Surf-lovers from around the world come to Portugal for a taste of its
pristine beaches and massive waves. You don’t need to go too far from
Lisbon to find great surfing spots, just head up the West Coast and
within a few hours, you’ll reach the seaside towns of Ericeira and
Even if you don’t surf, you can come here to relax by the beach, enjoy a platter of fresh seafood and relish the neverending ocean views.
Both Ericeira and Peniche are old fishing ports, but the atmosphere and the sights around them are very different.
Ericeira is a lively seaside town dotted with whitewashed cottages trimmed in blue. Many Lisbon locals head here in the summer, but even off-season this town attracts a generous crowd of surfers. It’s a World Surfing Reserve, so most businesses gear to surfers, from surf schools to hotels. In the middle of it all is the picturesque town centre with cobbled streets lined with cafés and bars.
Peniche, in comparison,
has a more shabby look, with its active port and low-key atmosphere,
which hasn’t changed much with the rise of tourism. The town sits on a
rugged headland surrounded by stunning beaches, renowned among surfers
for its tube waves. Not far from the coast is the Berlengas Archipelago,
a nature reserve ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving.
Below is a guide of what to do in Ericeira and Peniche. It includes tips on where to eat, where to stay, and how to get there from Lisbon, so you can start planning your day trip today.
The best thing to do in Ericeira is to hang out by the beach. There are many beaches in the area, so it can be hard to choose one. Near the centre, you’ll find Praia dos Pescadores, a small beach enclosed by cliffs which shelter visitors from the wind. From here, you can walk north towards Praia do Norte and Praia do Sebastião, or south, towards Praia do Sul. If you go to Praia do Sebastião, make sure to visit the Capela, a tiny white chapel above the beach with a tiled-covered interior. These four beaches offer pretty moderate waves, so they’re ideal for swimming.
The best beaches for surfing are
further out. These are Ribeira d’Ilhas (2km north), Foz do Lizandro
(3km south) and São Lourenço (7km north). The first one is famous for
its powerful waves, and it’s among the best places to surf in Europe.
Foz do Lizandro is the largest beach in Ericeira, it’s slightly calmer
as it has a small river flowing in between. Finally, there’s São
Lourenço, another long sandy stretch located near a variety of seafood
Ericeira is one of the best places to surf in Portugal. Even if you don’t know how to surf, numerous surf schools around the area offer lessons for beginners. For more experienced surfers, there are shops where you can buy or rent wetsuits and boards. A group lesson costs on average €30, but if you stay a little longer, you can book week-long packages for about €130.
After touring the beaches in the centre, head to the Miradouro Ribeira d’Ilhas. From this spectacular vantage point, you can capture the ocean and the beach of Ribeira d’Ilhas below. It’s a 10-minute drive from the centre or around 40 minutes walk if you’re up for the trek. You can stand here watching the surfers, but make sure to bring a jacket because it gets windy out here!
End the day strolling through Ericeira’s town centre. Get lost in the maze of narrow streets, and pass by the Praça da República, a tree-lined square surrounded by cafés and shops. Also known as Jogo da Bola, this is a lively meeting spot during the summer, hosting live music concerts. Around the area are also several seafood restaurants and trendy bars where you can stop for a drink, like Jukebox or Hemingway’s.
Near Ericeira, there’s a small town called Mafra which is worth the visit. The main attraction here is the Palácio Nacional de Mafra, an 18th-century palace featuring more than 1000 rooms. There’s a hunting room filled with antlers, a gaming room with billiard tables, and many others decorated with frescoed ceilings and lavish furniture. But the most memorable room of all is the library which contains around 36,000 book volumes. Attached to the palace is a basilica featuring one of the biggest collections of bells in the world.
Nearby, you’ll find the Tapada de Mafra, a former hunting ground which is still home to a variety of animals like the red deer and wild boar. There are several hiking trails across the park, ranging from 4km to 9km, which allow you to spot some of these creatures. If you prefer something more relaxed, you can do a train tour instead. You can even spend the night here, as there’s a small guesthouse located amid the park. The best way to get here is by car as few buses pass through the Tapada.
Ericeira is brimming with seafood restaurants. If you’re staying within the centre, you can grab a meal at Mar d’Areia or Mar à Vista.
Mar d’Areia is a family-run restaurant located near Ericeira’s municipal market. Here fish is the star of the menu. From sardines to seabass and golden bream, you get whatever is fresh.
At Mar à Vista you’ll find more shellfish. It’s the place to try lobster, crab or delicious starters like garlic shrimp and clams.
For a meal overlooking the ocean, you can try the César Marisqueira, and for a quick snack, Tik Tapas is a great choice.
In Ericeira, it’s typical to eat ouriços (sea urchins). Restaurants will often serve this delicacy between October and April. There’s even a festival dedicated to this ingredient called Ouriceira which takes place every year around April.
To make the most of your stay in Ericeira and its beaches, it’s worth spending a few days here. We recommend booking a room at the Ericeira Soul Guest House or the Eco Soul Ericeira Guesthouse.
A few steps away from Praia dos Pescadores, the Ericeira Soul Guest House is one of the oldest houses in town. Before it became a guesthouse, it was a workshop where the owner’s grandfather built wooden boats for the local fishermen. Some rooms offer ocean views, while others face the outdoor pool. There’s also a bar on-site, where you can grab a drink at the end of the day.
Eco Soul is a more secluded guest house, located near Foz do Lizandro. There are only six rooms here, divided into two kinds, the Blue Feelings and the Green Feelings. The first one features ocean views, while the second overlooks the Sintra Mountains. During their stay, guests can enjoy breakfast and watch the sunset on the outdoor terrace.
Even if you don’t have a car, it’s easy to get from Lisbon to Ericeira. There’s a bus operated by the Mafrense company that departs from the Campo Grande terminal, which is a station on the green and yellow metro line. From Campo Grande, the journey takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes. Tickets cost about €8 per person, and you can find the bus schedules here. This bus also passes through Mafra, so you can always stop there first on your way to Ericeira.
Jutting out into the ocean, the fortress of Peniche is one of the town’s main historical landmarks. It dates back to the 17th century and later served as a political prison during Portugal’s dictatorship era. From the top of the fortress, you can capture the sea and boats resting in the nearby harbour. There’s also a small museum inside, which explains the region’s history and fishing traditions.
From the Peniche harbour, you can hop on a boat to the Berlengas Islands, a natural reserve amid crystal clear waters. Although it’s a set of islands, you can only visit Berlenga Grande. In this remote island, you’ll find tiny cove beaches, a restaurant and an imposing 17th-century fort connected by a narrow bridge. Once you get to the island, there are many activities you can do, from hiking to birdwatching and snorkelling. You can even have a scuba diving lesson here, but you need to book it in advance.
If you decide to spend the night on the island, there are three options. You can stay at the hostel inside the fort, at a campsite, but the most comfortable option is to book a room at Mesa da Ilha.
Note: The ferry boat from Peniche to Berlenga Grande only runs from June to September due to the rough seas. However, it’s sometimes possible to travel offseason with a private boat, depending on the weather conditions.
Peniche is famous for its wild coast of beaches. The strong waves attract numerous surfers throughout the year, but there’s also room to relax. The most popular beaches in Peniche are Praia da Gamboa, Praia do Medão and Praia do Baleal. The first one is a quiet beach, surrounded by low sandy dunes. Praia do Medão is a favourite among surfers which nicknamed it the Supertubos Beach since they can often catch tube waves here.
Further north is the Praia do Baleal, a long sandy beach which is also popular with surfers.
Like Ericeira, there are many surf schools around here offering private and group lessons. If you’re staying for a couple of days, you can even join a surf camp.
If there’s one place you should visit in Peniche, it’s Cabo Carvoeiro. Set on the western end of Peniche, this cape provides incredible views of the ocean and the Berlengas Islands on a clear day. Around the headland, you’ll find a series of karst formations and a boulder standing in the middle of the sea which looks like a ship, known as Nau dos Corvos (Ship of Crows). It’s a great spot to watch the sunset.
There are many restaurants in Peniche, mostly focusing on seafood. Near the centre, you can grab a meal at Tasca do Joel or Marisqueira Mirandum. The first one has been a meeting spot for local fishermen since 1982, today it’s one of Peniche’s most popular restaurants. It has a cosy atmosphere and serves not only fish but a couple of meat options too. Marisqueira Mirandum, on the other hand, wows visitors with its selection of fresh seafood. Make sure to reserve ahead to guarantee a table.
If you pass by Baleal, head to Taberna do Ganhão, a simple tavern decorated with light wood and checkered tablecloths. It used to be a grocery shop, but now it serves delicious seafood dishes like octopus and tuna steak, as well as small petiscos to share. Sit by the window, and you’ll get a view of the beach.
Around the same area, but further from the coast, is the Cantina de Ferrel, a tiny Italian restaurant which offers a selection of homemade pasta and pizzas.
You can easily see Peniche in one day, but if you want to spend some time surfing, you should stay a few nights here. We suggest booking a room at MH Peniche or the Silver Coast Beach Residence.
Set near Praia da Gamboa, MH Peniche is a modern hotel featuring 120 rooms, all with a private balcony. It has a panoramic restaurant with ocean views, which serves traditional dishes with a contemporary twist. There’s also a gym and a spa area which includes a Turkish bath, sauna and jacuzzi. The outdoor pool is open from June to September, but you can enjoy the indoor pool all year round.
Open since 2016, Silver Coast is a small beach house located near Baleal. Every room features a view of the sea and a terrace where guests can relax after a busy day of surfing. The hotel was made for surfers and includes storage units to dry wetsuits and surfboards. Breakfast is included, and there are several cafés and restaurants nearby, where you can grab a meal throughout the day.
You can drive from Lisbon to Peniche or get a bus from the Sete Rios station, which is near the city’s zoo. From there it takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach Peniche. It costs about €8 each way, and you can check the schedules or buy tickets online here.
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