Portugal. The name conjures images of a cool breeze and the rising tide. Straddling the mighty Atlantic, nothing stands between the Portuguese coast and the crashing waves of the ocean.
But there is a piece missing. A bit of adventure that beach umbrellas simply lack. Something that captures the power of those waves and the excitement of the sea. A surfboard. Yes, harnessing the raw might of the ocean is only possible on the back of your very own board. There’s just one problem: how do you surf? Where do you even begin?
Not to worry, for I am here to guide you with a full run down of the 10 best surfing lessons and schools in Portugal today, starting with the best!
1. Best Overall: Salty Souls Surf School
Located just outside the capital of Lisbon in the town of Cascais, Salty Souls Surf School sits in one of the most beautiful parts of the Portuguese Rivera and with Salty Souls you’re in good hands to enjoy it.
For starters, the instructors are the cream of the crop, with only experienced surfers on hand to help you on your journey. All the instructors teaching at Salty Souls are qualified and recognized by the Portuguese Surfing Federation, maintaining strict standards for your benefit at all times.
The facilities of the school cast little doubt on its prestige, as they have accommodations for all manner of events, with most surfing equipment from soft boards to full surf boards being fully available to hire and the school able to offer you a package deal with the ‘Hotel Cascais’ for a place to stay.
Lastly, the options you have for your own lessons at Salty Souls are some of the best around. Private or group lessons are available, as well as ‘Surf Clinics’ in school holidays to give children the chance to learn with their families. The school even provides for corporate events with work colleagues, so no matter what you are looking for in surfing, you can be sure to find it in Salty Souls.
- Located in a beautiful area.
- Fantastic staff and qualifications.
- Brilliant facilities.
- All round inclusivity.
Although Salty Souls may appear the best, you may think it lacking. Maybe you aren’t staying in Cascais? Worry not, for this is a list and I have 9 more options for you to choose from:
Founded in 2004, the Raven surf school was started by professional British surfer, Mike Raven, in Cornwall, however in 2014 the decision was made to move to Lagos, Portugal. With the gorgeous vistas and perfect weather, it’s hard to argue with the decision.
Mike Raven is head coach and instructor of Raven Surf with the highest qualification available from the Academy of Surfing Instructors, meaning all that knowledge of surfing and surfing safety will be used in your lessons.
Although, the school is primarily about learning to surf, they offer helpful advice on many places to stay in Lagos and the surrounding area with helpful tips about what to do in the area as well. With many essential items available to rent as well, their facilities have an all-round appeal to them and provide an easy accessibility to surfing you wouldn’t otherwise get.
The classes that Raven Surf School provide are available to most people apart from children under the age of 12, which, although disappointing for some families, still provides most with a fantastic surf instructor and school. However, the lessons range from beginner to advanced and from group to private, providing a rich experience to any who join.
- In one of the most visited places in Portugal.
- Professional Surfer as an Instructor.
- Accessibility to the surrounding area.
- Not inclusive for children.
Just outside Cascais lies the town of Carcavelos, home of the Angels Surf school. Set up as a partnership between Angels Bar and 5 surfers from Carcavelos in 2000, the school has continued to grow steadily through the years to become one of the best in the country.
Run by a former Portuguese champion surfer, Marcos Anastácio, the school couldn’t be in better hands. Each class has a maximum of 3 students per teacher, increasing safety and maximizing opportunities to learn from the best.
Anything to do with surfing is on offer at Angels with the equipment able to be wholly rented from them. Not only this, but you are able to take surf trips with your instructors to different locations around the Portuguese coast for a more vibrant experience, while the school maintains its base in Carcavelos during these excursions.
They, also, offer lessons for everyone. Children, adults, students, right up to performance training for professionals and down to birthday parties for children. No matter who you are, you will be welcome at Angels Surf School.
- Located on a famous beach.
- Completely professional staff.
- Surf equipment readily available and excursions.
- Inclusive of all different learners.
Sitting in the capital of Lisbon, Solfun is not only about learning to surf, but about giving you the full surfing experience. Taking you to locations up and down the coast, it’s hard to think of a better way to ride the waves.
Currently, the team numbers four people, but each one of them is professional to a fault. With three instructors for your learning needs and safety and a tour guide to get you to a perfect location, you are guaranteed a perfect surfing experience.
All equipment is included in the lessons and courses, and they even have a fully stocked surfing house you can stay in next to the beach, equipment ready to go when you want to ride those waves.
With a range of lessons from beginner to advanced, surfing couldn’t be easier at Solfun. They even take in a bit of Lisbon’s party atmosphere, having made accommodations for having surf parties – bachelor, bachelorette, and more – meaning you can surf as you wish.
- In Portugal’s biggest city.
- Surf tours around the country.
- Surf equipment ready at a moment’s notice.
- A wide range of lesson types with ability to have a surf party.
Previously we’ve had schools that take you to different locations but have one main base, Salty Wave Surf School, however, has two bases of operations. One is in Porto in the North and the other is in Lagos in the south, meaning you can find a surf school no matter where you are.
Servicing two different locations means that Salty wave has a range of staff who are catered to the different environments and climates that you would explore while surfing. Their expertise and knowledge of the local areas will be paramount to your enjoyment.
Not only do they allow for rental of equipment and are willing to pick you up, but they have a ‘buy back’ program, where you can rent the board for weeks at a time. If you decide at the end of that time you don’t want it any more, you can bring it back and sell to Salty Wave for half the price. If you want to keep it, you can do just that, making it a win-win for everyone.
Although Salty Wave is great, it does fall down a bit in the range of activities you can do. Depending on the location, the groups can be small and there is a maximum and minimum age limit. However, despite the disappointment, this is primarily for the safety and enjoyment of the students.
- Two gorgeous main locations.
- Great staff suited for the areas they are in.
- Fantastic rental program.
- Limited activities.
Nestled in the heart of the Porto, Porto Surf School takes advantage of this vibrant, ancient city’s position at the delta of the Douro river to learn surfing where and how you want: on the gentle river, the bustling delta, or the roaring ocean.
Offering 3 hour to half a day classes, you are always in good hands at Porto, with certified instructors ready and willing to lend a hand. Started by three surfing friends, it has grown in the last six years to encompass a whole team of professionals.
Porto also provides accommodation in the form of a surf lodge that is catered to throughout the day with local cuisine and snacks for surfing aficionados. The surfing equipment is included in this package deal as well, with only the highest quality provided during lessons and even outside official hours for those who just want more.
All levels and ages are welcome for those excited about surfing at any walk of life. There is even a stand-up paddling tour offered up the river Douro for those who wish to take things slower and see the beauty of northern Portugal.
- A range of different environments to learn.
- Many gifted instructors.
- Accommodated for every need.
- Lots of activities suited to the unique setting.
Travelling back to beautiful Lisbon, we come across Costa da Caparica beach, home to Surf Pro Surf School. Although, not as well-known as some other schools, they are ready to cater to your needs.
Limiting themselves to 5 people per certified instructor allows Surf Pro to give you the most out of your experience and with a focus on security and surveillance, you can rest assured that no sudden rip tide will ruin your lesson.
Surf Pro provide all the surf tools and accessories that you could want for your trip and, while they do not have accommodation to enhance the experience, everything to do with the surf is available at your fingertips.
Finally, the range of classes not only includes specific picks for your wants, but a calendar including times and dates, so you can tailor the lesson to your timetable easily.
- Accessible location.
- Certified instructors and specialized team.
- Easily booked timetable and lessons.
- Limited options beyond surfing.
At the heart of surfing culture in Portugal are the towns of Peniche and Ericeira, in between which lies the Atlantic Coast Surf School on the beach of Praia Azul. Far away from the bustle of the cities, this little gem only has surfers and the wild Atlantic on its shores.
Having lessons available in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese is certainly a privilege, while being able to learn to surf all year round is a true blessing. This flexibility also extends to the lesson types themselves with options to take intense courses ranging from 1 hour to 5 days or a surf and chill experience for those on a relaxing holiday.
The school offer 5 different accommodations for you to rent along with your surfing equipment, which include the lessons themselves. From camps to private villas, Atlantic Coast have you covered for a package tour of Portugal’s surfing Mecca.
Although the lessons themselves only include surfing, the school offers other benefits such as a range of equipment to rent to personalize your trip. Want to go camping on the coast and surf? Sure! Rent a tent and equipment and relax with your friends. Atlantic Coast will provide.
- Located at surf central.
- Flexible staff.
- Great facilities and extra equipment.
- Focuses solely on surfing.
Unlike others on this list, Algarve Surf School has been around for a while (since 1996) and being one of the first surf schools in the Algarve, it has plenty of experience and know how. Situated in Sagres, the school sits right at the edge of the Atlantic, no land between it and the furious tide.
All Algarve’s surf instructors have formal certifications, living up to its reputation as a professional establishment. Not only that, but the school’s head coach, Sergio, was also head coach of the Portuguese National Junior Surf Team.
Algarve offers a full hostel for people who come to Sagres to stay in with provided breakfast and activities outside of surfing to help students relax at the end of the day. They also provide hires for surfing essentials to help make the most of your experience.
The lessons themselves at Algarve are very inclusive for beginners and intermediary surfers, however there is not much on offer for more advanced surfing enthusiasts, limiting their range slightly.
- Breathtaking location at the end of Europe.
- Unbridled professionalism.
- Fantastic facilities.
- Limited learning curve.
The last contender in our best of list is another old dog in the world of surfing: The Surf Experience. Being around since 1995 and having multiple locations all over the Algarve, The Surf Experience cater to all.
With a big team of more than 12 members, there is always someone on staff to help you. Each member has a vast knowledge of the craft, and many have knowledge outside of surfing, including multiple languages.
With 4 accommodation types from family apartments to hostels, the surf experience can place you anywhere you want for your stay. Equipment is provided for each activity and since the activities are varied, this is a huge help.
Speaking of activities, The Surf Experience provide many outside of purely surfing. Rock climbing, yoga, stand up paddling, even massages can be done during your stay and any adult is welcome to try. Don’t worry, though, as there are kid’s camps, so they won’t be left out.
- Multiple Locations.
- Big team of experienced people.
- Multiple different facilities.
- Range of activities.
With all these choices in such a beautiful country, there is little standing in the way of you and your perfect surfing holiday.