Travel article
LAST UPDATED 28/11/2007
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Learn to Surf in Perfect Conditions in Western Portugal
ilovealgarve.net specialises in finding cheap holidays at the Quintinha Village Armacao de Pera

Level of surfing


Quality of surf

Very Good

Call code


Net code





0 km




Best Months

October - January




Euro (EUR)

Time Zone


Special Requirements

Private Beaches


Aerial view of Olhão, Algarve, Portugal. Author: Toksave, 2007

Portugal, in Southern Europe, shares the Iberian peninsula at the western tip of Europe with Spain. Portugal picks up north, west and south swells, resulting in very regular surf.Very mild climate with plenty of consistent surf and variety of breaks, shape Portugal’s reputation to be the place to quench thirst for European. It is an excellent place to learn to surf with lots of places offering mild points and surf lessons. Visits by big-wave specialists like Ross Clarke-Jones and Manoa Drollet, suggest the level of difficulty one can find in some other areas, particularly in the winter time of big swells.


Inside the Moorish castle, Photo taken by Philip Dalston

The land within the borders of today's Portuguese Republic has been constantly settled since prehistoric times. Some of the earliest civilizations include Celtic societies, followed by incorporation into the Roman Republic dominions in the 2nd century BC, and subsequently into Germanic Kingdoms till VIII century. The Muslim Moors occupied most of the Iberian Peninsula from the early 8th century when they first arrived and conquered the Christian Kingdoms of Germanic background. After the starting of the Reconquista, in the early 1100s Portugal appeared as a kingdom independent of its Christian neighbours, Castile and Leon. In little over a century Portugal had nearly established its modern-day borders by conquering territory from the Moors.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, with its global empire which included possessions in Africa, Asia and South America, Portugal was one of the world's major economic, political, and cultural powers. In the 19th century, armed conflict with French and Spanish invading forces at mainland, and the loss of its largest territorial possession abroad, Brazil, which declared independence unilaterally, disrupted political stability and potential economic growth. After the Carnation Revolution's coup d'état in 1974, its regimen was deposed in Lisbon and the country lost its last overseas provinces in Africa, but led the way for a modern democracy as well as the independence of the last colonies in Africa shortly after. Portugal joined the EU in 1986, and ever since it has engaged in a process of convergence.


Had01: Algarve-1; 2007-01-26

During winter season the swell size is around the 6-7ft but can get to 10-12 ft or more, making it a spot for those looking for challenging surf. There is surf throughout the summer months and you can expect waves in the 3-5ft range.


Arpingstone; TAP A320; 24.01.2007

Portugal has three international airports which are located at Lisbon, the capital city, Porto and Faro, in the Algarve. They are serviced by all major airlines in Europe as well as a few smaller ones and you can also arrive from the US via Philadelphia, Boston or Newark. Portugal also has it's own international airline known as TAP.

Once here you can get around the country really easily by road or rail, the trains are more expensive than the buses and run less frequently but are much faster and more compfortable, so it is the preferred method where possible. Hiring a car isn't a problem and the most popular choice for surfers giving you the flexibility of getting to the breaks as and when they are on and remember, they drive on the right side of the road here.

where to stay

Mwanner; Camping; 06.2005

'Pousadas de Portugal', are a network of hotels remarkable for using very beautiful ancient buildings as there drawcard, they are at the top end of the budget scale but a great place for a treat and de-louse after a couple of smelly weeks on the road looking for waves. Also there are the usual suspects in the form of all the major hotels chains available in the cities.

The backpackers hostel network is thriving in Portugal and offer good budget options, though a little more expensive compared to hosteling in other parts of the world. The "Casas de Campo", when traveling through the countryside, offer affordable, picturesque and comfortable B&Bs.

The Algarve on the south coast of Portugal is a big tourist destination with many Europeans and offers lots of choice of holiday resorts and package holidays so if you're doing the family holiday thing this is a good place to base yourself so the wife and kids willbe happy while you slip off for a cheeky surf!! You'll also find plenty of campsites.

what to pack

Roofus : Memory Stick Front and Back; 23 January 2007

Pack light, there's no need to bring your expensive belongings. In winter, bring warm clothes, but you will hardly find temperatures below 5ºc. Going in summer, make sure you take a good sunscreen (SPF 30+), sunglasses; a good insect repellent is a must. Bring on the medicines you are used to take, but keep in mind that the pharmacies are very good and they give also medicines that in other countries need prescription. Pharmacists are very professional, know English and can give you medical advice to most minor problems.

Comfortable walking shoes, sandals, hat and natural fabrics (such as cotton or linen) clothes will be very useful. Don't forget a backpack. You won't regret swimming and snorkelling gear! Bring lots of film/memory as you will be taking many photos and memory cards for digital cameras are expensive over there. Also protect your camera from sand and dirt. 

dangers and warnings

Haberer, Eugene, Burglars tools; Circa 1875

Crime rate in Portugal is relatively low and it's a safe country, but don't just through caution to the wind and go about your business with reckless abandon. As with everywhere, common sense and an aquired travel streetwise approach prevails here. Avoid flashing your shiny new camera around, keep money separated about your person i.e coins and low denomination notes in you wallet and pockets to hand, larger amount stashed in under clothing in money belts etc. Avoid poorer out city suburbs and dark alleys at night. Try not to travel alone, especially at night or appear intoxicated in public. Traffic in big cities can be a danger, use your eyes and ears. Stick to those basic golden rules and you shouldn't go far wrong.

restaurants, shopping and nightlife

Jon Sullivan; A glass of Port; 06.01.2003

The currency in Portugal is the Euro which is easily obtainable and there are ATM's everywhere that will accept international cash cards.  When shopping it is acceptable to haggle in smaller shops and markets, especially if you are buying multiple items, but it certainly won't get you anywhere in highstreet shops. Port is a national drink and very nice in small amounts after a good meal, it's worth bringing a bottle back home with you and makes great gifts for friends and family.

The Portuguese cuisine is a very distinct and well evolved one incorporating a lot of fish, mainly sardines, salmon, trout and cod and lots of pork and chicken, often char grilled. Soup is also consumed a lot and is always served as a starter to every Portuguese meal. It has strong Mediterrean and Eastern influences with a bit a spice bought back from the days of Portuguese exploration, Piri Piri chicken is a good example of this, often thought to be an Indian dish due to it's style of spice and heat, but it is indeed a Portuguese dish influenced by African cuisine. Unfortunatley, vegetarians may have a tough time in Portugal as most of their dishes are based around a meat and fish of some kind and veg is merely a garnish.

Wine is big thing with meals in Portugal, red being a favourite and is almost always consumed with food and fortified Port wine may be served as a dessert. 

Tipping after a meal is optional as a mark of appreciation of a good service, but it is not expected. It is usual to leave your coin change as tip, a 10% tip is considered a very generous mark of appreciation.  


what to do when its flat

Joao Castro: Casa da Música, in Porto, Portugal; April 14th, 2005

The climate, combined with investments in the golfing infrastructure in recent years, has turned the country into a golfing haven. Portugal was recently named "Best Golf Destination 2006" by readers of Golfers Today, a British publication. Fourteen of Portugal's courses are rated in the top 100 best in Europe. If you want a condensed view of European landscapes, culture and way of life, Portugal might very well fit the bill.

useful phrase guide

Indolences; Standard Question mark; 04.05.2007

The official language of Portugal is Portuguese, so here at SurfingAtlas we've done our research and found some local lingo to get you on your way:-

Bom dia           Good morning

Boa tarde         Good afternoon

Ola                  Hello/Hi

Como Esta?      How are you?

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