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Diving in Portugal

With 8 protected marine areas, 12 islands and over 1200 km of coastline on the diverse Atlantic ocean, Portugal is ideal for all experience levels making it the ultimate European diving destination.

Diving in Portugal

Quick facts

Portugal is possibly the most diverse diving destination in Europe. With a long Atlantic coastline, diving takes place at locations around the country including Porto, Aveiro, Peniche, Lisbon, Sines, Sagres, Lagos and Faro. In addition to the mainland, divers flock to the Portuguese islands which include Madeira and the Azores, located on the division between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

Wreck enthusiasts will delight in Portugal’s variety of sunken ships and submarines from its long maritime history. The Ocean, which was sunk in 1759 during a battle between France and England, can be seen in Lagos along with four battleships recently sunk for the enjoyment of divers. A sunken WWII German U-boat near Porto and a downed B 24 bombardier in Faro provide those interested in World War with fascinating dive sites rarely seen elsewhere.

In addition to this historical encyclopedia of wrecks, many marine reserves and parks provide plentiful habitat for a variety of fish life and corals. Open ocean dives near Madeira and the Azores are sure to entertain pelagic lovers. Interestingly, the Azores is one of the only places in the world to dive over a live volcano.

While you may not visit Portugal 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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Where to dive

  • The Azores

    A hidden gem that has been referred to as "the last hidden treasure of Europe", the Azores holds spectacular underwater landscape and nutrient rich water which acts as a passing refuge for marine s...

  • Lisboa

    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.

USD 2,640Per trip

What to see

Divers in Portugal can expect everything from pelagic species interactions found only in the open ocean to smaller marine life sightings found in the country’s protected marine reserves.

Larger species commonly seen in Portugal include whale sharks, manta rays, devil rays, dolphins, whales, barracuda, tuna, goliath grouper, sunfish, and, on occasion, hammerhead sharks.

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.

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

Calendar

For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

Portugal occupies the western side of the Iberian Peninsula in southern Europe. Spain surrounds the country to the north and east while the Atlantic Ocean provides over 1200 kilometers of coastline to Portugal’s west and south. The climate is mild throughout the year. The rainy months are November and December while the time of year with the lowest rainfall is from April to September. Air temperatures range from 54-74°F (12-24℃). Diving is available year-round, but water temperatures may necessitate a semi-dry suit in the winter. These water temperatures ranges from 55-75°F (13-24℃).

Portugal’s history began in the Middle Ages. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the country became an empire through its pioneering role in the Age of Discovery. However, Portugal’s position as a world power soon declined as other colonizing nations became rich off of the spice and slave trade. Portugal 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, Portugal is a major European destination, welcoming millions of tourists every year.

Portugal is host to nearly 100 dive sites which are located up and down its 1200 kilometers of Atlantic coastline and around its islands. You can expect to see historical wrecks, colorful marine reserves, underwater caves, open ocean and active volcanoes while diving in the country. Full service dive shops and accommodation are easy to find. Budget friendly accommodation may be hard to locate, but a wide range of mid-range to high-end hotels are available.

Diving is possible year-round due to the mild climate, although the equipment needed may change from season to season. Check monthly averages to determine if a 5mm wetsuit will work for you or if you need to bring a semi-dry suit. High season for tourism to Portugal falls between May and September. Christmas, New Year and Easter holidays can also force rates to rise. 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

It’s safe to say that you won’t visit Portugal for the diving alone. There are so many other things to see and do in this great European destination. In the south, you can take a few days to relax on perfect beaches. Sea kayaking and surfing are also popular activities in the area. Lisbon delights visitors with its old-world charm and historical surrounds. Explore the ancient castles of Sintra, climb one of the seven hills or listen to the sad tones of fado. Porto is home to the country’s famous port wines. Here you can visit the port caves or venture further east to the vineyards. If you happen to be here in the fall, be sure to take a day to participate in the grape stomping festival. Finally, if you happen to find yourself on one of the 12 islands, you will have a variety of cultural and natural activities to fill your time between dives. Take some time to hike in the natural surrounds, bathe in natural springs or ride traditional sleds down steep hills. Wherever you visit in Portugal, the perfect combination of diving and above-the-water activities is sure to create a memorable vacation.

Getting there

The two main entry points into Portugal are Lisbon Portela Airport and Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport in Porto. Flights to both of these ports of entry originate from most other continents. You might also fly into João Paulo II Airport in Ponta Delgada, the Azores or Faro Airport in Algarve. These airports serve Europe and North America with limited international flights.

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

Once you are in the country, you can move around between destinations by train, domestic flight or bus. Taxis, trams and subways are available for local transportation.

UTC Z

Time zone

EUR

Currency

+351

Calling code

230 V

Electric volt

C, 

F

Plug type

LIS

Main airport
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.