For me, a road trip with VW Bus is the ideal form of a surfing vacation: Just get in, drive off and spend the night directly at the surf spot. It does not get better!
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 tingled from surf spot to surf spot and had again that carefree feeling of freedom that makes a road trip with Bulli so special.
A bulli surf trip is for me 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 surf camp in Portugal, where you learn all the basics of surfing, so that you can move from surf spot to surf spot on your own.
Portugal’s wild coasts have a lot to offer. Especially for surfers the more than 1000 km long Atlantic coast is an absolute Eldorado. Surf spots for all levels and the year-round high wave safety make Portugal one of the best surf destinations in Europe. In addition, the mild climate and the favorable 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 van also offers you unique insights behind the scenes of typical tourist attractions like Lisbon or Porto. The original, unspoiled and lovable Portugal shows itself to you especially if 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 cozy hum of the reliable T3 engine, the view sweeps over the wild coastal landscape with its rugged cliffs, idyllic fishing villages and hilly olive groves.
A bed with sea view
But that is not all. For all freedom-loving surfers with an urge to explore, Portugal’s wild coasts are particularly attractive. Unlike in France and now also in large parts of Spain, you don’t need a campsite in Portugal when it comes to finding a nice place to spend the night.
On a Portugal road trip you will find countless places to camp in the great outdoors. 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.
The first in the lineup
A little bit of wave knowledge, the right nose and openness for spontaneous explorations far away from the beaten surfing tracks can lead you to surf spots that can’t be found in any surf guide.
Such a mobile home is the ideal means to position you always in a way that wind and waves turn into optimal surf conditions. You can also stay at the most remote surf spots in Portugal and be the first in the lineup in the morning.
The best time for surfers
Especially in autumn, when the Atlantic is still pleasantly warm and the swells become more constant, a road trip through Portugal is especially worthwhile. For surfers it is the best travel time of the year.
From my own experience I know: Between the beginning of September and the end of November the surf conditions in Portugal are especially good. Then the trade wind, which is often disturbing until the end of August, has died down 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 frequently, which is not ideal for a road trip in a van. Drying your wetsuit in the van is not a good solution in the long run. But the months of 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 masses. You can find some tips on which places are best for this further down in the article.
Rent a van with Hanggtime
If you’re into stylish T3 Bullis and don’t want to limit yourself to one pickup location, Hanggtime’s Bulli rental is just what you need. The German company based in Mainz offers the original equipped surfer van for rent in various 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 stress-free at several locations. It doesn’t matter if your plane takes you to Porto, Faro or Lisbon. You will get your Bulli directly at the airport and as soon as the plane has landed, it’s time: Boardbag pick up, Bulli in receipt and after a 20minutigen briefing simply losdusen.
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 is handed over with the same filling level as at the time of collection.
- The drop off and pick up of the van depends on your flight dates.
- 1500 free kilometers per week are included. Every additional kilometer is charged with 0,20 €.
- A deposit of 500 € will be charged at the handover of the van.
All further information about the equipment of the bullis you will find on the page of the provider.
Rent a Bulli: Who is it worth it for?
For those who like the feeling of freedom and can’t afford their own van, 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 € gasoline and toll costs. These are good reasons to rent a Bulli locally instead of driving your own bus from Hamburg or Berlin 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 to land at two different airports resp. to leave again. For a start in the north, the airport of Porto is a good 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. But to find the best airfare, I recommend you to do a detailed research with the comparison portal Skyscanner.
Roadtrip Portugal: The best standing places for surfing trips with Bulli
The following destinations are based on my experiences from several Bulli-Trips through Portugal. My recent Portugal road trip route in October 2015 took me from north to south across the country. It can serve you as inspiration, but should not slow down your spirit of discovery in any way.
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 hard to pass in the rain. But once you are there, you don’t want to leave anymore!
You can park your van 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 sail to the spot when there is no wind or offshore winds.
At the extensive beach you will always find enough wood for a nice campfire.
>> Spot description for Vale de Figueiras on Wannsurf.
Monte Clerigo & Praia da Amoreira
At the southern outskirts of Aljezur follow the sign to the “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 simply spectacular. You are standing directly at the cliffs and with more waves 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 worthwhile to go to nearby Arrifana, where the high cliffs form a natural windbreak. Especially surf beginners get their money’s worth in Arrifana with almost all conditions.
My tip: If you drive your campervan in the Gegeng of Arrifana If you are on the road and looking for a good surf camp, I can definitely recommend Mission To Surf in the Vale da Telha recommend. You can stay right in front of the surf camp and share all the amenities of the surf villa (kitchen, showers and pool), as long as you participate in one of the really good surf courses.
>> Spot description for Praia da Amoreira at 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 in a class of its own. The hilly old town is served by an ancient streetcar that looks like a vintage car 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 by van and especially in the winter months the many spots close to the city at the northern Tejo estuary offer lots of good surfing.
By far the nicest bulli stop 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 if the spot is quite susceptible to wind especially in the summer half-year, you can find very good surfing conditions here especially in the windless months of October and November. But be sure to watch out for the currents. Because here it has already drawn one or the other uninitiated vacation surfer out to the open sea.
You can find more proven standing places outside campsites here.
>> Swell forecast for Praia do Guincho on Magicseaweed
>> Swell forecast 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 more concrete blocks and a sometimes obtrusive smelling fish factory.
In terms of surfing, Peniche and Baleal are almost always the place to be. For surfing beginners Prainha just before the Baleal peninsula a good choice, the spots at the end of Praia do Baleal – Cantinho da Baia near Baleal and Gamboa at Peniche – are usually a bit more protected than 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 though the lineup was always full, I had some great surf sessions here.
The surfing life outside the water takes place 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& concerts instead of.
Almagreira is a good place for the bulli to sleep and stand. 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 prediction for supertubos on Magicseaweed
Packing list for your road trip through Portugal
So that you lack nothing on your Portugal road trip, I would like to give you based on my experiences the following packing list with the most important utensils for a Bulli vacation on the way.
Some things, such as a sleeping bag, the fake safe or the headlamp are really essential.
- Driver’s license& Identity 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
- rinsing sponge& Dishwashing detergent (biodegradable)& Hair shampoo (preferably biodegradable) , sunglasses& Swimwear
Other practical resources, such as z.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 Bulli is simply a dream for surfers! And even if you could feel the long season a little bit on my rental van and not everything worked as it should, I can absolutely recommend the van rental from Hanggtime.
With three locations in Porto, Lisbon and Faro, you’re never far from your
Route planning very flexible. The original equipped T3 buses are also very practical, stylish and reliable. The numerous built-in cupboards provide ample 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 passengers you find, 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.
Because of the low water temperatures in the period from March to May you should have a sufficiently thick wetsuit with you. The 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 to travel for a Portugal road trip with surfboard.
Road trip Portugal: Where have you been? And which official standing places near surf spots can you recommend? I look forward to your comments!