11 best things to do in Nazaré, Portugal: surfing the Nazaré waves

What are the best things to do in Nazaré, Portugal?

At first a simple fishing town, Nazaré, located in Central Portugal, is nowadays a well-known surfing spot, one of the best in Europe and the world. The waves can reach intimidating heights, which draw surfers from every corner of the world, with many records having been broken on these very shores. If you’re a thrill-seeker and a passionate surfer, Nazaré is the ultimate destination for you.

Hi! I’m Anya, founder of the travel blog Stop Going to Paris which focuses on underrated cities in Europe. I’m a passionate traveler but above all, a passionate adventurer always looking for the hidden gems that deserve more love.

After 10 years and 70+ destinations, I can help you plan your European trip: book a call with me. It includes a full itinerary with unique destinations, transportation, accommodation and activities.

Fun fact, I live in… drumroll… Paris! That’s why the name of the blog is funny.

Nazaré is more than its waves, however. It is a picturesque coastal town, similar to Sorrento in Italy. It’s a good day trip option from Porto or Lisbon, or a good stopping point between the two cities, since it is midway to both. Why not stop on the way and stay a night (or a week)? What’s great about Nazaré is that it is a very flexible destination: you can spend a lazy afternoon or a few days, and not get bored either way.

Nazaré is a perfect capsule of things we all love: the beach, wild nature, a cute village, interesting activities and surroundings to explore, and to top it off, fantastic seafood.

Why visit Nazaré?

I’d say Nazaré is a good day trip destination from Porto or Lisbon, being midway to both cities. It has everything you could ask for: the beach, the activities, the food, the sights.

For me, Nazaré turned out to be the highlight of my trip to Portugal, even if I ended up there due to a booking mistake. If I had to do it all again, I would choose to spend more time in Nazaré and include all the day trips possible in the surroundings, such as Óbidos, Fátima or Batalha.

It’s also no secret that Nazaré is synonymous with world records. World-class athletes like Garrett McNamara and Maya Gabeira have written their names in history by riding the biggest waves ever recorded.

Best things to do in Nazaré, Portugal

A quick list of the best things to do in Nazaré

Here’s a quick overview of the best attractions in Nazaré:

  • The beach: Praia da Nazaré, Praia do Norte, Praia da Areeira
  • Water activities, surfing the giant waves, dolphin safaris, riding jet skis and flyboards, North Canyon trips
  • The lighthouse and Fort of São Miguel Arcanjo
  • Beautiful sights and viewpoints
  • Enjoy the incredible seafood
  • Day trips: Óbidos, Fátima, Batalha, Alcobaça, etc.

The Best Time to Visit

The time of the year and the weather are crucial when it comes to visiting Nazaré, especially for surfing. The prime season is from October to March, when the waves are at their highest. If you prefer the experience of a charming fishing town that you’d stroll in under a sunny sky, I’d recommend going in April or May instead. The waves will be quieter but still impressive, and the sun will be here. If you’re a beginner surfer, it’s also the best time to go!

Getting There

Getting to Nazaré is a breeze since it is located midway to the two most touristic cities in Portugal: Porto and Lisbon. Taken sufficiently in advance (let’s say 2 weeks), busses can go as low as 4 or 5 euros for a 2-hour-ish trip, whether you’re coming from Lisbon or Porto.

Busses are by far the most convenient mode of transportation. Don’t bother with the train, it’ll be more expensive, longer (3.5 hours) and you’ll have to make a change at Coimbra.

Enjoy the beaches of Nazaré

Nazaré is famous for its beautiful sand beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see, ideal for swimming and surfing. Among them:

  • Praia da Nazaré (Nazaré Beach), the main one
  • Praia do Norte, with the biggest waves, perfect for surfing competitions
  • Praia de Areeira, quieter and less crowded

Surfing the giant waves of Nazaré

Beginner Surfer’s Guide to Nazaré

Surfing schools in Nazaré are many, as it is the town’s biggest tourist activity. I recommend the Surf4You school which provides tailored training to beginners. The teachers are lovely and the school is very accommodating with flexible hours and learning pace.

If you’re new to the waves, Nazaré might seem daunting. Be reassured, you are in good hands. The trainers know the waters like the back of their hands, they will teach you the ropes and how to be safe. Indeed, it’s important to understand the risks: the joy of the sport comes with its fair share of dangers like strong currents and unpredictable waves. Thankfully, all local schools provide education on ocean safety and first trials on the sand before getting in the water. Perfectly fit for beginners.

Seasoned Surfer’s Guide to Nazaré

If you have experience on the waves, I’m sure you already know everything there is to know about them and don’t need lessons. You’ll be more interested in the big competitions in Nazaré, such as the Tudor Nazaré Big Wave Challenge held in the November-January season.

If you want to catch the famous big waves, the best is to stay in Nazaré for a minimum of 2, even 3 weeks to increase your chances. That’s a long time! You might want to check out the rest of my article to see what you can do to fill your days during that time.

I’ll leave you with a last safety tip: make sure you have a support team with jet skis, these waves are huge enough to dwarf buildings and safety should be taken seriously.

Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal

Where to get surfing equipment

If you’re experienced, you’ll no doubt bring your equipment hauled over in the bus. But if you’re a beginner and do not own any, you’ll be pleased to know that equipment is easy to come by in Nazaré.

My hostel had a couple of boards and wetsuits to use for free. Being a beginner, I was more than satisfied with them. However, if you need more specialized equipment (wetsuits, big wave boards, vests, etc), most schools would provide you with them, including the Surf4You school.

What budget for your surfing trip

A Nazaré trip can be tailored to fit a range of budgets. Costs will vary based on accommodation choices, dining preferences, and surf-related expenses. In my case, it cost me in total around 60 euros for 2 days/1 night, including busses, accommodation, food and activities. Not bad right? Definitely one of the most affordable destinations I’ve done in Europe, for a pretty interesting and unique experience.

Dolphin trips and other water activities

Nazaré also offers various other water activities such as dolphin safaris. Have you ever seen dolphins up close? If not, here’s your opportunity! Atlantic Safaris is a tour operator in Nazaré that organizes those safaris: they take you on a boat on the open sea, and very quickly, you find yourself in the middle of dozens of dolphins, riding the waves with them. Quite the experience!

Atlantic Safaris also offers jet ski and flyboard rentals. Perfect for water sports addicts!

Dolphin safari, Nazaré, Portugal

Experience intense emotions in the North Canyon

The Nazaré Canyon is the main culprit responsible for the generation of big waves in Nazaré. It’s an underwater, 227 km long and 5 km deep canyon, one of the biggest and deepest in the world. Because of the strong currents, the waves can be several meters high. If you’re looking for extreme thrills, this is the place for you. You can book a jet ski trip to the North Canyon with Atlantic Safaris.

The Republic Avenue

The Avenida da República is probably the first thing you’ll see in Nazaré. It’s a long, spectacular promenade along the sea, perfect for a stroll while enjoying ice cream, the sound of the waves and the sunset. One of the best things to do during a lazy afternoon!

The Lighthouse and the São Miguel Arcanjo Fort

The Fort of São Miguel Arcanjo and the Lighthouse are fixtures in Nazaré, the vantage point from which most people go admire the Big Waves. It is also home to a small museum dedicated to the surfing history of Nazaré, including spectacular pictures of record-breaking waves and the surfers who rode them, as well as surfboards they signed.

The Lighthouse and the São Miguel Arcanjo Fort, Nazaré, Portugal

The Church of Our Lady of Nazaré

Located in the heart of the O Sitio neighborhood, the Church of Our Lady of Nazaré (Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Nazaré) is a stunning church built in a Baroque architecture style and whose origins trace back to the 14th century. It is known for its beautiful interior decorated with azulejos, the traditional Portuguese tiles, and its dominating view over the Nazaré surroundings. The church is also linked to the legend of Dom Fuas Roupinho, who was miraculously saved by the Virgin Mary from falling off the nearby cliffs after chasing a deer.

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Nazaré, Portugal

Suberco viewpoint

The best viewpoint in Nazaré is Miradouro do Suberco, situated 110 meters above sea level, with an incredible view of the ocean. It’s part of a trail that starts at the city center and takes you all the way to the Lighthouse of Nazaré, passing by the big Swing, the neighborhood of O Sitio and the Church of Our Lady of Nazaré. You can take the Nazaré funicular to get there, but I wouldn’t recommend it because it would be a pity to miss the scenic trail to the top!

Pederneira viewpoint

Pederneira is one of the best viewpoints in Nazaré, second only to Suberco. Accessible after an easy 20-minute walk, it offers an impressive and scenic view of the Praia de Nazaré and the town below, a must-see for visitors. It is part of a larger area, the old village of Pederneira, that was administratively attached to the town of Nazaré and is today one of its neighborhoods.

Serra d’Aire and Candeeiros Natural Park

The Serra d’Aire and Candeeiros Natural Park is a protected area that offers a beautiful limestone hills landscape, dramatic cliffs and deep caves, such as the Grutas de Mira de Aire, Portugal’s largest caves. The park is also a haven for biodiversity, hosting a good variety of plant and animal species.

Eat in Nazaré the best seafood you can find

There are countless restaurants in Nazaré where the seafood consists of the catch of the day – personally the best I’ve ever eaten, incredibly fresh and delicious. Make sure to try Caldeirada, a traditional fish stew, and of course pastéis de nata for dessert. My favorite dish was the braised tuna I had at Infusão, with a side of couscous salad with ananas, a combination that worked surprisingly well!

Getting Around

Navigating Nazaré is a breeze, the city center is small and very walkable, and you probably won’t need any busses. As for the elevated O Sitio neighborhood, you can reach it with the funicular. As I mentioned previously, I wouldn’t recommend taking it if you can avoid it but for those of us with mobility issues, know there is an easy way to get to the top. The round trip costs around 3 euros.

Nazaré, Portugal

Day Trips near Nazaré

While people usually consider Nazaré as a day trip from Lisbon or Porto, it can also function as a base to explore surrounding cities. There are many places worth a visit, including:

  • Óbidos, a medieval town built in the 12th century.
  • Fátima, the religious epicenter of Portugal which welcomes millions of pilgrims every year to pray at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima. You can cycle from Nazaré to Fatima on the Paths of Faith, following the same trails as these pilgrims.
  • The Alcobaça Monastery
  • Coimbra
  • The Batalha Monastery
  • The Serra d’Aire and Candeeiros Natural Park

Nazaré visitors tips

  • Choose the surfing season wisely: if you’re a pro, go in October-February. If you’re a beginner, March-June is the best option.
  • Safety first, always. Ask locals to teach you how to surf or support you with jet skis if you want to ride huge waves.
  • Budget the activities, they can easily cost as much if not more than the accommodation (which is very affordable).


Nazaré is a small coastal town in Portugal, and one of the best places to visit in the region as it offers a good blend of beach fun, exciting activities, gorgeous sights, and interesting day trips. All while being flexible for your budget and time. Great thing to note, the seafood is simply to die for!

Check out my other articles

If you liked this article, you might also like my article on Zakopane, Poland’s winter capital or my article on Amboise, in the Loire Valley in France. And if you want to learn more about the whole off-the-beaten-path-travel concept of my blog, read my explanation of it here.


Why visit Nazare?

Nazaré is now a global surfing hotspot but hasn’t lost its original fishing village soul. It’s a cute town with beautiful beaches, sights, and delicious traditional Portuguese seafood.

What are the main attractions in Nazaré?

The surfing, of course! but also the dolphin safaris. The Nazaré Lighthouse, and the Forte de São Miguel Arcanjo. The delicious seafood. The O Sitio neighborhood, accessible via the funicular, offers the best views of the entire town and should not be missed.

What’s the best time to visit Nazaré for surfing?

For experienced surfers, the winter months are best (October-February), when the waves are at their peak. For beginners, March-June, when the Ocean is calmer.

Can beginners surf in Nazaré?

Yes, but it’s advisable to stick to the smaller beaches like Praia da Vila, as Praia do Norte is suited for those with experience.

Are there any festivals in Nazaré?

Absolutely! There’s the Carnaval de Nazaré in February, and the Festa de Nossa Senhora da Nazaré in September, where the town celebrates its patron saint, which includes a procession, music, and fireworks.

Is Nazaré suitable for families?

Definitely. With its beaches, activities, and family-friendly restaurants, Nazaré is fit for everyone, no matter their age.

What day trips from Nazaré can I take?

There are many day trips you can take from Nazaré. Popular options include visiting the nearby towns of Óbidos or Alcobaça, exploring the Batalha Monastery, and taking a trip to Fátima, the pilgrimage site.

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One Comment

  1. I’m planning my April trip to Portugal right now, so this is perfect timing. Nazaré is on my list.

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