Typically when we read about the world’s best surfing spots we find ourselves being directed towards the West Coast of the United States of America, to Australia, or to Bali on Java in Indonesia, but the reality is that there are many amazing spots for surfing in Europe.
That’s why we have created this guide to amazing surf spots in Europe.
From the United Kingdom to Spain, France, and Portugal, the surf in Western Europe can be pretty spectacular when it wants to be!
Traveling through Europe on the hunt for the best surfing spots is a great way to spend your holiday in Europe and you may find yourself never wanting to come home. Some of the places might be kind of pricey, but they’re definitely worth the money, so no excuses here!
The weather in Europe is unpredictable at the best of times but if you get a good sunny day you could easily be in Bali or on the Sunshine Coast of Australia, for the waters are oh so very blue, clear and, believe it or not, even warm too!
If you are good enough, you may find yourself invited to come and teach at one of the many surf schools along the coasts of Spain, France, and Portugal. This is a great way to travel around Europe, see the world, and teach what you are passionate about!
Table of Contents
WHEN: ALL YEAR AROUND
Lisbon is not only the capital of Portugal but is also one of the most popular surfing destinations in Europe. It is not difficult to see why when waves are constant all year round. There are many types of waves offered in Lisbon including beach breaks, point breaks, and reef breaks.
Caparica, or as the locals call it, Costa da Caparica is a long beach with numerous jetties. It goes from the south of Lisbon to the Tejo River and can be accessed by a twenty-minute drive across the bay. It has a great offshore wind when winds from the East come through.
There are surf options all along the thirty kilometers of Caparica. The best waves can be found in the north where there are sand bars and jetties.
WHEN: The main season for surfing in Peniche runs from September through to October.
Peniche in Portugal has for many years been one of the most popular surfing destinations in Europe, and it’s not hard to see why.
Peniche is very easy to access thanks to budget airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair that fly to many destinations within Europe for a very reasonable price. If you want to bring your own board, though, you’ll find yourself forking out a small fortune as budget airlines are famed for their stinging baggage prices.
Nevertheless, there are over 200 different surf schools in Peniche from which to learn the ropes before you head out onto the water.
WHEN:The season is all year long but winter can deliver some pretty awesome uncrowded days.
In Sagres, the many empty beaches and amazing landscapes won’t let you down. The waves are suitable for surfers of all levels so just find a spot that suits you best.
The locals are not the friendliest but if you respect their culture and mind your own business you won’t have any problems. You should definitely visit—Sagres won’t leave you disappointed.
WHEN: for BEGINNERS between May and September, for intermediate and professional the rest of the year.
You can find this fisherman’s village north of Lisbon (only 45 minutes’ drive), and apart from fishing, you can find some amazing surfing conditions. There are various surfing spots to choose from, such as Coxos, Foz do Lizardo, Pedra Branca, etc.
Surfing conditions are great for all types of surfers and all skill levels. The beaches are not as crowded as in other parts of Portugal, but you’ll probably want to hit the waves in the off-season.
Ericeira is a lovely town to hang out in, with some delicious seafood restaurants and some hip bars. If you need a quick getaway from the city, you can reach the lovely historical town Mafra in just 15 minutes.
There are few surf houses and hostels in the city, so you can easily go on a solo trip as well. You will make friends quickly in this town.
Beginner/intermediate: April – Sept.
Intermediate/advanced: Sept – April.
Lofoten, Norway, is known for having the best waves in the country.
Windsurfing, kitesurfing, and surfing all take place at this beautiful Nordic archipelago where the water offers all ages and any level of experience exciting activities.
Although the climate is cold, quality, thick wetsuits with hoods, neoprene gloves and boots will keep surfers warm as they enjoy what may be the most beautiful cold water surf location in the world.
Added to the enjoyment of the delightful waves, surfers can view and explore stunning fjords, breathtaking and picturesque landscapes and stunning scenery, not to mention the Northern Lights.
While there are ridable waves throughout the year, the best time to surf at Lofoten is between November and March. Lofoten is one location to experience inside a hooded wetsuit that is of the thickest weight with neoprene gloves and boots.
At Lofoten, there is whale watching, bird watching, the Northern Lights and beautiful birds to see, as well as thematic photo trips along with the tremendous surfing experiences.
SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain
WHEN:The surf in San Sebastian is best in the winter months of November and December. The temperatures sit around twenty degrees, so it’s not too cold to cope!
When we think of Spain we think of flamenco and bull-fighting, not necessarily surfing but rest assured that Spain is home to some of the best surfing locations in the world, not just in Europe and San Sebastian is no exception.
The best time of the year for surfing in San Sebastian is in the winter months. The water is not as cold as in Cornwall, England, but it is still pretty chilly.
San Sebastian itself is nothing particularly special; it’s quite built up with tourist resorts, but that’s not what we’re about. We are about the surf, right?
WHEN:The best times to head to Mundaka for surfing are March and April and September and October.
Accessible from the city of Bilbao, Mundaka is one of the best surf spots in Spain. The surf is best in autumn and in spring, and the tepid waters are a joy to be in. The beaches around Mundaka are perfectly clean, with soft, creamy sand.
After a long day out on the water, hang out in one of the many beachside bars and cafes and enjoy a freshly caught fish dinner washed down with some classic Spanish sangria.
PLAYA DE RODILLES, Spain
WHEN: The best time to surf here is between November and April.The place is loved by locals and can get very crowded.
LEVEL: INTERMEDIATE, ADVANCED
Playa de Rodiles is located in the north of Spain in the Asturias region. It’s a beautiful surfing spot surrounded by some very steep cliffs. The scenery, Spanish culture, and Asturias region are very lovely and you’re gonna have a wonderful time on your surf trip!
First of all, it’s important to point out that this spot is not for beginners or anybody who is still learning how to surf. Playa de Rodiles is recommended for intermediate and advanced surfers because of the strong rips and heavy waves. The waves reach three meters and it’s a lot of fun.
Make sure to stop by while doing a northern Spain surf trip because this is definitely the best spot to surf in Europe, so you’ve gotta check it out!
WATERGATE BAY, England
WHEN:That said, the best surf at Watergate Bay rises in the autumnal months of September and October.
Watergate Bay, like Sennen Cove, can be found in the county of Cornwall in southwest England. Watergate Bay is far more popular with holiday-makers and tourists than Sennen Cove and, as such, you will find yourself battling for space in the surf during the summer high season.
Watergate Bay and Sennen Cove are a short drive from each other so if you are heading to Cornwall be sure to check out both spots and compare notes!
SENNEN COVE, England
WHEN:The best surf season for pros at Sennen Cove peaks between September and October.
Sennen Cove is one of the United Kingdom’s best-kept secrets when it comes to surfing in Europe. Sennen Cove can be found nestled away in the most southerly county of England, Cornwall. Surfing in the Atlantic Ocean can be bitterly cold at times so make sure that you bring your full suit with you!
Sennen Cove offers a few good surf schools for those who want to learn how to surf or brush up on their skills. The surf at Sennen Cove is good for beginners in the summer—if you can deal with the busy beach, that is.
for BEGINNERS: Summer months
for INTERMEDIATE, ADVANCE: October through to December
Again, when we think of France we think of fine wines and Parisian cafes, but Biarritz confidently makes the grade as one of the top ten amazing surf spots in Europe.
Like with most places in Europe, during the summer months of June, July and August you will have to battle with the crowds for some half-decent surf, but the best time to surf in Biarritz is in the winter months of October through to December.
For those looking to learn how to surf in a great location with easy waves, Biarritz is the place to go in the summer!
PORT BLANC, France
LEVEL: INTERMEDIATE, ADVANCED
Port Blanc, part of the Quiberon peninsula in France, is a great spot for surfing in Europe as there are constant waves. The beaches are very crowded, however. Most waves are three to four feet high. There is a stream that comes off of the cliffs surrounding the water that will assist in paddling out.
Port Blanc has powerful and hollow waves. Waves can get up to eight feet despite the average mentioned previously.
The waves are powerful, so this is a more professional location for professional surfers. The waters can get crazy from the strength of the waves, the wind and the number of people. It’s a beautiful spot to take a board out and catch some air.
WHEN:The top months for surfing in Lacanau are January and December when the rideable waves are in excess of 70% consistently.
Sticking with France, our list of amazing surf spots now takes us to wonderful Lacanau, tucked away in the southwest of France on the Atlantic coast.
The small town of Lacanau has a typically French feel about it and it’s a great place to hang out for the summer if you want a relaxed and hassle-free existence in Europe. Not as popular as other French beach resorts, Lacanau is a hidden gem of this Western European nation.
Lacanau has some wonderful beaches, too with some great sand dunes to run down too if you fancy releasing your inner child!
WHEN:October, November, and December are the months when the surf at Hossegor peak.
LEVEL: INTERMEDIATE, ADVANCED
Hossegor is arguably the best surfing spot in France and one of best in Europe. Hugely popular with local boarders and international travelers, Hossegor is a must-visit!
If you choose to head to Hossegor, then you are in luck: you can kill two birds with one stone and ride the waves at Biarritz too, for it is just a short 43-kilometer drive away. Like with Sennen Cove and Watergate Bay, remember to keep notes to pass on to your fellow surfers.
WHEN: WINTER – November to March
Known as “Cold Hawaii,” Klitmøller is more of a windsurfing town than a surfing area. Still, when the winds subside, some waves beckon the surfer because they peel nicely and offer him or her a surfing experience that should be far from ordinary.
Of course, Danish people are more acclimated to cold weather than some Americans or English who might be on tour. Still, a hefty wet suit will usually substitute for this difference in acclimation.
The best time of the year to surf at Klitmøller is during the winter, starting in November and ending in March. During these colder months, the North Sea has its best swells and is more consistent with its waves than in the summer months. In this respect, the sea provides the surfers the opportunities to enjoy themselves as they will have a good idea of what to expect better.
Also, since the waves flow steadily, any traveler to Klitmøller will have no disappointments regarding opportunities to surf. There is no crowding on the beach, although Klitmøller has become more attractive because of the efforts of Ramus Johnsen and other surfers who integrated surfing in the community.
THE BUBBLE, Canary Islands
WHEN:The best surf at The Bubble spans a few months in length, from November through to February.
Many people think the Canary Islands are their own country, and in many ways they are, but they are firmly in the Spanish jurisdiction. If you want to eat, drink, chill, surf and meet like-minded travelers, then The Bubble is the place to do it.
A popular spot with backpackers making their way around Europe, The Bubble is the complete package. What’s more, there is a tonne of cheap and friendly hostels to stay in here too, meaning you can stay for a long time and a good time.
PLAYA DE LAS AMERICAS, Tenerife
WHEN: The main season for pros picks up from October until February. For beginners, it’s ideal all year round.
Playa de las Americas is a lovely town on Tenerife Island which is the main spot for surfing but also for tourism. Therefore, you can start from there but spend some other days in more secret spots. Life there is quite affordable, even during the main season.
Its perfect-all-year-long climate makes it an ideal surfing destination for Europeans in the winter. Outside temperatures are between 22–28°C and water temperatures are usually around 19–23°C, and that’s pretty dope, right?
As a highlight, you could consider the view you get while sitting on the board in the water waiting for your wave. Tenerife has the third-highest island volcano in the world and you can enjoy some seriously stunning views from there.
WHEN:As with Cornwall in England, the best season for surfing in Ireland is autumn, between September and October.
LEVEL: INTERMEDIATE, ADVANCED
Now, here is a country you probably didn’t expect to feature on this list! Ireland’s Atlantic Coast does, in fact, boast some pretty good surfing spots, and Bundoran Beach is certainly one of them.
This beach even hosted the European Surfing Championships back in 2011, just to give you an idea of the wave quality.
MULLAGHMORE, County Donegal, Ireland
LEVEL: ONLY ADVANCED
WHEN: WINTER MONTHS
Ireland has some of the best surfing places in Europe. The shores are where waves first reach when coming from the North Atlantic. They are especially powerful with the strength of the Gulf Stream behind them. It’s important to note that professionals should only surf at Mullaghmore as the stretch offers some of the largest waves.
Mullaghmore is a location with some of the world’s biggest waves. The bottom is also a rocky and dangerous drop. The waves here are for long riding, for fast action, and for tubes. It is possible to catch some great air, but it takes work.
Mullaghmore is one of the most difficult places to surf in the world, but it is well worth it. Paddling out to the breakpoint is exceptionally difficult. Winds from the coast are brutal and strong with constant rainy weather. Ensure you have ample gear to protect yourself from the waves and the weather.
WHEN: The best time to surf in Sardinia is winter.
LEVEL: BEGINNERS. INTERMEDIATE
Sardinia has so many surfing spots, you can’t imagine. It has the most consistent waves on the Mediterranean Sea, so you can’t go wrong with choosing it for your surfing holiday.
During the summer you can chill on the beaches on sunny days and enjoy the waves on the windy ones. It also has many cultural monuments and hiking trails you can explore while you are on the island.
PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland
A small, quaint seaside resort town on the north coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland, Portrush invites many tourists and surfers.
What is called the Portrush-West Strand is an exposed beach break that has surf that is consistently great in the colder months, but it is usually flat during the summer.
In the colder weather, Portrush has a mix of wind swells and ground swells, with the best direction being from the northwest. There is plenty of surf at all stages of the tide, and Portrush is considered to have some of the best waves in Northern Ireland’s waters (85%-95%) swell that a surfer can ride. The beach breaks rights and lefts, and there is good surf at all stages of the tide except in summertime. Offshore winds come from the southeast, and there is some shelter from east winds.
At the west end of what is called West Strand, there is a quality, but an unpredictable spot where there is a lefthand boulder reef that offers experienced surfers excitement and beauty. Because it requires exact swell direction to work since the waters are shallow and rocky, only experienced surfers should ride the waves. Mid/high tide only are the times for surfing in the challenging West Strand.
Author Bio: Linda is the founder of easytravel4u.com. She is passionate about traveling and is excited to share with you all her travel experiences and tips. Connect with her via Twitter and Facebook.