Miriam Thaler: Lisbon is your gateway to some of the best surfing in Portugal

(Editor’s note: With its location on the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal is one of places in Europe with waves big enough for surfing. In fact, the Nazaré Canyon north of Lisbon is world famous for big-wave surfing.)

Living by the ocean is beautiful! Walking on the beach, lying in the sand, swimming in … never mind. If you live in Portugal and you don’t happen to be living somewhere at the Algarve, where the sea tends to heat up a little, there ain’t much swimming. A quick refreshment on a hot day, standing in the cold, roaring waves of the Atlantic is all you can hope for, unless you decide to channel your inner surfer!

And that is exactly what I decided to do, when I understood that for truly enjoying the ocean living in Lisbon, the only way to do so is in a wetsuit!

Luckily there are several easy-to-reach beaches close to Lisbon. Without a car the easiest option is to hop on a bus to Costa da Caparica. There you find several surf schools along the endless beach, where you can book a lesson or rent equipment.

The waves there are enjoyed by beginners and also experienced surfers.

My go-to-spot for renting a board and a wetsuit has been the Surflab. It’s located in one of the beach bars, which saves you from carrying your board for ages until you reach the cool waves. A perk I enjoy specifically as a beginner, since there is not much difference between my incredibly huge board and a small sized boat!


Surf Lessons:
Single Class – 30 euros
Pack of 4 Classes – 75 euros
Pack of 12 Classes – 195 euros

Board and Wetsuit:
2 hours – 20 Euros
4 hours– 35 Euros
1 Day – 45 Euros

Another option easy to reach by public transport is the beach of Carcavelos. Just as the beach at Costa da Caparica, surfers from beginners to advanced are able to find their waves at this beach.

To get there, simply take the train line towards Cascais and get out at Carcavelos. From the train station to the beach it’s a walk of around 15 minutes. There you’ll find several surf schools that offer lessons and equipment.

If the waves at Carcavelos beach reach a height you are not comfortable with, it can be worth a try to take a look at Praia de Torre, a small adjacent beach, which thanks to being sheltered, has considerably smaller waves. Also along the beach at Carcavelos, you’ll find several surf schools offering lessons and renting equipment.

Just pick and choose!

Praia de Guincho and Praia Grande for the experienced

At the train station in Carcavelos you find the surf school Lisbon Surfaris with a particularly interesting offer if you are a more seasoned surfer. There you can not only rent equipment and book surf lessons, they also offer bikes to rent with a rack to transport your board. This broadens your options and allows you to reach Praia da Guincho, a beach known for its big barrel waves, particularly during the winter season.

Lisbon Surfaris:
Bike and Equipment: 4 hours is 30 euros

If you happen to own or rent a car, you have even more options. A well-known spot for experienced surfers is Praia Grande, north of Sintra. There you have a chance of finding barrel waves and majestic walls.

You should however feel comfortable handling yourself in strong currents.

Also, there, several surf schools offer lessons and equipment.

The best for last

I saved for last my absolute favourite spot and surf school. All the mentioned beaches can at times become crowded with surfers, which is why I prefer another beach. For all those blessed with a private vehicle, I recommend to drive to Praia da Sereia (The Mermaid’s Beach) and rent equipment or book a surf lesson with my favourite surf school way2surf.

The dreamy beach is nestled along the Caparica Coastline about a 10-minutes-drive from Costa da Caparica’s buzzing main beach. It offers great conditions, specifically for beginners. It is also worth a visit if the waves are too big and out of your comfort zone at Caparica’s main beach since at Praia da Sereia the ocean tends to present itself in a much tamer form.

In summer this beach is also well visited; however, you generally only find a handful of surfers in the waves.

I can’t recommend enough the surf school way2surf. It’s run by a bunch of extremely kind, fun and passionate surf instructors. Their lessons give you abundant in-water-time.


Surf Lessons:
Single Class – 30 euros
5 Classes – 112.50 euros
10 Classes – 175 euros
15 Classes – 225 Euros

Board and Wetsuit: 2 hours is 20 Euros


Read more about surfing here in Dispatches’ archives.

See more from Miriam here.

 | Website

Miriam Thaler is a PhD student in Culture Studies in Lisbon. Exploring foreign places and getting to know different people, their stories, ways of life and worldviews has always been her passion. After finishing school she lived and worked as a volunteer for one year in the South of Chile.

Her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology brought her to Munich and Paris. Iceland called her during her Masters for an ethnographic research stay and the shooting of a documentary.

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