Portugal is becoming an increasingly popular destination in Europe and is well-liked by tourists for its attractions, culture, climate and affordability. One thing that has helped to put Portugal on the map is its suitability for surfing. The area of Carcavelos is a particularly popular surf spot that has become known as the birthplace of Portuguese surfing and is now one of the best places to surf in Europe. Not only does it offer white sandy beaches but also consistently good waves and facilities.
The location of Carcavelos is also very attractive, easily reachable from Lisbon by car or public transport. Every October, Carcavelos plays host to the Billabong Pro surfing competition, a fantastic spectating opportunity. It is also the perfect location to watch the sunset after a busy day of surfing.
We’ve put together our list of the top seven surf spots in Carcavelos and surrounding areas with plenty of options to suit all levels of surfing experience.
The Carcavelos beach itself is one of the best and most popular surf spots in Portugal. Located just 20km West of the capital Lisbon, the beach can be reached in around 20 minutes by car. It is also easily accessible by train with a number of options leaving Lisbon throughout the day. The surf spot sees a range of waves and swells depending on the day and weather, making it suitable for both beginners and more experienced surfers alike. There are also plenty of surf schools for booking lessons. The beach is approximately 1.5km long but although there is plenty of space be prepared for some crowding. There are numerous peaks along the beach with waves coming from the left and right so surfers can pick their preference.
The best time to surf here is between the months of October and March. In the summer months the waves can be hit and miss, and the beach becomes primarily popular for swimming and relaxing on the beach. Summer can however be particularly popular for beginners with smaller, more predictable waves that are good for practicing. There are plenty of facilities such as showers, parking and restaurants for refueling after a day on the waves!
Praia Da Torre
Praia Da Torre is a surf spot just around the corner from Carcavelos beach, separated by the famous fortress ‘Forte de São Julião da Barra’. Though considerably smaller than neighboring Carcavelos, it is a lesser-known surf spot and therefore can be a good option when the main surf spot of Carcavelos is too busy and crowded as it is only a ten-minute walk down the road.
A much smaller and more sheltered beach, the waves here are calmer than that on Carcavelos and this can therefore be more suitable for beginners or less confident surfers. A popular characteristic of Praia Da Torre is that the sand stretches out far into the sea, meaning that you don’t need to worry about hitting rocks or the reef whilst surfing. It again can therefore be a better and safer option for beginners. The water quality is also notoriously clean and monitored regularly.
There are cafes and facilities on the beach including a cliff top bar, perfect for some post-surfing cocktails. In the summer months there is a lifeguard on duty, however, the recommended time to surf here is from September through to Spring. Praia Da Torre is also famous for its outdoor saltwater swimming pool with diving boards for the brave!
Praia Da Bafureira
Bafureira is a popular surf spot near Carcavelos and is often considered one of the best places to surf in Portugal. In the past it has played host to the final day of surf competition such as the 2010 Estoril Surf Billabong Girls Contest and is popular amongst professionals and amateurs alike. The beach sees impressive waves throughout the year and is particularly enjoyable in the spring months.
Despite this being a surf spot that is popular all year round it is largely recommended to only surf here in high tide. This is due to the number of exposed rocks during low tide which can make it dangerous to surf on. You can easily check the tide times online ahead of your visit. As well as for surfing, Praia Da Bafureira has gained its popular reputation as a result of the delicious restaurants and nightclubs situated on the overlooking cliffs. This makes it a great surf spot for spending the whole day into night. As with many other beaches in Portugal, there is a lifeguard on duty in the summer months. Due to the rocks it is not a particularly popular spot for general beachgoers making it an ideal location for surfers to dominate.
Praia De Sao Pedro
Sao Pedro is a surf spot also known as a ‘break point’, this is when the shoreline of a beach extends out to the sea creating an almost headland. Break Points make popular surf spots because the waves tend to be wide and long lasting, so surfers can spend more time on their board. This makes it a great surf spot for beginners, reducing the amount of time and effort spent climbing back onto your board. There are a number of surf schools offering lessons on this beach due to its friendly nature, as well as places to rent a board and equipment. It is also popular with other water sports such as body boarding and occasionally stand up paddleboarding.
As this beach is highly sheltered, it relies on heavy wind for good waves. The winter months are therefore the best time of the year to surf at Sao Pedro. It is recommended to arrive early as the beach can get crowded due to its size. Sao Pedro can be easily reached by train from Lisbon and is popular with Portuguese locals. There are plenty of cafes overlooking the beach as well as showers, sunbeds and easily accessible facilities. Sao Pedro is just a short drive from Carcavelos and is also on the same train line.
Praia Da Poca
Praia Da Poca is both a reef break and a beach, a short distance from Carcavelos and 20km West of Lisbon, it is easily reachable by train. A ramp and staircase can be used to access the beach and there is also plenty of car parking available. It is most suitable for surfing at mid to high tide. This is due to the rocky shoreline with the beach previously a popular spot for fishermen on the search for octopuses.
The waves at Praia Da Poca are notoriously known for sometimes being big and powerful, making it a more suitable surf spot for intermediate, more experienced surfers. It is often a popular surf spot for professionals and is sometimes known as the Portuguese Teahupo’o referring to the Tahitian village which is famous for its humongous tunnel-like waves.
There is a restaurant for refreshments on the beach with outdoor seating to enjoy the views of your fellow surfers. Along the back of the beach there is a promenade with a wide variety of shops and restaurants. This is often a popular spot for people to sit and watch the surfers. The best time to surf here is in the winter months up until early spring.
Is Carcavelos good for surfing?
Carcavelos is a great spot for surfing with plenty of beaches and opportunities to find waves that are suitable to your experience. Though some exposed rocks in low tide, the majority of Carcavelos sees white sandy beaches and clear blue water. The beaches of Carcavelos and surrounding areas each have extensive facilities as well as cafes and restaurants to relax after a day on the waves.
Just twenty minutes from Lisbon, Carcavelos is the perfect location to access on public transport or by car. As well as surf schools for those looking for some guidance, there are also plenty of places to rent equipment so you don’t need to worry about lugging your surfboard with you.
Is Carcavelos good for beginner surfing?
One of the most appealing features of Carcavelos is that surfers can experience a range of swells depending on the weather as well as waves breaking from both the left and right. This makes it an ideal spot not only for beginners but also for surfers looking to progress and gain experience. There are a number of surf schools along Carcavelos beach with the opportunity to book surf lessons. There are also surf camps with the opportunity for beginners to attend a series of surf lessons that are sure to have them up and standing in no time.
When is the best time to surf in Carcavelos?
The best time to surf in Carcavelos and nearby surf spots is in the winter months and early spring, with October to March being particularly popular. It is in these months that Portugal sees higher winds and therefore bigger waves that are more practical for surfing. During the summer months the waves are more inconsistent and there is a higher chance of overcrowding with beaches becoming hotspots for tourists and Portuguese locals. Be prepared to wear a wetsuit in the winter with cooler water temperatures and less sunshine. Though it depends on the particular spot, it is also recommended to surf at mid to high tide to avoid rocks.