This article on places to surf in Portugal introduces five sunny and windswept destinations that are ideal places to move to.
Portugal’s stunning coast is endlessly inviting, and what better way to enjoy it than by grabbing a board and heading for the waves?
There are some incredible places to surf in Portugal, and many of them also make great places to live. If you head anywhere that’s popular with surfers, you’re likely to find both beautiful vistas and great infrastructure for leisure and dining.
Surfing is popular across all age groups. If you’re moving to Portugal for retirement, don’t assume it’s too late to pick up a board for the first time. There are plenty of “older” amateur surfers, perhaps inspired by legends like John H. “Doc” Ball who never let advancing years keep him out of the water.
Wherever you find surfing, you will also find plenty of related activities, such as paddle-boarding or kite-surfing. There’s also, of course, the option of simply watching the action with a cold Super Bock and a plate of fresh clams. Regardless of how far you wish to immerse yourself in the “scene,” it’s likely that any children or grandchildren you have will be happy to join you when they visit!
In this article we look at five places where you can surf in Portugal, and also set up home. Whether you’re planning to move to Portugal permanently, or investing in a holiday bolthole, all of these places have a huge amount to offer.
We begin in the ever-popular Algarve, before heading up the coast to Lisbon and beyond. We also have an intriguing option on the Portuguese island of Madeira.
Ask where to surf in Portugal and many people will immediately say Sagres. It sits right at the far corner of Portugal. A few kilometres away is Cape St Vincent, the most south-westerly point of Europe.
Sagres is part of Portugal’s Algarve and straddles both the well-travelled south coast and the wilder west. You’ll find a lively surfing community and plenty of clubs and schools. You can stick with the masses near the town, ending a day in the sea at a choice of restaurants or beach bars. Or if you’re feeling more adventurous, just head up along the west coast for deserted sands and more challenging waves.
Sagres itself is an appealing bohemian town, with a permanent population of around 2000 people. Unsurprisingly this number swells during the warmer months. With winter temperatures often hitting the low-20s, you can enjoy surfing all year round. Just beware of the wind!
PROPERTY OPTIONS: Two-bed townhouses from around €250,000.
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Lagos is a great surfing destination, and also a small city with an abundance of shops, restaurants and other amenities.
The main surf spot is the huge half-moon beach of Meia Praia, just a short walk from the city centre. For a completely different vibe, there are several gorgeous cove beaches nearby too – perfect for swimming and snorkelling.
Lagos is a busy place during the peak summer months. It has a cosmopolitan feel and is a regular stop-off point for backpackers from the US and Australia. Off-season it still feels very much open-for-business. There’s a daily fish market, and plenty of shops, both large and small.
Lagos is easy to get to. Faro airport is around an hour away by road, and the city is also home to the final stop on the Algarve train line.
PROPERTY OPTIONS: Rustic townhouse and small apartments from €120,000. More modern options on new developments from €200,000.
Vila Nova de Milfontes
Vila Nova de Milfontes sits on Portugal’s west coast. It’s beyond the Algarve and part of the Alentejo region.
Home to around 5000 people, Vila Nova de Milfontes is sleepy for most of the year. There are six surrounding beaches, each with a unique character. There’s more than enough room to feel you have them to yourself much of the time.
The only exception is in August, when it feels like half the population of Lisbon descend. Thankfully this summer season is short enough to be an exciting change of pace rather than an annoyance!
Aside from excellent surfing (particularly at Praia do Malhão), you’ll find hiking trails, lots of fish restaurants, and a charming, compact town square. This is Portugal at it’s most charming – and with no shortage of things to do.
PROPERTY OPTIONS: Apartments from €140,000. Houses from €200,000.
Described by many as the “surfing capital of Europe,” Ericeira is a vibrant town and a great place to surf in Portugal.
Situated just 33 miles from Lisbon, Ericeira is a great “best of both worlds” destination. As well as being part of the local surf scene, you can also make your way into the capital within an hour to experience city culture.
Ericeria isn’t just a magnet for local surfers. There are around 40 beaches in the surrounding area with perfect conditions for surfing, and they attract professionals from across the world. Ericeira sometimes hosts the ASP World Tour Surfing championships, so you can always spectate if you’d rather not take on the most challenging surf yourself.
Ericeira has a delightful town centre, with sea views in every direction. You’ll find a great selection of restaurants, many of which serve ouriços (sea urchins) as a speciality during the cooler months!
PROPERTY OPTIONS: Apartments from €150,000. Detached villas from around €400,000.
Want a holiday home but worried about the cost? Why not pool finances and buy with family? Explore our guide, Buying Abroad with Family.
Porto da Cruz (Maderia)
For something completely different, you can head to the island of Madeira. Situated in the North Atlantic, Madeira enjoys a year-round warm climate, similar to that of Spain’s Canary Islands.
Madeira is compact enough that you can live anywhere, including the charming capital city of Funchal, and still enjoy all of the island’s delights. Do note, however, that distances can seem deceptive when they involve driving up and down mountains! Since we’re talking about where to surf in Portugal, we’re concentrating on the small town of Porto da Cruz.
Porto da Cruz is home to the Calhau Surf School – the first on the island. The town is in a stunning bay, with homes widely spread out around the surrounding hills. It’s an undeniably low-key place where you can enjoy the natural beauty with a district lack of commercialisation. You will, however, find a distillery, and some of the area’s best wine!
PROPERTY OPTIONS: Spacious houses from €350,000 – just steps from the beach.
Whether you want to surf in Portugal yourself, or simply soak up the atmosphere while others do, all of these places are worth a detailed investigation.