For my 45th country, I teamed up with Visit Portugal and Centro de Portugal to explore the best surf spots and historic towns in central Portugal. Guided by the energetic Jose of Madomis Tours and Joao of Naturexperience, I learned how to surf (again), saw the location of the highest-ever surfed wave (78 feet!), strolled through beautiful villages, slept in amazing hotels, and ate enough divine food to kill me (disregarding a fish bone stuck in my throat).
I flew to Portugal with TAP, my first time using them. They only fly in and out of Portugal (hence why it was my first time). Flying in, I had an Airbus A320, and an A319 flying out. Both were comfortable, with more room than the budget airlines I usually use in Europe. We didn’t get a hot meal, but rather a snack of yogurt and a small ham sandwich. Oddly, on both flights I was surrounded by passengers standing in the aisles loudly chatting with each other. But the flight attendants were great. TAP is a hit in my book!
Read my guide on how to save hundreds on your flights using Skyscanner.
I had the honor of working with Madomis Tours, who set up private tours around the center of Portugal. Jose was a fantastic tour guide, and took us to some amazing locations all around the center of the country. There’s something about having a custom tour which makes it infinitely more special than a routine tour that everyone does. You find the places which are off the beaten path, and get some true insider experiences.
If you’re looking for a custom, private tour of Portugal, you won’t get a better experience than with Jose. Book your tour here.
I was really happy to have Joao of Naturexperience as our guide and surfing instructor. I haven’t surfed since I lived at the beach in Oxnard, California when I was 10 years old, and I was a little worried about the knee I broke back in 2012 (which hasn’t really given me a problem in my travels). The surfing lessons were fantastic, and Joao made it really easy. I wasn’t anywhere near the level of the two pro surfers on the tour, but I kept pace with Jose who also took the class. The overweight tabloid journalist didn’t even bother to try.
If you’ve ever thought about learning how to surf, Peniche is the place to do it, and Naturexperience is the school to do it with. The whole family can participate, and I saw some pretty young kids doing a great job catching waves while I was there. Book your lessons here.
The area that Centro de Portugal covers is the width of the country roughly between Lisbon and Porto. The main towns we went to were Nazaré, Peniche and Santa Cruz, with shorter trips to several other small villages. To read about all the locations I went to, click on the links below.
Additional articles for central Portugal:
- Travel Advice: Finding the Best Accommodations in Santa Cruz, Portugal
- Follow in my Footsteps: Fish, Funiculars and 100-Foot Waves in Nazaré
- Follow in my Footsteps: Visit the European Surfing Capital of Peniche
- Follow in My Footsteps: The Santa Cruz That Isn’t on Google Maps
Planning to visit Portugal?
Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.
- 5 Steps to Book Cheap Flights
- Hostels: To Book or Not to Book
- Is Workaway Worth it for the Traveler?