What to Do in Ericeira, Portugal

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Surf school

Did you really come to Ericeira if you didn’t at least try surfing? This unassuming coastal town was declared a World Surfing Reserve (Europe’s first) back in 2011, in homage to its beach breaks, spitting tubes and surf culture. While the majority of waves here are best suited to more advanced surfers, there’s a generous handful of schools and classes for novice boarders. Try Waves & Lines Surf Academy, Ericeira Surf School or Surf Riders, which also teaches SUP, yoga, horse riding and climbing. With options to rent and experts behind the tills, shops such as 58 Surf, Magic Quiver and Ericeira Surf & Skate are good for getting the gear (whether or not you have any idea how to use it). Time your trip in line with tours by the World Surf League and Quiksilver Pro Ericeira competitions to see pros in action.


Ericeira Surf School, Despomar, Lda, 1 Rua Mira Parque, 2655-482 Ericeira


World-class beaches

Surfers take note: Ribeira d’Ilhas is Europe’s most popular spot, with easy waves suitable for beginner surfers – and a spectacular miradouro if you’d rather stay on dry land. Coxos enjoys a low tide, northwesterly swell and a point break that’s widely ranked among the world’s best right-handers. For left-handers try Pedra Branca, or Cave for spitting tubes that famously challenged Hawaiian pro John John Florence.

Of course, beaches aren’t just for cruising the waves. If popular Praia do Sul looks busy (its sheltered bathing pool makes it a popular choice with families), venture to lesser-trodden Praia do Algodio. Lizandro’s Blue Flag-winning dunes are made for wandering, while the sands on São Lourenço say: lie down and bask in those Iberian rays. Built around the harbour, Praia dos Pescadores (Fishermen’s Beach) offers a taste of old-world Ericeira.


Diverse day trips

Away from the water, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. Take a day off from surfing and/ or sunbathing to follow a network of trails (most suitable for foot or mountain bike) that connect Ericeira with the wildlife-rich Tapada Nacional de Mafra forest and the mountainous Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.

Not all excursions need to take you back to nature, however. With Ericeira as base, there are centuries worth of history and culture to explore nearby. From here, it’s a 45-minute drive to Lisbon’s seven hills, but we recommend setting your sat nav towards lesser-visited Mafra to visit the former crash-pad palace of the Portuguese royal family. Elsewhere: Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of mainland Europe; Cascais and Estoril, palm-strewn towns loved by well-heeled Lisboetas; and photogenic Óbidos, where you can walk the castle walls fuelled by ginja de Óbidos, a local sour-cherry liquor.