Surfing In Portugal For Beginners: 9 Top Spots to Visit

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
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Portugal is an awesome surfing destination perfect for everyone from beginners to big wave riders. It’s the surf capital of Europe, renowned for its consistent year-round waves, endless coastline, and abundance of stunning surf beaches.

For beginners especially, Portugal is a great place to start surfing. It’s accessible and inexpensive, has great weather and fantastic food, plus a welcoming and inclusive surf culture. You’ll find surf schools, camps, hostels, and bars up and down the country full of like-minded surf-mad people.

We’ve made a list of 9 brilliant places for anyone wanting to learn to surf. They’ve all got beginner-friendly waves and plenty of instructors, but they range from city-adjacent to more rugged locations. So whether you want to squeeze in a surf lesson on your city break or if you want to surf and sleep in the wilderness, one of these spots will be perfect for you.

Pria de Carcavalos – Lisbon

Praia de Carcavelos in Lisbon, Portugal. a perfect beginner surfing beach
Photo by Zachary Pearson on Unsplash

For anyone who just wants an easily accessible intro to surfing, Praia de Carcavelos is the perfect spot. Located just 20km from Lisbon city center, it’s the ideal place to try a little surfing while on a city break. 

It’s a beautiful long beach full of all the energy and life you’d expect so close to the capital, and has all the facilities you’ll need. You’ll find plenty of surf rental shops and schools with instructors to guide you to the best waves for your skills. Pria de Carcavalos has waves for all abilities, so once you’ve finished your lesson, you can sit back and watch the pros in action.

Praia do Guincho – Cascais 

a retro photograph of Praia do Guincho in Cascais.
Photo by Manuel Palmeira on Unsplash

A little further along the coast from Lisbon, but still very accessible, is Cascais. This laid-back town sits on a stretch of stunning coastline and is a favorite beach holiday destination for those wanting to escape the city. It’s a popular base for surfers, and you’ll find many of Portugal’s beginner surf camps here. You’ll also find loads of quirky surf hostels which offer great surf and yoga holiday packages. There’s nothing quite like a post-surf yoga class to soothe those aching muscles! 

One of the best beaches in Cascais for beginners is Praia do Guincho, which, in the summer, produces consistent gentle waves that break over a safe sandy sea bottom. The waves pick up in winter, though, so pick your travel dates accordingly! 

Foz do Lizandro – Ericeria 

Ericeira is possibly the best place in Portugal for beginners to learn surfing.
Photo by Sead Dedic on Unsplash

Surfing in Ericeira is some of the best in Portugal for both beginners and pros. It’s the surf capital of the country and an area of outstanding natural beauty. In 2011 the Save The Wave Coalition named Ericeria a World Surfing Reserve in honor of its environmental and cultural importance to the country and the surfing world. 

The area is chock full of stunning beaches with great waves for all abilities, but beginners should head to Foz do Lizandro south of the main town. This welcoming beach is just made for beginners with gentle waves, plenty of surf schools and shops, and easy access from the town. The waves are best for beginners at low to mid tide, so check the tide tables before heading out. 

But, it’s not just about the waves and the worldwide recognition. The other reason that Ericeira is great for beginners is the town. This one-time fishing village has been fully converted to the religion of surf and is a very cool, fun place to spend your first surf vacation. 

Praia de Matosinhos – Porto

Praia de Matosinhos in Porto northern Portugal
Photo by Alvaro Polo on Unsplash

Surfing in northern Portugal doesn’t get as much press as the south because the weather is a little colder, the conditions a little rougher, and the beaches less famous. But in truth, the waves are just as good, especially for beginners, plus surfing the rugged north of Portugal comes with bragging rights!  

And, it couldn’t be easier. Fly into Porto, and you can effortlessly combine a city break and surf vacation. Praia de Matosinhos is the only surf beach in Portugal with its own metro stop, so it couldn’t be easier to access from the city. It offers a gentle beach break with dependably mellow waves all year round. Plus spots that hit a little harder for when you get a little more confident. 

Even when you’re not surfing, Matosinhos Beach makes a great place to hang out. It has a hip, multi-cultural vibe, thanks to the many international students at Porto University. 

Cantinho da Baia – Peniche

Portugal has many beautiful beaches perfect for beginners to learn surfing
Photo by Alejandro Luengo on Unsplash

One of the best things about the surfing spots in Portugal is that they hold great variety, with breaks for all abilities from beginners to pros. Peniche is a perfect example of this. The little headland offers over 30 surf spots and seems custom-designed to provide surfers with the best of all worlds. You’ve got world-famous barrels and breaks that host pro surfing competitions. Then just around the coastline, you’ve got gentle swells brilliant for those just starting out.

Peniche has several beginner beaches, but the best and friendliest spot is at Cantinho da Baia. Here you’ll find mellow, forgiving waves that break over a soft sandy seabed. There is plenty of room to spread out along its 3km length, and with several different take-off points, it rarely feels as crowded as some of the other beginner areas nearby. 

Stick close to the shore to catch smaller waves, then head out deeper as your confidence and skills grow. Then when you’re all surfed out, head around the headland and watch the big wave surfers in action!

Praia de Buarcos – Figueira da Foz

Figueira da Foz, an under rated but beautiful surfing destination.
Photo by Sacha Verheij on Unsplash

Figueira da Foz is a unique spot on Portugal’s surfing map. It’s the location of the longest wave in the country and once played host to annual professional surf competitions. But for some reason, it gets overlooked by the masses. So it’s the perfect place to surf a world-class wave without having to fight the crowds to do it.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a pro surfer to ride here; you’ll find plenty of options for all abilities. Head to Praia de Buarcos, the location of the longest wave, to enjoy an endless stretch of beach with plenty of space to spread out and swell perfect for beginners. If you’re not sure where the best waves for your ability are, make use of one of the many surf schools along this stretch of coastline. 

This area’s under-the-radar status, also means it’s avoided the mass tourism and development that has plagued other areas of Portugal’s coast. So head here if you want a relaxing surf vacation in beautiful surroundings, devoid of huge resorts.

Meia Praia – Lagos

Lagos is the hub of surfing in the Algarve
Photo by Victoria Palacios on Unsplash

The south coast of Portugal is more sheltered from the might of the Atlantic Ocean than the west coast, so it tends to get ignored by advanced surfers. But this makes it perfect for beginners who want less powerful waves to practice on. Plus, down south, the water is warmer, the weather better, and you can combine your surf holiday with a break in the Algarve.

The lively resort town of Lagos is the unofficial hub of surfing in the Algarve, and Meia Praia is right in the middle of it all. The beach is packed with lively activities, watersports centers, and surf schools. And you’ll be right at home because the waves here are full of beginners. So this is the perfect destination for anyone wanting an Algarve surf vacation close to all the action. 

Praia do Amado – Carrapateira

Carrapateira is for people wanting to surf in the wilderness.
Photo by Gianfranco Lanzio on Unsplash

Anyone wanting to get a little more remote can head to Carrapateira. A glorious stretch of wild and rugged coastline backed by the Alentejo National Park. Praia do Amado is a beautiful expanse of beach with stunning scenery unbroken by developments or resorts. The waves are perfect for beginners, with forgiving, slow-breaking waves, plenty of whitewash, a sandy sea bed, and lots of room to spread out. 

This amazing spot is less than an hour’s drive from Lagos, so you can surf in the wilderness in the day and return to the bright lights of Lagos for the night. However, there are some fantastic surf camps around Carrapateira where you can sleep amidst the dunes with the sound of the waves for company. 

Praia do Martinhal – Sagres 

Sagres is one of the least visited towns of the Algarve, Portugal but Praia do Martinhal perfect for beginners to learn surfing.
Photo by Koen Speelman on Unsplash

Our last surf spot is in one of the lesser-known towns of the Algarve, Sagres. This rugged, windswept spot doesn’t get nearly the same crowds as towns like Lagos or Albufeira. Instead, the quaint fishing village turned tourist town draws nature lovers and people wanting a peaceful Algarve holiday away from the crowds.

Surfers love the area for the headland, which offers beaches facing three directions. So whatever the swell and whatever your skills, you can always find the perfect spot in Sagres. 

For beginners, east-facing Praia do Martinhal is the best spot. This is where you’ll find mellow, dependable waves and surf schools to help you get started. You’ll have all the amenities you need on the beach, plus it’s an easy walk back to town for those well-deserved after-surf beers!

a yellow long board on a deserted beach
Photo by Dendy Darma Satyazi on Unsplash

Is it safe to surf in Portugal?

Portugal is generally a safe place to surf. It’s a safe country with friendly locals and few hazards to worry about. However, all water sports come with safety concerns. So it’s wise to learn about the specific dangers of surfing before you start. 

Pay attention to weather conditions, waves size, tides, and currents, and don’t surf over rocks and reefs until you know what you’re doing. And we recommend taking at least one lesson to ensure you know how to handle your board safely. 

Is the surf in Portugal good for beginners?

Yes, the surf in Portugal is good for everyone: beginners, intermediates, pros, and big wave surfing. This country has an abundance of surf spots perfect for everyone. 

Where is the best place to surf in Portugal for beginners?

Ericeira is our top pick for the best place for beginners to surf in Portugal. Although you’ll find many other excellent spots with perfect waves and beautiful beaches, Ericeira has something special. The surf culture of the town means you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people. You’ll have your pick of surf schools and camps and will have a lot of fun too. 

What is the best time to surf in Portugal?

For beginners, summer is the best time to surf in Portugal. This is when the waves are at their most friendly, with small to medium swells and not too much power. Plus, the weather is better and surfing is always more fun when the sun is shining.

The waves in Portugal grow in size and power during the winter when they are better suited to more advanced surfers. 

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Anita is from Wales and has been a travel addict since her first trip to Australia ten years ago. Since then she's lived and worked in Oz, New Zealand and Canada, worked many ski seasons and travelled widely through South East Asia, Morocco, India and Europe. She's a nomad, freelance writer, foodie, compulsive reader, tea addict and animal lover.