Boating in the Algarve

01 March 2017

Boating in the Algarve

Basing your boat on Portugal’s warm southern coast offers an attractive package sunshine, easy cruising and sandy beaches all close to a range of safe and secure marinas.

Everyone has heard of the Algarve, the south coast of Portugal, as a holiday destination, but the region has much to offer if you have a boat. With its average yearly temperature of 18ºC, and low rainfall, good accessibility, modern nautical infrastructure, low crime-rate, superb food and renowned friendliness of the people, keeping your boat to the Algarve is an easy decision.

Boating in the Algarve means all year-round ocean and river sailing, staying at modern, Blue Flag accredited, permanent access marinas with finger pontoons, or on safe anchorages and finding your own secluded beach.

Flying to Faro airport has never been so quick, inexpensive and convenient, with over 60 direct destinations.

Lagos, at the west of the Algarve has long been a seafaring town, since the Portuguese sailors set out from there to discover new lands across the globe. Nowadays, Lagos attracts leisure sailors to one of the best sailing spots in Europe, offering steady offshore winds, easy seas, excellent support facilities, giving a warm welcome to those arriving and also a superb time on shore.

Marina de Lagos about a 50 minute drive from Faro airport has a unique location, sitting right in the town centre, protected from the sea, allowing for a hassle free cruising lifestyle, where everything can be reached on foot or using the public transportation or car rental at the marina’s doorstep – literally! These attributes have put the marina on the list of the best places to stay aboard and proof of it is that it hosts an active community of boaters who make the most of their time in Lagos through a wide range of group activities, water and land based.

For those crossing the Atlantic Ocean, Lagos is a logical stop for either the start or the end of the journey. The local boat repair facilities, Bluewater Algarve and Sopromar, offer a full range of services, represent the major brands and guarantee reliable and professional assistance next door to outstanding cruising grounds.

Ria Formosa Beach on Portugal's Algarve Coast

Ria Formosa Beach, one of many superb beaches on the Algarve coast.

Cruising the Algarve

Heading west from Spain there are plenty of interesting ports, rivers and anchorages to visit.

Vila Real de Santo António – 26 miles to Culatra

At the mouth of  the River Guadiana, it has an historic town centre with typical Algarve sty;e building. It is a public harbour so  prices are lower but occupancy is higher. Close to the border with Spain (Ayamonte)


River Guadiana

Navigable as far as Alcoutim, 20 miles from Vila Real Santo António. Keep to the outside of river bends as channel meanders. Anchorage options next to small riverside villages and discover some of traditional Portugal


Culatra and Ria Formosa – 26 miles from Vila Real De Santo António, 20 miles to Vilamoura

This is a popular and safe anchorage. Follow the channel from 2nm out to avoid sand banks west of entrance. Watch out for the very strong current in lagoon entrance. Vessels with drafts above 2.50m should get local advice before navigating the marked channels.  Visit Olhão town visitor’s pontoon to go shopping for supplies and get water. No visiting boats allowed in Olhão public harbour and it gets very busy in July and August, but peaceful off-season


Marina de Vilamoura – 20 miles from Culatra, 6 miles to Albufeira

Well known marina in a resort town, with hotels, restaurants, and a casino. Does get very busy in summer, but much slower in winter. Close to Faro airport, and surrounded by sandy beaches and low rise coastline. Marina has a well-equipped boat yard.


Marina de Albufeira – 6 miles from Vilamoura, 14 miles to Portimão

Well positioned with a 20 minute walk in to town center. Popular so often very busy in summer. Good access to Faro airport. Nice low sandy beaches to the east, set within cliffs to west. There is a small boat yard


Ferragudo and Portimão – 14 miles from Albufeira, 4 miles to Alvor

A very safe harbour entrance with anchorage inside East harbour wall, but look out for commercial and fishing traffic in river. Waterfront restaurants accessible by dinghy, but can be busy in peak-season.


Marina de Portimão - 14 miles from Albufeira, 4 miles to Alvor

Easy access (20 minutes walk) to town center and surrounded by beautiful coastline and small fishing villages.  Fine for deep draft boats. Full service boat yard across river. Busy in mid-summer.


Alvor – 4 miles from Portimão, 2 miles to Lagos

This is a typical fishing village and very peaceful off-season. The harbour entrance can be risky in SE swell. The lagoon has a tricky channel that shifts and silts. Anchorage is after entrance to lagoon: drafts up to 2.30m OK


Lagos – 2 miles from Alvor, 15 miles to Sagres

A charming historic town. Safe to sail close to the cliffs and enjoy empty beaches and coves even in mid-summer. Seabed is sandy with some rocks normally exposed. Bay of Lagos is protected from N winds, but exposed to S and SE.


Sagres and Baleeira – 15 miles from Lagos

Last anchorage before Cape St. Vincent for passage north. Provides shelter from strong northerly wind. Anchorage has sandy bottom. Dinghy ashore to explore the small, but isolated town.


Further Information

Portuguese marinas and harbours

Cruising in Portugal

Distance and sailing time calculator 

Algarve Tourism website  

Hiking trails