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Lisbon beaches: five great getaways near the Portuguese capital

Lisbon beaches: five great getaways near the Portuguese capital

Lisbon is not just about monuments, the Tagus River and great food.  Just 30minutes away from the Portuguese capital you can find sandy beaches which are a great option for you to relax and have a break from the city rush.

 Although Algarve is the number 1 destination for beaches and warm weather, nearby Lisbon you have many options  with plenty of restaurants serving fresh fish and seafood.

There are two main coastal areas in the Lisbon region worth a visit: Cascais coastline to the west and the Southside bank to the south.

To get there you have usually two main options: train or car , although beaches located in the Southside of the Tagus river ( the land you see beyond the 25th April bridge) are only accessed by car or bus.

Let’s break this list in two main areas: Cascais area and the Tagus river Southbank area.

 

Cascais area

From Lisbon to Cascais is just a 30-minute ride following the road along the coast to the west. You will find several beaches along the shore, however not all of them are great to enjoy the sun and dive in the Atlantic so I`ll just pick the ones well worth a visit.

The train is another good option as you have trains leaving from Cais do Sodré station in Lisbon every 10 minutes heading towards Cascais and stopping on every beach.

 

1-Carcavelos beach

This beach is located halfway between Lisbon and Cascais and its one of the most popular among locals and visitors. With 1.3km of sand this is the largest beach in the area with locals year round.

 In the colder season the beach is packed with surfers as the big waves and location attracts all the surf community from the Lisbon area.

In the summer it can get quite crowded and it’s only a good option during weekdays.

 There is a wide amount of restaurants and terraced bars here, so plenty of choices for grabbing a snack, have lunch or simply enjoy a cold drink.

Carcavelos_beach

Children and families will feel at home since there`s lots of space for them to play and to have a nice day enjoying the sea.

How to get there?

The simplest option is the train that departs from Cais do Sodre in Lisbon. In just 20 minutes you arrive at Carcavelos train station and from there it’s a 15m walk to the beach.

Another option is driving which is fairly simple: from Lisbon take the N6 road towards Cascais along the seacoast and in 20 minutes you are there. As soon as you see the beach turn right to park your car.

 

Good for:

-families with children

-action sports (especially in the winter/autumn)

-have lunch and a meal

 

Not good for:

-eating fresh fish

-weekends: it’s overcrowded

 

2-Guincho beach (praia do Guincho)

 

This is the wildest beach in the coastline of Cascais since its far from urban areas and is very exposed to winds. It is the number one spot for surf, Kite-Surf and Wind-surf lovers and it has a stunning natural landscape with cliffs, dunes and a clear 700 meter sand.

Guincho_beach

Although located in the middle of nowhere there is a nearby Hotel ( Fortaleza do Guincho Hotel) that features a Michelin star restaurant and is well worth a visit if you`re in for a world class meal. Prices usually range from 50€ to 200€ per person.

How to get there?

The best ways to get there is driving from Lisbon to Cascais then follow the directions to “Praia do Guincho”. It is just an 8 km drive so in 10 minutes you will get there.

Another option is to take the train from Cais do Sodré in Lisbon and exit at the last station ( Cascais), then take the bus from Scotturb that will take you to Guincho ( there`s information at the train station in Cascais.

A third option would be to rent a bike and simply ride the 5kms using the bike path that runs along the coast line.

This is a very nice and relaxing way to get there although only doable in the summer/spring since the wind can be very unpleasant in colder months.

 

Good for:

-action sports lovers

-nature lovers

-eating fresh fish

 

Not good for:

-Swimming

-children

 

3-São Pedro do Estoril beach ( praia de S. Pedro Estoril)

 

This small beach 5 kms from Cascais is a beautiful place with old rock formations and a marvelous view to the Atlantic.

It gets packed quickly as it’s small and with the rise of tides sand becomes scarce making it difficult to find an empty space.

 

sao_pedro_estoril_beach

The restaurant options here are not great still you can grab a snack or just enjoy a cold drink at one of the small cafes here.

Avoid going there on weekends as it gets filled pretty quick, so week days or weekends in the morning are your best bet.

How to get there?

Just take the N6 road like in the previous options or take the train and leave at the S.Pedro do Estoril station.

 

Good for:

-nature lovers

-surfers

-shooting great pictures

 

Not good for:

-families

-long walks

 

 

South area

Crossing the 25th April Bridge a whole new area with lots of beaches opens to you.

I won`t provide an exhaustive list of the places you can go because there are literally dozens of options , so we`ll stick to the most popular and nicest ones.

 

4-Costa de Caparica beach ( Praia da Costa)

 

The closest beach area from Lisbon is also the one with more visitors and more options.

How to get there?

After crossing the 25Th April bridge , the 1st exit at the highway takes you to Costa de Caparica, a small fishermen village that has gradually became a giant coastline resort.

When you arrive at the village you can go left and choose from more than 10 beaches or take the right path ( closer to Lisbon) and opt for 5 beaches.

Costa.-da-Caparica

Praia da Saude, Praia da Cornelia, Praia da Mata, Praia da Riviera, those are just some of the beaches available if you take the left path.

 Basically there is a long beach with more than 10 kms of sand that is divided in 10 or so names but it is basically the same beach. The further you go south the wilder the place so explore the area as you can have really cool places with almost no one – the sand is large enough to host thousands.

If you choose to take the right path you will be limited to 5 options and you won’t have such of a wilderness scenery to explore. The beaches are marked by big blocks of rocks and the sand is not so immaculate because these are closer to the Tagus river and Lisbon.

Another disadvantage of these is you pay to park your car and places get filled fast.

 

Good for:

-action sports lovers

-nature lovers

-eating fresh fish

 

Not good for:

-weekends: you can take up to 90 minutes to get there

-children: do not leave them unattended, ever.

 

5- Meco beach ( Praia do Meco)

 

This is a beach located aprox 40 kms from Lisbon and you should take around 45minutes driving there.

It is one of the most original and wild beaches in the Lisbon area as it holds a strong tradition of music festivals, hippie communities in the 70`s and nudist lovers.

For swimming this is one of the worst options since there are always big waves breaking in the shore and as soon as you step into the water you lose ground.

meco beach

This is not the option for families with children because the water is not that warm and it has strong tides making it dangerous for them.

Since the sand expands for more than 3 kms the further you walk along the shore the more you will see people naked , a common ritual here since the 1970`s . If you are uncomfortable just follow your way back to the main beach area where no nudism is allowed.

How to get there?

Cross the 25th April bridge and continue through the highway, take the Seixal/Sesimbra exit and follow the N378 road until you see a big roundabout with directions to praia do meco.

Using public transportation is almost impossible so just rent a car.

 

Good for:

-nature lovers

-fabulous views

-eating fresh fish

-getting your private parts tanned

 

Not good for:

-Swimming

-children

 

6- Sesimbra beach ( Praia de Sesimbra)

 

This is one of the best destinations to eat fresh fish near Lisbon.  It is a 45m drive from the Capital and its close enough to praia to meco for you to visit both in the same day.

The beach itself is short and gets crowed easily since this is a small fishermen village that usually sees its population multiplied by 10 in the summer. Get there early in the morning or very late in the afternoon ( 18:00 onwards) if you like to have at least 4 sqm of empty  space around .

sesimbra beach

Weekdays in the peak season or weekends in the offseason are the best time to go there, however if you feel it too much crowded just take the car and drive to Praia do Meco ( a short 15m drive from there) to have all the space in the world.

Having a great fresh fish meal is one of the best reasons to visit Sesimbra.

Just check the local restaurants and choose the price you are comfortable with since it is almost impossible not to be served fresh fish here as this is a fishermen’s village with a dock that works 24/7.

How to get there?

Just follow the same directions as Praia do Meco, but instead of turning right go ahead until the end of the N378 road.

 

Good for:

-great fish

-children and families

 

Not good for:

-parking your car

-having space around you

 

 

7-Portinho da Arrábida beach ( Praia do Portinho da Arrábida)

 

The last beach in the south side is this marvelous idyllic getaway that seems out of a postal card.

Portinho da arrábida is a small bay hidden between  mountains that compose a beautiful natural framing.

Its located deep inside the Arrabida mountain protected park so the air and water is very clean and pure.

 

Portinho_da_Arrábida_beach

In terms of space there’s plenty of since this beach has no public transportation available and its a bit far from any city, however the car parking is small so it gets filled quick. For this reason is best to go there on weekdays or weekends early in the morning.

Make sure you bring some food with you as restaurant options are very limited so they run out of tables in no time.

 

Good for:

-great pictures

-children and families

 

Not good for:

-Swimming: water is calm yet cold

-finding a place to park your car

 

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Day trips from Lisbon to Sintra, Cascais, Fatima and more.