Surfing in Portugal

It is a country surrounded on two sides by the Atlantic ocean and so it is no shock to find that in Portugal, surfing is a major sporting activity and extremely popular. The 830km of Atlantic coastline contains some 30 or 40 beaches and reefs popular with surfers, especially the 600km of west-facing coast, with the best surfing in Portugal to be found near Ericeira and Peniche, or further up at Nazaré, on the Estremadura coast north of Lisbon.

In Ericeira the beaches popular with surfers are to be found on the north side of town, such as the Praia do São Sebastião, or the Praia de Ribeira d'Ilhas 3km further out of town, where the World Surfing Championships have been held. It is a beautiful sight to see the surfers riding the waves as you walk along the beach at sunset but be careful if you want to have a go yourself: the tides are very strong and it is dangerous to swim out of the designated and patrolled beach areas.

If you are in Portugal on a surfing holiday but you don't have your own board and equipment, you are most likely to find what you need in one of the many surf hire shops on the Costa da Caparica and Algarve, which cater for the tourist surfer as well as the geared-up professional. In Ericeira you can hire surfing equipment at Ultimar, Rua 5 de Outubro 25 (261 862 371). Generally you can hire out a surfboard for around €15 to €25 for a day. And if you have come to Portugal for surfing lessons, there are surfing schools here and also at Viana do Castelo, Aveiro, Porto, Peniche, Torres Vedras, Ericeira, Sintra, Lisbon and the Estoril coast. For a whole day of coaching with a group you are looking at spending about €20 to €30, with individual lessons costing considerably more money.

Whilst the professional competitions take place in the summer, you can surf all year round in Portugal because the climate is so mild. In winter, however, the sea can get a bit chilly so make sure to pack your thermal wetsuit!

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