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  • Writer's pictureMarion Marquardt

The Portuguese Atlantic coast - a touch of Australian flair

Surfing on the Atlantic coast - varied beaches for all levels and insider tips for beginners
Hiking along the wild west coast of Portugal - untouched nature, steep cliffs and secluded bays
Relaxed lifestyle - fantastic infrastructure for campers and freedom on 4 wheels
Lisbon - the bustling capital and its most beautiful places to relax and enjoy

After our first weeks in the Algarve, we make our way north. We still have the surfboard with us and plan to use it intensively. South of Lisbon there are countless beautiful bays, some of which are suitable for surfing. Not all of course for beginners. For us it is important that the beach slopes smoothly, there are no stones or cliffs and the waves are as gentle and steady as possible. We practice hard and make little progress. Getting up on the board works more and more safely and slowly we ride our first waves. And finally we find our "Byron Bay Portugals" (Editor's note: the bay in Australia that is easiest to surf. We convinced ourselves years ago - there, even a dog made it onto the surfboard :- )). The Praia de São Torpes has everything the surf newbie needs. And by the way, you can camp legally at the car park next to the beach. What more do you want.

Praia de São Torpes Portugal Surfen for beginners beaches
The perfect wave on Praia de São Torpes

Praia de São Torpes Portugal Surfing for beginners beaches
Paddling hard

We would like to highlight a few other beaches that we particularly liked:


The southernmost of those beaches is Praia da Murração - a small cove accessible via a dirt road. There are a few surf schools here every now and then, but the beach is far from being crowded. There are neither beach bars nor mobile connection, but pure nature and tranquility. Ideal to fully focus on surfing and afterwards to fall asleep happily in the camper :-)


Praia da Murração surfing beach Portugal most beautiful beaches of Algarve
Overnight, directly at Praia da Murração

Praia da Murração surfing beaches Portugal most beautiful beaches of Algarve
The early bird catches the wave

North of Lisbon is the Praia da Areia Branca near Lourinhã that convinced us with its chilled flair. Hardly any tourists on the way, great beach infrastructure with showers, nice bars and restaurants and the beach was ideal for surfing. We stayed here for 5 nights. The campsite in town is only open to long-term campers, however you can legally stay overnight on the car park close to the beach.


Praia da Areia Branca close to Lourinhã Portugal Algarve Surfing for beginners most beautiful beaches of Algarve
Praia da Areia Branca close to Lourinhã

Praia da Areia Branca close to Lourinhã Portugal Algarve Praia da Areia Branca close to Lourinhã Portugal Algarve Surfing for beginners most beautiful beaches of Algarve
Every evening the sun kisses the sea again

Peniche - the place is not an insider tip in the surfer community. And while we're not that into the mainstream, we really liked it. The Praia da Cova da Alfarroba offers great conditions for surfing - whether for beginners or advanced surfers. Long, even waves with "a lot of steam" roll in reliably here. We even surfed in the pouring rain - an absolutely awesome experience. The campsite is right next to the beach, so it's only a 5 minute walk with the surfboard. Easygoing :-)


Learning to surf is really hard and exhausting. Again and again we do dry runs of the push up procedure, study different techniques and test it out in the white water. And then we still need to catch the waves... We're in the washing machine regularly (you can find the explanation of the term in our previous blog). As my surf instructor in California once said: "Tonight you won't need salt on your margherita"


P.S. Surfing without wetsuit - only for Instagram :-)

Praia da Areia Branca bei Lourinhã Portugal Algarve Surfen für Anfänger schönste Strände
Instagram
Praia da Areia Branca bei Lourinhã Portugal Algarve Surfen für Anfänger schönste Strände
vs Reality

To have some variety from surfing, we still have two stages of the Rota Vicentina on the bucket list. We have already done the stage from Salema to Sagres in the Algarve. And the coastline on the wild west side also seems very attractive. We walk south from Praia de Monte Clerigo to Arrifana. The stage is relatively short at about 9 km and since there is no bus or taxi connection, we walk back the same way. It won't be boring though. The scenery and views are breathtaking. The path leads mostly along cliffs and you can enjoy the dramatic coastline and bizarre rock formations in the sea. The bird life here is also very diverse. There are even storks whose nests are mostly built on secluded rocks. Once again we are so excited that we tackle another stage - the one from Zambujeira do Mar to Odeceixe. This route is said to be the most beautiful of the 13 stages of the Rota Vicentina. We can start walking directly from our campsite in Zambujeira do Mar. This time, however, we booked a transfer for the way back - after all, the stage is almost 19 km long and there is no public bus connection. Here, too, the path leads us amidst sandy dunes on cliffs along the coast. The terrain is as wild as the sea below us. The small bays can often only be reached from land with a lot of effort and climbing - the cliffs are just too steep. And that's what makes it so appealing. And here we are almost alone on the trail. We meet one or the other hiker - otherwise we feel far away from any tourism.


Zambujeira do Mar to Odeceixe Fishermans Trail Rota Vicentina Portugal
Hike from Zambujeira do Mar to Odeceixe




And that's exactly what we appreciate so much about Portugal. Contrary to our expectations, the coast here is very authentic and natural. Large hotel complexes and catered beach sections don't exist. There is also surprisingly little going on at the campsites. We enjoy it. Portugal is totally camper-friendly. There is a very good infrastructure, fairly priced and mostly idyllic with a lot of space and shady trees. Apart from that, it is often, at least north of Lisbon, officially allowed (and even free) to stay overnight in some beach car parks. Ideal for surfers :-) Not only that strongly reminds us of Australia. The Portuguese are also very relaxed and friendly. We always feel welcome. People greet each other with a "todo bem", which means "everything's fine" and is both a question and an answer. That is very similar to the "no worries" culture in Australia.



Of course, a visit to Lisbon is a must. Here, at least, hustle and bustle is inevitable. But whatever. With around 35 degrees, we have not only chosen the hottest day since we have been in Portugal, but also the Dia do Portugal, the national holiday of the Portuguese. From our campsite it is not far to the city center. Around noon we start our discovery tour at the Castelo de San Jorge. From the castle you have a great view of Lisbon, the Tajo estuary and the south shore with the statue of Cristo Rei. A good start for our city tour. The botanical garden in the castle garden is beautifully created. Then we head off by foot through some of Lisbon's central neighborhoods. The city is incredibly colorful and bustling, music can be heard everywhere, people are enjoying the good weather and laughing. We stroll through the districts of Alfama and Barrio Alto. Since Lisbon is built on seven hills, it is constantly uphill, downhill, through narrow streets and up steep stairs. Pretty exhausting at 35 degrees. Luckily there are enough opportunities to refresh yourself. And the numerous miradoures - the viewing platforms - invite you to take a break with a view.



Finally, by chance, we end up at a kind of beer festival that takes place at the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. Beer benches have been set up, music is playing loudly and drinks are being served at the colorful stands. So we don't hesitate to join. Instead of beer, however, we opt for a fruity refreshment - at first glance.


beer fest Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara Portugal Lissabon
Piña Colada served authentically

After the drink we have to rest a bit in the park. Then we continue to our last stop – the Time Out Market. You can find here are all sorts of local delicacies. Unfortunately, the traditional market is closed due to the bank holiday - however the food spaces are open. First we need a strong espresso. And a mandatory combination in Portugal is the national dessert Pastel de Nata - a puff pastry filled with vanilla pudding. Sooo delicious. Of course, only the best are represented in the Time Out Market. We'll hit it twice :-) After that we treat ourselves with a varied three-course menu.



Unfortunately, the dessert was so tempting that we forgot to take a picture of it :-)


A nice end to a long, tiring day in Lisbon. Now we long for nature, beaches and of course surfing again. You can read more about it in our next article.

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