Surf’s Up: A Guide To The Best Waves in Portugal

Surfs Up Portugal

Three weeks into the New Year and those “get fit” resolutions are already starting to fade, but what if you could remedy that with an active holiday? Preferably one that involves sun, surf and sea?

The winter months may be a little chilly for a swim in the sea, but armed with a wetsuit and a trusty surf board, the time is now and the place is Portugal. This country located on the Iberian Peninsula is famous for having some of the best waves and surf spots in Europe to accommodate surf dudes and dudettes of all levels. Throw in the allure of good food, good wine and the call of the waves lapping against the shore and you’ve got the ultimate surf holiday waiting for you in Portugal. Below, our pick of the best surf spots on the Iberian Peninsula.

1. Praia de Carcavelos, Lisbon

Level: Beginner | Wave Type: Beach break

Photo: 500px/Jose Marques Marques
Photo: 500px/Jose Marques Marques

Only a 20 minute journey by train from Lisbon (€1.85 single train ticket), Praia de Carcavelos brags clean waters and long sandy beaches. You can brave the sea, fully equipped, with Carcavelos Surf School and enjoy your first time on the waves with fully qualified instructors.

After a morning of surf, you can stroll down the beach to São Julião de Barra Fort for some culture, consume a plate of sardines and sip on a bica (a small coffee) in one of the many beach restaurants and cafés. The perfect location to enjoy Portugal’s capital and surf.

2. Praia do Amado, Algarve

Level: Beginners | Wave Type: Beach break

Praia do Amado
Photo: 500px/Jose Cruz

Located in Carrapateira, Praia do Amado is a prime place to take your first steps as a surfer. With considerably smaller waves than Ericeira and Peniche, this beach is a beginners paradise. The surrounding area consists of the Costa Vicentina natural park and dark cliffs that edge the beach. Surfers, bodyboarders and nature lovers flock to Praia do Amado. Be wary, if you are not the camping sort, this may not be the beach for you.

3. Peniche

Level: All Levels | Wave Type: All Types

Photo: 500px/Andreas Gregor

Peniche has had the surf kings grace its waves. The Rip Curl Pro Portugal Surf contest is hosted here every October, but don’t worry, we aren’t throwing you in the deep end. The water lends itself to all surfers ranging from the pros to the newbies. Cantinho da Baia is a good beginners hot spot which stretches over a 3km beach. If you are holidaying with some more experienced surfers, they can take on the bigger waves whilst you’re doing your first take off.

In need of instructors? Try Baleal Surfcamp. They offer accommodation, equipment and lessons in their package deals for 2, 5 or 10 days of surf.

4. Ericeira

Level: All Levels | Wave Type: All Types

500px/Ricardo Reis

Ericeira is known as a world-class surf zone. To avoid getting caught up with the big boys, head down to Foz do Lizandro or São Julião to give yourself some tame wave practice. The best surf in this area is the low and mid tides. Make the most of your time and visit the cobble stoned streets of Ericeira. Sit back after your surfing lessons, grab some grilled sardines or shellfish and enjoy the view from this cliff-top town.

5. Sagres, Algarve

Level: All Levels | Wave Type: All Types

500px/Scalzo Domenico

Not to be confused with the Portuguese beer, Sagres is fighting for the name of the surf capital in the Algarve. Much of its coast faces the Atlantic, offering swells that reach 5m in height, but you’ll be more interested in the bay areas. Protected from the power of the ocean, beaches such as Praia do Tonel are good all level spots. Top surf schools in the area include Freeride and Surf Experience.

English may not be as widely spoken here as Sagres is a traditional fishing town. If you want to mingle with the locals, you might want to learn some Portuguese.


A pint-sized, city seasoned traveller that has just discovered the wonders of backpacking. Always armed with a camera and notepad, Anna is ready to say ‘Yes’ to the next travel opportunity. The airport might as well be her second home.

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