Updated: March 13, 2023
Portugal is known for its mild climate, golden sand beaches, and big waves, so it makes sense that there is a great interest in surfing in Portugal. In this article, we’ll look at ten of the best surf beaches in Portugal – what makes them so popular and why you should add them to your list of surf spots to visit.
Portugal truly is one of the best places in the world to surf. The country’s coastline stretches further than the eyes can see, offering different spots ideal for all levels of surfing experience. If you’re searching for the perfect waves this summer, consider one of these beautiful spots for surfing in Portugal.
Praia do Norte, Nazaré
Praia do Norte in Nazaré is one of Portugal’s most famous surfing beaches because of its enormous waves, and surfers from all over the world head to Nazaré to surf these fantastic waves. They are created by an underwater canyon five kilometers deep and 230 kilometers long.
This beach is so widely known because of Garret McNamara’s two world-record surfs that took place there. In 2011, McNamara broke a Guinness World Record by surfing a 23.8-meter wave in Praia do Norte. Two years later, he broke this record by surfing a 30-meter wave along the Nazaré coast. In October of that same year, Carlos Burle rode a wave believed to have been even greater than McNamara’s 30-meter one!
Once you’ve satisfied your desire to ride waves all day, head to the Miradouro do Suberco for breathtaking views of the Nazaré coastline. Why not enjoy a delicious seafood dish to replenish the energy you’ve used up surfing? A mouthwatering option is a stew called caldeirada, made using fresh fish, bell peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes and served on warm toasted bread.
Head to our article on Nazaré Real Estate for an overview of the property market there.
Peniche is one of the best towns for surfing in Portugal. Extremely popular among the international surf community, Peniche transformed Portugal into surfing’s European capital. Each year, Peniche sees thousands of surfers from across the globe flocking to its shores to compete in the ASP World Tour competitions.
Peniche is home to some amazing surf spots. The most popular surf spot for beginners is Catinho da Baia, but you’re sure to find intermediate and advanced surfers there too. It’s also considered one of the best surf spots in Portugal, offering various take-off points to choose from along its three-kilometer beach. The waves closer to the shore are better for beginners as they are smaller. Further out to sea, the waves get bigger, ideal for a more experienced surfer and those looking for a challenge.
The Supertubos beach is the most popular location for avid surfers looking for powerful waves. The Rip Curl Pro Portugal is held at this beach and puts the world’s best male and female surfers to the test.
Baleal Beach is another popular spot where the sea flows on both sides of the beach. Between this beach and Peniche, you’ll find plenty of hostels and hotels to stay, as well as a variety of holiday apartments for rent.
On Portugal’s west coast is Ericeira, a picturesque fishermen’s village in the north of Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city. Unsurprisingly, you can’t visit without trying the local fresh fish at one of the town’s marisqueiras (seafood restaurants).
Benefiting from the winds of the Atlantic Ocean, popular surf destinations in Ericeira include S. Lourenço, Coxos, Pedra Branca, and Foz do Lizandro. Surfers love this area, particularly during the off-season, when the beaches are quieter and less tourist-filled, and they can practice their surfing skills on the incredible waves.
Ericeira is also the only destination in Europe to receive the honor of being named an official World Surfing Reserve by the Save the Wave coalition. The coastline is a rich ecological area where over 1,000 marine species have been identified.
If you’re looking for a change in scenery after taking advantage of the perfect condition to practice surfing, consider heading to the town of Mafra to enjoy some pastéis de nata (traditional Portuguese custard tarts), visit Sintra for an easy romantic getaway, or head nearer to Lisbon and join the bustling excitement of the city.
If you’re looking to sizzle in the warm Portuguese sun, then Espinho is the place for you. The rough waters here make it difficult for swimmers and divers, but surfers love the challenge posed by these impressive waves. Watch from the salty waters of the seaside pool as the surfers fearlessly wade into the sea and take on some gigantic waves, then head to Espinho’s casino to unwind and enjoy your evening.
Praia de Carcavelos, Carcavelos
One of Lisbon’s most popular and most frequented beaches is Praia de Carcavelos. Its proximity to the country’s capital city means it is often crowded, so you must get there early to choose the perfect spot and enjoy the waves.
Carcavelos, with its beach breaker waves, is perfect for beginner surfers. The beach provides excellent facilities in the form of shower rooms, toilets, and volleyball and basketball courts. You can take advantage of a range of bars and restaurants in the surrounding areas to satiate your hunger at a reasonable cost.
Arrifana, Costa Vicentina
Well-known among surfers and bodyboarders, Arrifana is a stunning seaside location in the Costa Vicentina Natural Park. Surrounded by cliffs, the waves here are turbulent and violent, excellent for seasoned surfers in search of a challenge.
When you’re not surfing, take some time to explore the nearby fishing village or walk through the Natural Park and be awed by the breathtaking views of the ocean.
Praia do Cabedelo, Figueira da Foz
Sand dunes, interesting vegetation, wonderful views, and good facilities. If this sounds like the perfect surf spot for your family, you’re right! Praia do Cabedelo is a family-friendly beach on Portugal’s Silver Coast.
For those starting, or those wanting to refresh their skills, Surfing Figueira offers classes at Cabedelo Beach for surfers with all levels of experience. You’ll need sunscreen to protect you from the hot sun as, once you enter the ocean, you’ll be busy enjoying the beach’s jetty break waves. Bringing an umbrella or windbreak to help shelter you from the wind might also be a good idea.
Praia do Amado, Costa Vicentina
Praia do Amado is one of the best beaches for surfing in Portugal, thanks to three factors: Clear waters, steep beach breaker waves, and strong currents. Surf lessons are also offered at Amado Surf Camp to help you improve your skills and learn new tricks.
Visitors will enjoy riding the waves, sunbathing, and swimming in this slice of paradise. The beach is easy to access, and the parking facilities are perfect for tourists with cars or caravans.
In Portugal’s Algarve, you’ll find Sagres, a fantastic place to enjoy surfing during spring, autumn, and winter. The waves are at their biggest from October to March. While it may be a lesser-known surfing spot in Portugal, Sagres is more than just a place for surfers. The area offers a variety of activities for everyone.
Face challenging waves while surfing, go on a diving adventure to observe the area’s diverse sea life, or go on a whale- and dolphin-watching boat trip. You can even go on a tour to explore the magnificent caves and hidden beaches that make up the area’s stunning coastline.
Paúl do Mar, Madeira
Avid surfers have likely come across Ribeira das Galinhas, a secluded Madeira beach that hosted the World Surfing Championship in 2001. This beach paradise has fantastic waves and is surrounded by restaurants and bars that offer the chance to indulge in the local cuisine. Enjoy bolo do caco, a wheat flour bread with garlic butter, or poncha, an alcoholic drink made with honey and lemon juice that will refresh you after a day of surfing in Portugal.
What is the best time of year for surfing Portugal?
The best time of year for surfing in Portugal will depend greatly on the type of waves you are searching for. Portugal’s main surf season is winter, which runs from December through to February. This is because the winter season offers some of the biggest waves in Europe, ranging in size from two meters to over four meters.
Less experienced surfers, such as beginner and intermediate levels, will find that the summer months are better for surfing in Portugal. During this time, June to August, the waves are smaller and easier to manage, providing the perfect conditions to practice and improve your skills.
If you’re looking to surf, Portugal is definitely the place to find some of the best surfing beaches. There’s a perfect surfing spot for everyone, from beginners and intermediate surfers to more advanced surfers. And if you’re looking to practice or improve your skills, Portugal’s array of surf schools and surf camps are there to help you become the surfer you want to be.