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Canal boat hire in Portugal: discovering the Grande Lago

For this new travel journal, we follow the adventures of Guido and his 15-year-old son during their vacation in Portugal. This week-long journey started with a night in Salamanca before boarding a Nicols Estivale Duo for a 4-night cruise on the Grande Lago towards Alqueva. This was followed by a night in Lisbon and one in Burgos before returning to France.


Heading to the Amieira Base

On Wednesday, July 20, 2023, we leave La Roche sur Yon towards the Amieira Marina in Portugal. As the outbound journey covers 1400 km by car, we booked an overnight stay for a stop in Salamanca, Spain.

With a bit of luck/fortune, we booked a very good hotel for the night through an app: Hotel Montalvo Salamanca, €53 + 2 x €10 for breakfast and 2 x €13.50 for dinner with wine and 1 non-alcoholic drink included = €100.50. We highly recommend stopping there!

Since we left early, we have enough time in the late afternoon to visit this beautiful city:

Photos de Salamanque



On July 21, we continue towards Amieira Marina, another 400 km. Before heading to the base, we go to the village of Portel where there is an Intermarché to do our shopping for 4 days. We arrive at the Nicols Amieira Marina base at 3:00 PM. We were very kindly received by Anna & Tiago, who speak Portuguese, English, and French fluently.

After a clear navigation instruction, we depart at 4:00 PM. Like all Nicols boats in Portugal, the Nicols Estivale Duo we rented is equipped with a navigation system and a depth sounder. The instructions are clear: do not deviate from the black GPS line and keep an eye on the depth gauge when near the pontoons: the lake can reach 80 meters in depth, but near the pontoons, the depth quickly decreases to 3 meters.

Sondeur bateau



For this river cruise in Portugal, we booked four nights on the boat and, following Tiago's advice, we planned our route and decided to spend the first night in Estrela, which is a 3-hour boat ride, then to Monsaraz, then one night in Mourao, and the last one at Amieira Beach (which is slightly west of Amieira Marina).


Sailing towards Estrela

We booked four nights on the boat and, following Tiago's advice, we planned our route and decided to spend the first night in Estrela, which is a 3-hour boat ride, then to Monsaraz, then one night in Mourao, and the last one at Amieira Beach (which is slightly west of Amieira Marina).

On the way to the first night in Estrela, we stopped at one of the buoys in the middle of the lake, near the reference point 'Deg 005' on the map. We moored by throwing a rope from the front of the boat around the buoy, then jumping into the water to pull the rope underwater around the chain, and only after that, we turned off the engine.
Swimming in the middle of the lake can begin. What could be more fun for a teenager than jumping from the boat into the water when it's 33°C?

After jumping 10 times from the boat, we continue towards Estrela. On the way, we pass by the impressive Alqueva Dam, which created this lake, the largest artificial lake in Europe. In the evening, we arrive at the pontoon for our first night; it's nice and quiet, and we are all alone. After the barbecue, we still have time to take a kayak ride that we also rented from the base. It is attached behind the boat, and we pull it along on the lake. With this sunset: it's fantastic!

Coucher de soleil à Estrela


Heading to Monsaraz

The next morning, we sailed to Monsaraz, about a 4-hour boat ride away. Monsaraz has a well-equipped beach with aquatic attractions for children (and adults), very neat facilities, a good restaurant, and water activities for a teenager and his father. We rented half an hour on a buoy behind a speedboat, totally awesome!

We decided to have a drink (€1.40 for 0.4L of beer, really) and ended up having dinner at a small restaurant enjoying the view. We translated the menu with our phone and ordered our dinner from the tapas menu. Very, very good.

You can walk from this beach to the village of Monsaraz, which is on the hill. When we were there, it was a bit too hot for that, but it didn't matter. The next morning, I was awakened very early by local fishermen fishing and talking on the pontoon... I think they wanted to wake me up to show me this fantastic sunrise: truly radiant.

Photos de Monsaraz

After Monsaraz, heading to Mourao

At 11 am, we took the helm again to reach Mourao, another well-equipped sandy beach with SUB rentals, canoes, and a floating object course on the water, €5 per person for 30 minutes. Plenty of free sun loungers and umbrellas for visitors and a nice bar with a small snack menu.

Plage de Mourao

Back to Amieira Marina via Amieira Beach

On the third day, we return to the base passing by the renowned Amieira Beach. After a quick stop to run a washing machine for my teenager's T-shirts at the Portel supermarket, we sail to Amieira Beach for the last night and enjoy the Amieira Beach.

Photos Amieira Beach



After four nights on the boat, we added a visit to Lisbon, which, at 185 km, is well worth it. We arrived at the Lisbon bridge just before noon. We spent the afternoon, evening, and the next morning strolling around Lisbon and taking the famous trams in the narrow streets, of course, before heading to Burgos in Spain for an overnight stay on the way back.

Photos de Lisbonne

Feel free to check our website for more information on boat rental in Portugal and to choose your license-free boat.

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