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The best surf spots in Portugal

Surf Guide Portugal

The best surf spots in Portugal


Portugal is home to an amazing coastline (almost 1.800 kilometres!) and the country is widely known for its surf conditions, serving surfers from all levels and at (almost) all times. This Surf Guide will provide you with some of the best surf spots in Portugal, with most beaches being suitable for any surfer (conditions will vary but almost any local will be able to advice you on the best spot and time in order to match your surfing abilities). We have also dedicated an article which focusses on the best surf spots in Portugal for novice surfers. But for now we will focus on the best surf spots in Portugal, looking at the entire country!

We’ve also featured the best surf holidays in Portugal!

Portugal’s best surf spots

In order for you to make it slightly better digestable, we’ve divided this article into the following parts:

Wait…. Is surfing the only thing you can do in Portugal? Hell no! This article is about surfing, however, do not forget that traveling to Portugal means you run the risk of being confronted with amazing food, very friendly people, beautiful nature and culture (!), a very low cost of living and (did we already mention) the great food. We’ve even dedicated a separate article to 8 reasons why you should go surfing in Portugal.

But for now, let’s focus on the surfing. Read on about the best surf spots in Portugal after the photo…

Surfing in Portugal

Surfing in Northern Portugal

The truth about the Northern Coast of Portugal might be slightly confronting: people know about surfing in Lisbon, Ericeira, Peniche or Nazaré. For some reason, the North of the country is a bit neglected in terms of promotion, but the locals don’t mind. Surprisingly though, the waters around Porto, stretching all the way up towards the Spanish coasts, can be as busy as the famous Foz do Lizandro in Ericeira or the beaches in Baleal. And it’s with full confidence that we tell you that some of the best surf spots in Portugal can be found in this region.

Surfing in Portugal’s most northern tip

As soon as you cross the border from Galicia into Portugal and drive towards the coast, you will end up in a small town with is called Moledo. This is also where the surfing in Portugal starts. All the way down to Porto you will find large and spacious beaches, with rarely any people visiting (outside of the national holidays). It’s very important to keep a close eye on the wave-reports (not sure how to read a surf report?) as many of those beaches will either be a great surf spot or an amazing place for kite and wind surfing.

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While driving down south, you will pass by known surf beaches like Praia de Afife (which can be barreling in its best days!), Cabedelo (in Viana do Castelo) and Esposende. South of Esposende, the quiet and beautiful town of Estela might well enchant you. There’s a small and local camp site, next to a golf course (luckily they put up big nets in order to prevent any dangerous situation). Through the campsite, you can walk through 2 brick pipes to witness a long-stretched beach where you will hardly encounter anyone. From time to time, the waves here can get pumping so it’s a spot not to forget about. When continuing past Vila do Conde, you will get to Praia Azurara, which is one of the most popular beaches for surfing north of Porto.

Surfing around Porto

Before hitting Porto, you will pass by another 2 great beaches. Leça da Palmeira has developed into being one of the most important breaks in this area. The beach is open and well-exposed and especially during winters, waves can get powerful. And just before getting into the centre of Porto it is well recommendable to check out one of Portugal’s best beaches for novice surfers: Praia Matosinhos.

This is also one of the beaches where our friends from Circle Surf Camp surf.

Surfing Matosinhos, picture: Mylan Rosendaal

Locals call this beach, only 9 km. away from the famous Ponte Luiz (bridge), the best beach to learn how to surf. It’s not unimaginable that they might be slightly biased. We have to, however, agree that the circumstances are pretty good for people with zero to little experience surfing. The consistency of the clean waves was just perfect. Team SurfaWhile spent a magical morning witnessing and capturing the local surfers having an amazing session on the waves of Matosinhos. And this is one of the best surf spots in Portugal.

Surfing south of Porto

When leaving Porto you will rather quickly reach Valadares, another amazing surf town. This part of Portugal hosts a number of beaches widely known but still by far not as crowded as the beaches around Ericeira. We can only advise you to take advantage of this. Just south of Valadares, you will get to Espinho and Cortegaça. These spots can get pretty pumping and we do believe they certainly belong to the best surf spots in Portugal.

I was happily surprised with a (brief) visit to the city of Aveiro, a very nice and friendly town with a beautiful harbour. As it was late in the afternoon, I decided to take a break for some late lunch in this town and I did not regret. The car park only already provided us with amazing photo’s (read on after this great picture…)

Cityviews in Aveiro, picture: Olmo van Beurden

Surfing in Aveiro and Figueira da Foz

Aveiro is home to Praia da Costa Nova and people who know surfing in Portugal well, will know about this beach. Unfortunately, during my visit, the tide wasn’t allowing any surfer to go in, clearing the road for local fisherman. Having all these men with their (multiple) fishing rods lined up along the shoreline, provided us with some intriguing views.

Further down south, when reaching the Coimbra district, you are advised to go and check out the beach of Tocha. This little lovely town is as Portuguese as it’s going to get. There’s not much (establishments, nor tourism) but the wide-spread beach provides you with just all you are going to need. When surfing around Coimbra and Figueira da Foz, we’ll recommend you the surf camp in Praia da Tocha.

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Surfing in Central Portugal

Portugal has extremely popular and busy surf beaches and many of them are located in the centre of the country. Places like Peniche and Baleal, Ericeira, Cascais, the entire region of Lisbon and Costa da Caparica can get pretty busy from time to time. On the other hand, there are so many beaches and if you go at the right time to the right spot, you will enjoy the best surfing possible.

Surfing in Peniche and Baleal

Peniche and Ericeira are battling already for quite some time which town can call itself the capital of surfing in Portugal. Ericeira (later on you will read more about this amazing surf spot) is the only World Surfing Reserve within Europe, Peniche has Supertubos, which also is featuring on the World Surf League (SurfaWhile visited one day of the WSL in Peniche, back in 2018 during our visit to the surf house in Caparica). But for now, let’s focus on Peniche and Baleal, two bordering towns which both have amazing beaches for surfing – both serving a different type of surfer.

What makes Peniche so great for surfing? The fact that this town is located on a peninsula ensures the presence of surfing beaches facing any direction. Thus it does not matter where the wind comes from, you will always encounter a spot where you can go surfing. Peniche has pretty consistent waves which will work almost all year round.

Beginner surf spots in Peniche are Praia Prainha, Cantinho da Baía or Cova da Alfarroba. These spots also host some surf schools but normally you will find a spot where you can practise it for yourself. More advanced surfers will be better of when trying the waves of Lagido (a point break), Molhe Leste (a beach break) or some of the more powerful waves at Meio da Baia. If you are really experienced, you are very welcome to try the world famous waves of Supertubos and Papoa and Consolação can also be spots which might be worth checking out. All these beaches are certainly among the best surf spots in Portugal.

The wind does make quite a difference in Peniche. When the wind comes from the south while there is a northern swell, the beaches more up north are likely to work better. You can try Prainha or another beach which is called Praia Lagide (Baleal). If the winds blows more from the north, with swells coming from the west of southwest, you can check out Molho Leste (a larger swell is required) or the famous Supertubos.

When surfing in Baleal, most beginners will end up at either Praia Norte or Praia Sul, located on the beach which connects the peninsula Baleal to the ‘mainland’.

Surfing in Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz has the huge advantage of, besides having its own beaches, being positioned in between the amazing surf spots Peniche and Ericeira. In about 30 minutes you can reach basically as many as 35 surf spots in the region, making this a very interesting spot to surf.

More towards the north of this town, you will encounter the beaches Praia do Seixo and Praia da Mexilhoeira. From time to time these are amazing spots for longboarders and it tends to keep away the huge crowds for the largest part of the year.

Despite the fact that Santa Cruz has a nicely and wide-stretched beach, the circumstances can get pretty tricky from time to time. A good surf coach is therefore required, especially if you have little to no experience in surfing. Right in the centre of Santa Cruz, you will encounter Praia do Pisão and Praia da Física. More towards the south, the famous beach of Praia das Amoeiras is there to serve you some great waves as well.

When driving from Santa Cruz towards Ericeira, it might be worth it (depending on the conditions of that day) to get out in Praia Azul. This beach break can work for any surfer, especially if you encounter a North or North-western swell, with a slight off-shore wind.

Surfing in Ericeira

Ericeira has a large number of amazing surf spots. There are around 20 beaches in the area which all can be classified as top surf spots, ranging from great spots for beginners to the more advanced breaks. It’s not without a reason that Ericeira is one of the best surf spots in Portugal.

Novice surfers are most likely to be found at Foz do Lizandro, Praia do Sul, Ribeira D’Ilhas or São Julião, depending on the conditions of that day. Foz do Lizandro, to the south of Ericeira is a beach break and can have conditions which can serve both beginning as more advanced surfers – depending on the wind and the swell mainly. This beach break has right and left-handers.

São Julião also is a beach break. Praia do Sul has a reef break, with quite some rocks. There are beginners here but it is important that you have the right guidance with you. Another famous surf spot in Ericeira is Praia dos Pescadores, just a bit to the south from the centre. This beach break works best when the swell is coming from the (north)west and at low tide, with best conditions normally occurring mainly during autumn or winter. Praia dos Pescadores can – from time to time – be the only good surf spot of Ericeira at a specific moment and then it can get pretty crowded.

One of Portugal’s best breaks for experienced surfers is Coxos. This righthander works best with off-short wind, with swells coming from the south of west. In general, when the tide is low towards mid-tide, surfers will surf amazing waves here. When the surf is on, it’s on and it can get quite busy here. However, these days are certainly worth it to travel to Covo as the scenery as beautiful and it’s a great experience to watch the experienced surfers surfing amazing waves.

Cave is a break that has a notorious reputation. This wave you can really only surf when you are well experienced. This spot does not get busy, due to the risk it holds. The wave breaks to the right and works best with a large swell from the (north)west, with an off-shore wind. Cave can be seen as the trickiest and most advanced wave of this region.

The last wave we would like to point out is Matadouro. At low tide this is an amazing spot for novice surfers and at high tide the advanced surfers will have an amazing surf. This reef break is consistent and works best with a swell from the (north)west, with an off-shore wind.

Surfing around Sintra

Sintra is well worth a visit and it’s not without a reason that it’s listed at UNESCO. Around Sintra there are many places where you can go surfing as well, ranging from spots for novice surfers to breaks where you need quite some experience to be surfing.

The best surf spots around Sintra are Praia das Maçãs, Praia Grande and Guincho. It is even possible to drive all the way to Cascais or Carcavelos, but these are being discussed in the next part of this article. The ‘disadvantage’ of surfing around Sintra is that you will always need a transfer to the beach, but due to the wide variety of options, this will also allow you to choose the best spot for that day.

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Praia Grande and Praia das Maçãs are known for its reliability and they are widely considered to be great surf spots. Praia Grande can be for any surfer but in case the conditions are a bit sloppy, it is well advisable that you only surf here when being a bit more experienced. You could surf here at all tides and it’s working already below 1 meter, where waves can get bigger than 2.5 meters. This beach break works well with a slight off-shore wind. A fun fact: at Praia Grande they organise the World Body Boarding championships, a yearly event.

Surfing Praia das Maçãs will offer waves almost whole year round. Generally waves are smaller during the summer season, whereas they can get fairly bigger (and much more fun to the advanced surfers) during the autumn and winter season. In general (when conditions allow so) Praia das Maçãs is a great spot for novice surfers.

Surfing around Lisbon

Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal is getting more and more popular and we very much understand why. Besides the amazing river, the parties in Bairro Alto, the culture which can be found all over the city and the famous gastronomy are some of the many reasons why so many people make their way to Lisbon. And there’s the surfing. There’s obviously no surfing at the river, but close to Lisbon, both to the west and to the south, you will encounter fantastic surfing conditions. In the next sub-chapter of this article, you will read all about surfing in Costa da Caparica but first we will focus on Cascais, Estoril and Carcavelos, which are all among the best surf spots in Portugal.

Surfing around Lisbon – picture: Mylan Rosendaal

Cascais is only 30 km. outside of the centre of Lisbon and there are multiple options of reaching this small town from Lisbon. Cascais hosts an annual WSL event (Cascias Women Pro), proving the quality of this surf spot. There are several beach and reef breaks to be found in and around Cascais.

Surfing around Lisbon – picture: Mylan Rosendaal

São Pedro Estoril is mainly known as a great spot for longboarders. The beach can get pretty busy. SurfaWhile was there and we spoke to a beach guard about his life in Estoril. Estoril, besides longboarders, also attracts a number of regular surfers which are almost all more advanced, as the beginners all tend to head over to Carcavelos.

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Carcavelos, especially during the summer (but certainly also outside of the summer) is one of Portugal’s best beaches for beginning surfers. The waves tend to remain small in size, with very little current. Surf schools from all around make their way to Carcavelos to teach here.

Small waves at Carcavelos Beach – picture: Olmo van Beurden

Surfing in Costa da Caparica

Costa da Caparica is one of SurfaWhile’s most favourite spots of Portugal. The surf conditions are generally on point here (also due to the wide variety of spots around this area) and you are well close to Lisbon. We work closely together with the Gota d’Agua Surf House, which we try to visit at least twice a year ourselves. And we believe that Costa da Caparica is one of the best surf spots in Portugal.

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In Costa da Caparica, it’s most likely you will be surfing at either Tarquínio, Fonte da Telha or São João Beach. These beaches work most of the year and are suitable for surfers from all levels. During autumn and winter (when it’s generally fairly quiet) the conditions might become slightly too challenging for novice surfers, but if you’ve booked surf lessons it is not unlikely that you will drive over to Carcavelos.

Surfing in Southern Portugal

Most people will think right away about the Algarve when referring to Southern Portugal. For the sake of this article, we’ve decided to also add the region of Alentejo to this part (also geographically it’s not illogical). Below you will encounter more information about surfing on spots like (around) Melides, Sines, Vila Nova de Milfontes, Praia da Amoreira and the entire Alejzur region and the rest of the spots in the Algarve, both on the west and southern coast.

Surfing in Northern Alentejo

Alentejo is considered , by most people, as most beautiful region of Portugal. We certainly cannot disagree to that statement, as it’s also one of our favourite spots in the whole of Europe. In the northern part of Alentejo, there are not too many known surf beaches to be found. One of the beaches which is widely used for surfing, is the mesmerizing Praia da Galé (Fontainhas – not to confuse with the Praia da Galé in the south, just steps away from Albufeira). This beach is part of the long stretched beach between Praia da Comporta and Praia de Melides. Along this entire strip, surfing conditions in general are similar, meaning the waves are generally not too exciting during the summer months. On the hand, novice surfers can learn a lot generally.

The beautiful coastline of Alentejo

Even though this coastline is not the greatest ever for surfing (during the summer) – don’t get us wrong, there can certainly be some waves, but this does not happen too often – there is one very magical place to be found. Very close to Fontainhas, there is a camp site with literally nothing anywhere close. On this camp site, overlooking the beautiful cliffs, the golden sand and the clear-blue waters, you have an amazing surf camp, which serves food that will make your mouth water.

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Surfing arond Sines

Sines and the entire area surrounding it are not particularly known for its surfing. You will find the beaches of Sines and São Torpes, where you are most likely to encounter the larger waves during October through to April.

Surfing around Vila Nova de Milfontes

When reaching Vila Nova de Milfontes, you will get a bit closer to where the surfing gets better. The best known beaches (and best beaches) for surfing here are called Praia dos Aivados and Praia do Malhão. These beaches (unlike e.g. Aljezur – see section below) are not encounter (yet) by the larger touristic crowds and this generally attracts mainly some surf schools.

Praia do Malhão is located about 6 km outside of V.N. de Milfontes. Beware that on the beach itself, there is basically nothing and the closest (small) convenient store is at the camp site, which is about half a kilometre by foot from the beach.

Surfing in Portugal – picture: Mylan Rosendaal

Praia dos Aivados is the best beach for surfing in this region. There’s no supervision here and the current can get a bit stronger so previous experience is very much recommended here. By road it’s about 13 km. from V.N. de Milfontes. This beach is completely isolated ensuring you with an amazing scenery. This beach has a beach-break with very little rocks being present.

Surfing in Odeceixe can be amazing. It’s not really part of V.N. de Milfontes anymore and it also does not belong to Aljezur, as it’s located in between those two towns. Odeceixe is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches of Portugal and it can receive swell as well (north western normally). With a slight off-shore breeze, surfing can be really fun here. This beach break can be suitable for any surfer, but the more advanced surfers will only find challenging waves a couple of times per year. However, the scenery makes up for a lot! Odeceixe is also the place where the Costa Vincentina National Park starts. This runs all the way to Burgau, on the South coast in the Algarve.

Surfing Aljezur & Arrifana

‘Surfing in Aljezur’ are three words which are known by many. This entire area holds a number of spots which can all be pumping and belong to the best surf spots in Portugal! Needless to say, all these beaches also belong to the Costa Vincentina. You’ve got Praia da Amoreira, Monte Clerigo Beach, the famous Arrifana and, more to the south, Vale Figueiras Beach.

Surfing in Portugal – picture: Mylan Rosendaal

Praia da Amoreira and Monte Clerigo Beach are comparable. Both are beach breaks with some rocks on the bottom. There are one or more point breaks to be found as well and in the summer you can have a lot of fun here.

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Vale Figueiras Beach is a beach located further out of town from Aljezur. This beach generally stays uncrowded, making this a great place to surf. There’s a beach break, with some point breaks to be found as well. This break normally can work with any type of swell.

Praia Arrifana might be the beach most well-known from these 4. That’s not without a reason as Arrifana offers you with great waves almost every day of the year. There are even people who call this the most consistent beach of Europe. The beach can get pretty crowded, especially during the summer. But it’s without a doubt that Arrifana is among the best surf spots in Portugal.

Surfing in the Algarve: west coast

The southwest coast of Portugal is a place where people visit to surf, even if they are staying further up north or on the south coast. Most well-known beaches (this normally is not without a reason) are Praia do Amado, Praia Castelejo and Praia da Cordoama.

Praia do Amado offers both left and right handers, making this an incredible spot for both goofies and regular footed surfers. This area is considered to be a protected area so there’s nothing that can be built here, so take into account to bring anything you need for during the day. Praia do Amado basically offers surf all year round so it’s advisable to keep an eye on the surf reports to find the day that suits your abilities best.

Praia da Cordoama and Praia Castelejo are bordering and both can be seen from the amazing viewing point ‘Miradour Castelejo’. Both these beaches are not close to any civilization, making it even more special to be surfing here. These beaches are especially working after the summer season, as waves can get pretty high and challenging. During the summer months, it’s mostly used by novice surfers, trying out their first waves. This entire region, incl. the above mentioned beaches, belong to the Costa Vicentina.

Surfing in the Algarve: south coast

The South Coast of the Algarve starts right away in Sagres and runs all the way to the border. The most known beaches are Beliche, Tonel and Zavial, which are all either within or close by Sagres. From Zavial towards the east, you will encounter another couple of beaches, with Praia de Faro being the most well-known one.

Surfing Zavial – picture: Olmo van Beurden

A huge advantage of the Algarve is the water temperature. Generally the water will be between 15 and 22 degrees, which can be very different compared to other parts of Portugal. Around Sagres you will find the 3 most known beaches: Beliche, Tonel and Zavial. Per different hour of the day it will be advisable to keep an eye on the websites in order to check the conditions. As all these beaches are really close, it’s easy to get around and you can always easily make your way to the west coast of the Algarve.

Zavial is a local beach, but it does attracts many tourists as well. There’s on small restaurant, next to the car park. On the right hand side of the beach, a beautiful point break (a right hander) is there and if it’s pumping, it’s really pumping. Zavial generally gets a lot of off-shore wind so even the smaller waves can be a lot of fun, especially for beginners and novice surfers.

Closer to Sagres, you will find both Beliche and Tonel. Unlike Beliche, Tonel is a great beach for surfers with no to little experience. You can reach this beach within walking distance from the centre of Sagres. The waves here are pretty consistent and you can surf here pretty much throughout the entire year (but when it’s flat, you can easily reach the beaches on the west coast).

Surfing in Portugal – picture: Mylan Rosendaal

Beliche is more something for intermediate (experience is required here) and advanced surfers. Especially the months outside of the summer waves can get pretty interesting here. The beach is small in size and it’s pretty sheltered by cliffs on both sides. It’s not for nothing that this beach is considered to be one of the best surf spots in Portugal.

Praia de Faro is further to the east. This beach generally gets the best waves during the winter months, but that’s also unpredictable. Some days, waves can even get fun for the more advanced surfers, but in general this is a great place to learn surfing.

Olmo

Co-founder of SurfaWhile, with a passion for travel, surf, cooking, salsa, football and meeting new and interesting people.

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