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Stormrider Guide to surfing Lisbon

Portugal, EUROPE

Surf Lisbon


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

Most of the Lisbon coast is wide open to the consistent W-NW swells, except for 20km of SE facing coastline from Caiscais to Oeiras, producing perfect conditions to surf Lisbon when a big swell pounds the coast.

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. 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.

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.

Surf Spots


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

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.

Lodging and Food
Caparica is a pretty busy seaside resort with many cheap ‘parques de campismo’ to the south. Guincho is a good hub for the north side but it gets more crowds. Pens„o Mar E Sol charges $30/dble while Hotel Maia is $60/dble. A decent meal costs $10. Avoid June-Sept.

Nature and Culture
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.

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