Portugal is a contender for the best surf in all of Europe, and one of the best destinations in the world for a surf trip.
While you’ve surely heard of Nazarre, the surf in Portugal is more than that.
It’s a rich surfing history in Cascais.
It’s world class barrels at Supertubos.
It’s sunny, dreamy surf sessions in the Algarve.
Planning a surf trip to Portugal is the fun part. The hard part is packing!
I recently packed up and shipped out to Portugal on a 3 month surfing adventure, and I’m here to share with you exactly what to include on your Portugal surf trip packing list. Since this trip has barely begun, I’ll be updating this list as I go along, and including things I wish I had brought, and things I wish I hadn’t.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the ultimate Portugal surf trip packing list!
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Should you bring your own surfboard?
A surfboard rental in Portugal costs anywhere from 10- 30 euros a day, and you might get a discount if you rent weekly. That comes out to anywhere from $60-$210 a week for a board rental.
Flying your surfboard to Portugal will run you anywhere from free, up to $200+. Each way.
Rowan and I recently flew from the Montreal Airport to Lisbon via Tap Air Portugal, and the price to fly his 6” shortboard was $120. AND THEY LOST IT. The board did not make it with us to Lisbon… It’s supposed to arrive soon, hopefully it does!
**Update** After a week in Portugal, the board still did not arrive. Because of this, he ended up buying a board from Aljezur Surf Spot. It’s an awesome board, and while it’s a bummer that his hand shaped Carton board from Costa Rica has still not been found, he’s happy he found a good surfboard here.
Anyway, if you’re only coming for a week, it’s a bit of a wash financially if you should bring your surfboard or rent one. If you have a surfboard you absolutely LOVE and know it’ll be good for the conditions, then you should probably bring it.
If you don’t have a board you think will be suitable for the surf in Portugal, and you’re only coming for a week or so, then it’s also not a bad idea to just plan on renting one.
If you’re coming to Portugal to surf for longer than a week, you should either bring your board, or buy one here.
While Rowan elected to fly his surfboard here, I didn’t have a surfboard I wanted to use in Portugal. My trusty 5’6” Firewire that I surfed all over Costa Rica has seen some better days, and it also has more volume than is ideal for the Portugal surf in the fall.
I found the perfect board for me as well, a beautiful blue surfboard that was shaped in Ericeira from Underground Surfspot Caparica.
Should you check luggage or just bring a carry-on?
When packing for warm water surf destinations like Costa Rica, I usually recommend a carry-on only. However, when packing for a Portugal surf trip, you can go either way. Since the water is cold in Portugal, you’ll need a 3/2 or 4/3 wetsuit which will take up a lot of space.
And, if you’re traveling in the fall or winter, the weather is cooler too and you’ll need to pack warmer layers.
Between a wetsuit and warmer layers, that’s almost an entire carry-on right there. While it’s definitely possible to pack for a Portugal surf trip with just a carry-on, (especially if you go in the summer and can pack lighter clothes) it’s going to be tight.
Since I’m traveling with another person and we plan on renting a van to surf around Portugal, it just made sense for us to check a duffel that had our wetsuits, towels, and changing ponchos (we’re traveling in comfort).
If I was backpacking by myself, I probably would have only taken my trusty Osprey 40L backpack, and shoved my wetsuit in my board bag.
What to pack for a Portugal surf trip
Your passport will need to be valid for at least 6 months upon arrival in Portugal.
- Driver’s License
If you plan on renting a car or van, you absolutely need to include your license on your Portugal surf trip packing list.
- Credit cards + debit card
I say credit cards plural, because it’s always a good idea to have a backup in case anything happens. I love my Chase Sapphire Preferred, it has no foreign fees EVER and I get a ton of rewards. Not to mention a HUGE signing bonus that more than covered my airfare from California to Costa Rica.
Most places in Portugal take credit cards, but it’s a good idea to have some cash with you when you get in, especially if you plan on grabbing a taxi or taking the bus from the airport to your accommodations. I recommend taking an uber from the airport to your accommodations, we did and it was only 5 euros!
- Travel Insurance
You definitely want travel insurance before going on a Portugal surf trip. I use World Nomads. I haven’t had to file a claim yet, but knowing I have them gives me some peace of mind.
I absolutely love my Osprey Fairview 40L for big surf trips. It fits all the clothes and toiletries I need, and then some.
Rowan is obsessed with his new Peak Design backpack. It has a bit more of that sleek urban look, and a TON of unique features. There really isn’t another travel backpack on the market that is anything like it.
- Packing cubes
Packing cubes are a necessity for keeping my backpack organized, and maximizing what it can carry.
We checked this big 60L REI duffel with our wetsuits, surf ponchos, and towels. While this isn’t ideal for a backpacker, we’ll be traveling with rental cars and by van so we can afford the extra hand luggage.
- Travelon purse
This purse is awesome for stashing my valuables in while walking around the city. It has a little light attached on the inside to help you see inside at night, and all the zippers lock- which is awesome protection against pickpockets.
- Fanny pack
I have my purse, and Rowan has his fanny pack to carry the little travel essentials like a passport, phone, wallet, etc.
- Packable dagbag
I love this little packable daypack. It’s great for trips to the beach, and to throw a post-surf change of clothes into. And it barely takes up space in my backpack.
- Packable grocery bag
We plan on cooking a lot, and having a packable grocery bag is incredibly convenient for trips to the super.
Surf trip gear for Portugal
You need a wetsuit to surf in Portugal. While you can get away with a shorty/springsuit on warm summer days, a 3/2 is a good choice in the summer while a 4/3 is preferable for the winter.
- Reef-safe sunscreen
You absolutely need some reef-safe sunscreen in Portugal, and I recommend bringing it from home to guarantee what you’re buying is actually reef-safe, and to save some money.
If you have fins you like to surf with might as well bring them along! Unless you’re planning on renting, and then the board will have fins for you. Although, we ended up bringing two sets of Future fins, and BOTH ended up buying boards that needed FCS.
- Fin key
Absolutely add a fin key (or two) to your Portugal surf trip packing list.
- Semi cold water surf wax
While this is definitely something you can buy in Portugal, you’ll want your own wax if your first surf session is going to be before the surf shops open.
- Solarez ding repair kit
This stuff is an absolute game changer. While you’ll need to take your board to a repair shop for bigger damages, Solarez ding repair does a great job with smaller dings, and keeping your board watertight. It’s also one of my absolute favorite surf accessories.
- Extra surf leash
The last thing you want when the waves are awesome is to have a leash debacle bring an early end to your session. I remember once getting ready to paddle out at the Guiones beach break in Nosara, and right before getting to the water- I noticed my leash was barely hanging on by a thread. If I didn’t have access to an extra leash that day, I wouldn’t have been able to paddle out!
- Beach towel
I don’t go anywhere without my Sandcloud towel. Well, except Portugal because we stuffed it in Rowan’s surfboard bag which never came. But if it doesn’t, I’ll 100% be buying a new one.
You definitely don’t need a changing poncho for a Portugal surf trip. But we’re traveling in comfort, and want to be nice and cozy post-surf when it’s a little chilly out. If you’re backpacking then you can probably skip this one, but if you have the space and are visiting in winter… go for it.
This is also something you can easily pick up at a surf shop in Portugal if you’d prefer.
- Portable Shower
This is another item that doesn’t quite fall into the ‘necessity’ category, but is nonetheless useful. Not all surf breaks in Portugal have showers where you can rinse yourself and your gear off after a surf, and this will also keep your rental car from getting sandy.
While there are several different packable showers on the market, this Sea to Summit one is great because it packs down so small, and will take up very little space in your bag.
Clothing for women to pack on a Portugal surf trip
While the weather in Portugal is pretty mild year-round, your Portugal surf trip packing list will vary depending on what season you’re visiting in. We visited as the seasons were changing, from early September to early December, which included some warmer layers like my Patagonia fleece and some thermal underwear for cozy nights camping and in the van. If you’re visiting in the summer you won’t need those items.
While you’re most likely going to be surfing in a wetsuit, it’s nice to have a few swimsuits on hand to wear to the beach, wear under your suit, etc.
- Linen pants
Not only are linen pants lightweight and easy to pack in your luggage, but they’re super comfortable and stylish.
- Tank tops
If you’re planning a summer Portugal surf trip then a few tank tops are a necessity, but they’re also nice to layer with in the other seasons.
- Tee shirts
You can’t go wrong with 2 or 3 lightweight, comfortable tee shirts.
A few pairs of shorts are a necessity for your Portugal surf trip packing list. I packed a few pairs of more athletic shorts that are comfortable to wear around the airbnb or van, and a pair of more stylish shorts.
- A few dresses
A few dresses are nice to have in Portugal especially if you’re visiting in the summer. I opted for a few rompers.
- Warm layers
My warm layers were the part I had the most difficulty with packing for my Portugal surf trip. I didn’t want to bring too much, but I knew as the seasons changed it would get cold. I ended up bringing one light sweatshirt, a light flannel shirt, a fleece, and long thermal underwear.
For a portugal surf trip packing list, you definitely need flip flops. If you’re visiting in the summer, you can probably get away with just flip flops and one other pair you like. I also ended up bringing a pair of vans for skating, and a pair of Tevas for more active days.
- Light rain coat
A light, packable rain coat is a key item not to forget on any surf trip packing list, not just Portugal!
Clothing for men to pack on a Portugal surf trip
Rowan here, as Haley mentioned we will be spending a couple months in Portugal. Since the weather will be getting progressively cooler throughout our trip, I had to bring along a couple bigger, warmer items that I will only use as the seasons change and temps drop. Here’s a list of the things I recommend for any guy taking a surf trip to Portugal.
Obviously you’ll want some selection of shirts to wear in Portugal. For our three month trip, I packed about 5 T-shirts and 2 long sleeves.
Pants are a must in Portugal. Even in the summer when the days are hottest, mornings and evenings can be cool and breezy. I brought two pairs of Vuori Ripstop Pants and have never been happier with a pair of pants.
- Board Shorts
Even though you’ll need a wetsuit for surfing, a pair of boardshorts is always a good idea. Whether you’re taking a dip in the ocean or your accommodation features a pool, you’ll want something to get wet in.
I kept it fairly simple in the shoe department. One pair of walking shoes (something with a decent sole), one pair of flip flops (for shared showers and the beach), and a pair of slip on Vans because who doesn’t love the classic slip on.
You’ll want something to keep you warm after a cold water surf. Here’s a link to the Go-To Hoodie from my small lifestyle brand. If you want to support our travels, check it out!
- Changing Poncho
If you have the space, it’s totally worth it!
I brought a 3/2 as it’s all I have, but I expect to need to buy a 4/3 once the weather cools down throughout the next couple months.
- Rain Coat
Although Portugal is a fairly dry place, it’s always good to have a raincoat for the unexpected storms.
- Wool Socks
Wool is the best way to go when it comes to socks. They keep you warm when it’s cold out, and breathe great when it’s hot. I only packed wool socks for this trip.
Casual, everyday wear. Something for the beach and something to go out to dinner.
Portugal surf trip packing list: final thoughts
That’s a wrap on my Portugal surf trip packing list. I hope this list has been helpful to you, and offered you some insight on what you need to bring along!
If there’s anything you think I left out, or you have any questions about packing for a Portugal surf trip, drop a comment below!