Top 6 small ship cruising vacations in Spain

Our best small ship cruises from Spain take you around the Iberian Peninsula, across the Strait of Gibraltar and out into the Atlantic Ocean before bringing you back to dry land via the canals and waterways of France and the Netherlands. They also give you the chance to explore volcanic islands, fishing villages, capital cities and Moorish heritage on dry land.

Setting sail is a real adventure. You might kick back on a small sailing cruiser or help sail a tall ship down the Spanish Costas. Don’t forget that this is a vacation, so you won’t have to walk the plank if you prefer to sunbathe and soak up the sea views with a beer or two rather than splicing the main brace and staying awake for the night watch. It’s up to you how involved you get with the sailing and how much you want to learn from the experienced skipper and first mate.

Keep reading to discover our top six small ship cruising vacations from Spain.

1. Spain, Portugal & Morocco

This small ship cruising vacation from Portugal to Morocco skirts the Iberian Peninsula and crosses the Strait of Gibraltar as it opens up the shared heritage of Southern Europe and North Africa. Stopping off at ports such as Carvoeiro, Huelva, Chefchaouen and Sotogrande gives sailors a real understanding of the Iberian Peninsula and Morocco. You’ll finally anchor in Malaga after a week of explorations – a great place for celebrations.

2. La Coruna to Portugal

Sail around the Atlantic coastline of north-west Spain as you set a course south to the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon. Starting from the Spanish port city of La Coruna, famed for its Roman lighthouse the Tower of Hercules, this voyage to Portugal takes a week to complete.

Although part of the Tall Ships Race, this route is non-competitive. There’ll be time for overnight anchorages around the Spanish and Portuguese coasts, with fresh seafood dinners and plenty of salty sea dog stories to listen to as stars fill the sky above. It’s a brilliant opportunity to learn the ropes of sailing a tall ship or – when the wind is in the right direction – simply sit back and relax.

Our top selling trip: La Coruna to Lisbon tall ship vacation
All our trips: Tall ship vacations
Read more: Tall ship sailing vacations travel guide

3. Malaga to Lisbon via Tangier

Set sail from Spain to Portugal via Tangier in Morocco – a region of Southern Europe and North Africa that holds a treasure trove of medieval Moorish heritage, as well as some superb sailing opportunities. From visiting the Alhambra Palace in Granada and spending the night in Tangier to experiencing the Gothic architecture in the Andalusian capital of Seville – this leisurely small ship sailing vacation in Spain, Morocco and Portugal is a must for culture lovers.

Our top selling trip: Malaga to Lisbon small ship cruise
All our trips: Small ship cruises
Read more: Lisbon to Malaga cruising guide
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4. Northern Spain to the Netherlands

There’s a great sailing route from the Basque Country in Northern Spain that takes you all the way along the French coast via Brittany, Normandy and the Channel Islands, before skirting Belgium and finally finishing in Amsterdam. Sailing through the Bay of Biscay, English Channel and North Sea is an adventure for inexperienced sailors and gnarled sea dogs alike, and takes around 10 days to complete.
As you’ll be onboard a small tall ship, the canals of the Netherlands are at your disposal. This means you can sail all the way from the North Holland port of IJmuiden to the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam. Where better to celebrate a successful small ship cruise from Spain?

5. Canary Islands by sea & land

Santa Cruz on the island of Tenerife is an ideal anchorage for giving sailors the chance to learn the ropes before embarking on an adventure around the Canary Islands. From the volcanic shoreline of Tenerife, you’ll head to the islands of La Gomera and La Palma, where you can explore some of the best walking trails in the Canaries. Expect great food, warm ocean and star-filled nights.

Our top selling trip: Tall ship sailing vacation in the Canaries
All our trips: Sailing vacations
Read more: Canary Islands travel guide

6. France to Spain

This is your opportunity to take part in the Tall Ship Races from Dunkirk to La Coruna. You’ll get the chance to join the initial sailing regatta and parade in France, as well as the closing ceremony and end-of-race fiesta in Spain. The whole experience involves around 11 days at sea, giving you time to get to know your fellow crewmates as you learn the ropes and discover strengths you never knew you had.

Our top selling trip: Dunkirk to La Coruna tall ship race sailing vacation
All our trips: Tall ship vacations
Read more: Tall ship sailing vacations travel guide
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Michael Martinelli] [Spain, Portugal & Morocco: Louis Hansel] [N. Spain to the Netherlands: Vishwas Katti]