If you’re planning a trip to the West Coast of Portugal but aren’t sure of what the best things to do are, then look no further. In this post, you’ll find a list of the top activities and places to visit during your time on this beautiful stretch of the Portuguese coast.
Whether you’re looking for a beach holiday, an adventure-filled road trip or a cultural experience, there are plenty of things to do on the West Coast of Portugal. From taking in stunning coastlines and picturesque towns to exploring historic sites and hiking trails, there’s something for everyone.
The West Coast of Portugal is home to some of the best beaches in the country. From Praia da da Urca where you can catch one of the best sunsets in Portugal, to Nazaré, where some of the biggest waves in the world break, and further south to Comporta coast, which has some of the longest stretches of white sandy beaches, this area offers a range of stunning coastal scenery. So for those looking to catch some sun, swim in the ocean and surf some waves, you will not be disappointed.
The West Coast is popular amongst travellers who are ocean lovers and outdoor seekers. To make the most of your time in this region, taking a road trip is one of the best ways to really explore and experience everything it has to offer. Its easy access from Lisbon makes it a great destination for weekend trips or even week-long holidays.
To help you plan your trip, we’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in do in West Coast Portugal, including the best places to visit, the best things to do and some of the best beaches in Portugal.
So let’s get to it! These are the 10 best things to do on the West Coast of Portugal:
Other travel guides you might find useful…
- Europe: the ultimate travel guide
- Top tips for travelling in Europe
- The best things to do in Portugal
- A 2-week Portugal road trip itinerary
- A guide to driving from England to Portugal
- The best things to do in Lagos, Portugal
- A guide to Lisbon, Portugal
- A guide to Nazaré, Portugal: Home to the biggest wave in the world
- Hidden gems in Europe that you must visit
- A bucket list of road trips in Europe
The Best Things to do on the West Coast of Portugal
1. Hire a campervan and take a road trip
The West Coast of Portugal is one of the most popular road trip destinations in Europe and one of the best things to do in Portugal. You can take in all the gorgeous beaches, charming towns, historical sites and stunning scenery that this part of Portugal has to offer without having to worry about accommodation or logistics. Hire a campervan with Indie Campers or Siesta Campers and make your own itinerary to explore the best of the West Coast of Portugal.
If you want the low-down on an itinerary for West Coast Portugal road trip, you’ll want to read this blog post which outlines the best 2-week Portugal road trip itinerary. And if you’re one of our British readers, you might also be interested in this guide on driving from England to Portugal if you want to take your own campervan!
2. Watch the big wave surfers at Nazaré
Nazaré is a place of surf legends. Every winter, the world’s best big wave surfers take on waves that can reach up to 30 metres high, and on-lookers can watch an incredible show from the Nazaré fort. It is an incredible sight! Visit Nazaré between October and March for the best chance of seeing the big wave surfers in action. And if you’re lucky, you might just get to the WSL Tudor Big Wave Tow surfing challenge.
This championship is held once a year when the biggest swell comes in. Surfers fly from all over the globe within a space of 48hrs to compete (surfers like Kai Lenny literally come from Hawaii!). You can keep up to date with the latest update on when the challenge will be held on the WSL website.
Mollie had the chance to be there in 2020 when one of the biggest swells came in, and you can read all about her Nazaré experience in this blogpost.
3. Relax at one of Portugal's Best Beaches
The West Coast of Portugal boasts some of the best beaches in Portugal. From small secluded coves to vast stretches of sand, you can find it all here. Some of the best beaches include Praia do Guincho near Cascais, Praia da Ursa and Praia da Adraga near Azenhas do mar, and Praia da Arrábida near Lisbon. If you’re a beach freak like I am, below is a list of some of my favourite beaches in Portugal:
- Praia da Formosa near Santa Marta
- Praia Baleal near Peniche
- Dunas de São Jacinto near Aveiro
- Praia do Forte Paço near Porto
- Berlengas Archipelago Beach near Peniche
- Praia da Samoqueira near Alzejur
- Praia dos Coelhos near Setubal
- Praia de São Julião near Ericeira
- Praia Gale Fontainhas, near Sines
4. Visit the castles in Sintra
Whether you’re looking for an easy day trip or you want to spend a night in Sintra, visiting the castles and the palaces of this area is one of the best things to do on the West Coast of Portugal.
Palácio da Pena, Castelo dos Mouros, Palácio de Queluz and Palácio Nacional are some of the most popular sites to visit.
While you’re in Sintra, don’t forget to try the famous pastries such as Travesseiros and Queijadas de Sintra.
5. Spend the day in Cascais
Cascais is one of the most popular places in Portugal to visit during the summer months. With its laid-back atmosphere, stunning beaches, and incredible restaurants and cafes, it’s no wonder that this town is a favourite for travellers.
Take some time to explore the historical centre or take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront. And don’t forget to visit the Cabo da Roca, Europe’s westernmost point.
6. Book yourself into a Surfacamp and learn to surf
The West Coast of Portugal is known for its amazing waves and if you’re feeling adventurous, why not book yourself into a surf camp? There are a few great camps around the west coast of Portugal that offer lessons for all levels. Some of the best ones include:
- Salty Pelicans Ericeira, Cascais or Peniche
- Selina Ericeira
- Laneez Surfhouse Ericeira
- Rapture Surfcamp in Ericeira
- Arrifana Surf Lodge in Aljezur
- Dreamsea Surf in Alentejo
- Russo Surf Camp Aljezur
7. Spend the day in Portugal's capital of surf: Ericeira
Ericeira is a small fishing village on the west coast of Portugal that has become one of Europe’s most popular surf spots. With its beautiful beaches, amazing restaurants and bars, and lively nightlife, it’s no wonder why so many people flock to Ericeira every year. The best time to visit is during the summer months, but my favourite time to visit is during September-October when peak season has ended as the beaches are much less crowded, and you get to get a feel for the place as a local.
After staying in Ericeira for a month, I can tell you it’s one of the best places to relax, surf and enjoy Portugal. You can read more about all the best things to do in Ericeira in this blog post.
8. Take a boat ride to Berlengas Archipelago
Berlengas Island is one of the most beautiful places in Portugal, and it’s a must-visit for anyone travelling along the West Coast. You can take a day trip from Peniche or stay overnight on the island at one of the guesthouses.
9. Visit the Venice of Portugal: the small town of Aveiro
Aveiro is located between Nazaré and Porto, and it’s known as the Venice of Portugal. This small town is home to canals, colourful boats, art galleries and some incredible seafood restaurants.
It’s a great place to spend an afternoon strolling around or take a boat ride on one of the traditional Moliceiros boats. Make sure you don’t miss out on eating the famous Ovos Moles de Aveiro – a sweet pastry made with egg yolks and sugar.
10. Spend a long weekend in Porto
Porto is the second largest city in Portugal and is famed for its cobbled streets, historical monuments and, of course, its port. Porto is located in the northwest of Portugal, near the river Douro, and is a great place to spend a few days exploring. Visit some of the city’s most iconic attractions, such as the Torre dos Clérigos, Ponte d e Dom Luís I and the Livraria Lello.
Stop for a drink at one of the city’s infamous fado bars or sample some of the delicious Port wines in Vila Nova de Gaia. And don’t forget to take home a bottle or two as souvenirs!
11.Watch the sunset at Praia da Ursa
The highlight of any trip on the West Coast of Portugal is watching the sunset at Praia da Ursa. This stunning beach is located in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park and is one of the most scenic spots in Portugal. Take a blanket, some snacks and watch as the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean. It’s an unforgettable experience that you won’t forget!
So there you have it: my West Coast Portugal travel guide with all the best things to do in the region! I hope this has inspired you to add this to your European bucket list, it definitely deserves a place on it.
What are your favourite things to do on the West Coast of Portugal?
Where are your favourite places to visit in Portugal? Anything you’d add to this Portugal travel guide?
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