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Featuring a great variety of sites in a small area, from wrecks to reefs and drifts to deep, diving in Lisbon (Lisboa) is the perfect adventure activity to supplement any holiday in the region.

Diving in Lisboa

Quick facts

The diving around Lisbon is regarded as some of the best in Portugal, particularly in Sesimbra, just south of the city. From wrecks to reefs and drifts to deep dives, Lisbon has a little bit of something for every level of diver. There are two main diving areas near the capital city. Those are Sesimbra and Fonte de Telha.

The first, and possibly most famous, dive area is Sesimbra. Here divers will find the Arrábida National Park, Cabo Espichel and the Luiz Saldanha Marine Park. To the east of the fishing village, the underwater world provides a hatchery for many species and is great for macro photography. Arrábida National Park and its attached marine park are famous for sheer cliffs and colder waters that attract a variety of stingrays and squid. Finally, Cabo Espichel to the east of Sesimbra is home to a fantastic wreck. The River Gurara was a Nigerian cargo ship. Today it sits within recreational limits. Although it is not intact, large pieces can be found by divers, including the ship’s massive propellers.

The second area is a bit closer to Lisbon and instead of facing a protected harbor like Sesimbra, Fonte de Telha faces out to the Atlantic Ocean. The area is populated with rocky reefs dotted among its sandy bottom. If you are lucky, you might find a pod of curious dolphins or even a solitary sun fish during a dive in the area. For technical divers, the many wrecks near Fonte de Telha lie below recreational limits.

The climate is mild throughout the year, ensuring that diving is possible year-round. The rainy months are November and December while the time of year with the fewest days with rainfall is from April to September. Air temperatures range from 54-74°F (12-24℃). During certain seasons, water temperatures may necessitate a semi-dry suit, so be sure to check the monthly averages before your trip. Water temperatures average from 55-75°F (13-24℃). While you may not visit Lisbon explicitly for the diving, you won’t be disappointed when you jump in the water and discover the fantastic scenes on the seafloor.

When to go

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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What to see

Divers in Lisbon can expect everything from pelagic species interactions to smaller marine life sightings found in the city’s protected marine reserves.

Larger species commonly seen include sting rays, dolphins, white sea bass, and sunfish.

While diving in Portugal may be more pelagic-centric, the region also has plenty of macro and reef species. Octopus, squid, crabs, lobsters, sardines and conger eels along with a variety of fish can often be seen. A colony of seahorses near Sesimbra can often be observed, and on occasion, the lucky diver might find the rare, phosphorescent bijou anemones.

Whichever area you choose to dive in, the diversity of life in the Atlantic Ocean will both impress and keep you busy with the ID book post-dive.


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Lisboa, commonly known as Lisbon in English, is the capital city of Portugal. Facing the Atlantic Ocean, water defines this city both historically and culturally. Like a few other European cities, Lisbon is built on 7 hills. It’s easy-going citizens, gorgeous buildings and quaint alleyways charm the thousands of travelers who visit this city throughout the year.

Lisbon’s history began in the Middle Ages. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the country of Portugal became an empire through its pioneering role in the Age of Discovery. However, Lisbon’s position as a world power soon declined as other colonizing nations became rich off of the spice and slave trade. The decline was aided by a 1755 earthquake which killed 35,000 people, damaged 85% of the city’s structures and triggered a deadly tsunami. Portugal and Lisbon continued to decline in power until a revolution and a subsequent military coup created a dictatorship in 1926. This lasted until a 1974 revolution established a democratic government.

Today, Lisbon is a major European capital, welcoming millions of tourists every year. High season for tourism to Portugal falls between May and September. Christmas, New Year and Easter holidays can cause a rise in rates. For the best prices, plan your trip from October to April, but make sure dive shops in your destination operate during low season.

Other attractions

Lisbon is a major European capital city and as such, has plenty to entertain visitors. A highlight of any trip to the city would be a day at the castles of Sintra. Hiking to the top of any of the city’s seven hills offers magnificent vistas. The historical neighborhood of Belem hosts both the Belem Tower and Jerónimos Monastery, and the neighborhoods of Chiado, Baixa and Alfama offer an introduction to the historical side of the city and brilliant shopping to boot. Don’t miss your chance to try a Pasteis de Nata, a delicious egg pastry, or a shot of the local cherry liquor served in a chocolate shot glass. And if you get the chance, see a Fado performance, a unique Portuguese music style declared World Heritage by UNESCO.

Getting there

The main entry point to Lisbon is Lisbon Portela Airport. Flights to this port of entry originate from most other continents.

Alternatively, you could arrive to Lisbon by road or by boat from other parts of Europe.

Once you are in the region, you can move around between destinations by train, bus, taxis, trams and subways.


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Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

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