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The best surf spots in Portugal

Portugal is a true surf mecca that can easily stand comparison with Hawaii - in terms of big waves and looking at beach, reef and point breaks. Here are our top 9 surf spots.
By Henner Thies
7 min readPublished on
"Surfing is an inseparable part of Portuguese culture," says Hugo Pinheiro. The Lisbon local should know.
After all, the bodyboard legend has been an integral part of the surf scene there for decades, which has been growing and growing at least since the legendary Moche Rip Curl Pro in 2012: "After football, surfing is the biggest sport in Portugal," Hugo enthuses: "We are a nation that loves the sea and surfing is everywhere here!" No wonder in a country where there are waves that are ideal for both rank beginners and the best big wave surfers in the world.
Hugo Pinheiro rides a wave near Lisbon, Portugal.

Hugo Pinheiro in a thick tube near Lisbon.

© Hugo Silva

The best time to surf in Portugal is from September to April.
The best thing for traveling surfers: Portugal is a comparatively small country. If you're serious about your surf trip, you can head for completely different spots within a few hours - from fierce reef breaks to flawless point breaks and varied beach breaks. There's nothing you can't find in Portugal!
Surf shooting star Teresa Bonvalot, who has surfed just about every spot in Portugal from Nazaré in the north to Zavial in the south, knows this too: "Portugal is incredibly varied and still surprises even me," the 23-year-old says happily.
Here are the 9 best surf spots in Portugal - from north to south!

Praia do Norte - Nazaré

Professional surfer Teresa Bonvalot surfs Nazare, Portugal

Teresa Bonvalot surfs Nazaré on a "small day".

© Hugo Silva / Red Bull Content Pool

What most people forget with all the coverage around Nazaré's big waves: The beach there is also a very good address on normal days, which Portugal locals like Hugo Pinheiro have known for a while. "I surfed Nazaré for the first time 20 years ago at a bodyboard competition," says Pinheiro. Although not in today's shape and size, "Nazaré has always been our big wave beach, where we put ourselves to the test," he laughs. Long before the world knew about Nazaré.
Today, everyone:r knows Nazaré - mainly because of its big wave records. But the formerly sleepy fishing village has much more to offer than just monster waves. Thanks to the markets and beautiful squares, a visit is worthwhile even on smaller days. One thing is for sure: then it is much emptier around the high cliff on which the fortress "Forte de São Miguel Arcanjo" stands than on Nazaré's historic big wave days.

2 min

Nazaré travel guide

Surfers Maya Gabeira and Carlos Burle share tips on making the most of the Portuguese city of Nazaré .


Supertubos - Peniche

If you have the nickname "European Pipeline", you must have it in you. And indeed: the beachbreak Supertubos delivers what its nickname promises.
This is one of the reasons why Supertubos is probably the most famous beach in Peniche. The spot impresses with its unique consistency and can basically be surfed all year round. On small days, even advanced surfers can challenge themselves here. On big days, the wave is rather reserved for surf cracks and locals - the thick lip breaks too fast and violently on the shallow sandy ground in the immediate vicinity of the beach.

2 min

Watch the best sessions from Supertubos

Tiago Pires leads the pack at Portugal's best beachbreak barrels.


Coxos - Ericeira

The fact alone that Germany's surfing ace Leon Glatzer has never made it past Ericeira during his numerous visits to Portugal shows how good the conditions are in and around the municipality of Ericeira.
There are eleven spots alone, some of them world-class, on the just eight-kilometre stretch between the bay of Ribeira D'Ihlas to the more southerly beach of Foz do Lizandro: "The number of waves there is hard to believe. It's like a cold Indonesia," says Leon happily.
Leon Glatzer surfing Teahupoo Tahiti

Leon training in Teahupo'o, Tahiti.

© Domenic Mosqueira / Red Bull Content Pool

For me, Portugal is the country with the best waves in Europe.
"My absolute favourite wave in Portugal is Coxos," he beams. "The wave is longer than you think and on good days it's just perfect!" Diverse tube sections, steep, hollow, powerful, room for big turns... This wave has everything that pros dream of in a wave. In short: "Coxos is like a mutated wave pool!", affirms Glatzer. Only "Crazy Lefts", a spot diagonally opposite Coxos, is heavier on big days.

Ribeira D'Ilhas - Ericeira

Perhaps the most popular spot in Ericeira is the bay Ribeira D'Ilhas. Enclosed by beautiful cliffs and thus protected from stronger north and south winds, long righthanders break here, which already start to fire at small NW swells.
The good thing about Ribeira is that, thanks to the stony ground, the wave still runs as if it had been made from scratch, even when larger winter swells produce waves that are clearly overhead high and also attract professionals.

3 min

Red Bull Rivals Ribeira D'Ihlas - Action Clip

Action clip from the Red Bull Rivals Final in Ribeira D'Ilhas.

Although this spot also gets crowded quickly, thanks to the length of this right, you can easily position yourself a little further inside from the main peak and still get your fair share! Add to that the easy parking right in front of the spot, the café in front of it and the endless constant waves.... in short: there's always something to do in Ribeira, even if it's just drinking coffee with a beautiful view.

Foz do Lizandro - Ericeira

"One of my absolute favourite beaches in Ericeira is Praia da Foz da Lizandro," says Leon Glatzer happily. The sandy beach, shaped like an L, is at the end of the Rio Lizandro, so it's an estuary, which makes the sandbanks there very good.
"The conditions are best on south and west swells and from low to mid tide," Glatzer knows. The beach is surfable from knee-high conditions and holds waves up to 2 metres - then the wheat is separated from the chaff because the current increases strongly. Also recommended are the two reef breaks at the north end of the beach: Lage dos Tubos and Limipicos. You just have to decide - as is so often the case when surfing in Portugal.

Praia de Carcavelos - Lisbon

Lisbon's beach break Carcavelos is located directly on the beach promenade and can deliver world-class waves with a great backdrop on the right days. This is because the beach is bordered to the south-east by the "Forte de São Julião da Barra".
This makes it all the more bitter for travelling surfers that Carcavelos, one of the best Lisbon spots, is often hopelessly overcrowded with surfers of above-average quality. But as I said, it's worth it just to take photos here.

Costa da Caparica - Lisbon

The Costa da Caparica is a long bay near Lisbon with one beach break after another. "Every surfer gets his money's worth there," enthuses Hugo Pinheiro about the almost 10 km long headland south of the Tagus. "In my eyes, it's the best spot to learn to surf and have a good time as an experienced surfer," Pinheiro continues. Not least because the centre of Lisbon is just 20 km away!

Arrifana - Aljezur

"The south of Portugal is just beautiful and the weather is always much warmer there than in the north," Hugo Pinheiro raves about the surf region that stretches from Sines, south of Lisbon, to Faro. There are countless waves down there and the orientation of the individual spots varies: some face west, others south. And the nature that surrounds most of the spots there is just breathtaking."
Professional surfer Teresa Bonvalot poses for a portrait photo with her surfboard in Tahiti

From Portugal to the world: top surfer Teresa Bonvalot in Tahiti.

© Domenic Mosqueira / Red Bull Content Pool

Portugal's south is beautiful, warm and blessed with waves on both west and south coasts!
One of the Algarve's first and best spots is the more secluded bay of Arrifana, where it's often quieter than the rest of Portugal - at least in the mornings, when the beach and waves are often deserted. This is in stark contrast to the world-class waves that break in Arrifana. From the point break along the cliff and rocks that border the bay to the north, to the many beachbreak peaks in the middle of the bay, to its southern end. In Arrifana, all levels of surfers get their money's worth. Except in winter, when bigger swells make for more powerful waves and stronger currents. This is the best time for advanced and expert surfers.

Tonel - Sagres

In and around the peninsula of Sagres there are a number of good to very good beach breaks with different orientations. Praia Tonel on the west coast of Sagres is one of the very good ones. Provided the sandbanks are in good shape, this bay in front of the cliff delivers really crisp, often hollow waves. The best time is low to mid-tide. Like most good beaches near the city, Tonel is packed on good days! It's a good thing that nearby Beliche (a little further north and also facing west) and Zavial (further south and facing south) are two more potentially epic beach breaks.