Ericeira is one of the most iconic resort towns in Portugal, and there are many reasons for it. The magnificent beaches, the proximity to Lisbon, the charming historical center, the delicious seafood, and obviously, the waves. In this article, we will explore the best things to do in Ericeira, and if you follow our advice your trip to Ericeira will be memorable.
Things to do in Ericeira
#1 Explore the charming town center
This seaside town comes to life in summer, attracting thousands of people, but its center is wonderful all year long. With whitewashed houses, small alleys, and cobbled streets, the center of Ericeira is much more charming than what it looks like at first sight.
Everyone is expecting the beaches and the waves of Ericeira, yet the most striking feature of this town is the beauty of the old center filled with old houses converted into bars, restaurants, shops, and AirBnBs. Êriceira is beautiful. Don’t you believe it? See it by yourself.
The heart of Ericeira is Praça da República, also known as “Jogo da Bola”, and its surrounding streets, all of them of pedestrian access only. There, you’ll find shops, cafes, pastries, and restaurants.
#2 See the cliffs, escarpments and caves of Ericeira
if the central area of Ericeira is beautiful, the seaside doesn’t stay far behind. Besides the beaches, this is an area known for its rocky cliffs and escarpments and caves.
Within the city itself, there’s a mix of high cliffs and sandy beaches, creating a very scenic location. Besides the amazing pics for Instagram and the beautiful sunsets, the area is also very pleasant to walk around and on the rocks, exploring the lookouts, the ancient canons, and the caves.
#3 World surfing reserve
The coast of Ericeira, or a part of it, was declared a World Surfing Reserve on October 14, 2011. This 4km area was only the 2nd reserve distinguished worldwide listed by the international organization “Save the Waves Coalition”. In fact, it remains the unique in Europe and only one of the 11 in the world!
The quality and consistency of the waves, the culture, and importance of surfing in the community, the environmental richness of the area, and, of course, the strong mobilization of the community contributed to this recognition.
In these short 4 km of coastline, it is possible to find 7 fabulous waves that attract thousands of surfers every year. From south to north, the waves included in the world reserve are Pedra Branca, Reef, Ribeira d’Ilhas, Cave, Crazy Left, Coxos and São Lourenço.
To learn more about the reserve and the waves, you can visit the Interpretation Center of Ericeira World Surf Reserve in Praça da Republica, Ericeira.
#4 Learn how to surf
What better place to learn how to surf than the best surfing region in Portugal? There are dozens of surf schools in Ericeira, where you can have surf lessons at very reasonable prices. Or, if you already know how to surf you can rent a board easily. A lesson should coast about 30 Euros, while a week-long pack should be a little over 100 Euros. So, a week of surf and beach in Ericeira can be a perfect way doing a nice, inexpensive escapade.
The best beaches for having surfing lessons are Ribeira d’Ilhas, São Lourenço and Foz do Lizandro. Foz do Lizandro isn’t part of the reserve mas it’s a faboulous beach with several surfing schools with constant lessons going on. Yet, Ribeira d’ilhas is even more popular, with hundreds of surfers at a time.
#5 The wonderful beaches of Ericeira
In addition to Surf and Surf beaches, there are several very high-quality beaches in this region – both in the city and to the north and south. In another article, we have already thoroughly explored the ten best beaches in Ericeira, so it is not worth repeating. However, it is always worth noting that there are beaches for all tastes and kinds of travelers in Ericeira, although always with cold water!
#6 Hike or cycle the coast
The whole region around Ericeira, including the area of the world surfing reserve, is very scenic and adequate to hike and cycle. Along the coast there’s a beautiful sidewalk built for runners, hikers and cyclists.
In Ericeira, there are several shops where you can easily rent a bike, and then cycle to most of the beaches and waves (not all of them are located on beaches) of Ericeira. Take the most of it by entering in the BTT trails, it’s fun. Though, you need to note that this is a hilly area, and some of them are quite steep (but short). It isn’t too difficult but you’ll need to be in some shape as it’s a bit harder than just strolling on a plan course.
#7 Go to Ouriço
We usually don’t include discos in this kind of articles, it really isn’t our thing, but going to Ourico is a little more than simply clubbing. Besides being the oldest disco in the country it’s situated in an old house above praia dos pescadores, with an amazing view making the whole experience a bit different from your usual night out.
Ouriço plays very eclectic music with sounds for every taste and it’s able to generate good vibes to the visitors.
The exterior walls of Ouriço are always painted with high-quality street art. We are not talking about trashy graffiti, but truly amazing works of art. Check below the amazing 3D painting we found in 2020.
#8 Try the local delicacies
In general, restaurants in Ericeira are famous mainly for fish and seafood, which is not surprising given that we are talking about a typical fishing village. Of course, grilled fish is usually delicious, as are clams, shellfish and other seafood. But we really have to emphasize the size and price of the octopus. We were delighted with the octopus served in some restaurants, such as Prim and Casa Portuguesa, and surprised by the relatively affordable price (14-15 for a whole octopus).
The Ouriços (translates to Urchins) are probably the most typical sweet in Ericeira, and they are well worth trying, as they are rich in eggs, almonds and honey. But besides the famous ouriços, it is not difficult to find some of the most traditional sweets and pastries in Portugal, in the many pastries in the historic center.
#9 Visit the Palace-Convent of Mafra
One of the most exciting things about Ericeira is that it’s very close to Mafra and its UNESCO heritage sites. Thus, you really shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the monumental Palace-Convent of Mafra.
Built in the 18th century, the palace has about 1,200 rooms, more than 4,700 doors and windows, 156 staircases and 29 courtyards and lobbies. It is a huge building, but also aesthetically very appealing due to the Baroque style, with Roman and Germanic influence. Since 2019 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site together with the Jardim do Cerco and the Tapada de Mafra.
We strongly advise that in addition to seeing the exterior of the Palace, take the opportunity to also explore the visitable wings inside. Inside, you can see the king’s room, the audience room, some of the interior courtyards and staircases. However, the big star is undoubtedly the Joanina Library. Take some time to get a good look at this room, as the Joanina library is considered one of the most beautiful in the world and it was built to be a knowledge center of all the main intellectual subjects of Baroque culture.
#10 Discover Tapada de Mafra
Finally, we must mention the other star of Mafra, the tapada (hunting park). Created in 1747, as a leisure area dedicated to hunting for entertainment of the royal family and nobility, the National Park of Mafra covers 1187 acres and has a 21 km long wall. This property has lots of animals like wild boars, roe deer and deer.
Today, it is possible to visit Mafra’s hunting park on foot, by bicycle and on a tourist train. Thus, this is a nice destination for all types of travelers, from more adventurous and athletic, to children, or even people with little mobility. There are marked routes, with different degrees of difficulty. Given the size of the property we advise you to take at least one morning or afternoon to visit it. It is well worth the time.
Where to stay in Ericeira?
As a traditional holiday resort town, Ericeira has plenty of accommodation options, from local accommodation to hostels, cheap hotels, or luxury hotels. As almost always, we advise you to stay close to the center, though Ericeira’s case, the historic center is quite small. Thus, if you stay in the surroundings it won’t be too bad, as long as you are on walking distance from the center and/or the beaches.
Casa das conchas
Casa das conchas is a great option for those who want a room for a good price. It has good conditions, sea views, and the possibility of using the kitchen. It isn’t in the center, mas fairly close, so you can simply walk there.
Selina Boavista Ericeira
Selina Boavista Ericeira is our favorite hostel in the region. As always in the Selina hostels, it offers good vibes, relative comfort, and accessible prices. For those who only need a bed in a dormitory room, this is the best option. Book here.
Casa dos Barcos
Casa dos Barcos is a great option for families and bigger groups who wants to have a big private space for themselves. It has a good general condition, nice value for money and it’s very close to the center. As it has a terrace and ocean view, it offers spectacular sunsets.
Hotel pedro o pescador
Pedro o Pescador it’s our go-to option in Ericeira when looking for a cheap but perfectly located hotel. The value for money is excellent as it’s very central. It’s perfect for those who want to stay very close to the action. For all of this, it runs out very quickly so book it as early as possible. Check here if it’s still available.
Vila Galé Ericeira
Vila Galé is the big hotel in Ericeira. The location couldn’t be better, right in front of the ocean and next to the center. Some of the rooms include a balcony while others have ocean views. All of them have air-con, cable tv, minibar, and Wifi. The breakfast and restaurant are very good, as it had to be in such a quality hotel. Check prices and availability here.