If you’re looking for the best surfing spots in the world, Portugal needs to be on your list!
Surfing has been popular in Portugal for decades, but it was especially during the last ten years that the famous giant waves of Nazare's North Canyon brought the world's attention to the Portuguese shores.
The huge waves that form on the coast of Praia do Norte gained worldwide visibility in 2011, when surfer Garret McNamara did what most people considered wishful thinking at the time: he surfed a 24 m wave, the biggest ever recorded at the time, and earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Two years later, McNamara broke his own record and surfed what was believed to be a 30 m wave, also in Nazaré.
These two remarkable moments earned Portugal huge popularity as a surfing hotspot, attracting thousands of curious and adventurous surfers from around the globe every year. But the surfing scene in Portugal is so much more than just big waves!
Due to its extensive coast, the country has several other great surfing spots from North to South.
Portugal is located in southwestern Europe and is the westernmost country of mainland Europe. Continent Portugal is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and by Spain to the north and east. The islands of the Azores and Madeira are also part of Portugal. The country's central location and unique landscape have allowed it to become a huge tourist attraction for international visitors who are not indifferent to the country’s charm and good reputation. Incredibly beautiful beaches, mild climate, great gastronomy, friendly people and classic architecture are some of the elements that make up the typical postcard for tourists.
On top of all that, Portugal is also one of the best surf spots in the world!
What makes Portugal perfect for surfers?
Portugal picks up north, west and south swells, which creates very appealing surf conditions. During the winter, you can expect swells ranging from 2 to 5 m or more, depending on the region. On the other hand, during the summer months, you’ll most likely encounter waves ranging from 1 to 1.5 m.
The great thing about surfing in Portugal is that you can find waves for any type of person. For those with less experience, there are plenty of beaches in the Silver Coast, Lisbon Coast or in the Algarve region where the swells aren’t very strong, and the waves are smaller and less powerful – ideal for those who want to start their surfing journey or enjoy a calmer surfing experience.
On the other hand, if you’re a professional surfer looking for new challenges, Portugal will also serve you very well. Praia do Norte in Nazaré is a mandatory stop if you really want to reach new heights – metaphorically and literally. This place is currently a world-famous surfing spot that attracts the bravest and more adventurous professional big wave surfers in the world.
Keep in mind that the waves you’ll find in Praia do Norte - Nazaré, between the months of October and March, are like no others. In other words, only highly experienced surfers should dare to surf these waves. Don’t make the foolish mistake of trying to surf 15 to 20 m waves if you have never surfed waves of such magnitude before.
Discover the giant waves of Nazare’s North Canyon
Every year, between October and March, thousands of visitors come to Nazaré to see big wave surfers ride the world’s biggest swells. Find out how Nazaré's North Canyon creates the World's Biggest Waves...
Whether you are a professional surfer looking to reach new milestones in your career or someone with less experience who just wants to have a bit of fun in the sea, you’ll find the perfect surf paradise in Portugal.
Surf culture in Portugal
From a surfer’s standpoint, Portugal has everything you could wish for. The waves are incredible and just the right fit for any type of surfer, but the surf culture is also something else in Portugal!
All along the coastline, you will find thousands of surf schools, bars and cafés as well as highly acclaimed surf camps that take place every year. The Portuguese love the sport, so you’ll most likely meet like-minded people and make new international friends very easily. And to top everything, Portugal is an inexpensive place to travel to and your surfing experience in the country won’t require significant costs. So, surfing holidays in Portugal are also the perfect choice if you’re on a budget!
Best surfing season in Portugal
In case you want to know what the best surfing season in Portugal is, there is no right answer – everything depends on your preferences, and you can surf in Portugal all year round.
If surfing huge waves in Portugal is your goal, you should visit the country during the colder months, specifically in December and January, when the big and exciting waves hit the coast.
If you’re just looking for a bit of fun and adventure with smaller waves, you can easily find the right surfing beaches in Portugal that will serve you just as well during the warmer months. In the summer, you can expect smaller waves that attract learners or less experienced surfers looking for some fun with their boards.
The best places to surf in Portugal
From the north to the south, you will find waves of all sizes in Portugal. However, a few spots stand out for various reasons. With 965 km of coastline, there are plenty of fabulous beaches with great waves to meet your surfing needs.
North of Portugal
This region receives significantly less attention when compared to the beaches located in the central and southern parts of the country. However, in Porto and in its surrounding areas, you can easily find great surfing spots. Although you won’t run into huge waves like the ones Garret McNamara surfed in Nazaré you’ll still enjoy the experience, especially if you’re a beginner.
The best spots to surf in northern Portugal include Viana do Castelo, Matosinhos and Espinho. The beaches here are especially influenced by the strong northern winds, which means you won’t have trouble finding waves to surf.
Surfing holidays in Portugal usually take place in Central Portugal, specifically on the Silver Coast, which offers some of Portugal's best beaches for surfing.
Places like Buarcos in Figueira da Foz, Supertubos in Peniche, Coxos in Ericeira, and, of course, Praia do Norte Nazaré, are amongst the most famous surfing spots in Portugal! But there are many other beaches where you will find surf enthusiasts practically every day.
Fancy an unforgettable holiday experience on the Silver Coast?
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Coast of Lisbon
The Lisbon coast also offers great conditions for surfing, with a large variety of waves and beaches, such as Guincho and the world-famous Carcavelos.
Besides being home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe, the Algarve is another surf paradise in Portugal.
The Algarve region is ideal for aspiring surfers due to the smaller and less powerful waves all year round. In comparison to central and northern Portugal, the Algarve has calmer sea currents and tends to be less windy, although the conditions vary depending on the location. For example, the central and southeast coastline of the Algarve is more popular for regular beach tourism, although there are a few beaches that attract surfers.
The western coast between Sines and Sagres, known as Costa Vicentina, is where you will find the best Algarve beaches for surfing, namely in (Cardoama beach) Sagres, (Amado Beach) Carrapateira and (Arrifana beach) Aljezur.
Regardless of planning a surf holiday or a permanent move to enjoy surfing in Portugal all year round, you will not be disappointed!
Portugal is definitely the right place to be for an amazing surfing experience. In addition, it’s also a beautiful, welcoming and very affordable country... so why not catch the wave and pack your board over to Portugal? We promise you an unforgettable ride!