best surf spots for beginners: Northern & Central Portugal

If you’re a beginner in surfing and Portugal is in your surf trip list, a guide with the best surf spots in northern and central PT is something that can be very handy. Its locations, best wind, swell and size, type of beach, crowd, facilities are some points that can help you out deciding where to go and to prepare you surfing vacations.

Assuming that you want to have to experience all the surfing vibe but still having the most of surfing, meaning that you want to catch waves and improve your surfing, trying to avoid the most well-known spots in Portugal can be a smart thing to do. Therefore, instead of aiming your target south, why don’t you have a peak to what the central and northern parts of Portugal have to offer?!

Northern Portugal

Afife (Arda beach):

Located 85 km’s north from Porto and close to Viana do Castelo (around 10 km north), this spot it’s a surfing and windsurfing destination since the late 70’s due to the quality of the waves and the strong winds that occasionally appear, as well as a world bodyboard competitions stage since the 90’s.  

  • Type of beach: beach break with a few visible rocks
  • Best tide for beginners: mid tide
  • Best wind: East (offshore) or no wind
  • Best swells: small swells (up to 0,5 mt) coming from NW
  • Waves: lefts and rights 
  • Positive: landscape
  • Negative: sometimes windy; suitable for beginners with smaller swells; crowded during summer
  • General rate for beginners: 5/10

Cabedelo (Viana do Castelo):

On the south side of the river Lima, on Viana do Castelo, lies this beautiful beach that allows surfers to get the most of surfing and discover the amazing city of Viana do Castelo.

  • Type of beach: beach break
  • Best tide for beginners: low to mid tide
  • Best wind: East (offshore) or no wind
  • Best swells: small swells (up to 1 mt) coming from NW
  • Waves: rights 
  • Positive: location & consistency
  • Negative: sometimes crowded, especially on school breaks
  • General rate for beginners: 10/10

Azurara beach:

About 40 km north from Porto, this beach is close to the beautiful city of Vila do Conde. A place do discover!

  • Type of beach: : beach break with some visible rocks
  • Best tide for beginners: low to mid tide
  • Best wind: East (offshore) or no wind
  • Best swells: up to 1 mt NW swells
  • Waves: lefts and rights 
  • Positive: consistency
  • Negative: some crowd when the surf is up
  • General rate for beginners: 8/10

Matosinhos (Internacional beach):

It’s Porto’s main surfing beach. Near Parque da Cidade (city park) and with a lovely seafront area. Due to the big harbor located on the north end of the beach, this spot is very popular among beginners.

  • Type of beach: : beach break with some visible rocks
  • Best tide for beginners: all
  • Best wind: East (offshore) or no wind
  • Best swells: NW swells
  • Waves: lefts and rights 
  • Positive: consistency
  • Negative: crowd and sometimes water quality
  • General rate for beginners: 10/10

Espinho (Baía beach):

20 km south from Porto and with easy and fast connections both by car and train, this beach delivers some of the surfing of northern Portugal. Since 2014 it’s one of the stages of the World Pro Junior Series as well as the World Longboard Tour. On smaller or averages surfing days, almost the whole beach offers conditions for beginners.

  • Type of beach: point break and beach break, with some visible rocks
  • Best tide for beginners: low
  • Best wind: East (offshore) or no wind
  • Best swells: up to 1,5 mt NW swells
  • Waves: right-handers but with a left-hander rolling towards the pier and in the middle of the beach
  • Positive: consistency and location
  • Negative: crowded on school breaks and when surf is up
  • General rate for beginners: 9/10
  • Others: Watermark Surf House location!

Check also 10 reasons for surfing in Porto area




Esmoriz & Cortegaça area:

Considered in 2013 by the Evening Times (online version, 15th of August 2013) the second World’s Best Surfing Destination, right after Oahu (Hawai), this area is 25 km south from Porto (easy connection by car and train) and 8km south from Espinho offers several surf spots with nice conditions for those who want to relax and enjoy the natural areas and the beautiful coastline. 

  • Type of beach: beach break
  • Best tide for beginners: low tide
  • Best wind: East (offshore) or no wind
  • Best swells: up to 1 mt NW swells
  • Waves: rights and lefts
  • Positive: crowd and landscapes
  • Negative: suitable for beginners with smaller swells (up to 1 mt); 
  • General rate for beginners: 6/10
  • Others: Watermark Surf House location!

Check also How was surfing in September and October last year.

Central Portugal

Aveiro (Barra beach):

This is a wide open beach, protected by a jetty on the north side. Various peaks and accessible to all surfers. Sure you won’t miss the opportunity of visiting Aveiro, also known as the Portuguese Venice

  • Type of beach: beach break
  • Best tide for beginners: low to mid tide
  • Best wind: East (offshore) or no wind
  • Best swells: up to 1 mt NW swells
  • Waves: rights and lefts
  • Positive: consistency
  • Negative: crowded on school breaks
  • General rate for beginners: 8/10

Cabedelo (Figueira da Foz):

Located on the south side of the river Mondego, Figueira da Foz, this beach hosts some Surfing competitions since long time ago.

  • Type of beach: beach break / point break
  • Best tide for beginners: low to mid tide
  • Best wind: East (offshore) or no wind
  • Best swells: up to 1 mt NW swells
  • Waves: mostly right-handers
  • Positive: consistency
  • Negative: crowded on school breaks
  • General rate for beginners: 7/10

Remember that preparing your fitness properly and choosing the proper equipment are two crucial things to do before and during your surf trip to Portugal. Have a look to some surfing fitness tips and also about choosing the right surfboard for you.