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+ Large swell window
+ Very consistent swells
+ Variety of breaks
+ Easy city access
- Urban crowds
- No epic pointbreaks
- Cool water year round
- Some localism and rip-offs Some localism and rip-offs
Blue Tomato

Lisbon, Portugal, EUROPE

Surf Spots

Praia das Maçãs
Praia Grande
Praia Guincho
Monte Estoril
Santo Amaro
Costa Caparica
Largoa de Albuferia

The Surf

Much like Ireland, Portugal receives most North Atlantic swells and while its lower latitude makes it a far warmer destination, the water remains cold year-round. Most of the coast is wide open to the consistent W-NW swells, except for 20km of SE facing coastline from Caiscais to Oeiras, producing perfect conditions when a big swell pounds the coast. Although there are several good set-ups along this stretch, peaks are competitive 24/7, year round. Driving alongside this beach boulevard (or taking the Linha de Estoril train) in classic winter conditions will give idyllic views of Carcavelos or the peeling rights of Bica or Bolina. Being so close to the city of Lisbon brings some pollution issues as the flow from the mouth of the Rio Tejo and Lisbon’s huge, busy harbour, swings right past these breaks. It’s not enough to deter the crowds, which have been swelling since the first Portugese pioneers took to the water on Hawaiian koa imports in the 1950’s.

Travelling surfers tend to skip the Lisbon surf zone when faced with the big city hassles of crowded waves, polluted waters, expensive living and traffic nightmares but don’t realise what they are missing out on. Lisbon is one of those rare gems– a cultural mishmash of art, history, peoples and lifestyles that just happens to sit smack in the middle of a classic wave zone. It really doesn’t matter whether it’s two foot or twenty, somewhere in the Lisbon area will have a wave worth riding. The west coast and the Costa Caparica offers consistent beach breaks and, if you know where to look, even a bit of peace and quiet. The Estoril coast offers shelter from booming NW swells and winds, on some reefs, points and beaches that can get epic. Lisbon is a superb year round surf zone, the winters stay delightfully mild and the summers never get too hot. Wave wise it sucks up swells from the south right around to the northwest.

When to Go

Because of its open exposure to the frequent NW swells, and negligible continental shelf, Portugal is hyper consistent year round. Lisbon area soaks up the SW-NW swells, ranging from 8-10ft (2.5m-3m) in winter and 4-6ft (1.2-2m) in summer, decreasing in size to the south. Linha de Estoril surf spots get more swell to the west. Storms washing ashore are frequent but Lisbon offers the perfect shelter to filter swells and get offshore winds. Dominant winds are moderate N-NW, named la Nortada, which often blows from April to September. Autumn and winter are best for winds, when E-NE’ers blow. Beware of the tidal variation up to 12ft - the vast majority of spots favour low tide.

dominant swell W -N W -N W -N W -N W -N W -N
swell size (ft) 6-7 6 4-5 3 5 6
consistency (%) 80 80 70 50 70 80
dominant wind N -E NW -NE NW -N NW -N NW -NE N -E
average force F4 F4 F3-F4 F3-F4 F3-F4 F4
consistency (%) 71 54 65 55 51 73
water temp (C) 13 14 16 18 17 15
wetsuit 4/3 4/3 3/2 3/2 3/2 3/2

1,793km (1,120mi)


Travel Information


Although Portugal is relatively high in latitude, it’s still manages to enjoy the best maritime climate in Western Europe. Lisbon in the middle is stuck between the dry Algarve and the soggy regions north of Porto. The wettest season starts in November and lasts till March-April. There is even snow in the Serra da Estrela but the snow resorts are only reliable in February. The best climate occurs in the mid-seasons even if the dead of summer rarely gets too hot. The fact is Nortada winds always cool down the coast and create upwelling currents in summer, keeping the water unseasonably cold. However, its stable year round, & a 3/2 steamer will do most of the time.


Great services, seaview restaurants (Europa Mar, CafÈ do Mar) and bars in Caparica (Waikiki, Kontiki). The Arriba Fossil shelters thick pine forests facing 30 km of virgin beaches. Lisbon contrasts greatly with the Albufeira lake area. Get a view from the Capuchos mirador.


Avoid the tourist season, and the Caparica zone will be cool. The northern part with the best waves is very urban and thievery is common at Carcavelos and Praia Grande. The Tagus rivermouth spits out some shit and bordering beaches can be filthy. Traffic jams can be really bad around Lisbon!


Plenty of shapers: Matta, Luffi, Y, Josafa F. Boards are cheap $300+: expect some bargaining. Try the Twister Surfshop in Caparica. Only take a gun for winter west coast spots. Take surfing lessons with the Clube or Bulldog surf school. There is a summer coastal train running along 11 km of Caparica’s beaches.