How Long Did It Take to Sail From Portugal to India?

The journey from Portugal to India was one of the most significant voyages in history. It marked the beginning of European exploration and trade with the East, leading to an era of globalization and cultural exchange.

But just how long did it take for these intrepid sailors to reach their destination? Let’s dive into the details.

The Age of Exploration

The 15th and 16th centuries were a time of great maritime exploration for European powers. Led by Portugal, Spain, and other nations, these voyages sought to find new trade routes to Asia, bypassing the Arab middlemen who controlled overland routes. Portugal, under the leadership of Prince Henry the Navigator, made significant advancements in navigation technology and shipbuilding.

Vasco da Gama’s Historic Voyage

In 1497, Vasco da Gama set sail from Lisbon with a fleet of four ships, aiming to reach India by sea. His expedition was equipped with advanced navigational tools such as astrolabes and quadrant instruments. After months of sailing along the western coast of Africa, da Gama’s fleet reached the southern tip known as the Cape of Good Hope.

From there, they turned eastward into the Indian Ocean. The voyage became even more challenging as they had to face treacherous storms, unpredictable currents, and unfamiliar waters.

The Lengthy Journey

It took Vasco da Gama approximately nine months to complete his journey from Portugal to India. This duration accounts for the stops made along the way for restocking supplies and repairing ships.

  • May 1498: Da Gama arrived in Calicut (now Kozhikode), a major trading port on India’s southwestern coast.
  • August 1498: After establishing trade relations with the local ruler, da Gama set sail back to Portugal.
  • September 1499: The fleet returned to Lisbon, marking the end of this historic voyage.

This journey was a game-changer in terms of European trade with India. It opened up a direct sea route that would later be utilized by other European powers and established Portugal as a major player in global trade.


In summary, it took Vasco da Gama around nine months to sail from Portugal to India. This expedition not only revolutionized trade but also paved the way for further exploration and colonization.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Age of Exploration or other fascinating historical events, stay tuned for more informative articles!

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Michael Allen