Here’s some info on the top three spots to grab a wave and get maps of dozens more surf breaks up and down the coast, from Porto to the Algarve. If you need gear, see the sports stores page under Buy.
Portugal is the European capital of surfing, so surf’s up, gajo! (DO NOT say that to a local. Learn some Portuguese.)
Praia do Guincho: Epic Surfing in Pristine Surroundings
If you’re a strong surfer, or have never surfed before, Praia (beach) do Guincho is great. But be aware: if the winds are blowing, in the summer season, this is the spot for kite boarders and wind surfers, so it gets busy. A good shop rents gear and gives lessons. Guincho is quite unspoilt, surrounded by protected habitat – but it also has an awesome bar inside Hotel Muchaxo that’s straight out of a James Bond movie. Which is fitting, since Guincho appears on In Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
HOW TO GET TO PRAIA DO GUINCHO
It’s easiest by car, but you can also take the Linha de Cascais train at the Cais do Sodre train
station (or at Santos, Alcântara, or Belem) all the way to the last stop, Cascais. There, you can catch a bus to Guincho from under the Cascaisvilla Shopping Center. The buses that go to Guincho leave from the end of the first bay – check the schedules or ask a local. A taxi from the train station is €8 or more.
Better yet, if you’re not carrying a board, rent a free bicycle form the kiosk in front of the station and ride out to Guincho. It’s a stunning ride, with several excellent stops to gawk at the ocean and have a snack or a drink. Note that the kiosk usually runs out of bikes by 9 or 10 in the morning.
If you fall in love with Guincho but can’t afford the rates at Muchaxo, walk to Orbitur Camping – from tents to bungalows, they have you covered.
Carcavelos – Lisbon’s Urban Break
The shores right outside Lisbon get Atlantic swells year-round, and you don’t need a car to reach them. The closest waves are just 20-30 minutes by train, at Carcavelos. Board rentals start around €20, several shops offer lessons, and there are plenty of cafes to chug coffee and beer if the waves don’t work for ya.
HOW TO GET TO CARCAVELOS:
From the Cais do Sodre train station (or at Santos, Alcântara, or Belem), take the “CP” comboio (inter-city train) to Carcavelos and walk toward the water. (NOTE: on weekdays, if you are NOT on the train skipping stations, transfer at “Oeiras” and get on the next train going in the same direction for one more stop).
Costa da Caparica – Miles and Miles of Breaks
Just across the 25 de Abril Bridge, the beaches of Costa da Caparica run for several kilometers, with several breaks and a decent boardwalk scene (sushi, mojitos, people who like to have sex with surfers, and t
he best little Mexican joint this side of Brooklyn RIP, ’tis nomore…). Caparica has plenty of places to rent a board or take a lesson.
HOW TO GET TO COSTA DA CAPARICA:
This one is easier by car, but you can get there by public transit, and the journey is awesome. Take a 10 minute ferry from the Cais do Sodre fluvial (river) terminal to Cacilhas, and grab TSJ bus 124 or the express 135 to Costa da Caparica.
Finally, there’s the express 153 bus leaving from Praça da Espanha or the 161 from the Campolide CP train station – both make a stop in front of the Alcântara-Terra train station, too (make sure take the bus in the right direction – toward the river).