12 Amazing Things you can’t miss in Ericeira: a top surfing destination with relaxed vibes
Last Updated: 21 June 2020
Planning on visiting Ericeira? See below for the best things that you can’t miss out on seeing and doing in this beautiful town.
Ericeira is Portugal’s surfing mecca. It’s home to a vibrant and creative local surf scene, a mix of death-defying and playful breaks plus an atmosphere that will suck you in an spit you out sporting sun-bleached hair, salty skin and all the other hallmarks of the surf obsessed.
In addition, the conditions and the coastline allow one to surf whenever there is swell. While the town itself has transformed into a top-rated tourist destination without having to surrender its relaxed vibe or fisherman’s village charm. The best thing about Ericeira though? It’s where you’ll find Rapture’s surf camp in Portugal.
Guests lodging with us have the opportunity to learn to surf in an enviable location and experience the awesomeness of this area first hand.
With its proximity to Lisbon, Mafra, and Sintra, Ericeira is a great base for exploring some of the region’s most spectacular spots. Just wander around the cobbled streets of this Portuguese fishing village and check out the beautiful rustic houses and old churches. Natural scenery also abounds, with stunning views of spectacular cliffs and beaches that will take your breath away.
In this guide, we shine a light on the best things you can do and see in Ericeira: from day trips to an extraordinary palace in Mafra to simply soaking up the sun on any one of the town’s many beaches. This article is your key to unlocking all this beautiful Portuguese town has to offer.
1# Explore the World Surfing Reserve
Beginning in 2009 by the Save the Waves Coalition, World Surfing Reserves is a program that’s designed to foster, protect and preserve global surf habitats around the world. Currently, there are 11 World Surfing Reserves, with Ericeira established as the very first European reserve back in 2011.
Chosen for its high density of quality surf breaks and unique environment, Ericeira’s World Surfing Reserve covers a 4 kilometer stretch of coastline and 7 separate surf zones. It also includes waves such as the famous Coxos and the dreamy Ribeira d’Ilhas in addition to many other equally as notable spots.
Checking out the many cliffs, small bays and surf breaks that fall within the reserve is a must for everyone taking lessons in our surf school in Portugal.
2# Visit the charming Sintra
Sintra, a charming Portuguese town situated within the hills of the Serra de Sintra, offers for sure an enjoyable day trip, as it has a lot to offer visitors: The Palácio Nacional da Pena, The Palácio Nacional de Sintra, The Quinta da Regaleira and The Castelo dos Mouros are only some of the attractions this town has to offer.
The variety of fascinating historic buildings and beautiful natural scenery in the area make this wonderful town an outstanding tourist destination for visitors of all ages. For more info about Sintra and the surrounding Serra you can check this indipendent guide to plan your trip there.
3# Sample some of the freshest seafood in Europe
Portugal’s cuisine is heavily influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. This means that many of the best restaurants in Ericeira are seafood restaurants where you can try grilled sardines, octopus salad or any one of the hundreds of dishes that feature cod (or bacalhau in Portuguese).
There are also fish markets to lose yourself in and local festivals to attend that celebrate Ericeira’s heritage as a fishing village. If you’re wondering why the seafood tastes so fresh, chances are it’s because your meal has only just been plucked from the ocean that morning. Hot tip from the team at our surf camp in Portugal… keep an eye out for daily seafood specials down by the harbor.
4# Skate directly next to the ocean
There aren’t many things that compare to the feeling of surfing, although skateboarding is about as close as you’ll get while on dry ground. If you consider yourself a skateboarder, you’ll be pleased to know that Ericeira boasts one of the most picturesque skateparks in the world.
Located in downtown Ericeira only a block from the ocean is Boardriders Ericeira, a Quiksilver brand store with a bar, terrace, and an expansive concrete skatepark that’s open to all ages and skill levels. This spot provides a great place for those who want to try their luck at riding concrete instead of waves and from here you can check what the waves are doing across the road at Matadouro and even take in the sunset. And while it might get busy when the swell disappears, it can be super fun to watch the locals shred the bowl and the rails.
5# Check out an extravagant Portuguese palace at Mafra
Between the excitement that comes with learning to surf and all the other awesome things there is to do in Ericeira, you may need a day to kick back and cruise. If or when that day comes, the team at our surf camp in Portugal recommends checking out the stunning little town of Mafra.
Mafra is just over 10km/6mi from Ericeira village so it’s only a short journey and therefore shouldn’t be missed. The A21 national highway connects Ericeira right to Mafra. If you’re driving, be advised that there are tolls. There are also bus services, such as Mafrense.
Mafra National Palace (Palácio de Mafra) is the towns main site of interest. and tourists in Portugal travel from near and far to marvel at the Palace’s stunning architecture. The convent itself is also famed for its magnificent Baroque architecture and staggeringly beautiful basilica, replete with a complex carillon, which is a large mechanized musical instrument that plays church bells.
Mafra’s splendor is a testament to the incredible amount of wealth that resulted from Portugal’s colonization of Brazil as well as the autocratic rule of D. João V. Only a powerful, rich monarch could erect such a splendid, sumptuous structure as the Mafra National Palace in so little time – 13 years.
Once used as a secondary residence for the Portuguese royal family, the National Palace is a vast tract of land that includes a massive monastery and a decorative basilica in addition to a library that’s estimated to house over 36,000 ancient texts. Before you ask, no, there’s aren’t any surf magazines within their library… we’ve already checked.
6# Enjoy the nightlife like a local
When the sun sets and the stars begin to shine, locals and tourists alike can easily find a place to swap surf stories over a couple of refreshing libations. As the night wears on the streets will become filled with people from all walks of life. Young and old can join in on the revelry and live music performances and films aren’t unheard of.
The ambiance is relaxing, welcoming, and full of energy. With small bars for those seeking something intimate and nightclubs that pump party music until the wee hours of the morning. Drinks are inexpensive, conversations are easy to whip up and you’ll fall in love with the fantastic selection of cocktails that some of the trendier bars serve up.
7# Try stand up paddleboarding on Rio Lizandro
If the waves are flat and you forgot to pack your skateboard, you can still get your boardsports fix by paddleboarding the Lizandro River that meets the ocean directly in front of our surf camp in Portugal. Local vendors offer packages to tourists visiting the town and it’s one of the more scenic ways for you to drink in the exceptional landscape.
Peaceful, beautiful, and perfect for those down days between learn to surf sessions, stand up paddleboarding is easy to pick up even if you’ve never tried it before. You can also arrange paddleboarding tours of the World Surfing Reserve and the harbor via reputable local companies.
8# Taste one of the rarest wine varieties in the world
20 minutes southeast of our surf camp in Portugal is Cheleiros village; a small cluster of residential homes surrounded by rolling hills and ancient vines growing a rare variety of grape called Jampal.
Rescued from extinction by a Brazilian ex-footballer by the name of André Manz, Jampal grapes make wines that are full-bodied with citrus and floral aromas. With only a few thousand bottles of Jampal wine made every year.
Jampal wines can be tasted as part of a larger wine tour that covers both the Cheleiros and Bucelas localities. It’s a guaranteed good time that offers insight into regional winemaking techniques, the history of the area, and the many interesting personalities found within it.
9# Grab a bike and cruise Ericeira’s streets
We make your experience everything you hoped it would be and more at our surf camp in Portugal. One of the ways we do this is by providing you with a host of little add-ons to enrich your visit, such well-maintained bikes that can be used when you feel the need for speed on two wheels.
With a bike, you can cruise around Ericeira’s streets or along the clifftops for a more scenic route. You can also use them to check what the waves are doing at some of the nearby beaches like a true local. Simply talk to our friendly staff if you’d like to borrow a bike and we’ll sort one out for you lickity split.
10# Go for Art and Exhibitions
Have a look at exhibits, workshops, and ecology at Skeleton Sea environmental art center in Santo Isidoro between Ericeira and Ribamar.
Ericeira World Surfing Reserve Interpretative Center: a great interactive exhibit of the geological features and weather patterns even if you are not surfing those waves.
11# Take some time out at a local beach
Wine tours, partying, surf lessons on the regular and all that skateboarding can really take it out of you. When it’s time to actually press pause on your adventure and soak up the surroundings, we suggest heading down to Lizandro beach with your towel, a good book and plenty of sunscreen. Once there you can easily find a patch of sand to claim as your own and really drink in your experience thus far.
Too often we have people saying their stay at our surf camp in Portugal went way too quickly. If you want to ensure it doesn’t end up as just one big saltwater/seafood/cocktail blur, you need to take time out to absorb the moment. And it nearly goes without saying that we’ll still be here waiting for you with a surfboard or a cold beverage once you’re ready to return.
12# Hit the waves and learn to surf with Rapture
We can’t finish this article without talking about the number one reason why people stay at our surf camp in Portugal and visit Ericeira – to catch some epic waves surrounded by good friends in a beautiful location. Seriously, you couldn’t fabricate a better place to learn to surf than in this charming seaside town.
With just about everything you need at your disposal, including wetsuits, surfboards, leashes and wax. In addition to decades of local knowledge to ensure you’re always in the right place at the right time. Our Foz do Lizandro surf camp is ground zero for good times and unforgettable surfing experiences.
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