Last Updated: 17.10.2023
With a whole of sun (up to an average of 300 sunny days a year), vast coastlines (1,800km / 1,120 mi including the islands) and so many clean (299) Blue Flag beaches, there is no doubt that Portugal is a great destination for surfers who want to spend time riding waves. Add to this year-round swell and some seriously consistent waves and you’ve got is a variety of surf hotspots in Portugal. Due to the fact that Portugal is still a bit off the tourist path, these surf spots have fewer crowds than other European surfing hotspots.
What’s the Best Season for Surfing in Portugal?
Summer waves are on average half the size or even less of those in winter so the summer months are perfect for learning to surf or progressing from beginner to intermediate surfer. Summer in Portugal is also warm and sunny practically every single day with the added bonus of cool, comfortable nights.
Winter in Portugal means fewer crowds, bigger swells. During winter the swell size is around the 6ft mark but can get to 15ft or more, making it a spot for those looking for challenging surf. This is why Portugal is attracting surfers from all over the world during the winter. It’s no mystery that local big wave enthusiasts and international big wave superstars like Garrett McNamara love winter surfing Portugal’s beaches.
Surfing Hotspots in Portugal
The Portuguese coast can be divided into 7 surfing regions from north to south:
1. Porto and the Costa Verde
Featuring Espinho and the urban break of Matosinhos, which may be the only surf spot in Portugal you can reach by metro.
2. The Costa da Prata
It extends south of Porto to the north of Ericeira surf camps and includes world-famous surf areas Nazaré, Peniche, and also Figueira da Foz.
A World Surfing Reserve; Erceira surf camps give you an 8km coast packed with great surf spots like Coxos, Cave, Ribeira d’Ilhas, and several more.
4. Lisbon and west coast
Including Cascais, Carcavelos and Sintra, surfing and sightseeing are big in this region
The Southern California of Portugal, a nice place to escape to the country, whilst also catching some waves along the Vicentine Coast Natural Park
6. The Algarve
First of all, sunny and far south of the country, popular with tourists as well as surfers; there are around 50 spots along the region’s west coast
7. The islands
Azores (mainly São Miguel and Terceira) and Madeira, home to the barrels of Paul do Mar plus the gentle waves of São Vicente
Other Surf Spots on the Portuguese Coast
We’ve already mentioned a few of Portugal’s best surf spots and breaks in the above section on Portugal’s surfing regions, but we’ve selected some of the best spots while trying to include something for everyone from beginner to expert.
1. Praia de Ribeira d’Ilhas, Ericeira
Ericeira’s best-known break, Ribeira d’Ilhas, is known for its perfect barrels and as a stop on the ASP World Tour Surf Championship. Situated just 2km from the village of Ericeira, the clean and beautiful Blue Flag beach of Praia de Ribeira d’Ilhas also benefits from ample parking, also disabled access and smaller crowds.
2. Supertubos, Peniche
Known as the perfect barrel, Supertubos or “Supertubes” is a racing tubular wave suitable for advanced surfers with experience with similar breaks. It is also the home of the Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal. Due to the spots quality and reputation, expect large crowds, especially in the summer.
3. Praia do Norte, Nazaré
The site of many world-record big wave surfing feats, Praia do Norte’s massive swell, which culminates at its reef, is the result of the Nazaré Canyon, an underwater continental fault that stretches 230km / 143mi long and 5km / 3mi deep. Though internationally famous for killer, monster waves that are only suitable for extreme daredevils, these only happen once a year. When the swell at Praia do Norte is “small” it becomes a perfect beach break, offering nice lefts and rights, but is still only suitable for experts and pros.
4. Praia de Carcavelos, Carcavelos
This massive sand-bottom beach break is probably the birthplace of Portugal’s surfing culture. Moreover, with a 1.5km stretch that is popular with Lisbonite beach-goers and hosts several local, national and international surf competitions local surfers, the left and right breaks here provide something for everyone. Conveniently located less than 30 minutes from Lisbon and close to other top regional surf spots like Estoril and Guincho, Carcavelos blends excellent waves with convenience and fun.
5. Foz do Lizandro, Ericeira
Sometimes simply called Praia do Lizandro or even “Foz”, this spot, like Ribeira d’Ilhas, is another Blue Flag beach situated very close to the village of Ericeira, which lies just 2km to the north. In contrast to its neighbor, Foz is a river-mouth break and much milder, attracting all levels of surfers, from beginners to advanced. This picturesque beach is popular with families and sunbathers as well as surfers. The long, gentle, medium-sized waves of Praia da Foz do Lizandro make it an ideal spot for surf lessons.
6. Praia de Buarcos, Figueira da Foz
A carving right-hand point break with some tubular sections, Buarcos is considered to be the longest wave in Europe. This ultra-long wave is actually formed when three or more point breaks combine. When conditions are right it can provide whopping rides of 200 meters or more. Praia de Buarcos is also suitable for all skill levels. Its rural location in central Portugal means this spot is less likely to get very busy in the water.
7. Coxos, Ericeira
Finally, another incredible wave in Portugal’s surfing capital — and there are several more in Ericeira that we haven’t included. Many think Coxos to be the best in the land of plenty. Coxos is a reef/point break recommended for expert surfers only. Since this right-hand barrel breaks directly over rocky shelves into a small bay. Beware: Coxos is tricky and powerful. In addition to having jagged rocks and sea urchins-a-plenty!
8. São Julião beach, Ericeira
Surrounded by tall cliffs, São Julião Beach is one of the more picturesque spots on the Ericeira stretch of coastline. Popular with surfers, bodyboarders and sunbathers alike, it covers a long stretch of sand that begins around 8.5 kilometers from Ericeira and extends to the south up to the council of Sintra.
On top of being a perfect place for sightseeing and for walks along the shore, the strong waves breaking on São Julião Beach create very favorable conditions for surfing, mostly at low tide.
9. Cantinho da Baia, Peniche
This spot offers the most consistent wave during the summertime. is ideal for beginners and intermediate surfers. It’s a left and right peak, starting slow but as it gets to the inside becomes faster. Works best with North West winds and North West swells. Right-hand and left-hand beach break, ideal for beginners.
10. Praia do Sul, Ericeira
Unlikely to be too crowded, even when the surf is up Praia do Sul it is a reef break located just a few kilometers south of Ericeira. It can work at any time of the year, but when the swells are bigger it can offer fat but very long and strong wave. The break can be divided into two different waves: a right point/reef break that is only suitable for experienced surfers and a mixed (sand and reef) break that is also suitable for less experienced surfers with smaller swells.
11. Praia do Guincho, Cascais
Praia Guincho is certainly one of the most consistent beach breaks in the Lisbon area. The northern part of the beach has favorable conditions for wind and kite surfers while the southern one is more suited for surfers. The beach breaks offer lefts and rights and good surf at all stages of the tide at any time of the year. When the surf is up, wedgy, powerful rights break off the cliffs at the northern end. Mid-low tide on a NW swell is better, but it gets blown out very easily. The beach has a constant breeze, which blows from the seaside in the summer months.
The beach is the location for the Portuguese National Surfing and Body Boarding Championships and has appeared on the windsurfing world championship circuit.
Praia do Guincho in Lisbon is an exposed beach break that has reliable surf and can work at any time of the year. Offshore winds are from the east. Most of the surf here comes from groundswells and the optimum swell angle is from the west northwest.
12. Praia do Amado, Lagos
Praia do Amado it is a gorgeous beach located south-east of Carrapateira in the Costa Vicentina natural park. Due to the perfect conditions for surfing with consistent waves all year round this spot, it is recognized as one of the best places for surfing in the Algarve. Thanks to the cliffs that surrounds the area, the beach is protected from the north wind particularly dominant in summer, but still catches a lot of swell.
The surf at Amado starts working from an easy-going 2-3ft waves, both left and right, making it an ideal summer destination for beginners surfers. Beginning surfers should avoid this beach during the winter because the waves can be quite dangerous reaching up to 10ft size. Also if you plan to surf there be aware that at Praia do Amado there are some serious rock formations hidden underwater that are not always visible, not even at low tide.
13. Arrifana, Costa Vicentina
Surrounded by cliffs and in close proximity to a small fishing village, Arrifana beach is a popular destination among surfers and bodyboarders. Accessible by car and on foot, it is a peaceful beach with sweet waves, perfect for beginner and intermediate surfers.
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