There’s nothing like a great coastline to get me excited about photography. Whether it’s the seagrasses graciously swaying in the sea breeze, secret caves lying beneath the steep clifftops or the ocean that’s groaning and gasping through the storms – coastal adventures are a great way to soak in the views and savour colourful sunsets.
And that’s why, when I imagine Portugal, especially its ceaseless shoreline dotted with quintessential fishing towns that offer lip-smacking seafood, I could easily see ourselves living there. We could grow crops to make hearty vegetarian stews, keep a few chickens, surf every day and capture on film the contrast between solid land and the fluid water.
With three road trips around different parts of the country already under the belt, our attachment and admiration towards Portugal have grown immensely.
And, can you really blame us? Portugal has this incredible ability to blend traditions, cuisine, and experience along with its beautiful coast.
Even after visiting Portugal for the second time, where we rented a car and drove from Lisbon to Porto and back, I knew there be more. We can’t get enough of this unforgettable country and to finally find a place we both love unconditionally, is a real blessing!
When it was time to pick a European destination for our autumn getaway a few years ago, we both agreed without the slightest hesitation. A few weeks after booking the flights and accommodation, we landed in Portugal. We drove from Lisbon to Ericeira and checked in to Helio’s wooden beach house.
7 Amazing Things To Do When Visiting Ericeira, Portugal For The First Time
Coming back to this lovely town for the third time was very exciting, and it felt like home. We devoted a whole week to relaxing, surfing and exploring nearby villages. I was four months pregnant at the time, and Ericeira left such a positive impression on us, we even named our baby girl after her.
To get a taste of what Ericeira has to offer if you ever plan on visiting once the pandemic crisis is over and we are free to travel again, we came up with a small list of things not to miss.
#1. Learn to surf
Due to unique environmental characteristics and the high quality of waves, Ericeira became Europes only World Surf Reserve in October 2011. Meaning that parts of the coastline, including São Lourenço, Reef, Coxos, Ribeira de Ilhas, Cave, Crazy Left and Pedra Branka, are all protected by the American organisation Save the Waves Coalition.
So it’s pretty evident that surfing is the number one activity in this town. Either you desire to try it out for the first time or to improve your performance and technique, surf schools in the area provide excellent service for all levels, and all the surf instructors we met along the way approached each session with relentless enthusiasm.
Each surf lesson is around 2 hours. They include warm-up, practice time, theory and feedback. Don’t forget that you should have realistic expectations, as a beginner I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t pop up, but as the saying goes: ”The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun!”
#2. Wander around Fisherman’s Beach
Beautiful Praia dos Pescadores is located right in the middle of Ericeira town. With a harbour situated nearby, swimming is not advisable; however, we watched surfers catching waves nearly every night. If a strong smell of fish doesn’t bother you, make your way down to admire traditional fishing boats painted in rainbow colours.
Above the 40-meter wall, elderly locals and couples would usually gather to sit down, relax and enjoy the view. From this particular beach, on October 5th, 1910, the last King of Portugal, fled the country, marking the end of the monarchy.
#3. Watch a sunset
There are many things that Ericeira does well, and colourful sunsets are one of them. Make your way to the beach, sit down, relax and notice small details around you; a pinch of red here and a shade of blue there, the soft sand and the smell of the ocean.
Every evening before dawn we quickly put together all the photography gear, a few snacks, warm clothes ( it gets freezing in October once the sun goes down) and gathered together with locals on the beach to watch a sunset. Every evening it was different. The ocean, the setting sun and clouds put on an inherently inspiring show.
#4. Visit Ericeira’s old town
Ericeira’sold town is instantly charming-traditional whitewashed houses are very well maintained, narrow cobbled streets are clean, and top choice seafood restaurants offer a great variety of grilled fish. Gambas (shrimp) is the town speciality, and we loved the option to choose our fish from the water aquarium upon entry.
Ericeira is full of life and dotted with cafes, little shops, and restaurants spilling out onto the pavements. Parts of the town centre are pedestrian-only zone, significant if you are visiting with young children.
You’ll notice that blue and white coloured tiles are used to decorate the houses, creating beautiful patterns, the prettiest we have seen in Portugal so far.
#5. Explore local beaches
Relaxing walks on the nearby beaches mixed with fresh ocean air, the sounds of the crashing waves and stunning sunsets are only a few of the natural elements that reminded us about life’s simple pleasures.
There are four beautiful sandy beaches within Ericeiras town and two slightly further. Beaches in Ericeira are vast and very popular with surfers, most of them are well-marked and offer ablution facilities and cafes.
The most famous beach is Ribeira d’Ilhas, located by the river mouth around 3 kilometres north of Ericeira town. In this place, ASP World Tour and Quicksilver Pro Portugal host surfing championships, and it’s not uncommon to run into a world-famous surfer.
#6. Admire public library
Ericeira, the very first surf town on our road trip through Portugal, turned out to be unbelievably pretty. We slowly vowed through the town and came face to face with the public library. Just look at it! What a beauty, isn’t it? Undeniably, one of the most beautiful buildings we have seen in the area.
At first, the beautiful building was the Grande Casino of Ericeira that was later transformed into the cinema only to be reconstructed and reopened as the Cultural Centre in 1995.
#7. Go on a day trip
Beyond Ericeira lies a wealth of day trip options. Some of the most amazing tourist attractions, surf towns and captivating fishing villages where the way of life has changed very little are just a short ride away either by car or bus. Whether heading north or south from Ericeira, discover the best places to visit with our suggestions.
Cascais | The lively coastal resort of Cascais is a very popular day-trip destination for tourists and locals alike and can be easily reached in less than 50 minutes by car. The town’s lively vibe, authentic old town, sandy beaches and old-time charm is truly captivating. Mix in Art & Museum District heavily eroded rock formations and the chic boutiques and you’ve to go yourself a real tourists delight.
Mafra | Nearby Mafra town is definitely worth the trip. The towns main tourist attraction is one of Europe’s most extravagant palaces -the vast Mosteiro Pálacio Nacional de Mafra. This mighty Baroque palace dates from the early 18th century and contains a fantastic library, basilica, and bat colony.
Aveiro | An eye-catching Aveiro is a romantic town that’s crossed by a series of canals dotted with colourful, gondola-style boats known as moliceiros. Best things to do include Aveiro Museum, going on a boat ride, visiting the old train station terminal that’s adorned with blue azulejos and exploring Costa Nova village.
Peniche | A very popular seaside town that is famous for a few things- long, sandy beaches, sardines and one of the best beach breaks on the planet – Supertubos. You can visit a clifftop fortress, explore a former whaling station Baleal, go surfing or catch a boat to Berlengas Archipelago.
How to get to Ericeira
Ericeira is the perfect destination for a day trip from Lisbon, and you’ve got several options to get there. Ericeira is situated around 50 kilometres northwest of Lisbon and travelling by car along the A8 and then west on the A21 is a very convenient way to reach it.
The motorways are empty and well-marked, and it’s impossible to get lost (keep in mind express roads are tolled).
Another way to travel to Ericeira is by bus from Lisbon Campo Grande station. Public transport in Portugal is very efficient and inexpensive. A single adult ticket costs 7 EUR and buses run every 90 minutes.
If travelling from Lisbon Airport to Ericeira, you can book a private transfer (around 60 EUR for four people each way).
Where to stay in Ericeira
Nothing beats staying in a cosy and relaxed hostel that’s located right in the heart of the town and waking up to look out to the shimmering ocean.
Selina Boavista Hostel, one of Ericeiras newest additions since the last year, is one such place to do so. With beautifully decorated and clean rooms, with the rooftop terrace that comes with sunset views and with the nearest wave just a few hundred metres away, it’s got all the makings of a perfect base for your adventure.
- Amenities: In addition to an outdoor swimming pool, a shared lounge and a bar, you also find a shared kitchen and a garden.
- Room types: Triple rooms, family rooms, quadruple rooms, dorms
Check prices & availability and book your stay at Selina Boavista Hostel now!
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Now, over to you!
Would you consider spending a week or two in Ericeira town? Let us know in the comments below!
Let us know if you are plotting a visit to Ericeira and have travel-related questions!