. The Portuguese trades commence in about April and last until September. On the Algarve coast the northerly winds of summer are often replaced by land and sea breezes. Most gales occur in winter, when the prevailing winds are westerly.
Due to their location some harbours are inaccessible in strong onshore winds and/or southerlies. Use this useful website giving the state of the harbour entrances (continually updated) along the coast to assist with your planning - http://www.marinha.pt/pt-pt/servicos/informacao-maritima/Paginas/Estado-Barras.aspx
Strong afternoon winds are typical on this coast and it is wise to shorten sail when entering ports or coming south of steep headlands.
Fog is common during the summer months, although it generally disappears by mid morning.
Weather Forecasts by the Portuguese Navy in English
The weather forecast channel is 2657 kHz in Portugal (Lisbon station):
09:00 and 21:00 during winter local time.
08:00 and 20:00 during summer local time.
Portugal falls under Navarea 2 and NAVTEX is updated with weather forecasts in English on 518 kHz for Portugal Mainland - Madeira - Azores.
Portuguese Met Office - http://www.meteo.pt
Portuguese Met Office - Shipping Forecast - http://www.ipma.pt/pt/maritima/boletins/
For an excellent article on Algarve Summer Weather Patterns, see Martin Northey's website here.
For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page.
Last updated February 2017.
West (Atlantic) Coast: Aveiro , Cascais * , Figueira da Foz * , Leixoes (nr Porto/Oporto) * , Lisbon * , Nazare * , Oeiras , Peniche * , Porto (Oporto) , Povoa de Varzim , Sesimbra * , Setubal * , Sines * , Troia , Viana do Castelo *
* indicates port of entry