Portugal Is Water

Words: Susana Ribeiro

Portugal is the sea, its rivers, lagoons and streams that are a draw on many tourist itineraries. From Nazaré’s gigantic waves to water sports on our rivers… and the country’s beautiful beaches from north to south: tourism in Portugal wouldn’t be the same without water.

In Portugal, this ocean-facing country by the seaside, the coastline is more than 800 kilometres long! And this is only counting mainland Portugal. With the islands, you can add another 667 km for the Azores archipelago and 250 km for the archipelago of Madeira. The Algarve region alone has about 200 kilometres of coastline and is one of the biggest tourist hotspots in the country thanks to its beaches, tranquil waters and very pleasant weather all year round. In addition to the country’s history, culture and cuisine, miles and miles of splendid beaches from north to south make it one of the most sought-after destinations for tourists.

Some of the most popular water activities in Portugal include surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing, diving, canoeing, rafting, fishing, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), boat trips and sailing. Portuguese beaches are known for their challenging waves, making Portugal a world-class surf destination.

Ocean tourism in Portugal is very popular thanks to its privileged location on the Atlantic coast, with over 800 km of beaches and a variety of sea-related activities.

Some of the most popular are:

– Surf: Portugal is known for having some of the (largest and) best waves in Europe, with world-famous beaches, such as Praia do Norte in Nazaré. But also, Peniche, Ericeira, Sagres and the region of Porto (Vila Nova Gaia, Matosinhos and Espinho, above all).

– Sailing: the Portuguese coast is ideal for sailing, with many well-equipped ports and marinas.

– Dolphin watching: the Portuguese coast is home to several species of dolphins, making it a popular destination for boat trips offering dolphin watching.

– Diving: Portugal has some of the best diving spots in Europe, with a variety of marine life and shipwrecks to explore.

– Fishing: there are several ways to fish in Portugal, from inshore to deep sea fishing.

Enjoy excursions in nature

Portugal also has many beautiful rivers for canoeing, including the Douro, the Mondego, the Guadiana and — more suitable for rafting — the Paiva, the Tâmega and the Lima. There are several companies that organise rafting excursions with experienced guides, offering an adventure that’s both safe and exciting. For those interested in diving, the Algarve coast has a variety of places to do this, with all kinds of grottos and caves to explore.

Besides these sports, another option is canyoning in mountain rivers, where you find yourself hiking, climbing, abseiling and swimming in mountain rivers with crystal-clear water. We should point out that these activities must be done with the supervision of professionals and following all safety regulations.

In addition, Portugal has more than its fair share of beach resorts, such as the Algarve, Madeira and Cascais, which are very popular among tourists looking to relax by the sea.

Boat tours, such as on the Minho, Douro, Mondego and Tagus rivers, among others, are activities that you most likely won’t forget. The Douro River is one of the most important rivers in Portugal and is famous for its natural beauty, as it weaves on its way through different regions. Take a boat trip along the river to admire the mountains, vineyards and towns that have sprung up along its banks.

To the north, the Minho is another important river which forms a natural border between Portugal and Spain. You can go on boat trips along the river, taking in the natural landscapes and the historic towns found on its banks. In the central region, the Mondego is the largest river to begin and end entirely within Portugal, and it offers many different options for nature lovers. There are hiking trails and water sports. The Tagus is the largest river in the Iberian Peninsula and is known for its historical importance and natural beauty. You can take boat trips along the river, visit historic cities like Lisbon and enjoy the beautiful natural landscapes.

These are just a few suggestions of places to enjoy if you decide to follow some of the rivers of Portugal. There are many others, such as the Guadiana, the Tâmega and the Lima, for example. Regardless of the river you decide to visit, it’s sure to be an amazing experience, at one with nature.

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