Surfing in Portugal
Portugal is one of the most popular surf destinations in Europe. Because of its favourable position nestled right against the Atlantic Ocean on the Iberian Peninsula, the country receives constant swells all over the year. Despite the small size, Portugal has a large amount of surf spots suitable for any kind of surfer. If you are looking for fun world class waves you can come to Portugal during the winter and explore the surf reserve located in Ericeira with 9 amazing surf beaches. The country is also known for having the biggest waves on the planet, so if you are an adrenaline junkie in chase of massive waves, Portugal has what you need. But if huge and scary waves are not your thing you can visit the Algarve during the summer and ride mellow waves in the warm weather while you enjoy the beauties of the Alentejo National Park. Speaking of national parks, Portugal is known for being extremely concerned with its nature. The country has enviable water conditions, and its beaches are specially cared for. Another famous highlight of the country is the food. Portugal is known for having an extremely tasty cuisine full of seafood dishes with mediterranean influence. Overall when it comes to surf and holidays it’s hard to argue a case against Portugal.
Climate in Portugal
Portugal has a Mediterranean-Oceanic climate, and can enjoy up to 3200 hours of sunshine a year (an average of 12 hours of sun per day in summer). It is one of the warmest countries in Europe, so don’t forget to pack your zinc and sunscreen.
Most of the time you are surfing in Portugal you will need a full wetsuit. The sea temperature on the west coast varies from 12–15 °C in winter to 18–22 °C in summer, while on the south coast it ranges from 15 °C in winter to 23°C and higher in summer.
Portugal has waves throughout the year but the best time to surf is during autumn and winter. The coast receives swells from Atlantic storms, which create the best and biggest waves you can ride in the country.
The best season to surf in Portugal for beginners and complete novices is summer. Swells are still consistent producing small friendly waves.
Best surf spots in Portugal
Portugal is known for having all kinds of waves. From nice beach breaks for beginners to the biggest waves the world has ever seen. The major surfing regions in Portugal are Porto, Beira, Peniche, Ericeira, Lisbon, Alentejo and Algarve. There are also the island regions of the Azores and Madeira. Some of the best surf spots are Praia de Vale Figueiras, Coxos, Supertubos, Carcavelos, Foz do Lizandro (perfect for beginners) and Praia de Norte in Nazare (reserved for the best of the best only).
Check surf pictures of Portugal at #surfportugal.
Main Surfing areas in Portugal
Minho and Douro
The northernmost regions of Portugal are often rainy, and the water can get polluted near cities like Porto. In winter the water temps are between 12-18°C), so you’ll need a 4/3 or 5/4 wetsuit. The good news is that the swells are consistent, and it’s not crowded. Plus, the north winds aren’t too bad. Overall, the best time for surfing in this area is late spring and autumn.
Some of the best surfing spots include Afife (a high-quality beach break often compared to Supertubos); Cabedelo (a great windsurfing spot located near Viana do Castelo), and Leça da Palmeira (one of the most important breaks around). Beginners can try Azurara, an average beach break with consistent peaks and decent wind protection.
> See surf accommodations in the Minho and Douro areas.
The Beira Litoral
This region has been gaining popularity as a quality destination for many intrepid surfers, thanks mainly to Nazaré and its world-record waves, as well as Figueira da Foz. Water temperatures range from 12 to 18C, so thick wetsuits are a must in winter. Summer might be a good option here if winter gets too crazy for your abilities.
Some of the best known surf spots are Figueira do Foz, Miramar, Praia da Barra and Praia da Tocha. There’s also Buarcos (a powerful right-hand point break recommended for experienced riders) and Cabedelo (a breakwater that produces lefts and rights, quite good for beginners in summer).
> Check out the great surf camps in the Beira region now.
Probably the best surfing area in Portugal, Peniche is located on the western central coast. The region works great on different wind directions, swell sizes and tides, and best of all it's almost always offshore. The north end is exposed to swells most of the year, and the south is sheltered from wind. Mild summers and calm winters make it a top-notch surf holiday destination, as there’s waves for everyone in any season.
For pro/expert riders, Supertubos is a top-rated sandbar break that barrels right and left. For beginners, there are many spots, but Baleal is a good start. Many surf camps and schools are based in the area thanks to the fantastic summer conditions.
> See surf camps and schools in the Peniche area now.
On the southwestern central coast of Portugal lies a true surf mecca. Ericeira is a world surf reserve with exceptional conditions making it one of the most popular surf destinations in Portugal. There’s an insane variety of waves located just a few kilometers away from each other. The beach brakes are a great option in summer for beginner and intermediate surfers, but the point and reef breaks in winter produce the best waves overall.
Some of the best known surf spots are Ericeira, Ribeira D'ilhas, Sao Juliao, Sao Lourenco and Cave. Foz do Lizandro is a great spot for beginners, as it has a variety of waves that break on sand and work best at medium tides.
For advanced surfers, there’s world-class Coxos, a right-hand point break that can produce long barrels.
>Read more in the Ericeira surf guide.
The westernmost point of continental Europe is often overlooked by surfers because of its polluted waters and crowds, but it can actually produce pretty good waves. It has a large and consistent swell window and a good mix of breaks. The pleasant Mediterranean climate has mild, rainy winters (when the best waves arise) and warm to hot summers (when the waves are milder and user-friendly).
Some of the best-known surf sports in the area are Carcavelos, G-Point, Costa da Caparica, Lagoa de Albufeira and São Pedro. Advanced and intermediate surfers should try Poca, a good reef break that holds nicely on very large swells.
> Read more about this region in the Lisboa surf guide.
Surf in Alentejo
This south/central and southern part of Portugal is rural and calm. It is much less crowded than the popular areas up north, and not as developed for tourists. The best surf conditions are found from autumn through spring. There’s a good variety of breaks and good swell consistency, and it’s also cheaper than the rest of the country.
Some of the best spots here Baia (a right-hander that breaks on a sharp reef/rock bottom and that is for experienced surfers only), Almograve (a left and right reef break suited for all surfers), Canal (a right and left point break for all levels), and Malhao (a good beach for all levels depending on where you enter).
> Read more about this area in the Alentejo surf guide.
The southernmost region of continental Portugal, the Algarve may not have the best waves in the country, but it definitely has its appeal. This is one of the warmest parts of Portugal, where days are long even in winter, when the rest of Europe is freezing. While the west coast often gets too big, the southern sheltered coast offers a good alternative with smaller waves. The windy conditions make it a good place for windsurfers too.
Carriagem is a challenging reef break that gets very big with the winter swells, Lage do Pescador is a professional-level left-hander, Bordeira is a nice sand bar with a good variety of conditions for all levels of surfers, and others breaks include Arrifana, Beliche, and Praia de Faro.
Read more about surfing in the Algarve in this surf guide.
Azores + Madeira
Portugal’s distant archipelago is a lesser-known area for surf, but a good one nonetheless. it has recently gained in popularity thanks to its beautiful and laid-back setting. Natural coral formations fill the waters, so the area is full of reefs and point breaks. This is a very good tourist location for a surf holiday, with a mild climate all year despite its northerly position. Daytime temperatures normally range between 16°C and 25°C, while water temps range from 17°C to 22°C
Book accommodation in the Azores here.
What Is Your Traveling Style?
Luxury Surf Accommodations in Portugal
Portugal is a superb choice if you want to enjoy quality surf camps and high-end accommodations at affordable prices. You will often find rooms or full homes with comfort amenities like air conditioning, flat-screen televisions, ensuite bathrooms, outdoor areas with pools, hammocks and sun chairs, Wi-Fi, private parking and balconies or terraces overlooking the sea.
Packages often include or offer surf lessons and guiding for all skills levels. You often also have the option to record your progress with professionally shot videos and photos. Yoga lessons are available to stretch out after strenuous rides, and you can even get a massage to unwind and relax. Horseback riding, swimming with dolphins, cultural tours, meals, and airport transfers are available with many packages.
Surf hotels: 190-350 euros per couple.
Surf camps: 45-80 euros per person.
Surf houses: 50-100 euros per person.
Surf apartments: from 50-100 euros
Budget Surfing in Portugal
Surf camps in Portugal are a fantastic option for surfers on a budget. There are options ranging from full-on partying to more relaxed and surf-focused stays. Either way, this is an ideal way to meet friends from all over the world and enjoy a great holiday without spending too much money.
Options include hostels, camps, or houses near the main beaches. They can normally accommodate many guests in shared rooms, but you may pay to stay in a private room. Some packages include meals, but there will usually be a kitchen to cook by yourself. Transportation to the surf spots might be included, and surf lessons and surf gear rentals are available in most of the surf camps in Portugal.
Surf camps: From 5 to 45 euros per day.
Book budget surf camps in Portugal now.
Kids’ and Teen Surf Camps in Portugal
Learning to surf in Portugal is a great experience. The country offers many kids’ and teen surfing camps, often from ages 12 to 17, attended by trained instructors with 24/7 supervision. The programs are designed both for teens with no previous experience and for more advanced surfers. Through practical and guided instruction, surf coaches will teach younger surfers how to surf safely and have a great time.
As a parent, you can sit back, relax, and watch your children surf while enjoying a glass of port or fresh juice...or you can jump in and surf with them!
Packages include accommodation (by gender) in a shared room or private room, full board/meals, surf lessons and surfing equipment (with selection of surfboards or optional rentals), airport transfer, and personal accident insurance.
Other activities such as kite surfing are available too. Camps may include swimming pools, Ping Pong, workshops, ball games ,pool and beach parties, movie nights, video editing, skate nights, and more.
Language classes: Optional English or Portuguese language classes, 5hs: 250 euros
Prices for teen surf camps in Portugal range from 10 to 70 euros per night per person.
See teen camps in Portugal now.
Surf Houses for Groups in Portugal
Groups of friends can find awesome surf houses and apartments to book and share a unique surfing holiday. Houses come fully equipped with kitchen and TV, and some have air con. Locations are usually directly in front of the beach or a very close walk away. BBQ areas, pools, and lounge areas are often available to relax and enjoy with your family, friends, or partner. The houses are typically located near the main towns and beaches.
Prices range from 70 to 150 euros per room per night, depending on high or low season and location. Packages vary and accommodate different budgets. They can include yoga sessions, full board homemade meals, surf classes with certified instructors (usually for the duration of your stay), and surf gear rentals.
See surf houses and apartments in Portugal now.
Meal price range
Simple meals in cheaper areas cost around 5-10€. Midrange meals in restaurants range from 10-15€. Dining & drinking at high-end restaurants can cost anywhere from 20-40€.
Surfboard + wetsuit: 15 to 45€/day, basic to high-performance boards
Prepaid SIM cards
There are three mobile operators in Portugal: Vodafone, NOS, and MEO. All offer 4G and charge about the same, but MEO might have the best coverage. Getting a sim card is simple. Just get one at the airport in one of the stalls when you arrive. The vendor will set it up for you.
A text and data package of 1GB is €13.99, and 3GB is €17.49. For Internet only, you can get a “Go” data-only SIM with 15GB of data for 15 days at €15.
Train Lisbon Porto: 30-45€
Local bus one-way ticket: 1.5€, (intercity: 15 to 50€)
Taxi start 3€l Taxi 1 km: 0.47€
Main car rentals include Hertz, EuropeCar, and Budget. Comparing prices on sites like rentalcars.com is a good idea.
Ford Fiesta: 10-12€ /day
Nissan Juke: 16-18€ /day
Renault Capture: 25€ /day
Types of risks
Surfing in Portugal is fairly safe, although there are big waves spots that need to be respected. Flags signal the conditions of the sea, and in the rare case of floods, surfing near river mouths should be avoided.
Most of the beaches in Portugal are marked with flags. When you go surfing, check for the following:
Green: You can swim and bathe.
Yellow: You can enter the water, but not swim. There are strong currents and big waves.
Red: You can’t enter the water. There are strong currents and the waves are too dangerous.
Checkered: No guard present (usually out for lunch).
Golden: One of the flags you’ll really want to see when surfing in Portugal is the “playas douradas” award flag. This signals that the water and beach is of good quality.
How to prepare
Most countries in the world won’t need a visa to enter Portugal for stays up to 90 days, as it is in the Schengen area. You only need your passport with a validity of six months beyond the intended date of departure.
No vaccines are mandatory to enter Portugal, but you might choose to get the vaccines that are recommended in your home country.
Things to know
Language & Currency
Portugal’s official language is Portuguese, but English is well spoken in the tourist areas, especially by the younger generations. The local currency is the euro (1USD = € 0.90).
Best time to go
The best time to surf in Portugal is during autumn and winter. This is when the coast receives solid swells from Atlantic storms generating consistent waves all over the country. If you are a beginner, then summer should be more appropriate for you. Small but consistent swells produce fun waves for those who are still learning how to surf.
Checking Surf forecast
Checking the forecast about a week before your trip is always a good idea. Understanding what the waves will be like and knowing what gear to pack is essential. You can check the forecast for the waves here.
Do I need pack a pharmacy kit
You should bring a basic kit. Including ear drops, eye drops, bandaids, imodium- for rehydrating Bali belly, ear plugs to avoid ear infections, gaze, alcohol, and broad spectrum antibiotic ointment.
World Nomads has great travel insurance packages that are not super expensive and they cover surfing.
If you have an emergency while staying in a surf camp in Portugal, or any other situation, your best option is to call the emergency medical service of Europe at 112 (free of charge). This number can be called even without credit. They will redirect you to the appropriate service and guide you on how to proceed and give you info on hospitals, ambulances, police, fire departments and more. Operators speak English, German, French, Spanish, and other languages.
Check surf pictures of Portugal at #surfportugal.