Dislike crowded surf breaks? Love artery-clogging sandwiches? Don't mind a little brain freeze? Then you've come to the right place! If you're wondering where to surf in Portugal during your next trip to this amazing country, check out Northern Portugal.
Sure, it might not be as sunny as the Algarve or have as many world-famous waves as Central Portugal, but Northern Portugal has a lot going for it when it comes to surfing.
Need proof? Check out the following article and get the inside scoop on what it's like to shred your way through Portugal's northern surf zones.
Northern Portugal at a glance
While Algarve surf spots and Central Portugal breaks like Ericeira get a lot of credit, Northern Portugal flies under the radar.
Extending from near the Spanish border in Moledo and ending 113 kilometers south at Espinho, you might hear it referred to as the "ugly duckling" of Portuguese surf zones (unfairly if you ask us).
Yes, the water is colder up north, there’s more rain and the waves might not be as consistent as they are to the south, but Northern Portugal and its capital of Porto still have a lot to offer in terms of both wave quality and quantity.
Plus, it's way less crowded than other parts of Portugal, which means more waves for you and your friends!
When is the best time to surf in Northern Portugal?
It doesn't matter whether you're a true beginner or you've been surfing for a few years now - you can surf in Northern Portugal all year round.
In saying that, first-time and beginner surfers will enjoy late spring and summer conditions the most. This is because the waves are smaller and the water is warmer during this time of year, making it easier (and more enjoyable) to catch your first waves.
If you're a more experienced surfer, however, you'll probably enjoy the bigger winter swells that start rolling in around October/November time. These conditions are perfect for those who love a challenge and aren't afraid of a little cold water!
Not sure what skill category you fit into? Discover what your surf level is before you pack your bags.
Where are the top 5 surf spots in Northern Portugal?
Trying to find the best places to surf in Portugal when you're on a trip can be pretty daunting. But don't worry... we've got you covered!
The Surf Tribe has put together a list of the top 5 surf spots in Northern Portugal to help make deciding that little bit easier. So without further ado - here they are!
Afife (Praia do Bico) - One of the oldest and most popular surf spots in Northern Portugal
Afife is a long and exposed beachbreak that's located just a few kilometers from the Spanish border.
It's one of the oldest and most popular surf spots in Northern Portugal and is well-known for its consistent waves. It's even got its own Boardriders Club located at the northern end of the beach - a testament to its quality.
If you're looking for a classic Northern Portugal beachie that works on almost any swell direction with east winds, this is it.
Azurara - A sheltered beachbreak surrounded by pristine nature
Looking to escape the more crowded city beaches? Azurara is for you.
It's a bit of a drive from the city (but definitely worth it). And once you arrive, you'll be greeted by stunning sand dunes, clean water and a long pier that provides shelter from the wind.
This is a great spot for surfers of all levels, as the beachbreak can offer both easy and challenging waves depending on where you paddle out. And because it's in a natural reserve, you can be sure that your surroundings are as pristine as they come.
Matosinhos - A heavy-water urban beachie that's also accessbile by subway
We can't write about where to surf in Northern Portugal without mentioning Matosinhos!
This heavy-water urban beachie is located just north of Porto and is the only Portuguese surf break accessible by subway. Ease of access aside, it's an incredible beachbreak in its own right with quality waves that often barrel as it gets bigger.
The only drawback is the fact that it gets busy, but you should still be able to find a bank to yourself if you're willing to scout around.
Espinho - A legendary righthander that's hosted multiple surf comps
If you've ever seen photos of a world-class righthander breaking in Northern Portugal, chances are you've seen a photo of Espinho.
A tubing wave with multiple sections that runs down a breakwall, Espinho is one of the most famously awesome waves in Northern Portugal and a breeding ground for talent, with many local surfers honing their skills here.
Espinho has also hosted many international surfing competitions over the years (such as the World Pro Junior Series and the World Longboard Tour) which just goes to show the calibre of wave that we're dealing with.
Praia da Barra (Aveiro) - A-frame peaks in the "Venice of Portugal"
It’s the canals and stunning architecture that draw most people to Aveiro. But let’s be honest… us surfers will have eyes firmly fixed on Praia da Barra.
Known for its pumping waves, Praia da Barra is where you'll find some of the best A-frame peaks in the area. The wave is fast and hollow, and because it's located on the south side of a jetty it's somewhat sheltered from northern winds.
Just be aware of the strong rip currents and you'll be sweet. Also, don't expect any gondola rides while you're here.
So that’s it! Northern Portugal is a great destination for surfers of all levels, as it offers a variety of waves to choose from.
From world-class breaks like Espinho and Azurara to more sheltered beachbreaks like Praia da Barra, there's something for everyone here. And with its easy access to the beautiful city of Porto and incredible natural surroundings, Northern Portugal should definitely be on your radar if you're looking for where to surf in Portugal.
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