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5 Awesome Things to Do in Portugal When You’re not Surfing

by Cristina Costea

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Portugal is a surfer’s paradise. It has hundreds of surf beaches, it has Nazaré, the biggest wave ever surfed, and a laid-back surfing community.

With a long Atlantic coastline dotted with world-class waves and surf camps, Portugal is one of the best surfing destinations in Europe. One of the most famous surf spots in Portugal is North Canyon, Nazaré, where surf legend Garret McNamara rode the biggest wave in history in 2011 and then again in 2013, and where Rodrigo Koxa set another world record after riding a 24.38-meter (80-foot) wave in 2017.

But what about those rare times when you want a break from surfing on your vacation? Or when the night comes and you don’t want to go to bed early? Or when it’s raining and you don’t feel like paddling out? Well, you’re in luck! Portugal doesn’t just have some of the most consistent waves in the world, it’s also filled with cultural landmarks, awesome restaurants and bars and a bucket load of fun stuff you can do!

If you don’t want to spend your day too far away from the beach, here are five things you can do in Portugal when you’re not surfing:


5. Snorkel around the Islands

snorkeling in portugal

If you simply cannot go too far away from the beach, then we recommend snorkeling in Portugal. It’s a fun activity that’s great for keeping your muscles active for your next surf session.

Some of the best snorkeling spots in Portugal include Porto Santo Island, where you can do windsurfing as well as snorkeling, Madeira Island and Sao Miguel Island which are two awesome surf and snorkeling spots where you can have the amazing opportunity to do whale watching, and last but definitely not least, we’ve got Vila Baleira as another top-notch snorkeling destination in Portugal.


4. Visit Oceanário de Lisboa, Lisbon

lisbon oceanarium

Lisbon’s Oceanarium is one of the most popular attractions in the city. If you’re interested in seeing a large variety of marine wildlife, this is the place you need to go! It is also one of the best and largest oceanariums in the world! You’ll get to see sharks, stingrays, penguins, sea otters, as well as birds and hundreds of species of fish. The oceanarium recreates the four ecosystems of the Antarctic, Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans and the visit will provide you with lots of awesome memories!


3. Hike in Arrabida Natural Park, Setubal

Arrabida Natural Park

The Arrabida Natural Park is located in the municipality of Setubal and it was founded in 1976. The natural park is a great place for nature lovers – you can hike, discover one or many of the 1,400 registered species that can be found in the park, or simply sit down and have a picnic in one of the greatest spots in Portugal.

There is an amazing landscape with stunning views of the ocean, the Troia Peninsula and the river. Take in mother nature and recharge your batteries for the next surfing session!


2. Visit Lagoa de Fogo, Sao Miguel Island

Lagoa de Fogo

Lagoa de Fogo, or Fire Lagoon is located on Sao Miguel Island, in the archipelago of the Azores. It is a crater lake, the highest lake on the island, and the whole region is protected by the government, which means that there are no constructions around the lake. It’s just you and the magnificent nature; the lake is a wonderful blue color, around 2 km (1.2 miles) long and 1 km (0.6-mile) wide and the crater was formed after a volcanic eruption in 1563. A one-day hike is a must at the Lago de Fogo!


1. Skywalk in Cabo Girão, Madeira


Cabo Girão is a sea cliff on the island of Madeira and an incredibly popular lookout point. To say that the landscape is stunning would be a crass understatement. What made Cabo Girão even more famous in recent years is its skywalk that was built in 2012. With its transparent glass, the Cabo Girão Skywalk is located on top of the cliff and it is officially the highest cliff skywalk on the Old Continent. With around 1,800 tourists visiting the site each day, the skywalk truly is a Portugal hotspot!


Has this whetted your appetite for some surfing in Portugal followed by a little trip to the Oceanarium or the Cabo Girão skywalk? Check out our surf camps and vacations in Portugal! 

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