The rugged coastlines of Portugal have long been a magnet for surfers. However, not all Portugal surf towns are created equal. Some surf towns in Portugal boast heavy reef breaks and energizing nightlife. Others offer up small, dreamy, beginner-friendly waves in a sleepy coastal village setting.
If you’re planning a surf trip to Portugal and deciding where to go, you’re in luck- this surf guide covers the 5 best surf towns in Portugal.
In a hurry? Here are the 5 best surf towns in Portugal:
1. Ericeira- Best Portuguese surf town for world class surf
2. Arrifana- best surf town in Portugal for nature lovers
3. Peniche- best surf town in Portugal for barrels
4. Lisbon- best surf town in Portugal for digital nomads
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Top 5 surf towns in Portugal
1. Ericeira- Best Portuguese surf town for world class surf
For most people, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the surf in Portugal is the monster wave Nazare. The second thing is probably Ericeira.
Ericeira is a world-class surf destination in Portugal, located about 45 minutes north of Portugal’s capital, Lisbon. This fishing village turned surf mecca spans parallel to about 10 miles of coastline, with famous surf spots all along the coast.
Since most of the surf breaks in Ericeira are reef breaks, the waves are very consistent, and if the swells are cooperating you’re looking at some amazing waves.
The town itself of Ericeira is a very interesting mix of new and old. Old Town Ericeira dates all the way back to the 12th century, with gorgeous, historic buildings, winding cobblestone streets, and rich fishing roots. On the other hand, Ericeira has freshly paved roads, brand new multi-million dollar developments sprouting up all over, and a heavy influx of expats. Many say that southern Portugal resembles California, but I strongly disagree- Ericeira has many more similarities to bustling California surf towns than anywhere in the Algarve.
If you’re comfortable surfing reef breaks and want to be in a surf town with more amenities, you’ll love Ericeira. Plus, it’s only a skip away from Lisbon, making it an easy surf trip if you’re flying in from another country in Europe.
2. Arrifana- Best surf town in Portugal for nature lovers
Arrifana is a very small surf town located in the Aljezur region of the Algarve. The main beach there is Praia Arrifana, a vast, seashell-shaped beach with sparkling blue waters, staggering cliffs, and fun, consistent surf.
The waves in Arrifana are great for all levels. There are always tons of surf schools out, teaching beginners to catch both white water and green waves alike.
The surf is also great for intermediate and advanced surfers, particularly in the fall and winter when the surf gets bigger.
One of the most distinct features of Arrifana is its remoteness. While the beach is absolutely packed during the day, the whole town winds down early every night- save for a few restaurants and bars, like Sea You Surf Cafe, and Hokapia. There are also numerous beaches, trails, and open spaces nearby Arrifana where you can enjoy the natural landscape with hardly anyone else around- a rarity in most beach towns! Arrifana is also much less expensive to stay in than other surf towns in Portugal. If you’re looking for a sleepy and beautiful surf town in Portugal, consider taking a surf trip to Arrifana.
3. Peniche- Best surf town in Portugal for barrels
Located on the western coast of Portugal, about 90 minutes north of Lisbon, Peniche is one of the most famous surf towns in Portugal- and with good reason.
The town itself is incredibly charming, marked by beautiful buildings and cobblestone streets.
Peniche is also a surfer’s paradise. It’s home to several different surf breaks, including beginner beach breaks, mellow longboard waves, and the famous (or should I say infamous) Supertubos.
For intermediate and advanced surfers planning a Portugal surf trip in the summer, Peniche is a great option, as it receives much more swell in the summer months than some of its southern neighbors in the Algarve.
It’s also a very walkable city, and easy to get to restaurants, surf shops, and beaches on foot.
4. Lisbon- Best surf town in Portugal for digital nomads
Lisbon is one of the best surf towns in Portugal. Especially for digital nomads.
Lisbon is a city of contrasts. It’s a cosmopolitan capital with a long history and an abundance of sites to explore, like the Belem Tower and the Jeronimo Monastery. It’s adjacent to the sea, and boasts all the perks that come with it: great weather, excellent food and drink, and above all else, surfing!
The Portuguese capital has plenty of spots to surf, from Carcavelos and Costa da Caparica, to Guincho.
To be fair, Lisbon is hardly a surf town- it’s more of a surf city. And with a city, comes perks like nightlife, tons of restaurants, unique boutique hotels, culture, history, and most important for digital nomads- plenty of places to work!
If you’re looking for a chill, laid-back traditional surf town, I recommend heading elsewhere. However, if living in the city adjacent to surfing excites you, give Lisbon a try!
Sagres is located at the very southernmost tip of not just Portugal, but all of Europe. During Ancient Roman times, the Romans called Sagres Promontorium Sacrum, which means the end of the world. While Sagres might not be the end of the world, it is one of the best surf towns in Portugal.
One of the reasons Sagres is so great is because it has surf beaches on both its south and west coast. During the summer, beginner surfers can enjoy surfing the ever sunny west coast beach Tonel. In late fall and winter, the west coast beaches like Tonel and Praia Beliche get big, and Praia Tonel produces some pretty nice barrels.
The fun doesn’t end in winter for beginner surfers though. When the south swells start to pick up, south-facing surf beaches like Praia Mareta get waves, and beginners can still surf even when the west coast beaches are too big. Since almost all of the surf towns in Portugal only have west coast surf spots, this is a huge point towards Sagres, as it extends the window to which beginner surfers can enjoy the Portuguese waves!
There are also a ton of bars and restaurants, and no shortage of nightlife.
At the very tip of Sagres, you’ll find the Old Sagres Fort. The amazing defense structure was built in the 15th century, destroyed by Francis Drake, and then rebuilt again in the 16th century. Today, you can walk the grounds overlooking the water, remnants of the fort itself, and learn about both the history, flora, and fauna of the area. It’s also an amazing sunset spot!
Best surf towns in Portugal- final thoughts
Portugal’s coastline is endlessly diverse, with a mixture of different surf spots, and surf towns. To have the best surf trip to Portugal, it’s important to choose the right location, which is why we’ve rounded up 5 of the best surf towns in Portugal. With that said- each of these Portuguese surf towns is very unique and special in its own right, and no matter where you choose to go, you’ll be welcomed with open arms by some of the kindest locals, and most beautiful coastlines in the world.