Nazaré, Portugal – Biggest waves in the world, less than two hours from Lisbon

Visit Nazaré, Portugal in 2022; it has the biggest waves in the world, and it’s less than two hours from Lisbon. Nazaré is a great day trip from Lisbon. Or a great weekend excursion. Or if you were looking for big surf, maybe stay a few weeks. Nazaré is a fishing village on the Silver Coast, the Costa da Prata, one hour and 20 minutes from Lisbon.

In 2011 Hawaiian surfer Garrett McNamara rode a world record-breaking 78-foot wave at Nazaré’s Praia do Norte beach.

He came back to Nazaré in 2013 and broke his own record.

In January of 2018, Hugo Vau broke McNamara’s record, riding a 100-footer at Praia do Norte.

The town has two beaches.

There is the wide crescent-shaped beach, Paria da Nazaré, which is ideal for families. 

There is a nice promenade along the seaside Avenida Marginal, that is filled with shops, restaurants, and guest houses.

At the end of the beach, you will find a funicular that takes you up a steep hill to the upper town known as Sítio.

The funicular runs every 15 minutes and costs €1.80.

The name Nazaré

Originally, there were three villages in this area – Sítio and Pederneira on the hilltop, and then Praia (the beach below).

Very few people lived in Praia, due to the danger of pirates.

Today’s town is named after a wooden statue – Our Lady of Nazareth – which was taken from the Holy Land to Spain in the 4th century.

Some say this statue of Mary was a carving by Joseph himself.

When the Muslim Moors invaded Spain in 711, the monk Romano and the Visigoth king Roderic brought the statue of Mary of Nazareth to the Sitio hilltop, where they lived the rest of their lives in a grotto as hermits.

The statue has remained for centuries on an altar in the hilltop grotto.

In 1182 Dom Fuas Roupinho was out hunting, and his horse was chasing a deer.

His horse almost lept off the cliff after the deer, but Dom Fuas realized he was right next to the small grotto that held the statue of the Virgin Mary, so he prayed to her, and the horse came to a sudden stop, saving his life.

Afterward, he built the small chapel over the grotto – the beautiful medieval chapel, the Ermida da Memória.

The interior of the chapel is almost completely covered in azulejo tile.

The chapel became a very popular pilgrimage site.

A sign commemorates Vasco da Gama stopping there to pray.

In the 14th century, King Ferdinand made a pilgrimage to the tiny chapel in Nazaré.

He decided that the chapel was too small and he commissioned a new church across the plaza.

Construction on Nossa Senhora da Nazaré continued until the mid-1700s.

The walls are completely covered with tile work dating from the 1700s.

Inside the church is the famous black Madonna statue – Nossa Senhora da Nazaré.

As you continue down the hill toward the ocean, Nazaré Beach is to your left and North Beach is to your right. You will also notice an interesting sculpture with a man’s body, a deer’s head, and a surfboard.

Completed in 2016, Adália Alberto’s Veado is another reminder of Dom Fuas’s miracle on the cliff, as well as a reminder of Nazaré’s role in the surfing record books. 

Straight ahead you’ll see Forte São Miguel Arcánjo,, and the Nazaré Lighthouse.

The fort has been converted into a free surfing museum, and you can go out on the roof and watch the waves as you stand by the lighthouse.

I cannot think of a better place to experience the power of the ocean than standing somewhere near the Nazaré Lighthouse.

Nazaré, Portugal – The biggest waves on earth

The waves in Nazaré are not always record-breaking. In fact, in the summer, Nazaré Beach is relatively calm.

North Beach looks too rough for swimming even during the summer. The water will also be cold.

Big wave season goes from October until March. but during this time frame, you won’t find huge waves every day.

It is dependent on wind direction and storms.

According to

The Nazare North Canyon is one of the largest submarine canyons in Europe, a giant hole in the bottom of the sea! It is 227km long and 5000m maximum depth, with several steep slopes….. ”

The canyon’s presence creates special conditions for the build-up of big waves.

It will separate the wave into two, increase the speed of the wave that travels in the canyon and make them reunite again.”

The opposite ocean current coming from the beach will also add a few more meters.”

For the birth of a giant wave, it is important to add a few more ingredients to this recipe!

These conditions include the wave period greater than or equal to 14 seconds, the predicted wave size above 4 meters (to the Nazaré zone), the wind (ideally weak) and the direction of the wave (ideally from W/ NW).

Actually the Nazaré Canyon can amplify 3 times the wave size presented by forecasts to the Nazaré zone.”

If you are looking for monster waves, you are advised to stay for a two week period in the fall or winter, with a third week increasing your chances of seeing mountains of water.

According to, if you are able to travel at a moments’ notice, you might be able to rely on weather forecasts a week out. 

Look for a forecast indicating a wave size higher than 3 m, a wave period greater than 13 seconds, and a bit offshore and with a north wind. 

For most accurate statistics, check here Nazare surf report

Learn to surf in Nazaré offers group surf lessons or private classes

All levels are welcome including beginners, intermediate, and advanced surfers.

Equipment and transportation are included.

Lessons are taught by local pro Paulo Peixe and his crew.

Group lessons last 1 to 2 hours for up to eight people, starting at €25 per person.

You can sign up for a block of five lessons. Group classes for up to eight people for €120 per person.

You can sign up for a group of 10 lessons for a total of 20 hours, in a group setting of up to eight people for €210 per person.

One private lesson up to two hours is €60.

Five private lessons for up to 10 hours for 275 euros per person.

Ocean Adventure offers a surf camp in Nazaré, with lodging

They offer beginner, intermediate, and advanced lessons.  Group size is limited to six. Surfboards, wetsuits, transportation to the beach, and accommodation is also provided.

Single or double rooms are available in an apartment with a kitchen, including a TV, breakfast, and swimming pool.

The off-season rate for five nights in a shared room and five lessons in a group is €220 for one person. For more information:

Another option for learning to surf in Nazaré and surf4you offer one-day lessons for 30 euros. A board, wetsuit, insurance, and transportation provided.

One-on-one lessons are €60. Groups of two €40. For groups of up to six people €30.

In the high season from June 1 until August 31, one on one lessons are €65. Groups of two are €45, and groups of six are €35.

Life in Nazaré

In addition to being a hotspot for the surfing community, Nazaré is still a small fishing town.   The colorful boats that you see on the beach are still used today.

You can visit the Casa Museu do Pescador on Rua Sousa Lobo.  The museum is housed in a small Fisherman’s, cottage, showing what life was like here for a fisherman in the early 20th century.

You will see racks of sardines drying in the sun.

Also, you will notice that the local women wear colorful petticoats as they have done for centuries. 

In olden times the women would wear their seven petticoats as they sat on the cold, wet, beaches in the wind waiting for their husbands to come back from the sea.

Legends say that the seven skirts represent the seven days of the week, seven colors of the rainbow, or other biblical or mythical legends. In reality, it may just have been to stay warm

Many of these ladies in their colorful dresses are happy to rent you a room in their house while you are in town.

Lodging in Nazaré

Lodging in Nazaré is very reasonably priced. It is hard to find a hotel that will charge you more than $100 a night. Here are two options that are very highly rated according to their budget classes:

Hotel Magic

Hotel Magic – Top Ranked Hotel in Nazaré on Trip Advisor

  • Address: Rua Mouzinho de Albuquerque 58
  • Nearest Metro: N/A
  • Ages: All ages are welcome
  • Pet policy: Pets are not allowed
  • View:
  • Parking: Free parking garage nearby
  • Nice perks: WiFi, AC, safe, Soundproof room, Laundry for a fee, beach umbrellas and towels,
  • Email:
  • Website:

Hotel Magic – Amenities

  • Pool: N/A
  • Spa: N/A
  • Fitness Center: N/A
  • Private pools / Jacuzzis: N/A

Hotel Magic – Food and Drinks

  • Restaurant: N/A
  • Lounge / Bar: Yes
  • Breakfast: Yes, in room
  • Room Service: N/A

Hotel Magic – Rooms

  • Room Types: Double or two twins 161 sq. ft. 120 euros
  • Wheelchair Accessible Rooms: Yes
  • Best Room:

Hotel Magic – What’s Nearby?

  • Nearby Restaurants: Rosa dos Ventos seafood, Bontá Bistro Italiano, A Lanterna seafood, A Tasquinha seafood
  • Nearby Bars and Taverns: Cafe Cervejaria Ana Mar, Mig Bar, 7IKS, BláBlá, Trombone Voador
  • Nearby Market or Grocery: Pingo Doce
  • Nearby Attractions: Elevador do Nazaré, Farol do Nazaré, beaches

Nazaré Hostel

Nazaré Hostel – Privates start at $70, dorms start at $30, Highest rated hostel in Nazaré on hostelworld, 350 feet from the beach.

  • Address: Rua Nova da Area 24
  • Nearest Metro: N/A
  • Ages: All ages are welcome.
  • Pet policy: No pets are allowed.
  • View:
  • Parking: No parking.
  • Nice perks: WiFi, locker, towels and linens, hot shower, kitchen, laundry service
  • Email:
  • Website:

Nazaré Hostel – Amenities

  • Pool: N/A
  • Spa: N/A
  • Fitness Center: N/A
  • Private pools / Jacuzzis: N/A

Nazaré Hostel – Food and Drinks

  • Restaurant: N/A
  • Lounge / Bar: N/A
  • Breakfast: Not included N/A
  • Room Service: N/A

Nazaré Hostel – Rooms

  • Room Types: Four bed dorm 25 euros, private for two with a full bed 60 euros, family private with a full bed and two bunks 90 euros
  • Wheelchair Accessible Rooms: N/A
  • Best Room: private for two

Nazaré Hostel – What’s Nearby?

  • Nearby Restaurants: Sao Miguel, Restaurante Maria do Mar, O santo de Anibal Portugal, O Casalinho
  • Nearby Bars and Taverns: Cafe Cervejaria Ana Mar, Mig Bar, 7IKS, BláBlá, Trombone Voador
  • Nearby Market or Grocery: Pingo Doce
  • Nearby Attractions: Elevador do Nazaré, Farol do Nazaré, beaches

Tours from Lisbon to Nazaré

If you were looking for a structured, guided tour from Lisbon to Nazaré, here are some options for you:

Fátima, Nazaré, and Óbidos small-group day trip from Lisbon

Viator offers this nine-hour trip for $80.93.

While you will not spend a lot of time in Nazaré on this tour, you will get to visit the town briefly with a tour guide and comfortable transportation is provided. 

You will also see the Sanctuary of Fátima, a pilgrimage site that celebrates the 1917 apparition of the Virgin Mary to the children of Fátima. You will stop at the Batalha Monastery and the medieval village of Óbidos.

The tour will provide hotel pick up and drop off in Lisbon, air-conditioned transport, a guide, and an opportunity to taste ginjinha liqueur.

Viator – Nazaré, Fátima, Óbidos tour

Viator also offers a two-day tour for $151. You still visit Nazaré, Fátima, and Óbidos, and on the second day you make a total of seven stops in the seaside resort Cascais and neighboring Sintra with its several impressive castles.

Viator Two-day tour

How to get to Nazaré

If you were driving a rental car from Lisbon, you can take the A8 toll road North for an hour and 20 minutes. 

From Lisbon by Rede Expressos bus, take the metro blue line to the Sete Rios bus terminal (Jardim Zoológico stop).  The two-hour one-way bus trip costs €11.

From the Lisbon airport, city buses leave every hour heading to the Sete Rios bus station, where you can catch your Rede Expressos bus to Nazaré.

Or, with a just backpack and a surfboard, you could probably take the metro to the bus station, if you are not traveling during rush hour.

Visit Nazaré, Portugal

Nazaré is a town that you should visit. It is up to you whether you want to do a day trip, spend a few leisurely days, or hang around long enough to witness the power of the ocean. All are good options.

If you are looking at other possible beach vacations in Portugal, I also highly recommend the town of Ericeira. How do you pronounce Ericeira?  And is Ericeira worth visiting?

Although less than two hours from Lisbon, if you do make it as far as Nazaré, you might consider going a little farther north, up to Porto. See my article, Not Lisbon OR Porto, vacation in Lisbon AND Porto!

If you would like to stay closer to Lisbon but still need the beach, read my article, How to use public transportation to get to Lisbon’s beaches . You will learn how to get to Lisbon’s most popular beach – Carcavelos Beach, Praia de Carcavelos

If you haven’t been yet, one of Portugal’s most fascinating towns is Sintra, with its four castles. How to plan a day trip or overnight trip to Sintra from Lisbon

I am not affiliated with any of the businesses mentioned on this page. Thank you for reading!