Top Surfing in Portugal
Craving some beach time on foreign waters? Portugal is a top holiday destination where you are guaranteed a good time. With a coastline of 1,794 kilometers, Portugal has some of the best beaches and surf spots. Some of these are very popular while others are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Portugal’s coastal towns have a rich heritage that is a dream to explore for any adventurer. As you plan to go surfing in Portugal, here are some recommended surfing spots you can`t afford to miss.
1. Northern Portugal Region
Porto is the second largest city in Portugal after Lisbon. The city boasts of a wealth of monumental and artistic heritage. While it’s not as built up as its Southern counterparts, it is surrounded by long beaches and green hills both in the South and North of the city. The city unfolds along the river bank and seashore to reveal charming vistas. Porto acts as a Gateway to the Northern region of Portugal. Subsequently, this is a haven for natural attractions, hiking trails, wine gardens, and religious sites.
The International beach at Porto is located next to Matosinhos Beach. It’s a great spot and perfect for visitors who feel like they have limited time to do their exploration. The Matosinhos Beach covers about one kilometer. Both of these beaches are great for less experienced surfers as the mix of reef break, beach break, and sheltered sections make for an almost always calm sea. The best time to surf here is spring and autumn. More experienced surfers enjoy the left waves that form along the rocks.
Porto is also home to certain Surf schools such as Surfaventura, Ondu Pura, and Duoro Surf School. These schools offer surfing classes for kids, beginners, and advanced surfers alike. Additionally, Porto has a variety of accommodation options tailored to surfers’ needs. There are surf lodges and hostels such as Porto Surf Lodge which offers not only accommodation and food but also a surfing schedule as well. However, these beaches are often crowded and may be boring to an experienced surfer seeking an adrenaline rush experience.
Located just 25 kilometers South of Porto is a smaller city called Esmoriz. The Barrinha beach in Esmoriz is an unsupervised sand strip that extends several kilometers. It has an exposed beach break that has unreliable waves with no particular pattern. The ideal swell direction is from the West. The beach break is suitable for left and right-handers. Visitors can use the surf forecast to plan their surfing schedule. This spot has waves of an average length of 50 to 150 meters and a swell size of less than 1 meter. However, it is a perfect alternative for surfers who like uncrowded destinations.
The Barrinha Beach is surrounded by beutiful wooden passage ways and a wooden border to protect the great dunes heritage. After catching the best waves in the morning, you can visit the northern section of Esmoriz beach which is a popular fishing spot and try your luck. Esmoriz mainly has wooden constructions that date back to the early 20th century. By exploring the area’s architecture, you will be hopping on a time machine back to the 1960s. There’s a wide variety of accommodation options in Esmoriz ranging from hotels to lounges and surf camps.
2. Ericeira Region
Picturesquely set across sedimentary rock cliffs on the blue Atlantic, Ericeira is a sunny and whitewashed popular destination for tourists seeking a quick weekend getaway. The seaside village is a surfer’s paradise and is located just 32 kilometers from Lisbon. Active vacationers enjoy a variety of watersports, mountain biking, hiking and may even try horseback riding!
The village boasts of the only World Surfing Reserve in Europe. There are also several handicraft shops and Ericeira surf shops where you can find popular brands such as Billabong and Quiksilver Boardriders club. The beaches of Ericeira namely Predre Branca, the Coxos and Ribeira d’Ilhas are famous for their perfect wave conditions.
The Coxos peels down a series of rocky shelves and outcrops into a small bay. The beach’s long fast and hollow waves make it any surfer’s paradise. The swells at this spot are unique as they unload out of the deep water. It handles big waves when swells are clean and from the North West. The swell is consistent throughout the year except for the period between June and August.
The Ribeira D’Ilhas surf spot is set in a valley between high cliffs just North of Ericeira. The lovely sandy beach is complete with a river, nooks, and crannies which make it a perfect destination for a kid’s holiday. The spot has waves that work at any time of the year. It receives a mix of groundswell and winds well.
Ribeira Dilhas offers good surf at all stages of the tide. However, surfers have to be cautious of rocks in the line-up.
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Praia do Norte
The Praia do Norte in Ericeira is an exposed beach break that has very consistent waves and works all around the year. Offshore winds blow from the east. The best swell direction is from the northwest. Works best arround high tide. The wide range of accommodation in Ericeira includes holiday homes, short term rental apartments, and surf camps.
credits to: Ericeira Surfguide
3. Lisbon Region
Lisbon stands out as a mix of Art, History and urban lifestyle that sits in the middle of a classic wave zone. The West Coast of Costa Caparica offers consistent beach break while the Estoril coast offers shelter from booming North Western swells and winds.
Lisbon has mild winter conditions, making it a superb year round surf zone. The swells range from 3 meters in winter to 2 meters in the summer, and they decrease in size to the south. The winter swells are perfect for experienced surfers seeking a challenge. Our recommended surf spots in this area are Praia de Carcavelos and Praia das Bicas.
Praia de Carcavelos
Praia de Carcavelos has one of the best beach breaks in Portugal. It experiences swells of up to 8 feet and boasts of multiple peaks at both sides along the large beach. All its peaks are hollow while others have shallow shifting sand bars. The surfing experience here is at its best on a South West swell when power intensifies, and the occasional right appears.
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Praia das Bicas
Praia das Bicas is an exposed reef break which is usually flat during the summer. It is a left-hand reef which is sometimes crowded during mid-tide. Waves form from local and distant wind swells. Surfers here have to keep an eye out for urchins, rips, and rocks. Lisbon boasts of a wide variety of accommodation options with a breathtaking view and a wide variety of Portuguese cuisine that any visitor is bound to enjoy.
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4. Alentejo Region
Alentejo is a geographical, historical and cultural region located between the center of Portugal and the south region of Algarve. This region of Portugal remains relatively undeveloped, making it perfect for
adventurers who wish to have a quiet holiday. The little known surf spots, empty breaks, and idyllic beaches make it a perfect getaway for a water sport-loving introvert.
The northern half of the Alentejo sand strip is relatively unexciting, but after the Industrial Sines City, the bays, reefs, and swells start. The swells are however smaller than those witnessed in Northern Portugal. Though it is an all-year-round destination, the best swells occur from autumn to spring.
The Sao Torpes is a friendly and versatile beach spot. The northern part has some swell shelter and is well protected from the Northern winds. The beach peaks get bigger as you move further to the south. The first rocks and coves at the south give the swells some variety, making the spot perfect for any surfer regardless of their level.
Credits: Nuno Santos great Surf Photography, Follow him!!
5. Algarve Region
The Algarve, also known as the Golden Coast is the southernmost region of Portugal. This region is considered the overall biggest and most important tourist region in Portugal. It boasts of a superb coastline as well as Portugal`s loveliest beaches,
Algarve enjoys hot, dry summers and short, mild winters. Its conducive sea temperatures and gentle winds only complement its allure.
Other than coastal resorts and tourist amenities, the town has some of the country’s best golf courses. These amenities make the town a perfect destination for a sports enthusiast or simply an adventurer seeking to learn something new. Algarve has several
beaches, which include; the Manta Rota beach, the Island of Cabanas beach, the Island of Armona Beach, Quarteira Beach, Marinha beach, Rocha beach, Tonel beach, Bordeira beach, and Odeceixe beach.
Credits to Paula, Follow her!!
The Marinha beach has won several awards and is often featured in many guidebooks. The beach has amazing yellowish limestone cliffs, golden sands, and crystal clear blue water which look exotic and almost unreal. For those more interested in taking a surfing trip, Odeceixe, Carrapateira, Cordama, and Albufeira are the beaches for you.
The beach break at Odeceixe is described as consistent and empty but quite mediocre. The breaks occur at lower stages of the tide, and the sandbars constantly move thanks to the river outflow. The sandbanks and favorable waves in the white waters make it safe and comfortable to surf, especially for learners. The best swells occur at around 11 AM and 4 PM. Surf schools on the beach take advantage of the untouched valley surrounded by native cork oak trees to give their learners a one on one encounter with nature.
Credits to: A.Wanke
Carrapateira is a spread out village with a copper-colored coast and ash-grey cliffs backing wide creamy sands. The beach comprises of an exposed river break that has a strong swell and fairly consistent surf that works throughout the year. The surf is best in offshore winds blowing from the southeast.
Waves at the river break both right and left. The quality of the surf is often not affected by the tide. This spot is often uncrowded even when the waves are at their best. If you are visiting this spot for the first time, you should watch out for rocks though.
Praia da Cordoama
Praia da Cordoama is by far the longest beach in Algarve. Much like its neighboring beaches, this surf spot is known to pick the big Atlantic swells that roll here throughout the year. During the low tide, this beach joins together with neighboring Castelejo and Barriga to form one huge sandy beach. The spot has small summer swells in glassy conditions which provide plenty of breaks. However, these breaks are mostly destroyed by the Northern winds except in the summer when these winds have little to no effect.
Credits to: Froschgrün
The best surfing conditions are Northwestern and Western swell of 2 to 3 feet which last for periods of about 10 seconds. Like most of the coastline, the optimal wind direction is East, East South East, and East North East. On a negative note, the water here is often cold, even in the summer where it goes up to 18 oC only. You should watch out as the tide and sand hides a few rocks along the beach.
Albufeira is described as the biggest, liveliest, and most energetic of all resort towns along the Algarve coastline. The town has an extensive range of attractions, activities, and hotels which make it a perfect vacation destination for families and couples. Albufeira has a coastline dimpled with caves that are only approachable by water. Water sport lovers undertake canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding expeditions in these caves.
The wave quality here is sloppy which makes it perfect for beginners. The break is rare as it occurs only five days a year. The wave breaks right and left. In late summer, you can catch a good three-foot wave if you paddle 100 meters left-hand-side. The only downer here is that there are sharp rocks two meters below the surface, making it dangerous for surfers.
Credits to: Surfalgarve (Surf & Yoga camp)
Successfully surfing on this spot without injury is an additional challenge to overcome for an experienced surfer.
Albufeira is equally popular for its nightlife as it has a plethora of bars and clubs. Hence, it is a perfect destination for you and your friends to go and unwind.
Portugal is a cheap yet adventure filled holiday destination. You can book your surf holiday along the Portuguese coast to spend time on the Atlantic waters and explore the cliffs, forests, and small towns in the area. It is critical to attend a surf camp to improve your technique even as you explore this region. The restaurants in most of these regions accommodate all palates. Whether you want to try out Portuguese cuisine or you want to eat some good old pizza for the entire holiday, your needs will be sorted!
If you are looking for surfcamps try our listing of surfcamps in Portugal !