As the only Surf Reserve in Europe, Ericeira is truly privileged in Portugal since it receives a slew of international visitors interested in trying the waves on for size. It is also a traditional summer getaway for Lisbonites, which means that although there are many international tourists, there are also many Portuguese here during the summer holidays.
This makes for a great mix of cultures and a unique authentic Portuguese atmosphere in the village. If you're planning on heading to the quaint whitewashed village for a surf holiday, here are a few things you should know beforehand!
The best time to visit Ericeira is in the shoulder seasons: October to early November and March to early April. The weather is still pleasant during these months, but there are fewer crowds than in the peak summer season.
Shoulder season is also when you'll find some of the best waves for surfing! Summer months bring much smaller waves and are only ideal for beginners.
Ericeira's great for beginner surfers: With a variety of different beaches, each with its own unique wave break, Ericeira is perfect for both beginners and experienced surfers alike.
Matadouro, for example, is well known for its long and consistent waves, making it ideal for those just starting out. On the other hand, Praia da Ribeira d'Ilhas is considered one of the best surf spots in Europe and often hosts national and international surfing competitions.
Ericeira has some of the best seafood in Europe: If you're a fan of seafood and fish, Ericeira will not disappoint. There are plenty of restaurants serving up fresh fish and seafood platters, often caught locally.
The cheapest and best options are slightly north towards Ribeira D'Ilhas, but there are some fabulous seafood to be had in the village as well. Be sure to try a seafood platter which serves up clams, muscles, different varieties and sizes of shrimp, local crab dip, and my personal favourites: razor clams and the daunting goose barnacles!
Public transport to Ericeira isn't the best, unfortunately, and is quite expensive. The only way to get here is by bus which leaves every hour from Campo Grande for 8 Euros per leg. If you're lucky you get a direct bus, but most stop through all the little villages on the way, and will stretch the 30-minute car ride to close to an hour and a half.
Saying that, once in Ericeira, the Surf Bus is a great way to get around the 11 beaches on the surf reserve. It runs regularly between the village and the main surfing beaches and will let you on with your board for 1 Euro. The bus only runs during the months of July and August. This means you'll either want to rent a car or get an Uber to Ericeira and hoof it from there.
Although Ericeira is a beautiful coastal village that is teeming with adventure and things to do, you'll frequently have to surf, windsurf, hike or bike in the rain or fog! What many people don't know about Ericeira is that it is located in a microclimate. This means that the temperatures here are almost always about 10 degrees below Lisbon!
It is also often foggy in the morning and clears up around lunch time, even in the summer. Ericeira is a great place to get away from the heat during the summer months, but remember that evenings are always cool, and that the constant wind isn't everyone's cup of tea.
Locals in Ericeira love to sit in cafes and enjoy the sunshine, but it comes with a huge helping of complaining about life in general! They'll often tell you that business is horrible and that no one is doing well these days even though the whole village is booming! A negative outlook on life is commonplace here, and locals take great pleasure in stewing in their own drama.
This isn't to say that Ericeira isn't a great place to be - it's actually a charming town with plenty of things to do and beautiful views. However, it's worth knowing what you're getting yourself into if you decide to chat up the helpful locals!
Ericeira is a great central base to visit other areas of Portugal. Just a short drive or bus trip away, you can visit the well-known palaces and castles of Sintra or Mafra, the capital city of Lisbon, or the medieval town of Obidos.
This makes Ericeira an excellent place to stay if you want to see the different facets of Portugal all while enjoying village life and sea views between day trips.
Last Updated 7 September 2022