Updated: Jun 4, 2019
Portugal is definitely one of Europe's finest surfing countries. From Faro, in the southernmost part of the country, to Porto in the north you will encounter beautiful and picturesque villages surrounded by beautiful sandy and rocky beaches where you can learn and practice surfing.
Good wine and delicious food will also accompany your experiences in this beautiful country. The Port wine produced with distilled grape spirits exclusively in the Douro Valley, in the northern provinces of Portugal, as well as the Vinho Verde (green wine), that ideal as an aperitif, are musts when visiting Portugal. In terms of food, fresh fish and seafood in general are always some of the best choices.
We decided to take advantage of the Easter break to visit Portugal; the weather is supposed to be pretty good, with average temperatures of 20°C, and there are usually less tourists around. We mainly intended to visit Lisbon, Porto, and the region of Algarve, to learn the basics about surfing, and to enjoy the typical food and wine.
Roadtripping is usually our preferred option, when possible, as it allows you to better explore and access less touristy and remote places. The Algrave, and the three main cities were our priorities. Despite it is possible to drive from Porto (north) to Faro (south) in one day, we wanted to limit our daily drives to not more than 3.5h. Therefore, we decided to split the journey by stopping in Ericeira, a small village named as World Surf Reserve, and Lisbon.
Day 1: International flight from London to Faro and overnight in Faro.
Day 2-4: Road trip from Faro to Ericeira, two nights in Ericeira, and road trip to Porto and overnight stay.
Day 5: Porto sightseeing and road trip to Lisbon and overnight stay.
Day 6: Lisbon sightseeing and road trip to Lagos.
Day 7-8: Lagos and the Algarve sightseeting.
Day 9: Road trip to Faro.
Day 10: Faro sightseeing and International flight to London.
Places visited and the most fascinating experiences
Ericeira is the homeland of surf and it was named as World Surf Reserve in 2011. The old town is vibrant and charming from an architectural point of view; walking through the narrow streets it will probably bring you back in time when the roads were not designed for cars. We stayed for two nights in You and the Sea (https://www.youandthesea.pt/), a lovely seaside apartment, where we had surf lessons included. Ericeira surf spots are renowned for their level of consistency across all level of surfers, their water quality and the uniquely beautiful surrounding. If you have never tried surfing sport before, or you are a professional, this is the place where you want to be.
Porto is a coastal city in northwest Portugal known for its stately bridges and port wine production; it is also the northernmost point we reached while travelling in Portugal. Our visit was very short, as we arrived around 17:00 and left the following day at 12:00, and we were pretty unlucky with the weather too. We managed to see the iconic Luís I Bridge crossing the River Duoro, Livraria Lello and its twisty wooden red staircase, the beautiful blue tiled side facade of Igreja do Carmo. The highlight of the stay was the dinner in O tascö where we had a delicious Dalva Tawny 30 years old (https://kit.com/pieroromoli/food-and-wine/port-wine-dalva-tawn). Despite the good points aboe, I must confess that I was a bit disappointed with the overall experience and vibes of the city; maybe because I had high expectations.
Lisbon is the capital and largest city in Portugal. As a bridge engineer, I strongly recommend you approach (or leave) the city from the south, so that you can admire the magnificent Vasco da Gama Bridge, a 12km long viaduct, or the Ponte 25 de Abril, which is very similar to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco but smaller. We visited the neighbourhoods (barrios) of Barrio Alto y Chiado and Baixa mainly on foot. If you fancy some wine and seafood, Noobai Rooftop Bar Restaurant (http://www.noobaicafe.com), located at the trendy Santa Catarina Belvedere close to Bairro Alto, is the perfect spot as it is situated on a hilltop and offers a panoramic view of the Tagus River delta and harbour. Wandering through the narrow streets of the capital, you will definitely notice the Lisbon's iconic electric trams. A ride is only €3 per person but you will probably struggle to jump on Line 28 because it is very popular and always overcrowded.
The Algarve (Lagos, Sagres and Faro) is a town in southern Portugal's Algarve region. It’s known for its walled old town, cliffs and Atlantic beaches. We stayed in Lagos which is a well known place for Praia Dona Ana, Praia do Camilo and Farol da Ponta da Piedade with its scenic ocean views, and we spent most of our time surfing in the nearby sandy beaches. If you fancy exploring the area, not far from Lagos, you can reach Sagres and the beautiful Costa Vicentina. We stopped for lunch at Retiro do Pescador where we had some delicious fresh seafood (https://www.instagram.com/retiro_do_pescador/) and then we went surfing at Praia do Beliche. There are several beautiful beaches even in Sagres too, but not as good as that spot facing the Atlantic Ocean. The variety of waves, consistency and beautiful scenery are just perfect.
Camera, Travel and Backpacking gear
I'm a keen photographer and I love taking pictures of nature and landscapes. Below I listed what I usually carry with me on holiday. If you are interested to check my full camera gear, including all my accessories, this is my Kit: https://kit.com/pieroromoli/camera-gear
Nikon D700 (https://www.nikon.com/)
GoPro Hero 6 (https://gopro.com/)
DJI Mavic Air (https://www.dji.com/pt)
Nikkor 16-34mm f4 and 50mm f1.8 (http://www.nikkor.com/)
Tamron 70-300mm f4-5.6 (https://www.tamron.eu/)
iPhone 8 and iPhone 5s (https://www.apple.com/)
Benro Carbon Fibre Tripod (http://www.benro.com/)
Manfrotto PIXI Evo 2 (https://www.manfrotto.co.uk/)
Lowepro ProTactic 450 AW II (https://www.lowepro.com/global/)
Hoya Filters (https://hoyafilter.com/)
I hope you’ve found this post helpful and interesting.