Lisbon Surf Guide- Everything You Need to Know
With its Atlantic coast location and favorable climate, Lisbon offers some of the best surf spots in Portugal, if not in all of Europe. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced surfer, there is a beach to suit your needs. With options ranging from calm, beginner-friendly conditions to powerful, advanced-level waves, there are waves in Lisbon for surfers of every calliber. Some of the most popular surf spots in the Lisbon area include Praia do Guincho, Costa da Caparica, Bafureira, Poca and Sao Pedro. With its vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, so many amazing things to see, and friendly locals, Lisbon is also a great destination for surfers looking to experience a unique and memorable surf trip.
Lisbon surf overview
Lisbon is the capital and largest city in Portugal. Located on the very southwest corner of the European continent, the city is a thriving center for fishing, trade, and transport. The comfortable climate with refreshing breezes from the Atlantic Ocean makes the city popular for tourism. But most importantly for the wave seekers; Lisbon has a very long coastline, with cliffs, bays and beaches of all sorts with a direct exposure to the Atlantic ocean. All the stars align for Lisbon to be an amazing surf region.
** This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Meaning, at no extra cost to you, I earn a small commission anytime you purchase any of the linked products. Thanks for your support of Gathering Waves!
The different Lisbon surf breaks
Lisbon as a surfing destination has a lot to offer, and each break has changing banks, creating almost endless options. This article touches on some of the more famous spots, but don’t forget to ask locals and explore the area yourself while you’re there!
Carcavelos is a well-known surf spot close to the city. It is a beach break that provides a range of waves suitable for surfers of all skill levels. The beach is long and sandy, providing plenty of space for surfers to spread out. Carcavelos is known for its consistent waves, which is why both locals and travelers surf here.
The surf spot is best surfed at low tide when the waves are more powerful and have a longer breaking distance. The waves can be surfed in both directions, although the left-hand wave is more popular. During the summer months, the swell can get quite small, making it a good spot for beginners. However, in the winter months, the waves can get quite big and powerful, attracting more experienced surfers.
Overall, Carcavelos is a great surf spot for surfers of all levels, offering consistent waves and a relaxed atmosphere. The nearby town of Carcavelos provides plenty of amenities, including surf schools, shops, and restaurants, making it an ideal surf destination.
Northwest of the city lies the more exposed beach, Guincho. The beach is less protected, which makes the waves quite big with the bigger swells, and consistent on smaller swells. The unprotected beach can provide quite some size. This is a great surf spot in Lisbon to visit when the other breaks are flat.
In addition to its strong waves, Guincho is also known for its windy conditions, which can make it a challenging surf spot. In fact, it’s so windy at Guincho that this beach is extremely popular with kitesurfers!
It’s best to get to Guincho to surf early, before the winds pick up. Despite the wind, Guincho remains a popular surf spot due to its consistent waves and scenic location. Be aware of strong rips at this break.
Costa da Caparica
South of the Tajo River Mouth, lies the area of Caparica, a long stretch of beach, with endless possibilities for surf. The beach is quite exposed to swells, but still protected from strong winds from the north. Along the shoreline are several current limiting groyns, making the sandbanks more consistent, and the current less harsh. This is a big part of why Caparica is so popular.
Caparica can provide both longer, mellow waves, or short, fast and hollow waves. All depending on tide (usually more hollow on low), swell and swell direction. This beach has a lot of different sections, and will be broken down into more details in its own article! But in short, Caparica is consistent and solid. But don’t expect to be alone in the water.
If you’re looking to buy a surfboard in Portugal, I recommend checking out Costa da Caparica. I bought my surfboard here from Underground Surf Spot, one of the best surf shops in Portugal.
Bafureira is for sure one of the gems in Lisbon. A Reef/point break with both right and left hand breaking waves. The wave breaks over rocks, and can get quite shallow. On a good day, with swell from the southwest and a little offshore wind, the wall can get quite punchy and long. However, this isn’t always the case, as the break often gets blown out by the onshores.
But if you’re lucky, you can score some good rides at this break. On good days Bafueira can get crowded, so don’t be too surprised if a few locals drop in on you. Smile and remember you are visiting 🙂
A short drive west from Bafureira lies another reef break: Poca. AKA Praia da Poça. The beach is fairly exposed, and catches a ton of swell from the southwest. If you are lucky, the offshore wind from the north might help you out a bit, and bring on some glassy walls. This break is also easily accessible in an urban area, so having a good day out by yourself is not too likely. However, on smaller days more experienced surfers tend to go elsewhere. Keep your eye out for the rocks, and you might score a nice day at Poca.
Sao Pedro is the most protected point break in the area. After big storms, you might be lucky enough to score one of these waves. It breaks nice and clean when it breaks, but is not considered a consistent spot. On good days the offshore wind cleans up the waves, and you get a nice mellow peeler. Some size is required for it to work. This is a crowd favorite in Lisbon, and the surfers are easily viewed from land. On good days it gets heavily crowded. But that’s the case with most of the Lisbon surf spots- it is a city after all!
Want to plan a surf trip to Lisbon?
If you’re looking for an urban surf trip, with access to tons of great surf breaks along with a very metropolitan European city, Lisbon is a great place to go! If you want to plan a surf trip to Lisbon, I recommend these steps:
1. Book a flight
To find cheap flights to Lisbon, I recommend checking out websites like CheapOair and Skyscanner, which will show you the cheapest flight options available. However, I recommend using these platforms to find the flights, and then booking directly through the airline rather than through third party sites.
2. Book a place to stay or a surf camp
Next up you’ll want to find a place to stay for your Lisbon surf trip! I recommend checking Hostelworld if you’re looking for cheap accommodations, as well as Booking.com.
The other option is to book a surf camp! Lisbon has tons of awesome surf camps, and the best platform for finding surf camps in Lisbon is Book Surf Camps.
3. Book a rental car
Lisbon has great public transportation and Ubers are super cheap, so you don’t necessarily need a rental car. However, all of the Lisbon surf spots are spread out pretty far, so if you’re looking to check out more than one spot it’s definitely convenient to rent a car. During our surf trip to Portugal, we rented a car from Guerin for two months and had an excellent experience. They’re not the cheapest, but we paid the exact price as advertised, and didn’t get stuck with any surprise fees.
Best swell(s) for Lisbon:
Lisbon has a varied coastline, with bends, points and cliffs. So each break has its own special perfect swell. But in general, most swells come from the west, and southwest. The beach breaks can get good sandbanks on almost all the swells, while the points might be a bit more swell-specific.
Lisbon surf seasons
Lisbon’s exposed location is actually ideal for surfing year round. However, the type of waves vary a lot throughout the year. September to April is typically the main season for surfing. Between October and March is when you get the bigger swells for the more advanced surfers. From May until August is when the coastline is more calm, and provides softer waves for beginners and longboarders. This being said, big swells can come in summer, and there are flat days in winter.
Lisbon surfing FAQ’s
Is Lisbon a surf town?
Yes and no. Lisbon is definitely more of a surf city than a surf town. Also, Lisbon itself doesn’t have its own surf beach right up against the city. You do have to drive, uber, or take public transportation to the various surrounding surf beaches. I recommend staying in Lisbon if you want to be in the city and have the option for taking surf trips. If you are purely there to surf, I recommend staying in or near Costa da Caparica, Guincho, Carcavelos, etc so you are in much closer proximity to the surf.
Who should plan a surf trip to Lisbon?
If you enjoy an urban setting with several nearby surf breaks, Lisbon is a great surf destination. Personally, I prefer a more rural surf environment, and I loved the Arrifana and Aljezur surfing areas. However, digital nomads and city dwellers absolutely LOVE Lisbon, so that says a lot.
Is Lisbon safe?
Lisbon is as safe as any other European touristy city, with occasional the petty theft and pickpockets. Compared to many other surfing destinations around the world, I would consider it very safe. Good infrastructure and a pretty good economy makes the place welcoming to tourists.
Does Lisbon have good surf beaches for beginners?
Yes! Lisbon has many big sandy beaches with lots of smaller waves for beginners. I would recommend going in the summer season, when waves are smaller. Always remember to check with locals before you go to a new beach to surf. Rips and shorebreaks can vary a lot!
Lisbon surf guide- final thoughts
Lisbon is one of the most famous surfing cities in Europe! This guide only includes a handful of the many surf breaks in and around Lisbon. You can probably spend years going to new spots around the city, and still not be done. So if you’re keen on an urban surfing holiday, with a ton of surf, Lisbon is the place to explore.