When thinking about things to do in Ericeira, a small coastal town just 35km northwest of Lisbon, what immediately comes to mind are surfing and beaches. However, although Ericeira has the distinction of being Europe’s first world surfing reserve and surfers travel from far and wide to enjoy the waves (and top-notch facilities), this pretty fishing town has much more to offer.
You can enjoy the natural beauty of the coastal landscape with some stunning walks and viewpoints, embrace the welcoming, relaxed vibe of the old town and visit historical places.
Tip: If you already know you want to visit and are looking for a guided tour from Lisbon, this small group tour takes you to Azenhas do Mar, Ericeira, the quaint and quirky village of Aldeia Tipica Jose Franco and Mafra Palace.
Let’s take a look at what to do in Ericeira, an adorably Portuguese seaside town.
Beaches in Ericeira
There are four centrally-located sandy beaches, two that are further afield and beloved by surfers plus a few smaller, quieter ones dotted around Ericeira.
Praia dos Pescadores
The “Fisherman’s Beach” is where you’ll find boats and families. Because of the harbour, it’s sheltered from the wind so the water is calm enough to swim in. It’s also really close to the town, as you can see from the photo.
Praia do Algodio (Praia do Norte)
A small beach in the center of town and therefore very popular. It has good changing rooms and sanitary facilities, it is equipped with accessibility conditions for people with reduced mobility and has plenty of parking.
Praia de São Sebastião
This centrally-located beach is a bit further north than some of the other Ericeira beaches so it’s not usually too crowded. There’s a walkway that takes you down to the sands where you’ll usually find surfers.
Praia do Sul
Because of its close proximity to Ericeira’s hotels this is usually the most crowded beach but it’s quite big so you should still be able to find space.
What I liked about it is the section of sea that’s protected by rocks and provides a kind of natural swimming pool. The waves along the rest of this sandy stretch are popular with surfers but not wimps like me.
Praia da Ribeira d’Ilhas
If you want to go surfing in Ericeira then Praia da Ribeira d’Ilhas is the beach to head for. It’s 3km north of town with waves to satisfy the surfers who take part in the tournaments and championships here.
Praia da Foz do Lizandro
This is the region’s biggest beach and lays a few kilometres south of the center of town. At one end you’ll find the calm waters of the Lizandro River, while the northern end has a long boardwalk with outdoor eateries.
There are many more smaller beaches along the coastline such as the wild and rocky Praia do Matadouro and the often deserted Praia da Empa.
Surf lessons in Ericeira
If you fancy some surfing lessons (all abilities) then look at these classes with reknowned Big Waves surfer Joana Andrade. They last for a couple of hours and they’re great fun!
Chill out and explore Ericeira old town
Because of Ericeira’s small size it’s a very easy place to get to know. Everywhere is walkable and due to the many cafes, eateries and trendy wine bars, you soon feel as if you’re a part of the place.
Wander through the fisherman’s quarter, hang out in leafy Praça da República or amble along the coastal path for spectacular views.
Everywhere is clean and obviously well cared for and as you stroll around the cobbled streets with picturesque blue and white buildings and the charming squares you’ll find a certain air of tranquility.
Ericeira, a town with history
The small monument at the viewpoint overlooking Praia de São Sebastião explains the Ericeira was once the 4th customs port in Portugal, after Lisbon, Porto and Setúbal.
Merchant ships called Rascas, which were only 20 metres long with 3 masts and 4 sails, would undergo the arduous journey between Portugal and Brazil, where a colony of Ericeirans had formed.
The pillory, which you’ll find in Largo do Pelourinho, is in the Maneuline architectural style. That’s hardly surprising since it marked King Manuel’s renewal of the town’s charter in 1513. The original charter was issued in 1229.
Churches and chapels
Igreja de São Pedro
Ericeira’s main church, established in 1658 and dedicated to St. Peter, has a beautiful painted ceiling along with golden side chapels and 17th century wall tiles. The exterior echoes the blue and white theme of the buildings of Ericeira.
Capela da Boa Viagem
Located at the central point of the town next to Praia dos Pescadores, this 15th century chapel played a very important role in the lives of the locals. It is dedicated to the patron saint of fishermen (and single girls!) and has played the role of a lighthouse, guiding boats into the harbor.
If you look closely you’ll see a tile panel on the outer wall on the south side of the chapel. This commemorates the spot from where the Portuguese royal family set sail for England in 1910 following the October revolution.
Ericeira food and drink
Cafes and seafood
There’s a nice blend of traditional and trendy throughout Ericeira and that’s echoed with the many cafes and restaurants.
Unsurprisingly, there are lots of places to enjoy freshly caught and grilled fish and seafood so you won’t go hungry! There’s quite a choice for vegetarians and vegans too. If you want contemporary healthy food, including plant based options, try Green Is Good.
Of course, many of the bars have a ‘surfers feel’ about them but you’ll find an overwhelming friendly welcome wherever you try.
Dine with a sea view at Ti Matilde
Dori and I found a cute little restaurant called Ti Matilde, which not only does a delicious seafood rice but also overlooks the ocean. It’s away from the centre, near Praia de São Sebastião, and popular with Portuguese.
Try Ouriços, the traditional cake from Ericeira
Ouriço is the Portuguese word for hedgehog so I’m still confused as to why the local cakes share the name. There’s nothing spiky about these almond tartlets but they are delicious!
I think I got these from the bakery opposite the tourist information office in Praça da República.
Hiking and cycling in Ericeira
The landscape either side of the town has towering cliffs that offer excellent views of the Atlantic. These beautiful coastal walks are perfect for easy ambles and having the sound of crashing waves below is a perfect backdrop.
Of course, timing your walk just right can lead to some stunning sunsets.
The Miradouro da Baleia viewpoint above Praia do Sul offers superb views. There always seems to be lots of people here taking photos but you can still enjoy the beautiful vista.
Hiking trails near Ericeira
The Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is less than 30 minutes away by car and has terrain to suit most hikers within it’s 145 square kilometres. Check out my recommendations for easy to challenging walks.
Cycling around Ericeira
Cycling is an excellent way to explore the local scenery. Why not try this Cliff Top Ride taking you along the Ericeira cliffs and its amazing coastline?
Or maybe this E-Bike Tour To Mafra that takes you through varied scenery and terrain to a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you’re an experienced mountain-biker and happy to rent a bike and find your own trails, the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park has several routes.
Places to visit near Ericeira
The location of Ericeira lends itself to the inquisitive explorer.
The amazing Mafra Palace, one of Europe’s largest royal palaces and home to one of the world’s most impressive and beautful libraries, is only 10 minutes away by car (25 minutes by a regular bus service) and is a must-visit.
Óbidos, a lovely medieval town, is a 45-minute drive away but unfortunately there’s no direct bus service.
See here for details of more Ericeira tours.
Where to stay in Ericeira
The 5-star Immerso Hotel is a little way from the beach but the facilities and service make up for it. The outdoor pool overlooks greenery and has ocean views and there’s also a very good onsite restaurant. See photos.
A recent addition to the Small Portuguese Hotels group is WOT Ericeira. It’s centrally located overlooking Praia dos Pescadores with a relaxed atmosphere and modern decor. Breakfast is also included in the room price. Book your room.
Weather in Ericeira
The weather in Ericeira is a big reason why many people choose it as an escape from the heat of Lisbon. Because of its coastal location it’s a lot cooler than inland so even in the height of summer, it’s the perfect place to be.
How to get to Ericeira
Many Lisboetas treat Ericeira as a weekend getaway and, if you’re based in the capital, it’s really straightforward to get to.
Lisbon to Ericeira by car is about 50 kms and takes around 40 minutes. The bus to Ericeira takes just over 2 hours and leaves from Lisboa – Campo Grande terminal every hour.
If you’re wanting to get to Ericeira straight after stepping off the plane then this Airport Private Transfer to Ericeira or Torres Vedras will get you there safe and sound.
Ericeira is just one place to visit from Lisbon. If you want more ideas read my 20 Day Trips From Lisbon Worth Adding To Your Portugal Itinerary.