Where the summer is hot and the winter is mild, the River Douro is meandering along thousands of lush green vineyards, forests and mountains, port wine is celebrated like a famous national drink and UNESCO heritage sites are representing a centuries-old history of a country – here, in the exciting north of Portugal, you can also surf first-class waves.
With a length of more than 100km, the Costa Verde in the north of Portugal offers you a wide range of surf spots, many secluded Atlantic beaches and often empty line ups.
Although the quality of the Portuguese waves has attracted many surfers for years, they have mainly concentrated on the south of the country and ignored - or never heard - spots like Espinho,
Matosinhos or Leça da Palmeira. Among many more spots in the north of the country, they can definitely keep up in international comparison and make a surf trip to this region absolutely
So far, foreign surfers rarely have found their way to the northern breaks of Portugal. Its north coast is far underestimated, yet it probably has as many local surfers as the most hyped breaks in the central region around Lisbon. However, thanks to the less pronounced surf tourism, great surf spots in the provinces of Minho, Douro and Beira Litoral have been spared from mass tourism until today.
Moledo is the last beach near the Spanish border. The beach break at the mouth of the Rio Minho can be decently working any time of the year. Usually, there are only a few surfers in the water here, so that you can easily choose between right and left running peaks. However, strong currents can sometimes put one off, therefore we recommend the time around high tide and always to take care especially on bigger days. If the wind is right, the conditions here can suit as well as for wind and kite surfing.
Vila Praia de Âncora is located at the wide river mouth of the same-named Rio Âncora. Depending on the sandbanks' position, the breaks in the bay can have quite good waves at all season, produced by incoming swells, at best from the west, or strong winds. Especially at low tide the smaller breaks can promise a lot of fun. At the southern end of the beach, the incoming waves are much stronger - north-west swells can really heat up this part of the beach. Praia Âncora offers enough peaks, so that there is rarely any crowding in the water. (However, if things are going really good here, this can't be avoided either).
Praia de Afife is a long and wide beach. The waves here are always a bit higher than on the other beaches in the region. The beach break is one of the most popular spots in the north, with many peaks, right and left handers for many levels and at all tides. When things are going well here, the locals battle it out for the fast and hollow waves, shooting out of the barrels all over the beach. For this supertubos-like spectacle, however, a strong south-west swell has to come in and the tide has to run up. Here, too, the southern end catches much more power and is usually much higher. Attention: The stronger the swell, the stronger the current.
Viana do Castelo is a pretty town with a remarkable architectural and cultural heritage. Besides many cafés, restaurants, accommodation and beautiful campsites on the south side of the river Rio Lima, Viana do Castelo particularly impresses with its white and wild beaches. The beach and river break Cabedelo, on the south side of the river, runs quite constantly all year round. Especially with strong swells from the north-west you can surf some good and steep waves here. On smaller days, you should check the southern end of the long beach which catches much more swell. Viana do Castelo is as popular with surfers as it is with windsurfers. Its spots are among the best in the kite and windsurfing scene in Europe.
Esposende is a small seaside resort with a beautiful sandy beach and wind shielding dunes. Although with numerous apartments, the popularity of the little village makes it difficult to find accommodation in the summer. The beach break is located at the mouth of the river Rio Cávado. The best time to go surfing here is the rising tide. Even though there are many surfers of different levels in the water, this beach break also has its challenges and you often have to deal with very strong currents. With big swells, the spot is hardly or not at all surfable, as then it quickly becomes very messy and the currents make it almost impossible to paddle out.
Ofir is a small holiday resort in a beautiful landscape and forest of the Parque Natural do Litoral Norte, south of Esposende. The long sandy beach is protected by banks, which help to sort the waves. The main spot is located right in front of the - rather less beautiful and decorative - high-rise buildings. Further south and north from here you can find some more good waves. The beach breaks work all year round and attract many surfers from the area, especially in summer.
A small promenade surrounds the long sandy beach of Apúlia. Very popular amongst the people of the village of the same name, Portuguese visitors and families, this beach break also offers some very nice peaks for surfers of different levels and fun waves over sandy ground.
Aguçadoura might be a small inconspicuous place compared to its beautiful and endless seeming long beach that catches swells from almost any direction. The waves here are normally higher than at the other beaches of the region, so that on small days, one still has a chance to get a good running wave here that can be chosen among many different peaks that run differently well depending on the tide. A small path leads you through the dunes, from where you get an overview and can choose the best spot for you. In summer, sometimes Aguçadoura can be the only place around with working waves and even on really good days, where its vertical and powerful, even tubing waves are pumping, there are only a few surfers out.
Póvoa do Varzim is very popular as a holiday resort among the Portuguese and has a well-known fishing port. The long fine-sandy city beach has some offshore rocky reefs, where with bigger swells the waves break and run out over the sandy ground to the right and left. The rocks here should be kept in mind at all times, even though the high tide is best used for surfing. At the big rock in the middle of the beach, a first class left can break on good days: A short, very steep open barrel, which attracts not only bodyboarders but also many surfers with appropriate levels.
Praia Azul and the long beach promenade of the beautiful coastal town of Vila do Conde are a very popular destination for beach lovers and Portuguese tourists visiting the seaside. Under them, especially in the summer months, a lot of surfers appreciate this beach as well, as it offers some nice peaks: left and right running waves for a good range of different levels. You can surf here almost at any tide.
Azurara is one of the most famous spots in Northern Portugal. Its large, white sandy beach is located just about 25 kilometres north of Porto, on the south side of the Rio Ave. Apart from its beautiful scenery of surrounding pine forests, the beach offers some good peaks, some of them still lying in the wind shelter of the long pier of Vila do Conde, keeping the incoming waves comparably clean on windy days. To the south, at Praia da Árvore, the waves get more choppy but also a little bigger. In Azurara, especially goofies can get very happy, as the good and sometimes also quite long left waves predominate in this spot. When the spot is "on fire",it attracts the best surfers of the north.
Praia de Mindelo is a very attractive beach for surfers and boogie boarders south of the protected Nature Reserve of Mindelo. Consistent swells allow some peaks (with good lefts and rights) to work all year round. This spot is especially popular in summer, as it is much more protected from the north wind than others. Light offshore from east-north-east makes even the smallest waves nice for longboarders or beginners at this time. In the winter months, strong swells from the west and north-west attract surfers of much higher levels, but even for them it can be too big and then it's time to watch the ocean from the distance enjoying a hot Galão.
Praia Cabo do Mundo is surrounded by dunes crossed by wooden walkways giving you access to the beach. A rocky zone that seems to make a natural separation between the sea and the sand adds a very special beauty to it. Well known and famous among local surfers, its surf spot, called Julio Marinho, creates a nice long and round right wave suitable for different levels.
Praia do Aterro is a long stretch of beach that is particularly popular in summer time and with young visitors. The local conditions are enjoyed by body boarders and beginners alike. All year round and relatively constant swells arrive and produce left and right waves that run over sandbanks.
Leça da Palmeira lies on the north side of the port of Leixões. The powerful beach break can produce nice, even barreling waves, which attract many and good surfers from Porto. Near the port, the sandbanks are very sheltered so that the power of the break hardly deforms or removes too much sand and changes the banks. That makes even the strong surf in winter more controlled - up to its limit, of course. From a size of two metres, however, the beach break becomes hardly surfable. Leça da Palmeira is a good orientation point, as nothing works here and it is flat, it is flat everywhere else. Light offshore winds from the east make the spectacle in front of the refinery towers perfect on big days.
Matosinhos is an important port city, well known as a place of worshipping and pilgrimage as well as for its numerous fish restaurants and its beautiful beach side. Praia de Matosinhos is the largest and most famous beach in the metropolitan area of Porto. As a city beach south of the huge pier, this long white sanded stretch is popular with both bathers, holiday makers and surfers. All year round, beginners and intermediates can find what they are looking for: several peaks with small but powerful right and left peeling waves, perfect to improve and work on your skills. However, on really good days with bigger swells, when the ocean is charging a higher level of surfing, you can surf the excellent waves at this beach and reef break together with other very good surfers from the area.
Partly protected by some rocks in the water, Praia da Luz not only offers a nice point break for surfers but is also amongst the tripeiros - as the inhabitants of Porto are called - a very popular location to enjoy the sunset. Close to the Douro estuary, the waves here are not quite as consistent compared to other nearby spots, but when it starts working, a nice right offers plenty of fun for experienced surfers. You can catch the best waves with the upcoming mid-tide.
Despite its generally flat days in summer, this spot runs quite solid throughout the rest of the year, with some nice beach and reef breaks. Located south of the Rio Douro, the water quality is much better here as compared to the one directly in Porto. The best time to surf here is rising mid-tide when the incoming water pushes more power into the waves. Watch out, there are a few rocks hidden, better check the place at low tide to be sure about its underground.
Espinho has one of the most beautiful beaches in the Porto region and one of the best waves in Northern Portugal, which is why it is the stage for several surf contests every year. Especially with an incoming bigger swell you have a perfect right hander running over sandy ground. The break is located directly at the pier. The bigger the waves are, the further outside the line-up shifts and the longer rides are possible. Apart from the main break, this 17-kilometre long beach also offers a few more nice waves.
Esmoriz is only about two kilometers away from Espinho and doesn't necessarily score with its consistency. But if things go well here, we surf a very easy beach break with nice lefts and rights for all surf levels.
Cortegaça is a small holiday resort 30 kilometres south of Porto. A clean swell from the west and a light breeze from the east make this spot firing and if everything goes well, the few locals who surf here even get barreled - It's never really crowded. Especially in the summer months the spot is considered a reliable wave catcher.
Praia de São Pedro de Maceda is located in the forestal area south of Cortegaça. The somewhat remote natural beach is not that easy to reach, but once you have made it, a long stretched sandy beach with many beautiful peaks awaits you. Especially with small swells in the summer months, this beach is a perfect choice as the waves here are usually a little bigger than at the surrounding beaches. Outside the summer months, it is not unusual to have the waves all to yourself. However, if the waves are too big, there is usually nothing to catch.
Green, greener, Northern Portugal. Who would have thought that the economic source of the country originates in a natural diversity that delights nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts of all types.
We already knew that the areas around the River Douro are famous for their green vineyards, but that the Região Norte, in addition to its many cultural highlights, also boasts so many scenic
treasures and first-class surf spots, is a surprise to most of us. Besides mountains, deep pine forests, green valleys and vineyards, rivers and clear lakes, especially the hearts of surfers beat
faster at the sight of the unspoilt beaches of the Atlantic coast.
Long protected dune landscapes frame countless surf spots where surfers of all levels enjoy their favourite sport. Porto, as one of the many cities worth seeing in the north of the country, and its white, long beaches make it happen: Surf and the City – we surf first-class waves on natural beaches and explore one of the world´s top cities and many other exciting places.
The weather in Northern Portugal is moderate - maritime. The greenest part of the country attracts in high season from Mid-June to September with average temperatures between 25°C and 29°C. In
July and August, the temperatures can rise significantly and it can be very hot, especially in the inland and upper Douro Valley. In sunny August, the refreshing north wind, called Nortada, often
blows along the coast. But those who prefer to have it calm and windless will always find a cosy spot sheltered from the wind in the countless dunes on the beaches of Northern Portugal.
It remains comparably mild even in winter. Temperatures fall between November and March to average figures between 14 and 20 degrees and some heavy rainfalls refresh the country and maintain its nature deep green. As this season does not invite you to sunbathe anyway, the cloudy and rainy days do not bother at all, especially not if you experience the green north, how it blooms on the sunny days in a wintry spectacle of colours.
The Atlantic coast in the north of Portugal is not necessarily known for its Caribbean temperatures, nevertheless, it does not count by far to the coldest in Europe and we can surf it without
problems all year round. But a long wetsuit is the daily norm, even if in late summer strong swells from the south drive warmer layers of water towards us and we can sometimes avoid it and jump
in with a shorty.
In winter, we can expect more windless days with first-class waves. Water temperatures of 13°C to 15°C are then of course not the South Seas, but still OK. Our warm-up will be much longer and the wetsuit might be 1mm thicker, but it is worth the effort, because we surf fantastic waves with empty line ups at the best spots in and around Porto.
In market halls, beach and snack bars, at the bakery, in the café, in the most modern starred restaurant or in one of its traditional wine cellars - in the north of Portugal people like to eat
well, and, they also like to drink: Whether you accompany the Tosta Mista (sandwich toast with cheese and ham) or Francesinha (toast with cheese and sauce) with a cold Super Bock beer or the
flavour of the Michelin Percebes only unfolds in combination with a glass of the region's exclusive port wines - the culinary diversity of Portugal's northern regions offers something for
everyone, whatever your taste.
Throughout the whole country, meat and fish dishes are at the very top of the menu. In Portuguese cuisine, you will find meat dishes very traditionally prepared as starters, stews, tapas or main courses. But with almost 1.800km of coastline it is no wonder that fish and seafood play an equally important role.
Especially in the north, a soup or stew is a must for a real Portuguese meal. Whether it is fish soup (caldeirada), green cabbage soup (caldo verde) or lentils and beans - even in hip bars and bistros, you can find these warm traditional dishes on the daily lunch menu. Whether you end up with a mussel stew (amêijoas na cataplana), fried sardines (sardinhas), stuffed squid (lulas recheadas) or frango com piri-piri (grilled chicken with hot chilli spices), in the end almost everything is rounded off with a small coffee, a liquor and a very sweet dessert, that usually packs a punch, since the Portuguese can´t really take a joke when it comes to their desserts. In Porto, one bakery follows the next and everywhere you look, in almost every bar and café, there are sweet pastries and other delicious little things. A lot of them are prepared with egg yolk and, of course, a lot of sugar. A pastel de nata (puff pastry filled with vanilla pudding) goes always well with everything: For breakfast - which is kept relatively small here - as a snack in between, in the afternoon with a galão (coffee with milk) or as already mentioned, as dessert after every meal.
Those who do not really like the traditional Portuguese cuisine and do not want to live only on ham & cheese toast will find in the north, especially in the region of Porto, everything that today's modern and international cuisine produces. The gastronomic selection is as varied as the entire northern region of the country.