Where To Surf In Portugal – The Wavelength Guide

Here's our comprehensive guide on where to surf in Portugal

Providing the most pleasant climate and longest swell window of all the Western European nations, Portugal’s expansive and exposed coastline has always been a favourite for travelling surfers. It plays host to a whole array of different set-ups, including some of the best beach breaks and reefs in Europe.

Whilst the coastal area around Lisbon is very well developed, with a massive surf population, the regions to the north and south of the capital offer a much more rustic, uncrowded surfing experience, especially in the winter.

Here we’ll break down the country into these different regions, highlighting a few key spots to head towards to help you in your quest to decided where to surf in Portugal.

Espinho

Espinho firing. Photo WSL

Minho & Douro

Probably the least talked about region of Portugal amongst surfers, the northern provinces of Minho and Douro feature a super consistent and super varied stretch of coastline. With the ancient town of Porto sitting in the heart of the region, there’s also plenty to do and see when it’s flat. Outside of the cities the landscape mirrors Galicia – the region’s Spanish neighbour to the north, with an abundance of rolling, forest covered hills. The best time to go is late spring through to Autumn when the region enjoys consistent swell and lighter and more favourable winds than other areas in the country.

The jewel in the regions crown is Afife, an uncrowded and high quality beach break, which produces fast hollow waves often likened to Supertubos. Further south the area also boasts an epic left-hand reef-break at Pòvoa do Varzim which provides wide, shallow kegs on a SW swell. Miramar also hosts a fickle right hand reef, which also offers barrels on a solid NW swell. The best and most famous spot in the region is Espinho, however it often suffers pollution, heavy crowds and localism.

Poor water quality plagues this part of Portugal, with pollution levels becoming so high sometimes the local authorities ban people entering the sea all together.

The water temp gets down to 12C in the winter and up to 18C in the summer.

Sebastian Steudtner finding a bomb at Nazare. Photo Luke Gartside

Sebastian Steudtner finding a bomb at Nazare. Photo Luke Gartside

Beira

Like Minho and Douro, the beachies of Beira do not receive as much limelight as their counterparts to the south, with one extremely notable exception- Nazare. Home to the biggest waves on earth, thanks to its unique coastal geography, Nazare has been a focal point for the big wave surf world for many years now, however the spot also provides excellent barrels on smaller days, as can be seen in this clip.

Whilst the beaches near Figueria da Foz da Foz and Costa Nova also host fun waves the region’s real gems undoubtedly lie along the miles and miles of nearly deserted coastline away from these towns, which include various headlands and reefs. Summer, or when the rest of the coast is too small, is your best bet for this region as it easily maxes out on big winter swells.

The water temperature gets down to 12C in the winter and up to 18C in the summer.

Alex Ribiero pulls into a drainer at Supertubes. Photo Luke Gartside

Alex Ribiero pulls into a drainer at Supertubes. Photo Luke Gartside

Peniche

Peniche is one of Portugal’s most well known surf regions, hosting the RipCurl Pro WSL comp in November each year, which takes place at the legendary Supertubes. As well as its wide swell window and classic beaches, the region’s main allure is its coastal geography, which provides spots facing in all different directions, meaning there’s pretty much always somewhere to surf, no matter what the wind and swell are doing.

The beaches on the north side of the town receive the most swell and despite being a bit tricky to access, are well worth the long and bumpy drive, providing world class sand bottomed waves on their day. The beaches in Balleal provide more learner friendly waves, particularly at the sheltered north end, however they are always crowded. Supertubes and Molho Leste sit to the south of the town, providing the best beach break barrels in Europe, on the right swell and wind combo.

The water temperature gets down to 12C in the winter and up to 18C in the summer.

An empty drainer reels off in Ericeira. Photo Luke Gartside

An empty drainer reels off in Ericeira. Photo Luke Gartside

Ericeira

Ericeira is considered by many to be the jewel in the Portuguese crown, providing an amazing array of high quality reef breaks along a relatively short stretch of coast. Coxos (pronounced Ko-shas) is perhaps the best know set up, however the area also boasts The Cave, which is a crazy shallow right for expert surfers only, Pedra Branka and ‘Reef’, which offer barreling rights and lefts. The best time to go is in the Autumn and winter months, however the beach breaks to the south of the town offer the best alternative in the summer or if the swells not big enough to get the reefs working.

The town is close enough to Lisbon to attract the crowds and on really good days it’s hard to get a wave, particularly at Coxos, however if you’re prepared to wait, you could end up getting one of the best barrels of your life.

The water temp gets down to 13C in the winter and up to 18C in the summer.

Pumping waves in Caparica. Photo Luke Gartside

Pumping waves in Caparica. Photo Luke Gartside

Lisbon

Many travelling surfers skip Lisbon due to the hassles of parking, city crowds and polluted line ups, however there are plenty of good waves on offer in the region if you know where to look.

Costa De Caparica to the south provides a long stretch of beach, divided up by jetties, and lined by a promenade featuring a string of nice restaurants and bars. It’s rarely classic but often fun. The Estoril coast to the north of the city offers shelter from big NW swells and the howling winds that often accompany them, playing host to a variety of reefs, points and beachies that can get epic on their day. Carcavelos, for example, is still considered one of the Portugal’s best beach breaks, offering barreling lefts over shifting sand bars, however its proximity to the city means the crowd can be overwhelming.

The water temperature gets down to 13C in the winter and up to 18C in the summer.

A small clean swell lights up Armado in the Algarve. Photo Luke Gartside

A small clean swell lights up Armado in the Algarve. Photo Luke Gartside

Alentejo & The Algarve

Starting at the industrial town of Sines and travelling south through the Alentejo region, surfers can expect to find a seemingly never ending stretch of relatively undeveloped land, punctuated by a smattering of seaside towns and long sandy coves. Whilst this area attracts slightly less swell than the regions to the North, the crowds are much thinner (until you near the Algarve). Vila Nova de Milfontes is the main attraction, with the idyllic beach town playing host to a wide range of waves including a bowly left reef at Cogumelo, its neighbouring slab and a long left hand river mouth favoured by loggers.

Further south lies the Algarve, which like Peniche, offers a whole variety of spots facing in all different directions, waiting to lap up everything from powerful NW ground swell, to choppy S wind swell. The area mostly offers wedgey beach breaks, however there are also a few point breaks and the odd reef tucked away. Castelejo on the west coast offers consistent and sometimes classic waves, and is a favourite with the large swathes of travelling surfers and locals. On the south coast Zavial regularly serves up playful beach break wedges and provides some shelter from big north-westerly swells.

There are waves (and parties) all year round, however the best waves break between Autumn and Spring and the best parties go down in the summer.

The water temperature gets down to 15C in the winter and up to 21C in the summer.

We hope that’s enough info to get you started with deciding where to surf in Portugal. As with everywhere you’ll learn more about the place in your first trip than you ever could from online reading, so why not book a trip now and don’t forget to hashtag the snaps of all the epic waves you find with #wlinsta.

 

  • ooops

    really blowing up the spot(s). weak