Surfing and other activities

Place: Guincho
Photo: João Barbosa
Photo: João Barbosa

Stretching for more than 850km, the Portuguese coast is a gigantic surfing beach. No other coastal strip in the world can offer such a great number of spots in such a short distance, so in Portugal you can always rely on the waves.

Tempered by tailwinds and a lot of sun all year round, these perfect waves, even magical at times, provide a unique experience for practitioners of various sports. Surfing, bodyboarding, windsurfing, kitesurfing and paddlesurfing are just some of the sports for enjoying the Atlantic waves which take the adrenalin levels beyond anything imaginable.

Photo: Arquivo Turismo de Portugal

From the giant waves of Praia do Norte, in Nazaré, sought after by the most daring, to the steady, perfect waves of Carcavelos, Ericeira and Peniche, there are many choice spots for surfers. And they’re not only around Lisbon. The variety is huge, both in the north, at Figueira da Foz, Espinho and Viana do Castelo, and in the south, on the Alentejo coast and the Sagres area, and even in the Azores and Madeira. 


As for bodyboarders, they have in Praia Grande, Sintra, a benchmark not to be missed. This spot is part of every itinerary and hosts an annual event in the world bodyboarding tournament; however, the northern coast and the western Algarve coast have also become popular with bodyboarders.

Photo: Costa da Caparica ©Anabela Lucas|Câmara Municipal de Almada

Guincho is the Portuguese Mecca for windsurfing and has already welcomed the world’s best windsurfers. The wind and the waves guarantee a good show for those on the beach and the pleasure of those in the water. But kitesurfing has also been gathering a growing following, not only here but on other beaches as well, such as Carcavelos, Costa da Caparica and further north in the Aveiro and Viana do Castelo areas.

But there are many other activities that take advantage of the conditions offered by the ocean, rivers and lakes. From the traditional ones to new ones coming from distant places or from the imagination of the practitioners, the range of possibilities that promise fun and even thrills is huge. The hardest part is choosing...

Photo: Garajau (Madeira) ©Francisco Correia|AP Madeira

One sport that has been attracting more fans is stand up paddle. And since it can be done on any stretch of water, however shallow, the spots at which you can go paddlesurfing are scattered all over the country, and include the sea, rivers, lakes, lagoons and reservoirs. Very close to Lisbon, in Oeiras, and the Paredes and Pescadores beaches in Cascais, you will often see paddleboarders standing on boards, paddling. Other popular places are Lagoa de Óbidos, Figueira da Foz, the Viana do Castelo area and the Island of Madeira. Not to forget the Algarve, where the beach at Faro has already hosted paddleboard events.

Photo: Algarve ©Pedro Reis|Turismo do Algarve

And gliding across the water aided by a motor can be even more thrilling at speed. Besides jet skiing, which is very popular on most Portuguese beaches and reservoirs, water skiing is also practised along the whole coast, but particularly in the sea in the Azores and Madeira islands and in dams: from the great Alqueva lake in Alentejo to the dams of Northern Portugal, the choice is unlimited. In the Algarve you will find yet another version: parasailing, a real adrenalin booster as you parachute your way down towed by a boat. There are many activities to be had in amongst the wind and the waves that guarantee sheer enjoyment.

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