Surfing in Europe
Europe has a lot to offer when it comes to surfing for beginners. The European surf scene mainly takes place in Portugal, France, and Spain. Here you will find some of Europe’s best beach breaks that guarantee perfect conditions for beginners. However, you will also find surf spot gems in other countries like The UK, Netherlands, or Norway. Every European country with a coastline facing the North Atlantic ocean has surf potential, but Portugal, France, and Spain are the most popular destinations due to the number of surf spots, quality of the waves, and their climate.
Europe gets its biggest and most consistent swells during winter, but in the summer months, you can experience smaller and more mellow waves – perfect for beginners.
A surf trip in Europe for beginners
Surfing in Europe is not like your average surf trip to Asia or Central America, where the best surf spots tend to be in remote locations.
The best surf spots in Europe for beginners are very accessible, as infrastructure is good and distances between surf destinations are reasonable. Also, most of the top surf destinations for beginners are near a town.
That makes Europe a good choice for anyone’s first surf trip. Europe also has a predominance of beach breaks which is ideal for your first surf trip and experience in the water.
Learn to surf in Europe
If you want to learn to surf in Europe, the best option is to book a surf camp trip, where you get all the necessary instructions from good and qualified surf instructors. A surf camp trip is an intense experience that allows you to see quick progress and results. Alternatively, you can find a local surf school and sign-up for lessons on a day-to-day basis.
As a beginner, it is crucial to have someone with you in the ocean, that knows the local surf spot and can choose a day with the right conditions for your level. Surf schools and surf camps make sure you surf in safe conditions and learn all the necessary techniques to boost your learning curve.
A surf camp trip will cost you anywhere between 300€ – 1.000€ / week, depending on length, facilities, accommodation options, and other things included. If you opt for a surf school, you will find surf lessons for around 50€ per day (2-3 hour sessions).
The Best Surf Spots In Europe For Beginners
Below you will find a curated list with the best surf spots in Europe for beginners:
- Fistral Beach: Newquay, United Kingdom
- Alaïa Bay: Switzerland
- Cote Des Basque: Biarritz, France
- Zurriola Beach: San Sebastian, Spain
- Praia do Baleal: Peniche, Portugal
- Foz do Lizandro: Ericeira, Portugal
- Costa Da Caparica, Lisabon, Portugal
- El Cotillo: Fuerteventura, Spain
- Playa De Las Américas: Tenerife, Sapin
Fistral Beach: Newquay, United Kingdom
We are starting in the north, more specifically The United Kingdom.
In the southwest of England, you find Cornwall. The region is home to the best surfing beaches in England, and the town of Newquay is a popular destination due to its surf spots, vibrant nightlife, and good restaurants.
Learn to surf on the famous Fistral Beach. A wide beach, backed by dunes and located only a five-minute walk from the center of Newquay. Fistral Beach is a hot spot for surf schools as waves are consistent and provide conditions for all levels.
Surf schools in Newquay:
Alaïa Bay: Switzerland
Surfing in Switzerland? Impossible, you might think, as the country has no coastline. However, Alaïa Bay made a dream possible by building a Wavegarden pool where surfers can enjoy perfect waves in Switzerland’s beautiful surroundings.
When visiting Alaïa Bay, you can literally be surfing and hitting the slopes during the same day. That’s a bit mind-blowing and something truly unique!
The conditions in the artificial wave pool can be adjusted for beginners, which will guarantee you a perfect introduction to surfing.
Take surf lessons at Alaïa Bay:
Côte des Basques: Biarritz, France
Biarritz’s prestige doesn’t go unnoticed when you stroll down the beautiful streets and pass by the top-class hotels and restaurants. The town has a relaxed holiday vibe mixed with french charm. Start your day with a fresh croissant and a coffee in one of the cities graceful squares before taking on your daily surf lesson.
Côte des Basques is one of the best surf spots for beginners in Biarritz, due to its mellow lefts and rights that stretch along with the never-ending beach.
The beach has a great surf vibe, and you will find plenty of surf shops and surf schools in this area. The conditions at Côte des Basques are also popular among long borders.
The surf spot works best at low and mid-tide, as the beach is cut off when the tide rises. There are plenty of other good surf spots for beginners to explore around Biarritz, so you will still be able to surf when the tide rises at Côte des Basques.
Surf schools in Biarritz:
Zurriola Beach: San Sebastian, Spain
When it comes to surfing in San Sebastian, there are three good surf beaches, where Zurriola tends to be the most popular due to its waves that suit all levels of surfers.
The wave provides a nice A-frame with quick lefts and longer rights. Zurriola beach stretches out over 800 meters but can still be fairly crowded as it’s a well-known and excellent surf spot working through the tides.
The conditions are best in small to medium swells as waves tend to close out during bigger conditions. Zurriola Beach receives swells throughout the year, but the most consistent period is between September and April. However, the smaller conditions during summer are more suitable for beginners.
There are always new surf schools and surf camps popping up in San Sebastian, so it’s easy to find some well-qualified instructors when you want to learn how to surf.
Surf schools in San Sebastian:
Praia do Baleal: Peniche, Portugal
Continuing down the Iberian Peninsula, you will reach Portugal – arguably the best surf destination in Europe. There are plenty of good surf spots where you can learn to surf in Portugal, and first off the list is; Praia do Baleal in Peniche.
The coastal town of Peniche is located in the district of Leiria. It is known for its long sandy beaches and for having one of the best beach breaks on the planet, Supertubos, that attract a lot of professional surf events.
As a beginner who wants to learn to surf in Europe, Praia do Baleal provides the perfect conditions. Praia do Baleal is located between the town of Peniche and the small island of Baleal. The bay of Praia do Baleal is extremely beautiful and has a seafloor that offers mellow and gentle waves all year. These surroundings mixed with a laid-back surf vibe, make it the perfect place for a beginner surf experience in Portugal.
During summer, beginners will also be able to surf one of Peniche’s most consistent waves, Cantinho da Baía. A superb left- and right beach break that works at mid and high-tide.
Surf schools in Peniche:
Foz do Lizandro: Ericeira, Portugal
60 km further down Portugal’s coast, you will find Ericeira. A charming Portuguese fishing town that has turned into a mecca for surf schools and surf camps. The cute town with the cobbled streets and whitewashed houses is home to some of the best surf spots in Portugal. You will find world-class seafood restaurants, boutique shops, and a cool surf vibe that attracts all levels of surfers.
Ericeira also attracts a young community of digital nomads and expats due to its consistent surf throughout the year, reasonable cost of living, and the fact that it’s only 45 minutes away from the capital, Lisbon, and the international airport.
Foz do Lizandro is a beach break that offers fun little peaks for beginners. The beach break is formed by a river mouth and usually, there is a left on the south side of the beach and an a-frame in the middle of the beach.
Foz do Lizandro works best from low to mid-tide. The surf spot is loved by surf schools, as it is very consistent and reliable. It is a blue flag awarded beach with all the necessary facilities such as seasonal lifeguards, showers, toilets, and changing rooms.
Surf schools in Ericeira:
Costa Da Caparica: Lisabon, Portugal
The last place that we want to highlight in Portugal is Costa Da Caparica. Costa Da Caparica has the benefit of being a short 20-min drive away from Lisbon. It makes it a unique surf spot for those who want to combine a surf trip with a city break. If you are staying in Lisabon, you can easily do the daily commute by car to one of the surf schools at Costa Da Caparica. Alternatively, you find several surf camps at Costa Da Caparica, offering the perfect setup for a surf trip.
Costa Da Caparica is a 30km long stretch of beach with a lot of peaks that offer both lefts and rights. It is a beach break that is consistent 365 days a year, and the waves are perfect if you’re hoping to catch your first green waves. That’s why Costa Da Caparica is our favorite beginner surf spot in Portugal.
Surf schools in Costa Da Caparica:
El Cotillo: Fuerteventura, Spain
Besides the north, Spain has a little surfing gem called The Canary Islands. European tourists flock to these islands during winter, as both weather and surf are very consistent. These islands get blessed with some really good swells making them a paradise for surfers.
The Canary Islands consist of seven individual islands: El Hierro, La Gomera, La Palma, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote.
On Fuerteventura, you find the most beautiful beaches with white sand and crystal clear water. In Corralejo, you will find a surf community with plenty of good surf schools and surf camps. When travelling from the airport to Corralejo, you will drive through the dunes on the most scenic road alongside the coast.
One of the best beach breaks on Fuerteventura is named El Cotillo and can be found at the northwest coast. El Cotillo is a long beach that offers a lot of peaks with both lefts and rights. It is one of the favorite beginner surf spots among surf schools and surf camps, as it is very consistent and reliable.
The waves are breaking close to the shoreline, which makes it an ideal surf spot for beginners since you don’t need a lot of paddle strength. The surf spot works best at a medium tide and swell. When the swells get too big the waves tend to close out very fast.
Surf schools in Fuerteventura:
El Conquistador: Tenerife, Sapin
Tenerife is another popular winter getaway in The Canaries. Just like Fuerteventura, it is a popular island among surfers. Tenerife offers plenty of good surf spots for beginners, and most of them are in the south around Playa De Las Américas.
One of the best surf spots for beginners in the area of Playa De Las Américas is, El Conquistador. The surf spot gets its name from a big hotel located above the bay. Unlike many other options on this list, El Conquistador is technically a reef break as the waves are breaking over flat but jagged rock. However, as the rocky seabed is flat and the water isn’t too shallow, the spot is still very ideal for beginners.
The surf spot works on all tides, and waves can be waist high to double overhead. When the swell is small it’s easy to catch the fun peeling lefts and rights.