for me a road trip with a VW bus is the ideal form of a surf vacation: just get in, drive off and spend the night directly at the surf spot. it doesn’t get any better than this!
In october 2015 it was finally time again. with a rental-bulli from hanggtime we went from the mediterranean south coast of portugal up to the green north. for two weeks i leisurely tinkered from surf spot to surf spot and again had that carefree feeling of freedom that makes a road trip with bulli so special.
For me, a bulli surf trip is by far the best way to explore such a diverse destination as portugal and discover new surf spots. It is also the perfect continuation of your stay in a portugal surf camp, where you will learn all the basics of surfing and then move from surf spot to surf spot on your own.
Because portugal’s wild coasts have a lot to offer. Especially for surfers, the more than 1000 km long atlantic coast is an absolute eldorado. Surfspots for all levels and year-round wave safety make portugal one of the best surf destinations in europe. in addition there is the mild climate and the low cost of living.
A good overview of the best surf spots in portugal can be found in my detailed blog article about surfing in portugal.
The real portugal
besides the first class surfing conditions, a portugal road trip with a bulli also offers you unique insights behind the scenes of the typical tourist attractions like lisbon or porto. The original, unspoiled and lovable portugal shows itself to you especially when you take your time and let yourself drift.
because portugal is one of the few southern european countries that have been largely spared the construction sins of mass tourism. To the gentle hum of the reliable T3 engine, your gaze sweeps over the wild coastal landscape with its rugged cliffs, idyllic fishing villages and hilly olive groves.
A bed with a sea view
But that’s not all. For all freedom-loving surfers with an urge to discover, the wild coasts of portugal are especially attractive. Unlike in france and now also in many parts of spain, in portugal you don’t need a campsite when it comes to finding a nice place to stay overnight.
on a portugal road trip you will find countless places to camp in free nature. Standing right on the cliff, with the tailgate open and a view of the waves – on a bulli trip through portugal, this is a common scenario.
First in the lineup
a little bit of wave knowledge, the right smell and openness for spontaneous explorations far off the beaten surf tracks can lead you to surf spots that you won’t find in any surf guides.
a mobile home like this is the ideal way to always position yourself so that wind and waves turn into optimal surfing conditions. you can also stay at the most remote surf spots in portugal and always be the first in the lineup in the morning.
the best time for surfers
especially in autumn, when the atlantic is still warm and the swells are more constant, a road trip through portugal is worthwhile. for surfers it is the best travel time of the year.
I know from my own experience: between the beginning of september and the end of november the surf conditions in portugal are especially good. Then the trade winds, which are often disturbing until the end of august, have disappeared the nortada – finally warped and due to the warm water coupled with cooler land mass offshore winds are much more likely than in the hot summer months.
While the climate in september and the first half of october is usually still summery warm, later the approaching autumn often makes itself felt. it can rain more often, which is not ideal for a road trip in a bulli. Drying your wetsuit in the van is not a good solution in the long run. but the months october and november are convincing with clean surf and regular autumn swells.
the portuguese vacation season is over from the end of august and the beaches belong to you and some other nomadic surf travellers who don’t want to miss the best time in the portuguese surf calendar.
Of course the well known surf spots are very popular especially in autumn. on your bulli road trip through portugal you can easily escape the crowds. you can find some tips about the best places to do this in the article below.
Rent a van with hanggtime
If you like stylish T3 bullis and don’t want to limit yourself to one pickup location, hanggtime’s bulli rental is just the right thing for you. The german company based in mainz offers the original equipped surfer van for rent in several cities.
With currently seven locations in spain and eight in germany ( u.A. in berlin, hamburg, and munich) you can conquer half of europe with hanggtime.
also in portugal you can pick up your surfer van at several locations without any stress. Whether your plane takes you to porto, faro, or lisbon, it doesn’t matter. you get your bulli directly at the airport and as soon as the plane has landed, it’s time to pick up your boardbag, take delivery of the bulli and after a 20-minute briefing, just jet off.
Rental prices& conditions
The rental prices for a T3 VW bus depend on the rental period and season (high or low season). The weekly price is between 450 € and 550 €, an additional rental day costs between 64 € and 78 €.
- The tank will be handed over with the same level as when you picked it up.
- The drop off and pick up of the bulli depends on your flight details.
- 1500 free kilometers per week are included. Every additional kilometer is charged with 0,20 €.
- A deposit of 500 € will be charged when you pick up the bulli.
All further information about the equipment of the bullis can be found on the website of the provider.
Renting a van: for whom is it worthwhile?
For those who like the feeling of freedom and can’t afford their own bulli, it makes a lot of sense to rent a VW bus.
3 hours flight instead of 2 1/2 days car trip, 100 € flight costs instead of 400 € fuel and toll costs. These are good reasons to rent a bulli locally instead of taking your own bus from hamburg or berlin to travel across europe.
Road trip portugal: how to get there
For a real portugal road trip with surfboard you should make sure when booking your flight that you land at two different airports or. Take off again. For a start in the north, the airport of porto is the best choice, if you want to start from the south, you should look for a cheap flight to faro.
both airports are served by ryanair from several german cities. to find the best airfare, i recommend you to do a detailed research with the comparison portal skyscanner.
road trip portugal: the best places to stay for a surf trip with a bulli
The following destinations are based on my experiences from several bulli-trips through portugal. my most recent portugal road trip route in october 2015 was from north to south through the whole country. it can serve you as an inspiration, but should in no way slow down your spirit of discovery.
vale de figueiras (aljezur)
the beach of vale de figueiras is one of my absolute favorite spots in the algarve. even if a sign from the main road between sagres and aljezur shows you the way, the remote beach is not easy to find and the gravel road is difficult to pass in the rain. But once you are there, you won’t want to leave again!
You can park your car directly at the beach and have a wonderful view of the spectacular surf spot. the spot is a real swell magnet and also smaller summer swells provide good conditions here. because the bay is very open, you should only go to this spot when there is no wind or offshore winds.
at the wide beach you will always find enough wood for a nice campfire.
>> spot description for vale de figueiras at wannsurf.
Monte clerigo & praia da amoreira
at the southern outskirts of aljezur follow the sign to "vale da telha". Heading north past the beach town of monte clerigo, the road eventually ends at the beautiful estuary of praia da amoreira.
even if there are a few mosquitoes here, the standing area is just spectacular. You are standing directly at the cliffs and with a little more swell the spray flies into your living room.
the two closest surf spots monte clerigo and amoreira are more suitable for smaller swells and little wind. with the typical north winds it is worth to go to the nearby arrifana, where the high cliffs form a natural windbreak. Especially surfing beginners will enjoy arrifana in almost all conditions.
My tip: if you drive with your campervan in the opposite direction of arrifana if you are on your way and looking for a good surfcamp, i can definitely recommend mission to surf at the vale da telha recommend. you can stay right in front of the surfcamp and use all the facilities of the surfvilla (kitchen, showers and pool), if you join one of the really good surfcourses.
>> spot description for praia da amoreira on wannsurf
>> swell forecast for monte clerigo on magicseaweed
>> swell forecast for arrifana on magicseaweed
On your road trip through portugal you should definitely plan a few days in lisbon. because lisbon is a class of its own. the hilly old town is served by an ancient streetcar that looks like an oldtimer on rails and the whole town has a relaxed, southern atmosphere. The mixture of urban culture, proximity to the sea and year-round mild climate make the capital of portugal for me one of the best surf cities in the world.
world class spots like carcavelos or ribeira d’ilhas are easy to reach with a bulli and especially in the winter months the many spots near the northern tejo estuary offer a lot of good surfing.
by far the most beautiful bulli stand in the lisbon region for me is praia do guincho. the view over the old fortress and the rocky coastline is simply amazing and even though the spot is quite windy especially in the summer months, you can find very good surf conditions here especially in the windless months october and november. but be aware of the currents. because this spot has already attracted one or the other uninitiated vacation surfer to the open sea.
you can find more proven spots outside of campgrounds here.
>> swell forecast for praia do guincho on magicseaweed
>> swell prediction for carcavelos on magicseaweed
>> swell forecast for ribeira d’ilhas on magicseaweed
in terms of charm and portuguese architecture peniche is not exactly a six in the lottery. there are only a few old buildings, but all the more concrete blocks and a sometimes obtrusive smelling fish factory.
but surfing in peniche and baleal is almost always a big deal. For surf beginners prainha just before the baleal peninsula a good choice, the spots at the end of praia do baleal – cantinho da baia at baleal and gamboa at peniche – are usually a bit more protected compared to the direct swell and therefore more suitable for beginners. despite the many surfers, the surfing masses in the water are spread over several peaks. Even if the lineup was always full, I had some great surf sessions here.
The surfer life outside the water is mainly in baleal, where there are also some nice beach bars with WIFI. after surfing you can enjoy a sundowner at bruno’s bar, among other places. on weekends there are even parties here& concerts instead of.
as a place to sleep and stand for the bulli is especially suitable almagreira. the view is awesome and because the corner is a bit off the beaten track, you’ll always have your peace and quiet here.
>> swell forecast for almagreira on magicseaweed
>> swell forecast for supertubos on magicseaweed
packing list for your road trip through portugal
to make sure you don’t miss anything on your portugal road trip, i would like to give you the following packing list with the most important utensils for a bulli vacation based on my experiences.
some things, like a sleeping bag, the fake-safe or the headlamp are really essential.
- driver’s license& ID card
- Small fake safe disguised as a book or tin can – or headlamp
- Surfboard with well padded boardbag for the flight
- rain cover& warm clothes for the evening hours
- Flushing sponge& dishwashing detergent (biodegradable)& hair detergent (preferably biodegradable) , sunglasses& swimwear
Other practical resources, such as.B. The travel pharmacy for surfers or useful gadgets for air travel with your surfboard you can also find in my extensive packing list surf vacation.
a portugal surf trip with a bulli is simply a dream for surfers! and even if you could feel the long season on my rental-bulli and not everything worked as it should, i can absolutely recommend the bulli-rental of hanggtime.
With three locations in porto, lisbon and faro you are always in the right place for your trip
route planning very flexible. The original equipped T3 buses are also very practical, stylish and reliable. The numerous built-in cupboards offer sufficient storage space for luggage and the fold-out high roof offers two additional sleeping berths.
a road trip through portugal is therefore possible with up to four people. Because the more people you find to travel with, the more feasible the rental fees become, even for the small purse.
the best time for a portugal road trip with surfboard is definitely from september to november, but also spring has its advantages.
Due to the low water temperatures in the period from march to may, you should definitely have a sufficiently thick wetsuit with you. summer is climatically the most attractive, but because of the constant trade winds and the crowded beaches, the summer months are not the best time for a portugal road trip with a surfboard.
road trip portugal: where have you been? And which official standing places near the surf spots can you recommend?? I am happy about your comments!