Beyond the beaches, the golf and the pasta del nata, Portugal’s best offering is perhaps shaped by the wind and water – the world beating waves for all year round surfing. Indeed, the surf in Portugal is as good as it gets and attracts some of the planet’s best. It’s a 365 days a year activity in Portugal, with a diverse and natural coastline, exceptional climate, and pristine water offering waves of every kind for everyone – be it a beginner or a professional. So, with the help of the Official Tourism Board for Portugal, here are 5 IDEAL places to surf in Portugal
Peniche and the sea are inseparable. It’s one of the largest traditional fishing ports in Portugal and a major Atlantic hub for maritime-tourist activities. The town is the home of Supertubos – arguably Portugal’s most famous wave. The “Supertubos” (super tubes) beach is known for its large tubular waves and is a perfect spot for experienced surfers. If you’re a beginner, the Cantinho da Baia beach is a better bet. Before heading to the beach, your visit to Peniche should include a walk through the historic centre. Besides the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios Sanctuary, the São Pedro and Misericórdia Churches, the Peniche Fort is a must-see.
Originally known as a quaint fishing and seaside community, Ericeira is still very much untouched by major tourism. It holds a quintessentially Portuguese allure, catering mostly to locals and avid surfers, providing an excellent value for money and a lovely place to visit all year round – sitting just 50 minutes away by car from Lisbon.
World famous for its diversity of waves, Ericeira is one of Portugal’s most popular surfing locations, with an array of beaches capable of hosting those of varying skill levels. It’s ideal for seasoned and novice surfers and paired with its cultural charm, it’s a great destination for families. For the seasoned surfers, Ribeira d’Ilhas is an excellent choice with easily accessible facilities and has hosted several rounds of the ASP surfing World Tour championships.
If you’re taking a more family-oriented approach, Praia do Sul is an excellent option and is just 6 minutes from Ericeira by car. A more developed beach with gentle waves makes it a lovely option for those with little ones. Despite being known for its pristine coastline by day, Ericeira offers incredible nightlife, too, with trendy lounges, fabulous bars and excellent cuisine.
Golden coastlines galore, Nazaré is one of the most popular seaside resorts in Portugal, and just one and a half hours drive from Lisbon. Steeped in tradition, this historic seaside town has reinvented itself to support the growing tourism industry but not at the expense of its heritage. Adorned with cobbled streets and converted fisherman’s houses, Nazaré is both wonderfully accommodating and uniquely charming. But you’re here to the waves, right? Globally renowned as a go-to destination for big waves caused by a large underwater canyon, it offers ideal conditions for all levels of surfers. The canyon region is strictly reserved for top pros attempting a world record, though.
The beach also offers excellent spots for spectators. The ideal time to see or surf big waves at Nazaré is between the months of October and March while the summer months are ideal for novice and semi-professional wave seekers. For those who are looking for a more relaxed experience, São Martinho do Porto provides much calmer waters and sits just 20 minutes from Nazaré, with the aptly named “Praia das Crianças” (children’s’ beach) perfect for families.
Once the go-to retreat for Portugal’s upper classes, Cascais is now revered for its surfing prowess. Playing host to a variety of cultural spectacles including luxurious buildings, a bustling centre and quaint museums, Cascais makes a perfect choice for anyone wishing to enjoy both an active and cultured visit.
Located on the south coast is a fantastic 2km stretch of variating coastline that welcomes surfers of all levels and abilities, with the waves best between the months of May to September. Less than 30 minutes away, the nearby town of Carcavelos and its beachside (Praia de Carcavelos) has seen it become a local hub for wave-chasing tourists.
Praia do Guincho is another popular Atlantic beach located about 5kms from Cascais city centre and offers intense surfing waves and ideal conditions for kitesurfing or windsurfing. With dramatic scenery, the beach is perfect for those who seek nature’s raw untamed power. It takes less than 50 minutes to drive down from Lisbon and can serve as simply a day trip if the mood takes you to leave the city.
ALGARVE (SAGRES AND LAGOS)
Surrounded by idyllic scenery, the Algarve has put itself firmly on the map as Portugal’s flagship tourist destination. Its ability to cater to a variety of visitor tastes and whims makes it a perfect location for any activity.
If you’re just starting out or want a surfing experience for the whole family, one location worth noting is Lagos. With a host of tourist activities available, this quaint seafaring town is just one hour from Faro and provides ample opportunity for families with surfing schools on offer during the day and lively local venues for the evening.
For those who are looking for a pure surfing trip, Sagres, on the western tip of Portugal, is your best bet. This historic town is the perfect place for anyone who really wants to pit themselves against the elements. The coastline and waves of Sagres are much livelier, which has seen it become a highly popular destination for surfers. Praia do Tonel, Praia da Mareta, Praia da Baleeira and Praia do Martinhal are wonderful beaches within a walking distance from central Sagres with glorious sand and waves.