Bico Beach in Estoril

7 Must-Visit Surf Spots in Lisbon: The Ultimate Guide

Beyond being Portugal’s captivating capital, Lisbon stands as more than a great place for cultural trips; it’s also a hub for surf enthusiasts. The Lisbon coast, with its beautiful beaches, offers a blend of Lisbon’s surf heritage and a mesmerizing coastal landscape. Between the grandeur of ancient castles and the taste of delightful pasteis de nata, lie the great waves that make Lisbon’s beaches a surfer’s paradise. With consistent waves and big swells, the Lisbon area offers some of the best surfing spots.

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A Peek into Lisbon’s Surfing Roots

What transformed Lisbon into Europe’s premier surf camp destination? Its strategic location is key. Nestled just a 30-minute drive from spots like Carcavelos Surf Beach and Praia Grande, this area boasts some of the best-known surf spots in Lisbon. The Atlantic’s ground swells crash onto this coastal city, giving rise to massive waves. Over the years, the Lisbon surf trip experience has been enhanced by numerous surf schools that have sprouted across the city and its surrounding areas, such as São Julião and Figueira da Foz.

The Art of Surf Etiquette in Lisbon

Before diving into these good waves, let’s touch on surf etiquette. Local surfers are friendly, but as with all the best spots worldwide, respect is paramount. Whether you’re an experienced surfer or just starting, understanding the dance of wave riding is essential. And if you’re new to the Lisbon surf scene, a smile and politeness could earn you tips from locals. Perhaps about the excellent reef break at a lesser-known spot, or the stunning beach that’s just an hour north of Lisbon.

Exploring the 14 Must-Visit Surf Spots in Lisbon

Carcavelos

Introduction to the Carcavelos Break

Praia de Carcavelos, sitting just 20 km west of the center of Lisbon, has carved a name for itself as one of Portugal’s best known top surf spots in Lisbon. Renowned for its barreling, swift, and potent waves during sizeable swells, Carcavelos still extends a warm welcome to novices and intermediate surfers on calmer days. Its proximity to the city makes it a surfer’s haven.

Carcavelos wave - surf spots in lisbon
Carcavelos wave

Carcavelos Location Specifics

Positioned a mere eight miles east of Lisbon’s center, Carcavelos holds a unique place on the Portuguese surf map. Not only is it a short drive and the closest significant break to the city center, but it’s also seamlessly connected via a direct train line. More broadly, Carcavelos is a gem of the Estoril Coast, stretching west from Lisbon until it culminates at Cabo Raso where the Atlantic Ocean crashes ashore. While the beach itself spans approximately 2 km and is adorned with a myriad of surf peaks, it truly shines when the swell direction contains elements of W or SW, ensuring optimal conditions for surfers of all levels.

Carcavelos Surf Conditions

The magic of Carcavelos lies in its versatility. From the warmer, sun-drenched days of small waves to the adrenaline-pumping 10ft+ swells during the peak season, it caters to surfers of all levels. Optimal surf conditions? A southern ground swell complemented by a gentle northeastern wind. This concoction gives birth to remarkable peaks, including tantalizing barrels for those eager to experience the “green room”. Notably, both left and right breaks dot the landscape, with mid-tide surf emerging as a crowd favorite.

Best Time to Surf at Carcavelos

Though waves are a frequent sight at Carcavelos, their consistency amplifies from September to May. Summer often sees smaller, more manageable waves. Note that October to March stands out as the prime surfing window, with summer usually devoid of waves. An added bonus? October plays host to the Billabong Pro, attracting the crème de la crème of the surfing world.

Facilities and Amenities at Carcavelos

Facilities ranging from spacious parking, showers, and restaurants, to surf schools, paint a complete picture. With numerous surf centers scattered along its stretch, it’s the ideal spot for surf lessons, equipment rentals, and surf camps. And for the cultural enthusiast, the region is bursting with history and gastronomy. From the Sao Juliao da Barra Fortress to a multitude of beachside cafés, there’s plenty to indulge in post-surf. As evening descends, unwind with a local brew or wine, gazing at the mesmerizing sunset.

How to get to Carcavelos 

By car: From Lisbon, take the A5 highway towards Cascais. Exit onto the Marginal N6 road and continue until you see signs for Carcavelos. The drive usually takes about 20 minutes, depending on traffic.

Public transport: From Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré train station, take a train heading towards Cascais. Get off at the Carcavelos station. The beach is about a 10-minute walk from the station.

Bicycle: Starting from Lisbon, you can bike along the coastline on the Marginal N6. The ride to Carcavelos is roughly 20 km, offering picturesque views along the way.

For GPS users, the coordinates for Carcavelos are 38.6780° N, 9.3335° W. It’s advisable to check traffic or transportation schedules in advance. 

Enjoying our guide on Lisbon's surf spots? Dive deeper with our 'Ericeira Surf Spots Guide: Portugal’s Top 7 Breaks!'—Europe's exclusive world surf reserve, just a 40-minute journey from Lisbon's heart.

Costa da Caparica

Landscape and Overview of Costa da Caparica

Again, just a short ride from Lisbon, Costa da Caparica sprawls as an expansive beach stretching over 14 miles. This vast sandy haven promises surf adventures without the worry of overcrowding, especially compared to Carcavelos. And while it’s one continuous beach, its diverse sections offer unique surfing experiences.

Costa da Caparica Sunset
Costa da Caparica Sunset

Costa da Caparica Surf conditions

Powered by sandbanks, groynes, and jetties, the waves at Costa da Caparica are consistent and versatile. Due to the dynamic nature of the Tagus River and changing water conditions, each day can offer a new surf challenge. The northern areas tend to be busier while venturing south promises quieter spots with more exposure to robust Atlantic swells. From the hip town of Cova do Vapor to the serene Praia das Bicas, there’s a surf spot for everyone.

Surfing Tips for Beginners at Costa da Caparica

Among Lisbon’s surf destinations, Costa da Caparica stands out as a learner’s paradise. The extended sandy beach breaks here are arguably more beginner-friendly than the likes of Carcavelos. So, if you’re a newbie aiming to master the waves in the Lisbon vicinity, this is the spot for you. Thanks to its reputation, a multitude of top-tier surf schools and camps have established themselves here, making it easy to find a guide or instructor.

Best Times to Surf at Costa da Caparica

For the best surfing experience, consider visiting during the spring or fall. These seasons ensure impressive swells coupled with fewer surfers. While summer promises smaller, beginner-friendly waves, winter is reserved for seasoned surfers chasing bigger waves.

How to get to Costa da Caparica

By car: From Lisbon, take the A2 highway south and exit towards Costa da Caparica. Continue on IC20 until you reach the area. The drive is approximately 20-25 minutes from central Lisbon without heavy traffic.

Public transport: From Lisbon’s Praça de Espanha, there are buses that go directly to Costa da Caparica. The journey typically takes about 30-40 minutes depending on traffic.

Bicycle: For those starting from Lisbon and keen on a longer bike ride, it’s possible to cycle to Costa da Caparica, although you’ll need to navigate the bridge or ferry crossings for the Tagus River.

For GPS users, the coordinates for Costa da Caparica are: 38.6443° N, 9.2322° W. Always check for traffic updates or changes in transportation schedules before your journey.

Lagoa de Albufeira

Landscape and Overview of Lagoa de Albufeira

While not technically in Lisbon and away from the hustle of mainstream tourist spots, Lagoa de Albufeira Beach is a serene getaway with waters that kiss the Atlantic at just a single point. Distinct from the popular Algarve resort that shares its name, this destination offers surfers a unique experience. Located about 20 km directly south of Lisbon, its beauty and waves make it one of the preferred surf spots in Lisbon.

Drone shot of Lagoa de Ablufeira
Drone shot of Lagoa de Albufeira

Surfing Conditions and Surfing Spots at Lagoa de Albufeira

The magic of Lagoa de Albufeira lies in its intricate sandbanks located around the channel. When aligned with a W swell from either north or south, the waves act akin to a point break. Surfers can expect the waves to form and peel either to the left or right, depending on the swell’s direction. This phenomenon offers exhilarating moments with opportunities for top-to-bottom turns and the occasional cutback.

When the lagoon embraces the sea, a fantastic right-breaking wave emerges, setting the sandbars just right. From tiny ripples to swells of up to 3m, this sandbar spot has the capacity to handle it all.

Best Times to Surf Lagoa de Albufeira

Thanks to its exposure to swells, Lagoa de Albufeira promises waves throughout the year. Whether you’re looking to ride small swells or challenge yourself with waves reaching up to 3m, this beach has something for every surfer.

How to get to Lagoa de Albufeira

Lagoa de Albufeira is in the municipality of Sesimbra, south of Lisbon, Portugal. To reach it from Lisbon:

By car: Take the A2 highway south from Lisbon. Exit toward N378 for Sesimbra and follow signs to Lagoa de Albufeira. The drive is about 30-40 minutes.

Public transport: Take a bus from Lisbon to Sesimbra. From Sesimbra, either take a taxi or a local bus to Lagoa de Albufeira.

Bicycle: You can bike from Lisbon to Lagoa de Albufeira, approximately 30-35 km, following the coastal route. Expect hilly terrain.

For GPS users, here are the coordinates 38.5073991094555, -9.181973409167915

Praia da Poca

Landscape and Overview of Praia da Poca

Situated in the São João do Estoril region, Praia da Poça stands out as the area’s most renowned break. Renowned for both its reef and beach breaks, this spot offers dynamic waves for experienced surfers and is often frequented by some of Portugal’s top talent. Known to some as the “Portuguese Teahupoo,” it’s a testament to the wave’s prowess and power.

Surfing Conditions and Surfing Spots at Praia da Poca

During high tide, waves break over a rocky ledge, presenting both left and right barrels. Typically, the right wave is quicker in comparison to the left, offering surfers a thrilling challenge.

However, as the tide decreases, the break transitions to the sandier section of the beach. Here, you’ll still witness both left and right waves, often directly in front of the resident restaurant.

Beyond Praia da Poça, São João do Estoril also boasts two other notable breaks: Bolina and Praia da Azarujinha.

Recommendations for Surfers of Praia da Poca

It’s imperative to note the changing nature of this surf spot. With high tide, surfers get the thrill of both left and right waves. But a word of caution: avoid taking the right wave during low tide, as it can be hazardous.

Expect to rub shoulders (or fins) with some of Portugal’s elite surfers. With its challenging waves and barrels, Praia da Poça is a magnet for professionals and passionate enthusiasts.

Best Times to Surf Praia da Poca

October to March marks the optimal surfing window for this coastline stretch. Summer visitors, be forewarned: this season typically witnesses a calm sea with minimal waves.

How to get to Praia da Poca

By car: From Lisbon, take the A5 highway towards Cascais. Exit onto the Marginal N6 road towards Estoril. Follow the road and watch for signs to Praia da Poça. The drive typically takes around 30 minutes.

Public transport: From Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré train station, take a train heading to Cascais. Disembark at the Estoril station. From there, it’s a short walk to Praia da Poça.

Bicycle: If you’re starting from Lisbon, you can bike along the coastline via the Marginal N6, which offers scenic views. It’s approximately 25 km to Praia da Poça.

For GPS users, input the coordinates: 38.7036° N, 9.3962° W.

Praia do Guincho

Historical Significance of Guincho

Guincho Beach holds a special place in surfing history. Its majestic waves made global headlines after being featured in Surfer Magazine’s September 1967 issue, heralding Portugal’s arrival on the global surf map.

Location and Landscape of Guincho

Nestled near Cabo da Roca, Europe’s westernmost cape, Guincho Beach is renowned for its breathtaking bay. Its prime location ensures it acts as a magnet for both swells and winds, making it a beloved hotspot for windsurfers and kitesurfers from all corners of the world.

Praia do Guincho
Praia do Guincho

Surf Conditions and Surfing Spots at Guincho

Being the premier break that faces the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, Praia do Guincho receives a significantly higher swell than its southern counterparts. However, this prime positioning also exposes it to the fall and winter onshores, which can quickly make conditions unsuitable for surfing.

On such blustery days, windsurfers find their paradise. Yet, when the winds relent, the calm waters transform Guincho into a surfer’s utopia. For beginners, summer offers a gentle introduction, with forgiving waves rolling over sandy stretches. In contrast, seasoned surfers might prefer the challenge of the 5-foot waves, especially when swells roll in from the NW.

Amenities and Hangouts at Guincho

The Bar do Guincho stands as a beacon for surfers and their families. While offering top-notch facilities, the ambiance is relaxed, albeit on the pricier side.

Recommendations for Surfers at Guincho

Guincho Beach is a testament to the beauty of nature’s duality. While windsurfers and kitesurfers revel during the windy seasons, the summer months cater to beginner surfers, offering gentle waves. Intermediate surfers should seek out the challenges when the swell is over 5 feet.

How to get to Guinho

By car: From Lisbon, take the A5 highway towards Cascais. After reaching Cascais, continue on the N247 road heading northwest, and you’ll find signs directing you to Guincho. The drive is about 40 minutes from central Lisbon, depending on traffic.

Public transport: From Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré train station, catch a train towards Cascais. Once in Cascais, you can take a local bus or taxi to Guincho Beach, which is about 5-7 km away.

Bicycle: If you’re in Cascais, you can bike to Guincho along the scenic coastal route, which is roughly 5-7 km. From Lisbon, it’s a longer but beautiful ride, approximately 35 km, mainly along the coast.

For GPS users, the coordinates for Guincho are: 38.7318° N, 9.4766° W

São Pedro do Estoril – Bico

Introduction to the Break of Bico

São Pedro do Estoril is home to Bico, a mellow pointbreak that stands out for its consistent long righthander waves. These gentle curls have made it a beloved spot among the longboarding community and those still refining their surfing skills.

São Pedro do Estoril - Bico
São Pedro do Estoril – Bico

Bico Location Specifics

Bico is strategically positioned on the western flank of Praia de Sao Pedro de Estoril. Its prime location ensures that it captures the most swell compared to other breaks along this coast. Its neighbor, Bafureira, sits on the opposite side of the bay, adding to the diversity of surfing options available in the area.

Bico Surf Conditions

The defining feature of Bico is its capacity to offer an extended righthander wave, particularly favored by longboarders and novice surfers. When the conditions are just right, with the perfect swell direction, this wave seamlessly connects all the way to the inside, meeting a segment named ‘Esquerda da Rocha’ (the rock’s left). However, one must exercise caution, especially during a rising tide, as the shore break can turn aggressive, making entering and exiting the waters a tad challenging.

Best Time to Surf Bico

For those eager to catch the best waves at São Pedro do Estoril, the months from October to March are ideal. The summer season, in stark contrast, usually sees the waves receding, offering a more tranquil seascape.

How to get to Bico

By car: From Lisbon, take the A5 highway towards Cascais. Transition onto the Marginal N6 road heading towards Estoril. Continue past Estoril, and you’ll arrive at São Pedro do Estoril. Look for signs or directions to Praia do Bico. The drive is typically around 25-30 minutes from Lisbon.

Public transport: From Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré train station, board a train heading to Cascais. Disembark at the São Pedro do Estoril station. From the station, Praia do Bico is just a short walk away.

Bicycle: Starting from Lisbon, one can cycle along the coastline on the Marginal N6 road. The journey to São Pedro do Estoril is approximately 20-25 km.

For GPS users, the coordinates for São Pedro do Estoril are approximately: 38.6896° N, 9.3758° W

São Pedro do Estoril – Bafureira

Introduction to the Break of Bafureira

Praia da Bafureira stands proud as one of Estoril Coast’s prime surfing destinations, offering surfers an exhilarating blend of both left and right waves. Nestled in the same bay as its counterpart, Bico, Bafureira distinguishes itself with its faster and shorter waves, making it a go-to spot for shortboard enthusiasts.

Bafureira beach
Bafureira beach

Bafureira Location Specifics

While Bafureira holds its own with its impressive waves, it’s the adjacent lefthander, located to its east side, that amps up the thrill. Breaking over a rocky ledge, this wave, albeit being available for a short period, delivers a faster riding experience, especially as the tide fills in.

Bafureira Surf Conditions

The primary appeal of Bafureira lies in its versatility; it offers both lefts and rights, with the right typically being the superior choice for many. The best surfing experience is usually around mid-tide, ensuring the waves aren’t too fat and avoiding the possible backwash from higher tides. However, while low tides make for an enticing challenge, surfers should remain vigilant of the exposed rocks, particularly on the left side. The wave starts coming to life with smaller swells and can withstand up to 2 – 2.5 meters, although caution is advised during bigger waves and rising tides.

Best Time to Surf Bafureira

The prime surfing season at Bafureira stretches from October to March. The summer months, in contrast, offer a calmer sea, with waves being a rarity.

Bafureira Historical Highlights

Bafureira’s fame isn’t just limited to its waves. In 2010, this very beach played host to the Estoril Surf Billabong Girls contest’s final day. Australian surfer Sally Fitzgibbons clinched the title, adding to Bafureira’s legacy in the world of competitive surfing.

How to get to Bafureira

By car: From Lisbon, head west on the A5 towards Cascais. Switch to the Marginal N6 road towards Estoril. Continue past Estoril, and shortly you’ll reach São Pedro do Estoril. Follow signs or directions to Praia da Bafureira. The drive generally takes about 25-30 minutes from Lisbon.

Public transport: From Lisbon’s Cais do Sodré train station, take a train bound for Cascais. Alight at the São Pedro do Estoril station. Praia da Bafureira is a short walk from the station.

Bicycle: If you’re departing from Lisbon, you can cycle the coastal route along the Marginal N6 road. The distance to São Pedro do Estoril is roughly 20-25 km.

For those using GPS, the coordinates for São Pedro do Estoril – Bafureira are approximately: 38.6913° N, 9.3737° W

Surfing Essentials Checklist: How to Pack Right for the Perfect Wave

  1. Choosing Your Board: Your board’s selection hinges on your proficiency and the waves you aspire to conquer. Researching Lisbon’s wave forecast during your stay is vital. Opt for a versatile board, ideal for tackling both small and mid-sized waves.
  2. Selecting a Wetsuit: The waters of the Atlantic might give you a chilly surprise, especially outside the summer season. Prioritize a high-quality wetsuit that ensures both warmth and agility. A 3/2mm wetsuit works wonders in warmer times, but consider a 4/3mm for the chillier months.
  3. Protection from the Sun: Underestimating the Portuguese sun can be a mistake. Guard your skin with a durable, high-SPF sunblock suitable for extended water exposure. It’s not just about dodging sunburns, but also about fostering lasting skin health.

Riding Lisbon’s Waves: Top Safety Tips for Surfers

Lisbon offers amazing surf, but like any sea, it can be tricky. It’s important to know about the tides and currents, and always trust your feelings.

For those new to surfing, taking a lesson is a smart choice. Many local surf schools in Lisbon offer great lessons, helping you have fun and stay safe at the same time. Enjoy the ride, but always know your limits. Take your time and learn step by step.

Lisbon is known for its great surf spots, its culture, and its love for the sport. It’s a great place to visit and surf. But always remember to be safe and respectful to the sea.

Do you have any tips or favorite places to surf in Lisbon? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!

Recommended reading:

Ericeira Surf Spots Guide: Portugal’s Top 7 Breaks

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