Portugal surfing beaches, Guincho and Ericeira
Cordoama beach in far southwest Algarve enjoys Atlantic rollers. Photo by Blutgretchen.
Portugal offers the best surfing in Europe with over 800km (500miles) of consistent waves, clear waters and no shortage of sunshine, though being the Atlantic Ocean the water never warms up, even in mid summer.
Although the south Algarve coast does have some erratic surf, e. g. Praia da Rocha near Portimao, the best is west, starting with the Algarve’s Amado, Odeceixe and especially Sagres, then moving north to Caparica (south of Lisbon) or Guincho (west), both with attractive surroundings and fairly near Lisbon.
Otherwise the country is a mass of wave-thrashed dunes and rocky coves, so take your pick but avoid Portugal’s most polluted beaches near Porto or Estoril, and beware territorial locals, particularly on the Algarve coast.
There are schools and gear rentals in all major surf locations, from the Algarve all way the up north to Viana do Castelo.
Praia do Cordoama, on the southwest tip of the Algarve, is easy to find so long as you have wheels, just head west through large Villa do Bispo town and you’ll see signs. Initially the road is asphalt and then you’ll have to dive off onto a dirt track. It’ll need a short walk at the end. Access is free, as is parking though the place fills up quickly in the summertime so an early arrival is advisable. There’s a pleasant café to hang out in.
The water is clean but very cold year round, waves are regular and it’s not especially difficult though there are some rocks on the bottom.
Guincho beach, on the Atlantic Ocean coast of Estoril just a few kilometres from Lisbon.
Praia do Guincho is one of Portugal’s best beaches within easy striking distance of Lisbon, offering consistent wind to kite and wind surfers as well as reasonable waves for board surfers.
A bus or train from Lisbon (or Sintra) to Cascais will take not more than 45 minutes, then Guincho is 9km further on.
The beach is big, beautiful and well supplied with all activity necessities and is frequently the site of of World Championships.
Waves are often outsize – though not on the day this photo was taken – and can be tricky for novices, as can the rip. Regular swimmers will find the rollers tough to handle without the benefit of a chunk of fibreglass.
Powerful north winds blow during the summer (June–August) producing north-west swells which are ideal for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
However, during the winter the prevailing wind tends to be from the east creating larger swells loved by surfers, with multiple beach-breaks.
The area around Guincho is home to various surfing schools, camping and other surf or board sailing related services.