1. Home
  2. Tourist Guide
  3. Articles
  4. Activities
  5. Surfing in Portugal — 12 perfect locations

Surfing in Portugal — 12 perfect locations

25.09.2020
Surfer girl on big waves
© ohrim / Shutterstock
Sunny Portugal has long been famous among surfers worldwide — hundreds of perfect spots, everlastingly raging ocean, and a coastline length of about 1800 km seem to have been created to make people fall in love with this sport wholly and utterly. Newcomers, amateurs, gurus, and extreme lovers come here to conquer their best wave, to set a new world record, or to stand on the board for the first time in their lives. In Portugal, stunning beaches, surf campsites, and schools are waiting for you all year round, ready to teach everyone how to conquer the ocean. Here is a list of the best places for surfing in Portugal, which the European "capital" of waves offers.

Lagos

This town is located in the warmest part of the Portuguese mainland coast — the Algarve region. Its territory is famous for miles of stunning beaches, both deserted and well-developed. Most of them are ideal for water sports. In the warm season, surfing in Lagos will please beginners and amateurs — waves during this period are warm and relatively calm, and the weather invites to long swimming. For advanced surfers, however, it is better to conquer the ocean from October to December. There are several surfing schools and surf camps in Lagos, which offer all the necessary conditions for education and comfortable accommodation.

Beautiful Lagos bay and sailing ship at sea
Beautiful bay near Lagos town, Algarve region © Kite_rin / Shutterstock

Peniche

It is one of the most visited cities in Portugal among the fans of conquering the ocean. Its beaches are famous for their powerful waves, which attract surfers like a magnet. It is windy in the neighborhood of Peniche all year round — you can always ride on the board. The craziest waves are waiting for the surfing gurus from autumn to spring. The rest of the year is ideal for beginners. One of the most famous surf spots in Peniche is Supertubos Beach. It has got its name from the rapid waves that form the pipes. However, if you do not reach the level of a pro, it is better to ride in less extreme conditions.

Aerial view of the rocky coast of Peniche
Peniche © Iryna Horbachova / Shutterstock
Peniche with the fortress - all at peninsula with hight cliffs
Peniche with fortress © Sopotnicki / Shutterstock
Students lie on surfboards around the coach
Surfing coach instructs novice surfers © Dontsov Evgeny / Shutterstock

Ericeira

The cozy town is located on the northern coast of Portugal, an hour's drive from Lisbon. Here steep shores take turns with small sandy coves, and many resorts can envy the number of beaches suitable for surfing. These beaches include Sao Lourenco, Coxos, Ribeira de Ilhas, as well as Pedra Branca and Cave, the surfing spots in Portugal with the biggest waves. The main advantage of Ericeira is that there are suitable spots for both beginners and professionals. Also, there are quite a few surf schools and campsites in the city.

Magical landscape at sunset in Ericeira Bay
Gulf of Ericeira © Sergio Sergo / Shutterstock
Men catching waves in ocean
Professional surfer riding waves in Bali © William.Vaccaro / Shutterstock
Surfer statue on the beach of the World Surfing Reserve
Statue of a surfer in the beach of Ribeira d’Ilhas © nvphoto / Shutterstock

Cascais

This is a bustling youth center, known for its kilometers of beaches and high waves. This area hosts world championships and surfing competitions, surf camps, and schools. The best beaches for surfing include Sao Pedro do Estoril, Carcavelos, and Guincho. In addition to surfing on the coast, you can do other water sports, meet like-minded people, and have fun. Waves in Cascais can be both strong and calm. It is better to choose the period from May to September to take surfing lessons.

Ocean wave at Ginshu beach
Guincho beach © luis_mosquito_costa@yahoo.com / Shutterstock
Sea, beach and Cascais city
Cascais © Olesya Kuznetsova / Shutterstock
Surfer woman dive underwater under breaking big wave
Extreme surfing © Denis Moskvinov / Shutterstock

Nazare

Surfing in Nazare, Portugal, is a real challenge from the ocean. The city can be called the patron of the giant waves, the size of which reaches 30 meters in height. They are formed by the canyon of the same name — the largest underwater gorge, which stretches along the coast for almost 170 km. In some places, it can reach a depth of up to 5000 m. Of course, you can compete with the ocean only if you are fully confident in your professionalism. For amateurs and beginners, the waves of Nazare are usually no more than a fascinating spectacle. The most famous surf spots in Portugal include the Praia do Norte Beach, where world records were set.

Surfing big waves in Nazaré
Surfing in Nazare © tomasgehrhardt / Shutterstock
Beach Riviera with Praia da Nazare cityscape in sunny weather
Nazare town (Praia da Nazare) © Sodel Vladyslav / Shutterstock
Surfers on the shore
The guy and the girl are surfing © KIRAYONAK YULIYA / Shutterstock

Madeira

The green Portuguese island does not stand aside either when it comes to surfing. Here you will enjoy not only good waves all year round (at temperatures ranging from +18 to +22 ºC) but also stunning coastal scenery, thanks to which Madeira is often called the European Hawaii. The best spots are located in the western part of the island. Many surfers prefer to stay in Jardim do Mar and Paul do Mar. The popular destinations for advanced surfers and enthusiasts include Ribeira da Janela, and Ponta do Pargo, while beginners will find Fajã da Areia and Porto da Cruz more suitable.
View of the town of Machico and mountains at night
Town Machico in Madeira © Tatiana Popova / Shutterstock

Espinho

Surfing in Portugal is becoming more and more popular due to the places where there are all conditions for both recreation and board riding. A small resort town Espinho combines all these conditions. Another advantage is that both beginners and professionals will find suitable waves here. The main city beach is quite spacious, well-groomed, and clean, for which it often receives international awards. Lovers of big waves come here in autumn and winter, and beginners arrive in the warm season. In Espinho, there are surfing schools, board and wetsuits rentals.

Espinho rocky beach at sunset
The beach at Espinho © Miguel C F Mesquita / Shutterstock

Costa Vicentina

Costa Vicentina is one of the most picturesque and well-groomed areas of the Atlantic coast of Europe. This area is part of the Natural Park and has been extremely popular among surfers for many years. Here you can find many deserted and incredibly beautiful beaches, spots with powerful waves and strong currents, as well as places where the ocean and wind are more favorable to beginners. The most popular beaches for surfing are Arrifana and Praia do Amado. The raging waves and inaccessible cliffs attract mid-level surfers and pros. International competitions in water sports are regularly held here. The second beach is also suitable for beginners — there is a school on its territory, where you can learn the basics of board riding.

Stairs to beach Praia Monte Clerigo near Aljezur, Costa Vicentina
Monte Clerigo beach © DaLiu / Shutterstock

Sagres

The territory, which has long conquered surfers' love, has been considered the end of the earth for quite a long time. The city of Sagres is situated on a high cape, surrounded by the ocean on three sides, 330 km south of Lisbon. Within a radius of 10 km, there are more than 20 spots for board riding with waves of any level of complexity. Surfing here is possible all year round. Sagres is full of surf camps and schools, stores, and rental points for the necessary equipment. Rainy and cloudy days are rare here, so you can count on mild, warm weather almost at any time. The popular surf beaches are Mareta, Tonel, and Martinhal.

Ocean waves on Praia Do Tonel beach
View from Sagres fortress © DaLiu / Shutterstock
Surfboard monument in Sagres
Popular destination in Portugal for surf lovers © Francesco Bonino / Shutterstock

The Azores

The Azores are located in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, so they are a real paradise for surfers — there are always waves here. At the same time, the water in the ocean is very warm; a short diving suit is usually enough for swimming. The Azores offer a countless number of spacious and almost deserted beaches. What is important is that everyone can find his wave here. And as a bonus, you will find stunning scenery. Sao Miguel Island has some of the best surf spots in Portugal, as well as many good schools and camps. The most popular is the Santa Barbara Beach. The best time to surf in the Azores is in autumn and spring when the weather changes, and so do the waves.

Ocean surf on coast reefs of San Miguel island
Top view of Maia city © De Visu / Shutterstock

Figueira da Foz

The resort town of Figueira da Foz also has something to win the surfer's heart. It is the famous beach of Praia do Cabedelo, surrounded by green plants and sand dunes. You can always meet the fans of water sports here, as good waves on the beach happen regularly. In the '80s, the first World Surfing Championship was held here, organized in Portugal. Surfers of all levels usually ride on the beach, but for some gurus, the waves may seem to be not terrifying enough. However, if you surf in autumn and winter, there is no such problem. Another popular beach, Buarcos, which is famous for its longest waves in Europe (about 800 m), is 15 minutes away.

Cape Mondego road overlooking the sea and evening city
From the Cape Mondego Viewpoint © LuisCostinhaa / Shutterstock

Carcavelos

Not far from Lisbon is the Carcavelos district, popular with surfers and local youth. It is famous for its beach of the same name, which is ideal for water sports and other leisure activities. Thanks to the north wind, the waves here rage all year round, but the most regular ones are from September to May. On the beach's territory, there are several surf schools, including the very first one — Carcavelos Surf School, which has been operating since 2001 to this day. Both beginners and professionals will find here not only excellent conditions for surfing but also like-minded people — Carcavelos Surf Community is one of the oldest in Portugal.

Seascape of the Portuguese coastline in Carcavelos area
Carcavelos © Carlos Caetano / Shutterstock
Surfboards on an empty beach
One Standup Paddle surfboard and a traditional surf board © Alexandre Rotenberg / Shutterstock
Wave breaking at the Carcavelos Beach
Carcavelos Beach © Peek Creative Collective / Shutterstock