Tip: are you a beginner surfer? Check out the best spots for beginner surfers
1. Nazaré, the surfing capital of Europe
Nazaré, on the west coast of Portugal, is probably the most famous surfing spot in Europe. The town owes its reputation as the surfing capital of Europe to the Nazaré Canyon, an underwater ravine that reaches a staggering depth of 5,000 metres. Because of this geomorphological phenomenon, the spot produces the biggest waves that have ever been ridden. In winter – big wave season – the average wave height is about 50 feet (15 metres). On big days, the wave can reach heights over 100 feet (30 metres). This means this spot is strictly for experienced daredevils.
2. Supertubos, Peniche, Portugal
Another, slightly more accessible spot in Portugal is Peniche. This small fishing town, just 50 kilometres south of Nazaré is best known for Supertubos, a break on the southside of the peninsula. As the name suggests, this beach consistently produces steep, barreling waves that break over a sandbar. The wave at Supertubos is a fast, hollow right-hander that can provide rides of up to 200 metres, making it hugely popular among experienced surfers.
3. Hossegor, France
Hossegor in the south of France is known for its long, sandy beaches, powerful waves, and perfect barrels, making it a top destination for surfers from around the world. The beach break at Hossegor is created by the combination of the sandbars and the deep underwater canyons, which create perfect conditions for fast, hollow waves that break in shallow water. Hossegor is at its best during the fall and winter months when the swells are the biggest.
4. Mundaka, Spain
Mundaka, located in Spain’s Basque Country, is home to one of the world's best left-hand river mouth waves. The surf spot is located at the mouth of the Mundaka estuary and is known for its fast, powerful waves that are popular with experienced surfers. The wave is a left-hand barrel that can break for up to 150 metres, making it a dream wave for surfers who are able to handle its power. However, Mundaka is also known for its strong currents and shallow sandbar, which can make it a dangerous spot for inexperienced surfers.
5. Bundoran, Ireland
Bundoran in County Donegal is the surf capital of Ireland and attracts surfers from all over the planet. The main spot is called "The Peak", which is a reef break that offers powerful, fast waves for more experienced surfers. There are also several other surf spots in the area for surfers of all levels, including Tullan Strand, Rossnowlagh Beach, and Mullaghmore.
6. Thurso East, Scotland
Thurso East is a world-renowned surf spot located in the town of Thurso, in the far north of Scotland. It's known for its powerful, hollow waves that break over a rocky reef. The wave is a fast, right-hand barrel that can provide rides of up to 300 metres. The fast, powerful waves, cold water and unpredictable conditions make it a challenging surf spot that is only for experienced riders.
7. Porthleven, England
Porthleven on the southwest coast of Cornwall in England is a popular surf spor with long, peeling right-hand waves that can provide rides of up to 200 metres. The wave breaks over a reef, and can handle large swells, making it a popular spot for experienced surfers. Nevertheless, there are also sections that are more mellow and suitable for beginners.
8. Ribeira d’Ilhas, Portugal
Ribeira d'Ilhas is located on the west coast of Portugal, near the town of Ericeira. It's known for its consistent, high-quality waves that can provide rides of up to 200 metres. The long, right-hand point break is suitable for surfers of all levels, from beginners to advanced, with the more mellow sections of the wave being suitable for beginners and the faster, more hollow sections being popular with advanced surfers.
9. El Quemao, Lanzarote, Spain
The wave at El Quemao is a fast and powerful right-hand barrel that runs over a shallow reef. With its reputation as one of the most powerful waves in Europe and the dangers of hitting the reef, this spot is exclusively for experienced surfers who want to test their skills.
10. The Bubble, Fuertaventura, Spain
Quite similar to El Quemao, The Bubble on one of the other Canary Islands produces consistent, long right-hand waves that break over a shallow reef. The name "The Bubble" comes from the fact that the waves form a bubble-like shape as they break over the reef. The Bubble is a bit more mellow than El Quemao and can provide long rides of up to 200 metres. It is therefore also suited for intermediate to advanced surfers.
Europe offers great surf spots that rank among the best spots in the world. Just keep in mind that surfing comes with certain risks, even if you are an advanced rider. Always check the conditions and ask advice from the locals. And don’t forget to have fun!