If there’s one country that is the hottest joint in European surfing right now it’s Portugal.
With over a thousand miles of coastline stretching from the border with Galicia in the north right down to Andalucia in the south, there are more surfing options in Portugal than is strictly fair. Team that with a near perfect climate, incredible fresh local produce, wonderful food, relaxed vibes, plenty of culture and friendly folks, it’s a dream trip. And for us Brits it’s an easy flight or a doable mission on the ferry.
It’s hard to pick a best bit. Stick a pin in the Portuguese coast and you’ll not be far from a decent break and a beachside cafe just asking for a post session cold beer and toste miste.
Starting in the north, Porto is the forgotten end of surfing in Portugal. Sure Porto is well known as the home of port and of the francesinha, otherwise known as possibly the greatest open sandwich on this good earth. The name oddly means ‘Little Frenchie’ and it’s basically a bit of bread with ham, sausage, steak and egg on top. Drowned in tomato/beer sauce served in a bowl with French Fries. It’s a heart attack on a plate but a total taste sensation and the perfect post-surf filler. Porto is a wonderful place to explore, especially if you like sampling port. There’s plenty of empty beachbreaks to wet your appetite in the region as well. Moving south, not too quickly if you’ve just eaten a francesinha, the next main surf region is between Espinho down to Nazare with Figueira da Foz kind of in the middle.
Miles of beaches broken by jetties and the odd point like the leg burning Buarcos. Near towns you might get some locals but like anywhere play it cool and don’t be a dick and you’ll be fine. Explore away from the towns and you’ll have waves to yourself.
Nazare is the sleeping giant, under the radar for years as a beachy to hit when everywhere else in Portugal was flat, it’s potential for the biggest rideable surf on the planet is now well known. For us mere mortals it is actually pretty fun when it’s under double overhead and the area is beautiful.
Forty five minutes south you enter the traditional Portuguese surfing heartlands. Peniche and surrounds have more options for wind than the northern portion of the country and more defined surf culture. Peniche itself is home to the legendary Supertubos, home to the annual WSL world tour event in October which turns the quiet town into a summer level party for two weeks at the end of the season. After that it gets real quiet and there are so many good waves in the area that a bit of a drive and explore and you’ll be surfing world class sandbars. It’s also a brilliant place to learn, Baleal is ideal, with different options to ensure somewhere is beginner to intermediate friendly. The cafés and bars here get real fun also…A short hop south and it’s the equally legendary Ericeira. Home to Coxos, Ribeira and the deadly Cave. Not to mention a bunch of other classy reefs and beachies. It’s a nice town to hang out in and make a base. Plenty of accommodation options and great seafood.
From here on south it’s the Lisbon region and even though the countries capital is an hours drive from some class beachies it’s not too busy. Like Peniche it’s got plenty of options for the wind and it’s a good base in the winter when the west coast gets too big the south coast opens up. Plenty of culture to soak up in Sintra town and Lisbon itself and like the rest of Portugal, the landscape is a joy. Jumping the river there’s a few spots on the Costa do Sol like Caparica.
From there we’re into the Algarve, the northern section isn’t a patch on the wonderful south. Loads of wonderful coves, reefs and secluded beachbreaks and a notch better weather – the Algarve is rightly considered an epic place for a surf trip. Like Lisbon you get the options of west or south coast and if the Atlantic isn’t playing ball you can even get south swells or easterly wind swells on the south coast. Stunning seafood, wall to wall sunshine, great parties and a great range of surf spots. The Algarve, like most of Portugal won’t let you down.
Check out some of the crew that can help you out on your Portuguese mission in the following pages. We’ve been to pretty much every corner of Portugal over the last two decades and it’s consistently awesome. It’s place as the ‘best place to go surfing in Europe’ is looking secure for another season.