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Where to Anchor in Lisbon

Current Location: Cascais, Portugal
Current Position: 38 41.83 N 009 24.98 W Click to view map.
Distance sailed since last post: 0 nautical miles. View the map of our voyage track here

Having spent a fair bit of time around Lisbon, I thought it would be useful to put up a summary of the area for other cruisers who want to visit.

Anchoring in Cascais

There are no useful anchorages near Lisboa itself. However, there is a good anchorage at Cascais, with protection from the prevailing N to W winds. It is open to the southern quadrants, but that is rarely a problem, at least through the summer months. Almost every evening the North wind will blow, sometimes quite strongly, but it usually then settles down overnight. In the summer it can be very calm in the mornings and through the day.

At Cascais you can tie up your dinghy at the fisherman’s pontoon, along the western seawall, close to the beach. The water in Cascais is almost always cold for swimming, and not very clear.

There is fuel and water easily available at Cascais Marina, but the marina itself is very expensive for mooring.

Cascais is a very pleasant town to visit. It is quite upmarket, with some good cafes and restaurants including, alledgedly, the ‘best ice cream in the world’. I am not sure the Italians would agree. But there was certainly a long line-up of people waiting to get in.

Sunset at anchor in Cascais

Sunset at anchor in Cascais

In Cascais there is a small Pingo Doce and a large Jumbo supermarket within walking distance through the center of the town, just across the other side of the railway station.

There is a bus terminus under Pingo Doce with buses that go up to Sintra, which is well worth a day trip for the historic palaces and gardens, one of which reminded me of Park Guell in Barcelona. There is a nice walk (or bus ride) along the waterfront to Boca do Inferno, a crag in the rock through which the water pounds when the waves are up. Cafe and ice cream available, as well as a public toilet, as this is a popular tourist stop. Beyond that is Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point of continental Europe.

From the train station there are frequent trains (every 15-20 minutes) along to coast towards Lisboa for a fare of about 1.4 Euros.

There are also sheltered anchorages (38 40.9N 009 18.6W) near to Oieras marina and just around the corner (38 41.7 N 009 14.4 W) from the Belem pilot boat harbour. Both of these suffer from having nowhere to dock your dinghy to go ashore, so are useful only as an overnight staging place. Note that the tide does run quite strongly through this bay.

Marina in Lisbon

The Marina Parque Das Nacoes is a new marina very close (1.8km) to the Orient train station, and the Oceanarium (which is well worth a visit). There is a nearby Continente supermarket (in the mall right next ot the train station) which will deliver directly to your boat. The marina is well sheltered, has good security, and are very friendly and helpful. There are no nearby bars making night-time noise, so it is very quiet. Water and Electricity are included in the very reasonably rates that they charge (eg 42 Euro per night, 600 euro per month in high season for a 12m catamaran including taxes) – much cheaper than most other places in Portugal. The airport is also very nearby, making this a good base for flying in and out of Lisboa. Try to arrive at the turn of the tide, as the tidal currents through the sluice gates can push you around quite a bit.

The water in the marina is VERY muddy, and the fouling is quite bad – even after just one month we had seaweed growing all over a piece of rope that we had allowed to dangle in the water. Our boat bottom, just cleaned, also had quite a bit of growth on it, as did the plastic bags with which we covered our props. When I dove in to retrieve the plastic bags the mud in the water was so thick I could not even see the propeller, and had to do it all by feel alone. Not so appealing. But better, in my mind, than a fouled propeller.

Arriving in Lisbon with the Torre de Belem to port

Arriving in Lisbon with the Torre de Belem to port

Anchoring and Mooring in Seixal

Across from Lisboa is Seixal. This is a small town, somewhat run down, but it does offer a very nicely sheltered anchorage. Access to Lisboa is by fast cheap ferry which runs regularly (depending on time of day) right from the town quay to downtown Lisboa (East side of the historic center). In Seixal there is a mini market that carries fruit, veg, meat and most of the staples that one needs. Taking the dinghy across to Amora you can then get a train to visit the Christo Rei monument, or to cross the bridge into Lisboa. Or you can take a bus or taxi to Fogueteiro train station. Note, however, that this train does NOT stop near the town center. For that you are best using the ferry. However, the train does go to Areeiros where you can change trains to go straight into Lisboa Oriente.

The ferry from Seixal takes 17 minutes and goes to Cais do Sodre, which is the end of the line that runs from Cascais. Times of the ferry are variable, be sure to check in advance so you don’t get caught out and have to wait two hours for the next one!

At low tides in Seixal you will see professional clam diggers at work. Using a tool that is a cross between a shovel and a rake they stand chest deep in the water and dig for clams which they sell to the restaurants. They will be happy to sell them directly to you for about 6.50 euro a kilo. Unfortunately the water in Seixal, indeed through the whole Tejo estuary is pretty muddy, so not very appetising for swimming, although all the locals do so. It is, however, quite a bit warmer than at Cascais. In September we saw hordes of jelly fish.

Sunset at anchor in Seixal

Sunrise at anchor in Seixal

In Seixal there is a small dock where one can tie up one’s dinghy. On that dock is a small cabin. Ask in there to find out if there are any mooring balls availble. If there are, these offer very cheap boat storage (eg 90 euro a month in August for 12m boat, no extra for cats. Pro-rated for shorter stays). This would be a good option if you want to take time to explore elsewhere in the country, or need to take a quick trip back home.

Next to Seixal is Amora in which there is a haul-out boatyard which offers very reasonable rates – eg 180 euro for a month in August for a 37ft mono. I don’t know what size crane or lift they have.

Transport In Lisbon

Transport within Lisboa is plentiful, but a bit confusing. The trains from Cascais arrive into the western side of the historic downtown at Cais do Sodre. The trains from the rest of the country arrive on the eastern side, passing through the Oriente station and ending at Santa Apolonia. Between them there is a gap and there is no direct connection between the two system. Thus to get from Cascais to Oriente you have to cross the gap. This can be done by a 15 minute walk, for by bus, or by metro, but the metro requires you to change once!

Buses to the rest of the country mostly leave from the Sete Rios bus terminus, which is accessible by Metro or by Rail. But, to get to that from Cascais again requires a walk (eg from Alcantara Mar to Alcantar Terre), or bus or metro. Probably easiest is to go to Cais do Sodre and then figure out the buses or metro from there. Allow yourself plenty of time for the journey.

All modes of public transport around Lisbon use the same ticketing system. The first time you buy a ticket (usually from a machine) you will be charged an extra 50c and will receive a green Viva card. This card is rechargeable, so hold on to it. Next time you need a ticket, put the card into the machine and then load it up with either one or more tickets, or else an amount of money that you can then ‘Zap’ when you need a ride. Whenever you board a bus, train or ferry you will then validate your ticket at the entrance, which will debit your card either the ticket you bought, or the amount of money. Keep the receipt that shows you paid for the ticket until you have completed your journey. Public transport runs until about 1am.

Transport to the rest of Portugal from Lisboa is cheap and easy by both bus and train, both of which take about the same amount of time! Buying tickets online from http://cp.pt more than 5 days in advance can provide even more savings, but you will need a cell phone to which they can send a text message. I believe that without a cell phone you can also buy tickets by phone (eg from Skype) which you then pick up at the station. Some buses can be fully booked – so plan ahead. The site for bus times and tickets is http://rede-expressos.pt

Traveling by car is more expensive, as the fast roads have tolls, and the free roads end up being very slow.

Praca do Comercio

Praca do Comercio

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