Are you looking to go on a day trip to watch the big waves in Nazare? You have come to the right place, here is all the juicy information you will need to have an amazing day in Nazare.
HBO did a series called 100-foot wave on this once small sleepy fishing village in Portugal and ever since then the town has exploded with tourism. When Nazare is on, they have the biggest waves in the entire world, this is not an exaggeration, they are literally the largest waves ever recorded.
If you make it to Nazare, which you totally should if you are in Portugal, you will never ever forget your experience. Make sure to check out the wave reports or watch the live webcam to plan to go on the day with the biggest swells. There is so much to do in Nazare. You can find yourself an Airbnb, stay in a local hotel, or even rent a camper van to spend the night right on the beach.
The small town of Nazare is located in central Portugal, right on the Atlantic Ocean. If you are looking to do a day trip to Nazare from Lisbon it only takes about an hour and a half to drive. Wake up early to get there before the tours come insuring you secure a good spot on North beach.
Nazare still has a small beach village vibe most of the time. But when the waves are breaking and the surfers make their way the energy of the town shifts. It is fun and fast, and everyone is in a great mood.
Three neighborhoods make up Nazare. The first and most popular is called Praia, which means beach, Sitio, or old town, and Pedernia is another old town but up on the hill.
If you visit you will most likely spend your time in Praia, and Sitio. There are plenty of restaurants fancy and simple, and one of the most fun ways to eat is at the entrance to the lighthouse walkway at one of the food trucks. You will see the different food trucks set up with tables and chairs and you can relax a bit and get out of the wind.
The beach that the big wave surfers with the tow-in Jetski riders will be at is called North Beach, or Praia do Norte in Portuguese. Don’t worry getting to Nazare is very simple, the address to North Beach is Rua Trinta e Um de Janeiro 2450-065 Nazare, Portugal.
There is parking in the town of Nazare, and also down by the beach, there is plenty of room for cars and camper vans. If you park in the town they have the most convenient way to get you down to the lighthouse. They have a few different 3-wheeled carts that run people back and forth so if you have trouble walking or have young children you can still watch from the best spots.
Speaking of the best spots. There are three popular spots to watch the big waves of Nazare. Most people head to the famous lighthouse, shown in the photo, or you can watch from the shore.
Watching from the shore is incredible. You will be to be at almost eye level with these massive waves. On a big swell day, the lighthouse can be incredibly windy. With this in mind, people tend to head to the right of the lighthouse on the hill. Take a seat on the grass or bring folding chairs to be more comfortable.
Another place to watch the waves come in is right down on the North Beach shore. A short walk from the parking lot this is most likely the first place you will witness these enormous waves in Nazare. In the winter months when the waves are the biggest in Nazare. You can expect a few spectators walking around, but during the summer months expect it to be sprawled out with beachgoers.
How the waves are formed in Nazare is actually a simple answer. There is an underwater submarine canyon 200km deep off the coast of North Beach in Nazare. Since there is such a big difference between the canyon and the shore the water splits in two.
The water in the canyon maintains its speed as it comes rolling in from the ocean, but the water by the shore slows down. When the two sections of water finally come together the force pushes the wave into the air. Simply put, the swell in Nazare is so big because there is a deep canyon that pushed the wave down and then back up again.
So during the summer months, Nazare turns into a bustling beach resort town in Portugal. Locals say that swimming in Nazare is unsafe, but there is a safer side of North beach where the waves are not as strong. You can enjoy the various cafes and seafood restaurants in the summer months, or spend your time in the beautiful town square.
Winter in Nazare has changed almost overnight. It used to be that in the off-season Nazare turned into a sleepy fishing town. Since the Nazare HBO series aired in 2021 the public got wind of the big wave phenomenon. The town then exploded with tourists from around the globe. But in the big wave world, Portugal has been on the map since 2011. This is when American Garrett McNamara conquered his amazing goal of riding a 100-foot wave.
The waves are much bigger in the colder months of the year and the big wave season of Nazare starts in October and goes to March. During the ”off-season” of big waves in Nazare, the swells are still incredible to see.
So if you are visiting Portugal in the summer, as so many people do, a trip to Nazare is still worth it. There are so many things to do in Nazare that it really doesn’t matter when you go. Make your plans now before the word gets out even more.
There are so many different ways to stay in Nazare, with accommodations for any budget. If you are a budget traveler check out the hostels. Many travelers like to stay at the Nazare Hostel. It is right on the beach and if you book early you may even get a room with a balcony overlooking the sea. They offer a shared dining room, a small kitchen, and a short walk to the city center.
Check rates here: Booking.com
For a more private stay, check out Airbnb. There are over 300 places to pick from with the average stay at USD 75 a night. Many of which are right on the beach. This would be a fantastic way to save yourself some money. Once you find the right place to stay in Nazare, you could always cook yourself simple meals and maybe just go out to a cafe, or have a yummy Portuguese dessert.
For a more luxurious stay in Nazare, you could book yourself one of the 4-star resorts, or rent an entire villa. A popular choice with travelers is the Villamar Style Hotel. They offer balconies in most of their rooms, have a beautiful outdoor pool for swimming in the summer months, offer a free breakfast for all stays, and a late-night bar for a nightcap. Check rates here: Booking.com
Obviously, most people today go to Nazare to watch the waves and the big wave surfers. But, while you are there don’t forget to check out everything else this beautiful town offers. One popular attraction is the Forte de Sao Miguel Arcanjo, in English, it is the surf museum dedicated to big-wave surfers who have turned Nazare’s tourism around.
This historic building has been around since 1577 and has been remodeled a few times since then. It is worth checking out even though it is on the smaller side. Give yourself about an hour to walk through and read about the history of the town and how big wave surfing has brought new beginnings to a very grateful town.
One simple way to spend your time in Nazare, no matter what time of year is free and good for your soul. You guessed it sit back and relax on the sandy beach and watch the magnificent monster waves come rolling in. Once you get a glimpse of these colossal waves in Nazare, you won’t be able to look away, it makes for a memorable day that won’t hurt your bank account.
There are many different types of restaurants in Nazare to choose from. The most popular restaurant in Nazare is A Tasquinha. With almost 2000 5-star reviews on Google, you know it’s a crowd-pleaser. They offer moderately priced seafood, cuts of meat, stews, and salad plates. Get there early they often have a line that spills out onto the street.
If you are looking for a fun night out, there are a few different options for you to enjoy. Try out the NBar in Nazare if you want to catch some live music and cheap brews. Check out their social sites before going, they often throw parties and have great musicians playing during the weekend.
There are also so many other restaurants in Nazare all you need to do is walk around the city center and pick one. They have a variety of choices for all budgets and in the summer months be on the lookout for local farmer markets and fruit stands, they are one of the best ways to save some money and eat super fresh.
Most people these days come for the sandy beaches and big waves in Nazare not knowing that there is so much more to this area to see. A few days in Nazare should be enough to see everything, and maybe even go to a few nearby towns.
One town close enough for a short day trip would be the magical town of Obidos, Portugal. Just a short drive away Nazare to Obidos is only about 35 minutes away. If you don’t know about Obidos, please check it out it is a lovely town inside the walls of a Castle.
Do yourself a favor and visit Nazare, Portugal, it is a unique experience that you will only find in this beautiful slice of Portuguese coastline. Nazare is a very safe and family-friendly town full of activities that will keep everyone happy. One unique feature that the culture of big waves in Nazare has brought to the city is that no matter what time of the year you are in Portugal it is worth the visit.
The winter months are when the waves are the biggest. But summer has its own charm. You will find colorful beach huts with chairs to rent, so you can grab a seat and enjoy a yummy beverage of choice.
Hopefully, you found this blog helpful on your trip to Nazare. Once again the address to park and watch the big waves at North Beach is Rua Trinta e Um de Janeiro 2450-065 Nazare, Portugal. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the wave report so you can find the best swells.
Leave a comment below if you have watched the HBO Series 100 foot waves, been to Nazare, or plan on going!