The best independent guide to Ericeira
The best independent guide to Ericeira
Ericeira lies on a stunning coastline of beautiful sandy beaches and towering cliffs, that face the might of the Atlantic Ocean.
The allure of these huge Atlantic waves has seen Ericeira transformed from a minor fishing town into one of Portugal's finest surfing destinations - and Europe's only World Surfing Reserve.
The three most famous surfing beaches of Ericeira are the Praia de Ribeira d'Ilhas (to the north of Ericeira), the Praia da Foz do Lizandro (to the south of the town), and the Praia de São Julião (4km south of Ericeira).
If, instead of surfing, you fancy a relaxing day on the beach, Ericeira boasts three calmer beaches within walking distance of the town. These are the gorgeous Praia do Sul, the Praia do Norte and the Praia dos Pescadores, which overlooks the fishing harbour. If you are planning a beach day (or holiday) with children, the Praia dos Pescadores and Praia do Sul are ideal for families.
If you have your own transport, you may wish to take a trip to the beautiful Praia de São Lourenço, which is to the north of Ericeira.
Between these seven outstanding beaches, there is a selection of other sandy or surfing beaches, which can act as fantastic alternatives.
Related articles: Introduction to Ericeira
The beautiful Praia da Foz do Lizandro beach is ideal for surfing or a day on the beach
The best surfing beaches in Ericeira are:
1) Praia de Ribeira d'Ilhas 2) Praia da Foz do Lizandro 3) Praia de São Julião 4) Praia do Matadouro 5) Praia de São Lourenço
The best beaches in the summer:
1) Praia dos Pescadores 2) Praia do Sul 3) Praia da Foz do Lizandro 4) Praia do Norte 5) Praia de São Sebastião
The map below shows all of the beaches of Ericeira (Note: zoom out to see all of the points)
Key 1) Praia de São Lourenço 2) Praia dos Coxos 3) Praia de Ribeira d'Ilhas 4) Praia da Empa 5) Praia do Matadouro 6) Praia de São Sebastião 7) Praia do Norte 8) Praia dos Pescadores 9) Praia do Sul 10) Praia da Foz do Lizandro 11) Praia de São Julião
The Praia do Sul is regarded as the main beach of Ericeira and is the best choice for a summer's day.
The beach sits on a wide, sweeping bay, with a rocky headland to the northern side. This headland provides shelter from the frequent winds, with the Praia do Sul being the first beach to develop tourism during the 1950s. Testament to the beach's history is the grand old Vila Galé hotel that overlooks the beach.
The Praia do Sul offers soft, golden sands and waves that are not too powerful, especially at the northern side. This makes the beach ideal for families - and at low tide a paddling pool is formed by the rocks, which is fun for children to splash around in. The only downside of the Praia do Sul is that the beach can get very busy in the summer season.
There can be good surfing waves to the southern side of the Praia do Sul, but the beach is often too busy for safe surfing during summer.
The Praia do Sul is a beautiful, sandy beach
The Vila Galé hotel and the low tide rocks starting to appear
The Praia de Ribeira d'Ilhas is the most famous surfing beach of Ericeira, and a fantastic location for your first surfing trip to the region. The beach's popularity is due to its fantastic waves, with a mix of waves waves suitable for beginners and more powerful waves further out for more experienced surfers.
The waves of Praia de Ribeira d'Ilhas provide consistent, right-hand point breaks, with some amazing reef breaks in front of the two headlands. The waves at the centre of the beach are ideal for beginners, as these form over sand and in relatively deep water.
The one issue with surfing at Praia de Ribeira is that the waters can get very crowded and has a mix of experienced and inexperienced surfers – often who have often just finished at a surf school.
The Praia de Ribeira d'Ilhas beach is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery, as it sits in valley between two massive headlands. The headlands do provide shelter from the winds, but the majority of visitors to Praia de Ribeira d'Ilhas are there for surfing. If you are travelling as a couple/family and aren’t as interested in surfing, then the Praia da Foz do Lizandro is a better option.
Insight: At the top of the cliff, on the main road back into Ericeira, is a magnificent viewpoint (the Miradouro Ribeira d'Ilhas) along with the Homenagem ao Surfista statue.
The Praia de Ribeira d'Ilhas at high tide, with the experienced surfers much further out to sea
The Homenagem ao Surfista at the Miradouro Ribeira d'Ilhas viewpoint
At the heart of Ericeira is the delightful Praia dos Pescadores beach. This beach lies at the base of the town's towering cliffs and overlooks the fishing harbour, while to the rear of the beach, the fishing boats are stored while not at sea.
The Praia dos Pescadores is the most sheltered beach in Ericeira. The 30 metre-high cliffs protect from the frequent winds, while the harbour walls limit the strong waves and currents.
The beach is popular with families and offers water-based activities such as SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) or swimming. Parasols and sun-loungers can be hired for €20 per day.
During the summer, both the Praia dos Pescadores and Praia do Sul are the most popular beaches of Ericeira.
The Praia da Foz do Lizandro is our favourite beach of the Ericeira region. It offers fantastic surfing and a large expanse of golden sands, along with some trendy bars and restaurants. However, this beach is 4km south of Ericeira, so a taxi/uber/bus is needed to travel to it.
The Praia da Foz do Lizandro sits at the mouth of the Rio Lizandro, and the river has carved a deep valley between the two headlands that has been filled with golden sands. The Praia da Foz do Lizandro has many similarities to the Praia de Ribeira d'Ilhas, but it is better suited for families and non-surfers who wish to spend time on the beach or splashing along the water's edge.
The Rio Lizandro runs along the southern side of the beach, with this slow, meandering river being ideal for SUP or kayaking. The beach also has a number of vibrant beach bars and restaurants, while there is an amazing viewpoint from the top of the headland.
The Praia da Foz do Lizandro is 2.6km south of Ericeira - and is the best beach to head to if you are based in Mafra or the surrounding region.
The Rio Lizandro as it meanders down to the sea
The Praia de São Juliao is another fantastic surfing beach that lies 4km (or 6km when driving) south of Ericeira. The shoreline extends for over 1km making it the largest beach of the Ericeira region. The northern section of the beach encompasses a river valley, while the southern end is surrounded by massive cliffs, making it one of the quietest beaches in the region.
The small amount of tourist development is concentrated at the northern side, where you will find the car park and two beach cafes. The south is much more exposed to the blustery conditions and powerful waves, making it a thrilling destination for experienced surfers.
The Praia de São Juliao is a great choice when the Praia da Foz do Lizandro is too busy, or the waves are too weak.
Insight: Perched at the top of the northern cliffs is the Capela de São Julião, a delightful chapel with a wonderful tiled interior. Surrounding the chapel is a tiny village of traditional Portuguese fishing cottages.
To the south of the beach, huge cliffs rise up
The sandy river valley of the Praia de São Juliao beach
The Praia de São Sebastião is often overlooked when considering the many beaches of Ericeira. The beach lies to the far north of the town and is difficult to surf due to the number of submerged rock formations - while at high tide, much of the beach disappears. Because of this, São Sebastião beach barely has any tourist development and retains its wild and pristine appearance.
Insight: There is a pleasant cliffside walk along the Praia de São Sebastião to the Miradouro Ribeira d'Ilhas viewpoint, which passes the Praia da Empa and the Forte do Milreu.
The Praia do Norte is the third and lesser beach in Ericeira town centre. It lies to the north of the fishing harbour wall making it more exposed to winds, waves and currents than the Praia do Sul or Praia dos Pescadores. On a calm summer's day, Praia do Norte is a good alternative to the other beaches of Ericeira.
The Praia do Matadouro is a small beach to the north of Praia de São Sebastião. It is popular with beginner surfers and is close to the Quicksilver store and the associated surf school.
The Praia da Empa is a rock-strewn beach with very little sand. Due to the many rocks along the shoreline, it is one of the quietest beaches, but it is an excellent beach for experienced surfers who tire of the packed waves at Praia de Ribeira d'Ilhas.
The many rocky tidal pools make the beach an enjoyable location to search for small crabs and fish that get caught when the tide goes out, and is a great family activity.
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