The Ultimate Guide to Aljezur Surf

by Nuno D'Angelo

Aljezur surf spreads down a couple of bays on the Algarve’s western coast, along with one of the best learn-to-surf spots in Portugal. It’s also a lovely, whitewashed town with bags of character.

Aljezur Surf at a glance

We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

The good

  • Proximity to one of the Algarve’s best beginner spots
  • Variety of breaks on the Atlantic coast
  • Consistency

The bad

  • Crowds!
  • Ridiculously busy in summer
  • Perhaps a little quantity over quality on the breaks

This is part of our major surf guide to all the surf spots in Portugal

What’s in this guide to surfing in Aljezur?

An introduction to Aljezur surf

Aljezur is a bit of a strange surf town. It’s not actually on the coast at all. Instead, it sits in a lush valley a couple of miles back from where the Atlantic rolls in. The good news is that means you get access to a handful of different beaches if you’re willing to drive. Most are only 10-20 minutes away. Some are downright legendary on the Portugal surf scene…

Arrifana Beach, especially, is known as one of the best places for beginners in the whole country. Even closer to town, the salt-washed surf village of Monte Clerigo gets breezy but picks up fat westerly swells, often with fewer crowds. The coast to the north and south – a protected area known as the Costa Vicentina – offers a whole chocolate box of spots, from uber-famous Carrapateira to the more chilled beaches of Praia de Odeceixe. What’s more, the south coast of the Algarve isn’t too far. Sagres, Luz and others there can be much better in midwinter when the Atlantic is throwing a tantrum.

One of the best things about Aljezur as a surf destination is just how pretty it is. Find yourself a pad in the Old Town and you can kick back by a crackling log fire after a long day on the waves. Alternatively, there are ocean-view villas and surf camps on the sunset-kissed cliffs above Arrifana Beach itself, not to mention a few cool beer bars for evening sesh.

Where is Aljezur?

Aljezur is one of the northernmost towns of the Algarve region. About 30 minutes to the north of Lagos, it sits just on the edge of the Costa Vicentina reserve. That puts the nearest surf spot about 7km to the west, and the nearest major airport (in Faro) just over an hour’s drive to the south-west. Lisbon is accessible on the E1 motorway in 2.5 hours, but we prefer the scenic (and toll free) coastal route that goes via Sines and a few other surf towns on the way south.

A guide to the Aljezur surf spots

Aljezur is the kingpin of a coastline that offers plenty of surf spots. Variety is one of the strong points of the region. Reefs, points, beach breaks – it’s got the lot. Different breaks work on different swells and tides, though, so it’s worth doing a little reading before you drop the board in the boot. Consistency is another big bonus – this corner of Portugal gets a nice brunt of the swell from over the Atlantic so most days have something working.

Praia de Odeceixe

Odeceixe

Travel north from Aljezur and you soon arrive in the charming village of Odeceixe, which is linked to Praia de Odeceixe down a pretty coastal track. It’s technically not in the Algarve at all, but does look very similar to the beaches a little south. The break lacks a little quality in our opinion but is highly consistent. Expect peaky beach breaks with heavy closeouts when its big. Best with a NW swell in autumn and an easterly offshore.

Amoreira

Amoreira

Amoreira is a jaw-dropper of a beach. It forms off a lovely rivermouth that comes in all the way from Aljezur. You have to take the road to the north of town to get to the surf spots unless you want to paddle across the river itself. We wouldn’t recommend that because the rips can be strong.

Very different breaks at low and high tides at this one. Low opens up the breadth of the bay and you tend to get fatter, punchier peaks to the north, under the big headland. High tide brings it into the bay to form off sandbanks around the rivermouth. It’s a good break with a decent left ride, but you have to be careful for those undertows.

Monte Clerigo

Monte Clerigo

Monte Clerigo is actually closer to Aljezur than Arrifana but often waaay less busy. You can take the left on the coast road as you leave the town and be there in under 10 mins. Stop at the pull in at the top of the bay to take a look at the surf (in our experience, the conditions are often a whole load different than Mr. Internet says).

Two spots work best of Clerigo. The first is at the north of the beach. It’s a sand-bottomed beach break with lefts and rights, best on a long period and with swells of around 6 or 7 foot. The other spot is right in front of the village. It can get hollow there on anything over 8 foot but there are pockets of reef and rock under the water to watch out for, so not a great idea if you’re not familiar with the area.

Arrifana Beach

Arrifana

Arrifana Beach is the jewel in the crown of the Aljezur surf. This is the place that really puts the town on the map. The reason? It’s a fantastic beginner spot with all the practice whitewash you could want. You also won’t find it hard to score well-priced lessons with a local Arrifana surf school (there are lots by the beach and in Aljezur itself).

Arrifana hosts two separate breaks. One’s a mediocre beach break that’s prone to close outs on low tide and works best at either end of the bay. The other is a pretty gnarly reef out front of the harbour at the north of the sand. It’s only for experts.

Check out our complete guide to surfing in Arrifana for more info on this awesome spot

Vale Figueiras

Vale Figueiras

One of the more hidden spots that you need to drive down a gravely dirt track to get to, Vale Figueiras is a beach break with scattered rocks and sand underfoot. A good option for dodging the crowds when there’s a swell in summertime and Arrifana is packed. Not the longest rides, but goes lovely on a 5-9 foot west swell, when the lefts are lovely and hollow. Best conditions are on easterly offshores.

Bordeira Beach

South end of Bordeira Beach

Bordeira Beach is another beginner-friendly spots to the south of Aljezur. A stunning beach, it’s overshadowed by the big cliffs at Carrapateira. The sands run north from a rivermouth after that, going for miles and miles (they even connect to Vale Figueiras when it’s low tide). Lots of peaks exist up and down the shore. They get bigger closer to the south cliffs and estuary, where there will also be rips. Works best at around 5-10 foot and closes out after that. Keep watch for the small rocks that come into play when it’s low tide.

Carrapateira 

Under the Carrapateira Cliffs

Carrapateira is the parish that overlooks Bordeira Beach from the south. Most of the time, these two spots are coupled together, but we think they are worth distinguishing. While the above is a peaky beach break with fat waves at low, this one’s a classic left point. It only works on bigger days when there’s enough of wall to come off the Carrapateira Cliffs. When it does work, it’s a fast and sometimes hollow ride that often draws spectators to the lookout above.

Sagres

The surf beach in Sagres

Sagres is one of the surf meccas of the Algarve. It’s only 40 minutes’ drive from the Aljezur surf spots, so well within daytrip distance. On top of that, it’s got the best of both worlds, thanks to south-facing beaches that get wrap-around winter swells and west-facing beaches that pick up even the smallest of summer swells. Sagres also has banging surf schools and hostels.

Check out our complete guide to the surf in Sagres right now

Surf hotels in Aljezur

There are really two choices in Aljezur for surfers. (1) Stay in the old town area and enjoy the sleepy vibes of the town itself but drive back and forth to the beaches. (2) Stay close to the beach, have the surf on your doorstep and then drive to Aljezur town to explore. We actually like option two the most but here’s a little selection of what’s on offer in both…

Where to stay in Aljezur

Hillside 2 Aljezur old town ($$)

Surf-hotel-top-pick

Hillside 2 Aljezur old town is a stunning property. tucked into the cute backstreets on the southern side of Aljezur old town, it gives you more character than you can shake your morning coffee at. Whitewashed walls contain a cosy kitchen. There’s a bijou deck for gazing at the rural views. And – of course – you get a lovely fireplace for warming your toes after a day on the chilly autumn Atlantic surf.

Casa do Sapateiro ($$-$$$)

Best for: Being immersed in the Aljezur old town

Nothing can beat the quirky little Algarvian cottages that dot the old town area of Aljezur. Cosy, compact and steeped in history, they’re one of the most characterful places you can stay in this area. Casa do Sapateiro is one of the stand-out options in the crowd, mainly for its bright living room and sweeping view across the valley. Parking is available on the wider streets to the north and south of the cottage.

Endless Summer Surf House ($$)

Best for: Being close to the reliable beginner break in Arrifana

Endless Summer Surf House sits just back from the clifftops in Arrifana Beach. It’s the PERFECT location if you want to stroll down to a sandy beach break every morning to practice. The accommodation is a super-rated villa with a gorgeous pool and garden. You can rent individual rooms but there’s a cool vibe with surfers meeting surfers and hanging out.

Aljezur surf seasons

The part of the Algarve where Aljezur makes its home is among the most consistent surf territory in Europe. it’s got waves all year round – seriously, it’s very rare for it to be completely flat. Of course, things do change with the seasons. Here’s how…

Arrifana beach in autumn

Summer (June-August)

Summer in the Algarve means one thing: Crowds. Thousands – read: millions – descend on this corner of Europe to chase the sun. Not 100% will be looking to surf, but there’s no doubt that lineups swell, much to the ire of the local crews. Still, f them, because the quality of Arrifana surf school classes and surf hostels, coupled with decent S and W swells from the Atlantic means it’s high time to get started as a surfer!

Wear: 2mm, no more needed

Spring (April & May)

Spring sees a slow drop in the regular winter storm swells and means lots more manageable days for beginner surfers, especially closer to the end of May. The tail end of the NW dominant swell from deep in the Atlantic can offer strong groundswells and fire up those points by Carrapateira. Smaller days mean consistent beach breaks on Arrifana.

There’s often a little bit of rain but also plenty of sun. Crowds will be just a fraction of what they will in June, too, and the same goes for accommodation prices and rates for surf lessons.

Wear: 4/3

Winter (December-February)

Winters might be short in the Algarve but they are downright fiesty in the ocean. Paddle out in December and you might just be hit with mega powerful swells. In fact, they’ve got punch even when they’re small. Pockets of calm do exist (it’s almost December right now and Arrifana is currently a near flat 2-5 foot with shorebreaks). However, this season is mainly for the more experienced surfers. It’s also best for dodging the crowds.

Wear: 4/3 and maybe boots

Autumn (September-November)

It can be pretty warm in the Algarve even as late as November. We know because we were tanning ourselves on Arrifana Beach on the 23rd of Nov last year. Evenings do get chilly and there’s a little more wind.

Wave wise, you’re looking at a changeable season. There’s potential for some pretty big swells. Overheads, double overheads and even more aren’t uncommon as you approach December. However, for the most part its 5-10 foot and very consistent. Autumn also means fewer people in the water, so it’s one of our favourite times of the year on the Aljezur surf full stop.

  • Wear: 4/3

Surf shops in Aljezur

Aljezur has plenty of surf shops for a town of its size. Our favourites are:

The Washout

A cool little surf stop on the main road below the cottages of Aljezur old town, The Washout is part shop, part laundrette. You can get your smellies on and browse the range of fins, leashes, jewellery, and surf photography. They also do rentals.

SW Surf Shop

One of the larger and better-equipped of the surf shops in Aljezur, SW is a real emporium of surf gear. We particularly love the wetsuit collection. They have most major brands (Xcel, RipCurl) and do last season’s gear with heavy discounts. It’s also rare to find a second-hand rail in the Algarve that has this one’s quality and variety.

Aljezur Surf Spot

Aljezur Surf Spot is probably the best known of all the surf shops in the town. Only, it’s not quite in the town. It’s actually out on the road towards Arrifana in the smal hamlet of Vales. Great stock of new and used boards, along with eco-friendly WildSuit wetsuits and C-Skins. They also run some of the best surf lessons around if you go with reviews.

Best places to eat in Aljezur

Aljezur has lots and lots of eateries and cafes. We’ve pinpointed just three of our favs below. We’d also recommend marking the town’s supermarket on the map. It’s new and really well stocked with plenty of veggie and vegan and international ingredients. You’ll definitely want to know about it if you plump for self-catering stays.

Sea You Surf Café ($-$$)

Sea You Surf Café sits on the road just above Arrifana Beach and has become something of a gathering point for riders after hitting the Aljezur surf. It’s a lovely little coffee joint with a breezy terrace and a menu of kombucha and intriguing craft lagers.

Arte Bianca ($-$$)

Arte Bianca Pizza

Hands down the best pizza in the Algarve. Big words, we know. But this one follows the age-old traditions of Neapolitan cooking. Passata is fresh; Mozzarella is chewy and gooey. Perfect. Oh, and very easy on the wallet too – margaritas come for around 8 EUR.

Café da Ponte ($)

There’s really nothing like starting the day with a coffee at this charming kiosk on the riverside in the middle of Aljezur. It’s on the way out of the old town and has parking right next to it, so you can pull over on your way to the beaches. Coffee and cakes are the order of the day.

Things to do when you’re not surfing in Aljezur

Aljezur inhabits a very interesting part of Portugal. Waves or (rarely) no waves, you’re bound to have fun. Try…

Sunset at the castle

Aljezur castle

An ancient Moorish castle looms high on the ridges above the Aljezur old town. apart from looking downright spectacular, it’s a perfect place to go for sunset. You can look west towards Arrifana Beach in the distance and catch the last rays. Or, look east at the town itself and see the haze of pink and blue while smelling the wood smoke rise from the chimneys. Lovely.

Algarve beaches

Algarve beaches

We actually prefer the beaches up the Costa Vicentina. However, there’s no denying that the sands on the south side of the Algarve are what put the region on the map. You can drive down in less than an hour and check them out. The best include Praia do Carvalho and Praia do Vale de Centeanes.

Getting insured for surf trips to Aljezur

Aljezur has cracking beaches and some seriously reliable surf. If you’ve been tempted to travel here, it’s good idea to have travel insurance in case something goes wrong on your surf trip. We’ve often used World Nomads. Their policies cover a range of adventure sports and activities. You can read more about their cover for surf right here.

All of the information provided about travel insurance is a brief summary only. It does not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions of the travel insurance plans described. Coverage may not be available for residents of all countries, states or provinces. Please carefully read your policy wording for a full description of coverage.


We might use affiliate links in this post. Basically, you click em’ and we get a little something from your booking or purchase. They help us keep offering more and more in-depth surf guides to awesome places all around the globe. So, thanks for that!

Check out more guides to the best surf spots in Portugal right now

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