December 06, 2023 5 min read

Europe, a mosaic of varied landscapes and cultures, presents a unique proposition for travelers seeking both aquatic thrills and terrestrial explorations. The concept of 'surf and turf' vacations, combining beach-based surfing activities with inland adventures, has gained significant traction. With an array of travel packages to Europe focusing on these dual experiences, planning such trips has become increasingly convenient.

Additionally, the wide availability of flights to Europe ensures these scenic locations are easily accessible, making the continent an ideal destination for an invigorating holiday.

Portugal's Algarve: Coastal Surf and Rustic Charm

The Algarve, Portugal's sun-drenched southern coast, is a surfer's paradise one of the best places for beach vacations in Europe. Famous for its warm waters and consistent waves, it has become a hub for surf enthusiasts. In recent years, the region has seen a surge in surf tourism, with a notable increase in surf school enrollments and international surf events. Spots like Praia do Amado and Praia de Odeceixe offer waves for beginners and pros alike, making it a versatile surf destination.

Beyond the waves, Algarve's inland presents a contrasting world of tranquil hills, traditional Portuguese villages, and lush vineyards. This region offers a myriad of activities like hiking, bird watching, and exploring historic towns, complementing the coastal experience with a serene turf adventure.

Biarritz, France: A Fusion of Surf Culture and Historical Elegance

Biarritz, situated in the French Basque Country, seamlessly blends its aristocratic past with a vibrant contemporary surf culture. Known as the birthplace of surfing in Europe, it has experienced a steady growth in surf tourism. The Grande Plage and Côte des Basques are not just beaches but icons in the surfing world, hosting numerous international competitions and attracting surfers globally.

Away from the surf, Biarritz offers an enticing turf experience. The region is renowned for its Basque cuisine, featuring unique flavours and ingredients. Visitors can also indulge in countryside excursions, exploring the Pyrenees Mountains or visiting traditional Basque villages, thus experiencing a different facet of the region's charm.

Cornwall, UK: Rugged Coasts and Rich Heritage

Cornwall, in the southwest of England, has carved out a reputation as one of the UK's premier surfing destinations. With an estimated economic impact of £154 million from surf tourism, the county's beaches, like Fistral and Polzeath, have become synonymous with British surfing. These spots offer consistent waves, attracting surfers throughout the year.

Inland Cornwall is a tapestry of moorlands, quaint fishing villages, and historic sites. The region's turf offerings include exploring the legendary Tintagel Castle, associated with King Arthur, and visiting the Eden Project, an ecological marvel. This blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue provides a comprehensive turf experience.


The Canary Islands, Spain: Eternal Sun and Diverse Landscapes

The Canary Islands, an archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa, offer a year-round surf destination under the Spanish flag. Each island, from Lanzarote to Tenerife, has its unique surf character, suitable for different skill levels. The islands have seen a steady increase in surf-related tourism, attributed to their varied wave conditions and subtropical climate.

The Canaries are not just about beaches; their volcanic origins have sculpted unique landscapes inland. Activities like hiking through lunar-like terrains, visiting ancient forests, and exploring quaint villages provide a rich turf experience, offering a perfect counterbalance to the dynamic surf scene.

Sardinia, Italy: Mediterranean Splendor and Cultural Depth

Sardinia, an Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea, is emerging as a surf hotspot. With its crystal-clear waters and diverse surf spots, it caters to surfers of all levels. The island has seen a growth in surf tourism, driven by its unspoiled beaches and favourable wind conditions.

Beyond its coastline, Sardinia reveals a different kind of beauty. The island's interior is dotted with historical ruins dating back to the Nuragic civilization, offering a glimpse into the ancient past. Additionally, the rugged terrain provides ample opportunities for hiking and nature exploration, making it an ideal turf destination.

The Basque Coast, Spain: Where Surfing Meets Cultural Heritage

The Basque Coast, stretching from Bilbao to San Sebastián, is renowned for its powerful waves and vibrant city life. Zarautz and Mundaka are notable surf spots, offering some of the best waves in Europe. This region has become a significant surf destination, with a steady increase in surf tourism contributing to the local economy.

Inland, the Basque Country is a hub of rich cultural heritage and gastronomy. From exploring the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to indulging in the renowned pintxos (small tapas) of San Sebastián, the turf experience here is as enriching as the surf. The rolling green hills and traditional Basque villages provide a serene backdrop to the dynamic coastal areas.

surfer with a surfboard on the bike

Raglan, Ireland: Emerald Waves and Lush Countryside

Raglan, on the west coast of Ireland, offers some of the most consistent and varied surf conditions in Europe. Known for its long, rolling waves, it has become a favorite among both local and international surfers. Surf tourism in Ireland has seen a significant boost, with Raglan leading the charge due to its ideal conditions and stunning scenery.

The turf experience in Raglan is quintessentially Irish – characterized by verdant landscapes, historic castles, and warm, welcoming locals. The area's rich cultural history, combined with activities like hiking, horseback riding, and visiting ancient Gaelic sites, provides a delightful contrast to the rugged coastlines.

Lofoten Islands, Norway: Arctic Surfing and Majestic Fjords

The Lofoten Islands in Norway offer a unique surf experience within the Arctic Circle. The cold, clear waters and the midnight sun during summer provide an otherworldly setting for surfing. The growth in surf tourism here is attributed to those seeking a unique and challenging surf adventure.

The Lofoten Islands are not just about surfing; they are steeped in Viking history. The dramatic landscape, characterized by towering mountains and deep fjords, is perfect for hiking, fishing, and exploring Viking museums. The contrast between the harsh yet beautiful ocean and the tranquil, scenic inland areas makes for a remarkable vacation.

The Azores, Portugal: A Volcanic Surfing Experience

The Azores, a group of islands in the mid-Atlantic, are gaining popularity as a surf destination. The volcanic nature of these islands creates unique wave conditions, drawing surfers from around the world. With a growing number of surf schools and events, the Azores are quickly becoming a must-visit spot for surf enthusiasts.

The Azores offer more than just great surfing; the islands are a hotspot for biodiversity and natural beauty. Activities like hiking in the lush, volcanic landscapes, birdwatching, and visiting geothermal springs add to the turf appeal of this destination.

Crete, Greece: Mediterranean Waves and Ancient Mysteries

Crete, the largest of the Greek islands, offers a unique Mediterranean surf experience. Its diverse coastline provides a variety of surf spots, suitable for all levels. The growing surf culture on the island is complemented by its warm climate and hospitable locals.

Inland Crete is a treasure trove of ancient history and stunning landscapes. The island's rich Minoan heritage, visible in sites like Knossos, combined with its mountainous terrain and picturesque villages, offers a compelling turf experience that perfectly complements the coastal adventure.


Europe's array of surf and turf destinations caters to a diverse range of tastes and preferences, offering something unique at every turn. The richness of cultural experiences, the beauty of diverse landscapes, and the thrill of outdoor adventures make these destinations a perfect choice for those seeking an invigorating vacation. Whether seeking the rush of riding a wave or the serenity of a mountain hike, Europe’s surf and turf spots offer an experience that is both thrilling and deeply satisfying.

Author - Olivia Poglianich
Olivia Poglianich          

Content Strategist

Olivia Poglianich is a nomadic brand strategist and copywriter in the surf, watersports and outdoor adventure space who has worked with brands such as Visa, Disney and Grey Goose. Her writing has taken her all over the world, from a Serbian music festival to a Malaysian art and culture event. Olivia is a graduate of Cornell University and is often writing or reading about travel, hospitality, the start-up ecosystem or career coaching. Her latest interests are at the intersection of web3 and communal living, both on and offline.

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