Updated: Jan 9
Let's make it simple, here is all you need to know about Europe's California.
Although Lisbon's climate is very famous for the long sunny days, it still is a Mediterranean climate, meaning we have the 4 seasons. The best seasons for surfing are Autumn and Spring (the winter is normally very stormy with strong winds and big swells and the summer is very windy with fewer waves).
As the summer days shorten by the end of September, the first swells start to hit Lisbon's south coast (more on this later). Because most of the seabeds haven't seen any movement since June, this first swells are normally marked by perfect waves and low winds. You can get up to 1,5m (8 feet) waves, beach and point breaks!
October marks the beginning of the big wave season, with the first sessions in Nazaré. But don't worry, I know what you are thinking... Not every spot in Lisbon is like Nazaré, not even close to it. If Nazaré is sending 20m (80feet) waves, Lisbon's south coast is probably pumping! Nevertheless, I will leave you with some narly footage of last year's (2020) October swell in Nazaré.
As the winter arrives, things start to get messy. January and February might have a few good days of surfing but the majority of the days the sea is just a complete mess: a lot of wind and current on top of all the dirty water from the rain. Not to mention that the night falls around 17h. Nevertheless, even in the stormiest days there is always somewhere to hide and catch a few waves.
In spring, things start to settle down and the good old spring sessions kick off. For me, this is the best season: you can feel the days getting longer and warmer but you can still feel the power of the ocean as if it was in a hangover form the winter destruction. As we get closer to the summer, north winds pick up and the kitesurf season begins. You will feel like living in the windiest place on earth honestly... but once again, there is always somewhere to escape!
Thanks to Lisbon's incredible geographical orientation, you can get surfing here pretty much all year long and adapt to the conditions of each of the seasons. Check the map bellow and familiarize yourself with the different surfing zones; notice how there is almost a 360º orientation towards the Atlantic.
The swell comes predominantly from the north during the Summer and it is normally small, so the whole of the south coast (around Cascais) is pretty flat during the hot months. At this time of the year Costa da Caparica is probably the place to go. Nevertheless, strong winds in the afternoon are predominant. If you are feeling like driving you can also explore the north coast (Sintra and Ericeira) which offers a variety of waves but shity weather.
During Spring and Autumn the swell picks up and turns slightly west. By that time the south coast starts to work with Waves pretty much all over. Because the winds usually blow from the north, this coast gets offshore winds which results in perfect and punchy waves!
Now, I would give you names of specific spots, but that would kill the magic off surfing... go out there explore and above all: respect the locals!
Here is one thing you will hear a lot in Lisbon: respect the Locals! I admit it can be frustrating... Sometimes this beautiful sport becomes an arena for a bunch of lost souls... but one thing is for sure, there are more and more surfers nowadays and the peaks in Lisbon sometimes get over packed. Check this footage from a friend of mine (Manuel) taken last year in Carcavelos Beach (by the way, if you are looking for surfing lessons check his school here, he is the man!).
For this reason it is SUPER important that you are conscious of what you are doing when getting in the water. Here are a few tips you should follow if you are new to a spot:
Paddle out through the channel if there is one and don't go straight to the peak. Try to wait a few moments and allow the people outside to catch their waves before you do so;
If it looks like there is too much people in the water try to find an alternative spot. Honestly, it is not worth it to go in if you won't be able to catch any waves. There are miles of surfable waves in Lisbon so don't worry!
Do not drop in other people's waves!
I hope this guides you a bit! Looking for surfboard rentals in Lisbon? Book with us!