Are you thinking of surfing in Portugal this year?
Then you’ve come to the right place! Portugal is one of the most popular surfing destinations in Europe, boasting some of the best waves and stunning scenery. But when is the best time to visit for surfers? The answer depends on your skill level and what kind of waves you want to ride. Generally speaking, Portugal has a year-round surf season, but there are certain times that provide more consistency and bigger swells than others.
In this guide, we will look at each part of Portugal and what time of the year you should plan your trip so that you can make an informed decision about when and where to go surfing in Portugal.
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Best Time to Surf In Portugal
Read on for more details on the best time to surf in Portugal!
What is the best time to surf in Portugal for beginners?
The best time to surf in Portugal for beginners is during the summer months from June to September. The weather is typically warm and sunny, and the waves tend to be smaller and less challenging. This makes it an ideal time for novice surfers to practice their skills without facing extreme conditions.
Additionally, most of Portugal’s beaches offer a wide range of amenities at this time of year, such as restaurants, rental shops and beach bars that make the experience so much more enjoyable, especially for beginners.
What is the best time to surf in Portugal for experienced surfers?
The best time to surf in Portugal for experienced surfers is during the winter months from November to March. This is when the waves tend to be at their biggest and most challenging, making it ideal for those looking for an adrenaline-filled surfing experience.
The water temperature is usually at its coolest during this time of year, so it’s important to make sure you have a good wetsuit that will keep you warm. It’s also worth noting that the weather can be quite unpredictable during the winter months, so be prepared for some rain and cold winds. Nevertheless, if you’re willing to brave the elements, then this is definitely the best time for you!
For those who aren’t beginners, but don’t yet meet the ‘experienced surfer’ bar, riding some bigger waves can be fun and where it’s at. This is when the autumn months from September to November are the best option. The swell is typically smaller than in winter, but depending on the day it can offer some great riding conditions for intermediate to even advanced surfers.
What is the best month to surf?
Surfing is a thrilling and exciting sport that requires skill, determination, and the right conditions to get the best waves. Winter months are the best time to surf in Portugal, and generally offer the most reliable and larger waves. In both hemispheres during winter months, swells are more consistent and the waves are bigger than usual. As a result, it is the prime time for surfers to get out and catch a wave.
Best Places to Surf In Portugal
Check out these great surf spots along the coast of Portugal from North to South.
1. Viana de Castelo- Praia do Cabedelo
Praia do Cabedelo in Viana de Castelo is an ideal spot for beginner and intermediate surfers looking for a unique surfing experience. Offering a jetty break and a sandy bottom, the area can be enjoyed by both surfers and windsurfers alike. It is one of the most popular spots for kitesurfing and windsurfing in the North of Portugal, making it a perfect spot for those looking to catch some waves.
Beyond the surfing itself, beach volleyball is also a frequent activity here, and there are even beach restaurants where you can refuel after your surf session. Amenities such as changing rooms, showers, toilets, and a parking lot make it a convenient beach to visit. During the summer months, lifeguards are also present at Praia do Cabedelo to ensure everyone’s safety.
2. Matosinho in Porto
Praia do Matosinho, located in Porto, is a prime surfing destination for surfers who want to experience the best of northern Portugal’s surf spots. Featuring a beach break, a sandy bottom, and waves suitable for both beginner and intermediate surfers, this spot is renowned for its high surfing consistency – typically ranging from October through May.
There are plenty of amenities around, such as surf shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as a few supermarkets since it’s so centrally located in Porto. Plus, the beach is easily accessible by subway! With lots of parking available, you’ll have no trouble getting there and enjoying a perfect surfing day in Porto.
✅ Want a surf lesson in Matosinho? Check out Porto Surf Lesson here.
3. Espinho – Praia da Baia
Located only 25 minutes south of Porto’s center, Praia da Baia is a paradise for intermediate to advanced surfers. The long fine sandy stretch offers a point break with some of the fastest right-hand barreling waves in Portugal.
It’s the perfect spot for experienced riders looking for an adrenaline-fueled experience. During large swells, keep in mind that Praia da Baia can get quite crowded. With great infrastructure including restaurants and bars, as well as a lifeguard, showers, toilets and beach changing rooms, Praia da Baia is a picturesque surfing spot for an unforgettable experience in Portugal.
4. Praia do Cabedelo- Figueira da Foz
Figueira da Foz is an idyllic destination for all surfers, from beginners to advanced. Located in the center of Portugal’s coast and right in the village, this stunning beach boasts two kilometers of white sand surrounded by dunes and a wooden walkway. Praia da Cabedelo offers a reliable point break with a sandy bottom, perfect for those who want to ride some long, fast waves.
This beach is also a former Championship Tour venue, which makes it all the more special! And when the sun sets, Figueira da Foz transforms into Portugal’s only night surf spot! If you’re looking to grab something to eat or some drinks after your session, there are plenty of restaurants and bars nearby. There are also surf schools in the area where board rentals are possible.
In addition to surfing, Figueira da Foz is also a great spot for kitesurfing. It’s worth noting that the infrastructure was renovated in 2021, making this beach very family-friendly with it’s large parking lot and easy access.
5. Nazare- Praia do Norte
Nazare’s Praia do Norte is a great destination that attracts advanced surfers worldwide looking for the largest waves in the world. Located about an hour and a half north of Lisbon, this beach break creates waves on its sandy bottom that can get grow to incredible sizes because they are channeled by an underwater canyon. When the swell is smaller during summer months, it can also offer small waves for fun sessions suitable for all levels.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much infrastructure on this beach in Nazare – only a wild beach with dunes but there is parking available. Despite the lack of amenities, it’s still one of the best surfing spots in Portugal and a must-visit if you’re planning a surf trip to Portugal!
✅ Not an advanced surfer but still want to see the massive waves? Check out Nazare Giant Waves tour here.
6. Peniche- Supertubos
Peniche’s Praia de Supertubos is one of the most popular spots for surfers in Portugal. Located a little over an hour north of Lisbon, this left-hand beach break offers perfect, powerful tubes which should be approached cautiously and only by advanced-level surfers. It also hosts the elite of competitive professional surfing every year and has great infrastructure for beachgoers with restaurants, showers, bathrooms and a lifeguard.
Due to its power, Supertubos is considered to be one of the heaviest waves in Europe – making it a must-visit spot for any surfer planning a trip in the area!
✅ Want a surf lesson in Peniche? Check out Surf Classes in Peniche here.
Ericeira is the Portuguese surfing mecca, and in 2011 was declared the only World Surf Reserve in Europe. Just 40 minutes from Lisbon, the reserve includes 13 beaches, each harbouring conditions suitable for different levels of surfing.
The most popular beach is Praia da Ribeira D’Ilhas which offers an excellent rock bottom point break with one of the longest right-hand reef breaks in Europe. It also boasts great infrastructure with several surf schools where you can rent a board, a large surf complex to shower after your session, as well as a restaurant with great options, and a lounge area to relax and plan your next ride.
The Beach Bus gives surfers the opportunity to zip along the coast from one beach to another with their boards really easily, and 4 of the beaches are within walking distance from the village. This is a particularly inviting spot for surfers since the nightlife and atmosphere created in the pretty fisherman’s village is one of the best on this list!
✅ Want a surf lesson in Ericeira? Check out Ericeira Surf Lesson here.
8. Praia do Gincho
Praia do Gincho is a great destination for surfers of all levels looking for a gorgeous beach near Lisbon. Located about 30 minutes from downtown Lisbon, this beach offers a great left-hand break on a rock and sand bottom. It’s a great beach for kite and windsurfing too.
Since it’s a local favorite it can get crowded, but there is usually plenty of space to enjoy the ride. The infrastructure includes a parking lot, several surf schools and some great restaurants and bars, though there are no showers or public bathrooms available.
✅ Want to go with a small group? Check out Lisbon Surf Experience here.
Praia de Carcavelos is one of the most famous surf spots and is conveniently just 30 minutes from Lisbon’s center. It offers a sandy bottom beach break with both lefts and rights. It’s suitable for all experience levels, though the waves are usually only good between October and April.
During the summer the wide beach is packed with beachgoers enjoying the water and the heat. The infrastructure includes several surf schools, restaurants, showers and bathrooms as well as parking – making it an excellent destination for any surfer looking to explore Portugal’s coastline during the shoulder season!
✅ Want to go with a small group? Check out Lisbon Surf Experience here.
10. Sines – Praia de Sao Torpes
Praia de Sao Torpes is one of Portugal’s best beaches for surfers. Located only 10 minute’s drive from the town of Sines, this reliable spot has warm water thanks to the nearby thermal power station which heats the water without any health detriments.
Beginner surfers will enjoy the beach break waves here. The sandy bottom is made of coarse sand compared to other beaches in the area and it has a heavy swell which creates barrels on good days. There is also a lifeguarding service in summer months and plenty of parking. There’s even a cute beach bar combined with a surf school for those wanting a class, a rental or a snack.
11. Aljezur – Praia de Arrifana
Praia de Arrifana is a paradise for surfers, attracting them from all corners of the globe. It is located a little under an hour from Sagres. Set against a stunning backdrop of majestic cliffs, this sandy-bottomed bay offers perfect conditions for both beginner and intermediate-level surfers.
With its point and beach break, surfers will love the waves here. The beach also boasts a lifeguard in the summer, outdoor parking area, a bar and restaurant, as well as bathrooms and surfing schools for those looking to learn.
✅ Want a surf lesson in Aljezur? Check out Aljezur Surf Lessons here.
12. Costa Vicentina – Praia do Amado
Praia do Amado, located 25 minutes north of Sagres, is a stunning beach break that has become popular among surfers looking for the perfect wave. It’s sheltered from the common north winds yet still catches plenty of swell, making it the ideal spot for both beginner and experienced surfers. Because of this, the waves here can get quite crowded.
The beach has a lifeguard on duty during the summer as well as excellent infrastructure which includes restaurants, a bathroom and a surfing school. It also has a large parking lot above the beach.
13. Sagres – Praia do Tonel
Sagres, located on the most southern point of Portugal’s Atlantic coast, is a prime spot for surfers with a little more skill. The village itself has an incredibly cool surf vibe, with a relaxed atmosphere, people who come for surf and yoga retreats and plenty of places to explore.
Nearby Praia do Tonel, offers some of the best surfing conditions on the entire coast. The beach is surrounded by cliffs and rocks, making for incredible views as you ride the waves. It offers lifeguards during summer months, parking nearby and plenty of delicious restaurants.
This beach break is well liked since both left and right-handers can be surfed. The sandy bottom produces powerful waves on a good day when the swell is coming in from the Atlantic. Although this spot can become crowded at times, it is still an excellent option for intermediate and advanced surfers looking to catch some waves.
✅ Want to get some cool surf pics while in Sagres? Check out Sagres Surf Photo Session here.
14. Madeira Island – Jardim do Mar
Jardim do Mar, located on Portugal’s stunning Madeira island, is an incredible spot for experienced surfers and offers an iconic right-hander point break. With a rocky bottom and no infrastructure or lifeguards, Jardim do Mar is quite a challenge.
The wave’s difficulty level has been bumped up a notch due to a recently built jetty. It did make access easier but made the whole area shallower which caused the wave to become significantly more challenging and dangerous. The pebble beach is located just in front of the picturesque little village and is a little under an hour from Funchal. All in all, Jardim do Mar offers surfers an unforgettable experience with great waves and breathtaking views.
✅ Want to surf in Madeira? Check out Surfing Lessons in Madeira here.
15. Azores – Ilha de Sao Miguel – Praia do Areal de Santa Bárbara
Praia do Areal de Santa Barbara is the most famous surf spot in the Azores, located on the beautiful Ilha de Sao Miguel. The beach offers easy access and is suitable for both beginners and intermediate surfers. Its sand is very fine and dark due to the volcanic origin of the island.
This beach break offers a rocky bottom that creates powerful waves on a good day. There is also excellent infrastructure in the form of lifeguards, showers, outdoor parking, and even a bar/restaurant nearby.
Map of Best Surf Spots in Portugal
Culture of Surfing in Portugal
Surfing has long been an integral part of Portuguese culture, with the country’s location on the Atlantic Ocean providing consistently good waves throughout the year. The country has a rich history of surfers, who have been hitting the waves since at least the 1950s.
Surf started becoming more popular in the 70’s, when foreigners started bringing equipment to Portugal that didn’t exist there, like wetsuits and different types of boards. Things slowly evolved, and finally, the first surf competition in Portugal actually took place in Ericeira, in 1977.
Portugal’s coastal towns slowly started to emerge at an international level as incredible surf spots, and today are legendary among European surfers. People from around the world flock to its shores for the perfect wave, bringing a really international quality to the surf scene. The country is renowned for its warm and friendly people, making it a great place to learn more about surfing and make friends with like-minded people from all around the world.
Planning Your Surf Trip In Portugal
A Surf trip to Portugal should definitely be on your bucket list if you want to experience the best waves Europe has to offer! Read on to find out all you need to know to plan your next surf trip to Portugal.
Surf Camps in Portugal provide an unforgettable experience for surfers of all skill levels. Whether you are a beginner looking to learn the basics, or an advanced surfer looking to perfect your technique, you can find a camp that is perfectly suited to your needs.
Not only will you have the chance to learn how to surf in some of the world’s best waves, but you will also be able to enjoy a range of different activities and experiences during your stay. From yoga and meditation classes to physiological athletic training, there is something for everyone at Surf Camp.
At most camps, guests have the choice between a shared or private room with breakfast and dinner included. Whether you prefer a vegan, vegetarian or traditional menu, you can find something to suit your dietary needs. Additionally, all camps offer instruction and classes in English so that everyone is able to understand the instructors easily.
Here are a few recommendations.
🌊 Moka Surf House & Yoga Retreat – located in Ericeira, the only World Surf Reserve in Europe. This surf house is about 40 minutes from Lisbon and offers an incredible experience in a beautiful setting. We love the free bikes here, and the hammocks in the garden! The Mongolian Yurt where the yoga classes take place is really soothing and the food is delicious here.
Rated: 4.7/5 on Tripaneer
Cost: starting from 356 Euros for 4 days.
✅ Book your stay at Moka Surf House & Yoga Retreat here.
🌊 Surf Coaching at the Sea House – located in Matosinhos, near Porto. Joao the instructor offers a very personalized physiological approach to surfing, teaching his students all the techniques to learn and improve as quickly as possible. We love the one-on-one coaching program, the quality of the accommodation and how centrally located it is in Porto. Here only breakfast is included, but airport transfer is part of the deal.
Rated 4.8/5 on Tripaneer
Cost: starting from 400 Euros for 7 days
✅ Book your stay at Surf Coaching at the Sea House here.
Even when the temperature soars to above 30º C during the summer months, the water stays cold on the Atlantic Portuguese coast. The water temperature only goes up to 18-22 ºC, even in August, and drops down to 14-15 ºC in winter.
Wetsuits come in a range of styles and thicknesses, and the right one for you will depend on the time of year, water temperature, as well as your own body shape and size. Most surfers in Portugal don’t bother with a thinner suit for summer and just make do with one 4/3 mm wetsuit year round, especially north of Lisbon.
To make sure your suit fits well here are a few recommendations.
Wetsuits for men
🌊 Oneill 3/4 Hyperfreak – has a very forgiving fit, especially if you need more room around the love handles or stomach. Made with Technobutter neoprene which is the most flexible on the market and has a back zip, which is easier to get in and out of.
Budget for a Surf Trip In Portugal
🌊 Cost of food: eating out will put you back between 15 and 25 Euros per meal for one person. Breakfast at the bakery can go for about 3 Euros.
🌊 Transportation: Many surf camps and accommodation offer free bicycles and shuttles to get into or around town, but you can always rent a bike for about 10 Euros a day, use public transport which is generally cheap, or take an Uber. Public transport in Lisbon and Porto goes for 1,70 Euros per ride, and Uber is the best and safest option at night. Most Uber rides go for around 5 Euros. Renting a car is generally expensive in Portugal and will cost you around 50 Euros/day or more.
🌊 Lodging: Your best option is a surf camp, they usually include many perks like meals, airport transfers, bikes, and social gatherings, but not always. Prices generally go for between 60 and 100 Euros per day, depending on the room type, what is included, and the location. Otherwise, just accommodation can go for about the same price as a surf camp, so it’s definitely worth looking into!
🌊 Gear: If you are a first-time surfer, you’ll get all your gear included at a surf camp, so this should be your first option. You’ll get to try different types of boards and suits to see which is best for you. If you’re ready to get your own gear and want to travel with it you’ll need to buy a board and leash and some wax. A soft top goes for about $200-$500, while most poly or epoxy boards cost from $500-$1000. A wetsuit will cost you between 200-500$ depending on what fit you like.
5 Travel Tips For Portugal
✅ Bring a travel adapter for European plugs
A travel adapter for European plugs is one of the most essential items for your packing list. Portugal uses the standard two-pronged European plug type C and F, so you’ll need an adapter to connect any non-European appliances such as your computer or phone charger. And don’t bring a non-European hair dryer, hair straightener or curling iron since the voltage is different and it will burn out!
✅ Brush up on a few Portuguese words and phrases
Although most people in Portugal speak English, it’s always nice to show locals that you appreciate their culture by trying out some of the language. Basic greetings like ‘Bom dia’, ‘Obrigado’ and ‘Adeus’ (Good morning, Thank you, Goodbye) will go a long way in getting the most out of your interactions with locals.
✅ Visit Portugal in the shoulder season, September to October.
September and October are excellent times to visit Portugal since you get the best of both worlds as a surfer and as a tourist. During the shoulder season, the crowds decrease but the weather is still beautiful with temperatures around 25-30°C. And the ocean’s waves are still manageable enough for beginner surfers. Experienced surfers can also benefit from coming slightly later in October- November when the weather is still great although a little cooler. This is the best time to surf in Portugal as the swell starts to increase and the crowds have officially all gone home. The water is also at its warmest at this time of year!
✅ Make sure you leave the larger cities of Lisbon and Porto
Traveling to Portugal can be a truly rewarding experience, as the country is full of captivating attractions both in and outside of its bustling cities. While the iconic monuments and vibrant city life of Lisbon and Porto are sure to charm visitors, there is much more to discover beyond these well-known destinations. Exploring Portugal’s rural areas, as well as its rugged coastline and sampling local delicacies can be some of the most rewarding experiences in Portugal.
✅ Only rent a car on the days you decide to leave the city
I don’t recommend renting a car in the cities of Portugal, such as Lisbon or Porto! Traffic, parking and fines in these cities can be a nightmare, with one-way streets that are often too narrow for cars to fit comfortably, and parking lots that are frequently overfilled. Don’t bring your rental into town! Tourists who plan to drive out of the city should instead take public transport or an Uber to the airport, and rent a car from there since highway access from the airport is easy and headache-free.
✅ Make sure you have cash
When traveling in Portugal, it is important to bring cash in hand. Many restaurants and shops outside of the big cities like Lisbon and Porto only accept cash, so it’s best to make sure you have enough money with you. International ATMs are readily available in bigger cities, so if you do run out of cash getting more isn’t an issue.
Conclusion: Surfing in Portugal
Surfing in Portugal is an experience like no other. With its stunning coastline, warm waters and amazing waves, it’s a destination that every surfer should add to their bucket list. The best time to surf in Portugal really depends on your skill as a surfer. Whether you’re looking for beginner-friendly surf spots in summer months, or more challenging ones when the swell starts pounding, there are plenty of options throughout the country.