Boating holidays in Portugal

A self-drive boating holiday in Portugal is an exclusive to Nicols!

Portugal is best known for boating breaks on the Douro where it’s common to see cruise liners and river barges. What makes our holidays in Portugal special however is the clear and clean Grande Lago waterways on which you’ll cruise. Located in the Alentejo region this is the largest man-made lake in Europe.

There are no locks to negotiate and the multitude of possibilities for mooring up wherever you want on small islets mean you have complete freedom to go wherever you want whenever you want.

What’s more, our Nicols base at Amieira is open all year round meaning you can even enjoy a boating holiday in Winter and Autumn...even over Christmas and New Year!


The Grande Lago (also known as Lago Alqueva) in Portugal was created in 2002 initially as a power resource – creating electricity and providing irrigation of the Alentejo region. After the construction of the Alqueva Damn, the Guadiana River now provides a gigantic reservoir of water. Nowadays the area has become one of the most popular boating holiday destinations in Portugal.

Whether it’s boating enthusiasts or fishermen, swimmers or walkers, everyone will love the Grande Lago. All of the canal boats from the Nicols base at Amieria can be hired for a variety of durations and no previous boating experience or a licence is required.

In addition to the large expanses of water, the lake has more than 400 submerged hills that pop above the water’s surface like little islands – perfect for mooring up at and exploring like the famous Swiss Family Robinsons!


“We chose to hire a canal boat in Portugal for our boating holiday for many reasons. Not only can you enjoy good weather most of the year it is also extremely flexible as due to the Grande Lago being a lake there are no locks to negotiate. Our kids in particular enjoyed being able to swim in the clear waters, as well as taking part in various other watersports including canoeing."

Catherine – 38 years old – travelling with her family

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A waterways holiday
Ideal whatever your age or interests!

To help you choose the perfect boating holiday Nicols has identified regions, routes and boats that are best suited to particular types of crews or areas of interest that people are looking for from their holiday. We hope our ideas inspire you. Look out for our icon illustrations flagging these themes across the website.