Ride a wave from Prague to Portugal: As summer ends, surf season begins

Summer may be drawing to a close but in Portugal, surf season is just starting up. Here’s how to plan your perfect surf vacation from Czechia.

Julie O'Shea

Written by Julie O'Shea Published on 08.09.2023 15:00:00 (updated on 08.09.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

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Portugal’s 1,800 km of coastline makes it one of the best spots in Europe to catch a few waves. As summer winds down, the country’s world-famous surf season will be quietly heating up over the next couple of months, peaking for the most serious wave riders over winter.  

It's time to start planning your next big adventure road trip. While you can’t possibly hit every hotspot in a week, we have outlined a seven-day itinerary, zeroing in on the best beaches of Portugal’s illustrious north coast.

Multiple airlines offer direct flights between Prague and Lisbon. Travel by car is the most convenient way to beach hop in Portugal, so make sure to reserve your wheels in advance.   


Drive time: 45 minutes

  • After landing in Lisbon, grab your rental at the airport and waste no time exploring the small resort towns that surround the capital. The region includes many lovely beaches with consistent, mild waves that are perfect for beginners.
  • Pit stop: Situated about 15 minutes west of Lisbon, Carcavelos offers an urban cosmopolitan vibe and a long sandy coastal stretch – a preview of what’s to come further north. Dominating the beach here is the imposing Fort of São Julião da Barra, which served as a notorious political prison in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Don’t miss: Boca do Inferno, or Hell’s Mouth, is one of Cascais’s most popular lookout points. The waves here are fierce, having formed a natural archway out of the cliffs from their repeated, ruthless pounding.
Surfers at sunset on Praia de Carcavelos. Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Sonse.
Surfers at sunset on Praia de Carcavelos. Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Sonse.


Drive time: 1 hour 6 minutes

  • It’s time to head north, along a path that will hit many of Portugal’s most renowned surf spots, starting with Ericeira. Plan on spending a few hours at Praia do Guincho, a stunning coastal gem featured in the 1969 James Bond film “Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”
  • Pit stop: Guincho is famous for its immense waves, strong sea wind and picturesque sand dunes. Surrounded by the Serra de Sintra Mountains, the PR4 hiking route will take you past Forte do Guincho and Praia do Abano.
  • Don’t miss: While Ericeira is often referenced as the Surfing Capital of Europe, its charming historical center has a unique museum-like vibe that will leave you as spellbound as its famous monster waves.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Vitor Oliveira
Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Vitor Oliveira


Drive time: 1 hour 15 minutes

  • Set the GPS to Peniche and get ready to tackle Supertubos, which many in the surf community have dubbed the “European Pipeline.” This fishing town’s powerful barreling waves have made it the site of many international surfing competitions.
  • Pit stop: The Palace of Mafra, just outside Ericeira, is considered one of the largest royal palaces in the world, and its baroque magnificence is a worthy detour. A World Heritage Site, this 18th-century complex and its storied construction play a prime role in Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago’s novel “Baltazar and Blimunda.”
  • Don’t miss: Check out the Forte de São João Baptista, a short boat ride from Peniche, on the island of Berlenga. This 17th-century fortress was constructed from the ruins of a pre-existing monastery, which had been abandoned after the monks were repeatedly ambushed by pirates.
The island of Berlenga. Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Vitor Oliveira.
The island of Berlenga. Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Vitor Oliveira.

Surf in Prague! In 2022, the Vlny Štvanice project in Prague created an artificial wave on the Vltava River where the sport of river surfing can be practiced. Inspired by waves in Germany, surfers in the Czech Republic wanted to enjoy their hobby inland as well. A community group funded the installation, which includes a jetty where beginners can find their balance more easily than in open water. Experts supervise newcomers as they learn to ride the river's current. While different than ocean surfing, river surfing allows landlocked enthusiasts to capture the thrill. The wave is managed through an upstream dam system. When activated, it provides surfers with a fun new way to experience Prague's waterways.


Drive time: 1 hour 4 minutes

  • Get an early start as you begin your journey to “the biggest waves in the world” at Nazare’s Praia do Norte, where swells have been known to climb to 30 meters. The town is one of the most famous seaside resorts along Portugal's famed Costa de Prata.
  • Pit stop: The imposing Monastery of Alcobaça dates back to the 12th century and was the last abbey to be founded in St. Bernard's lifetime. A World Heritage Site, the monastery and adjoining church were the first wholly Gothic structures to be built in Portugal.
  • Don’t miss: The Nazare Funicular, which climbs the cliff to the Sitio promontory every 15 minutes, will give you a stunning bird’s eye view of the town. The Miradouro do Suberco viewpoint is also a good spot for taking postcard-worthy photos.
Nazare. Photo via Flickr/berny Derain.
Nazare. Photo via Flickr/berny Derain.


Drive time: 1 hour 15 minutes

  • Take in the medieval splendor of Leiria before motoring on to Figueira da Foz, where you can hop between more than a dozen beaches as well as several notable surf breaks.
  • Pit stop: Tour the grounds of the recently renovated Leiria Castle, which was originally built in the 12th century as a military fortress before later becoming a royal palace. Perched on a high hillside, the castle offers panoramic views of this ancient city.
  • Don’t miss: Take a break at Figueira da Foz’s Santos Rocha Municipal Museum, which boasts an impressive archaeological collection as well as ethnography exhibits and religious artwork.
Figueira da Foz. Photo via Flickr/Jori Avlis.
Figueira da Foz. Photo via Flickr/Jori Avlis.


Drive time: 2 hours 5 minutes

  • No road trip through Northern Portugal would be complete without a stop in Porto, where you can ride the subway to one of the most renowned surf spots in the country. But first, grab lunch and a few waves 20 km south in Espinho.
  • Pit stop: Casino Espinho has been straddling Praia da Baía since the early 1970s, making it an ideal location to unwind after an afternoon surf session. The city landmark offers food, drinks, gambling, and live shows.
  • Don’t miss: Hop on the metro from downtown Porto directly to Praia de Matosinhos, whose massive waves have long attracted seasoned surfers from around the world. The beach has a wide promenade filled with many places to wine and dine as well as an aquarium.
View of Porto, via Wikimedia Commons/Rititaneves.
View of Porto, via Wikimedia Commons/Rititaneves.


Drive time: 3 hours

  • Spend the morning touring the historic center and cobbled streets of Portugal's second-largest city before hitting the A1 back to Lisbon. Your Prague-bound flight isn’t scheduled to take off until the following day, so turn on the cruise control in your rental and enjoy the scenery.
  • Don’t miss: The Porto Cathedral is one of the city’s most striking national monuments and worth touring before hitting the road. Its gothic cloister and chapel frescoes won’t fail to impress.
View of Lisbon. Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Deensel.
View of Lisbon. Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Deensel.

This article was written in association with ExxonMobil. See our partner content policies here.

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