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It has a world-class reputation with surfers around the globe, but the fishing town of Ericeira still feels like an undiscovered gem. Its golden beaches, sandy coves and breaks powerful enough to be protected as Europe's first Save the Waves surf reserve are better known to Lisbon's weekenders than to backpackers. This means it's full of traditional Portuguese charm, with classic white-washed houses lining the cobbled streets. A mixture of local and surf-inspired culture makes it a fun nightlife destination too.
Lots of Ericeira hostels have surfing culture at their hearts. You can pick a place with an ocean theme or one with equipment rental and lessons to improve your skills. Several hostels in Ericeira have on-site bars where you can start the night by meeting fellow hostel-goers and there are even some with pools. Cook up dinner on a barbecue or chill in relaxed gardens, all with a sea view.
Ericeira's deliciously fresh seafood is one of its major draws. Within the town, the beaches are the key areas to explore. Head to Pescadores for a relaxing afternoon in view of the harbour protected by the towering cliffs, Ribeira d’Ilhas to watch the surfers, or Praia do Sul to be in the heart of the action. Visit nearby Mafra for a day inland and take in the opulent palace while you're there.
Every good fishing village has a thriving harbour, and Ericeira is no different. Spend an afternoon in the thick of it on Praia dos Pescadores beach to get a feel for day-to-day life in the town. You can taste the fruits of the fishermen's labours in the traditional restaurants serving lobster (said to be the country's best) and the unusual local delicacy of sea urchins. After hours, sip caipirinhas in the bars and clubs of Praça dos Navegantes, which often have live music. Grab the opportunity at this world-class surfing hub to take a lesson – there are plenty of schools to choose from.
Flying in is easy, as Ericeira is close to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. The city's airport, Lisbon Portela Airport, is just a 35-minute drive away. Catch a transfer if you don't mind spending a little more or save your euros and take a metro to the city centre and bus out. It'll take about 75 minutes. As Ericeira's a small town, it's easily walkable. To get to the further-away beaches you can rent a bike, or a car if you've got surfing gear.