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A beach guide fully updated for 2018!
Surrounding Lisbon are some of Portugal’s finest beaches, and during the summer, a trip to the beach is a wonderful addition to your holiday. The beaches of the Lisbon region extend along four very different coastlines, and range from wild surfing beaches, through to calm family-oriented beaches and charming resort towns.
The close proximity of Lisbon to beautiful beaches is not well publicised, and few visitors realise that a holiday to Lisbon can combine the delights of a city break with the relaxation of a beach holiday. Many of Lisbon’s beaches can be easily reached using public transport, which makes them ideal for a day trip while based in Lisbon.
This guide will provide an introduction to Lisbon’s beaches, highlight the best beaches and provide links to further detailed information.
Our favourite beaches of the Lisbon region
The four coastlines of Lisbon
There are four very different coastlines close to Lisbon; the Oeiras-Estoril-Cascais coastline, the Serra de Sintra coastline, the Costa da Caparica and the Serra da Arrábida.
The Oeiras-Estoril-Cascais Coastline
The Oeiras-Estoril-Cascais coastline extends to the west of Lisbon and offers sandy beaches, calm sea waters and characterful resort towns. This is the coastline where most tourists will head to for a day on the beach, and the beautiful beaches will appeal to the majority of visitors.
The Oeiras-Estoril-Cascais region is served by a regular train service, and this makes all of the beaches easily accessible from central Lisbon. The only downside is that these beaches can get very crowded during the summer.
The Praia de Carcavelos is the largest and most popular beach of the region, while the Praia de Santo Amaro de Oeiras and Praia Sao Pedro are also highly recommended. The historic town of Cascais, situated at the end of the railway, is a fantastic destination for a beach-based holiday and has the pretty Praia da Conceição beach.
Related articles: Cascais guide - Praia de Carcavelos guide - The beaches between Oeiras and Cascais
The Serra de Sintra Coastline
The Serra de Sintra coastline lies to the north of Cascais, and is formed of jagged cliffs, vast beaches and dramatic natural scenery. The wild and windswept coastline is exposed to the ferocity of the Atlantic Ocean, and is ideal for outdoor activities such as surfing, hiking or simply admiring the stunning natural scenery.
The Serra de Sintra coastline lies within the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais, and this has protected the dramatic natural scenery. The only issue is that there is very limited public transport and a rental car is needed to explore the coastline.
The most famous beach of the region is the Praia de Guincho, a wonderful surfing beach, while the Praia da Adraga exemplifies the region’s scenery, combining towering cliffs, golden sands and raging seas . Further north are the charming beach towns of Praia das Maçãs and Azenhas do Mar.
Insider tip: Don’t miss the Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point of mainland Europe.
The Costa da Caparica
The Costa da Caparica coastline is to the south of Lisbon, and extends along the entire western side of the Setubal Peninsular. This coastline comprises a single 15km continuous stretch beach, and the region offers beautiful beaches, great surfing, and a trendy nightlife beach-bar scene.
To the northern end of the Costa da Caparica coastline, is the modern and lively resort town of Costa da Caparica, while the southern sections are less developed and have a more natural setting. There are regular buses connecting Lisbon to the town of Costa da Caparica, and these northern beaches make for a good alternative to Cascais and Estoril.
Insider Tip: During the summer there is a mini train which runs from the town of Costa da Caparica to the Praia da Fonte da Telha (8km to the south) and these beaches tend to be much less crowded.
Serra da Arrábida Coastline
The Serra da Arrábida Coastline is situated between the towns of Sesimbra and Setubal, on the southern side of the Setubal Peninsular. These beaches are some of the most picturesque beaches of Portugal, with soft golden sands, turquoise sea waters, and surrounded by steep hills of the Serra da Arrábida nature park.
In our opinion, the Praia do Creiro is one of the most beautiful beaches of Portugal, and is less than a 45-minute drive from central Lisbon. Close by is the equally pretty Praia da Figueirinha beach, while Sesimbra, the main resort town of the region, is a traditional holiday destination and a favourite with the Portuguese.
Sesimbra is the main resort town of the Serra da Arrábida Coastline and it has a distinctly Portuguese atmosphere, as it is a popular location for the Portuguese to go on holiday. Setubal is a busy port and is an interesting destination for a day trip but is not suitable for a beach trip. South of Setubal is the Tróia Peninsula, which offers more wonderful beaches, but is too far to travel from Lisbon as a day trip.
There are regular bus services from Lisbon to Sesimbra but no public transport within the Serra da Arrábida nature park.
Related articles: Sesimbra guide – Setubal Guide
If you are looking for a beach day trip from Lisbon, then head to the Praia de Carcavelos, the Praia de Santo Amaro de Oeiras or the Praia da Conceição. These beaches are all connected by the regular Lisbon-Cascais railway, which departs from the Cais do Sodré train station (GPS: 38.70610, -9.14494). The beaches are large sandy beaches with clean waters and excellent tourist facilities, making them ideal for children and adults of all ages.
Safety: Many of Lisbon’s surfing beaches have hidden rocks or dangerous currents, always surf (and swim) where it is safe to do so and follow any instructions lifeguards provide.
Quick summary of Lisbon’s beaches
Best beach (via public transport): Praia de Carcavelos
Where to surf: Praia de Guincho, Costa da Caparica or Ericeira
For families: Praia da Conceição, Praia do Tamariz or Praia de Carcavelos
Stunning scenery: Portinho da Arrábida, Praia de Guincho, Tróia Peninsula and southern Costa da Caparica
Best resort towns close to Lisbon: Cascais, Sesimbra, Praia das Maçã, or Tróia Peninsula
Favourite beaches of the Portuguese: Lagoa de Albufeira, Praia da Adraga and Praia das Maçãs
For a beach day trip: Tróia, Ericeira or Sesimbra
When to visit Lisbon's beaches
The weather in Lisbon is suitable for spending time (and sunbathing) on the beach from May through to the end of September, and the beaches will be at their busiest from July to August. At the weekends during the summer months, it can feel as if the entire population of Lisbon has moved to the beach and it is often better to visit during the working week (Mon-Fri).
The weather of Lisbon
The cold sea
The waters surrounding the Lisbon coastline are surprisingly cold, even at the height of the summer, when the water temperature only reach 18C. This cool temperature is due to the Ocean currents of the Atlantic Ocean. If you plan to be in the water for extended periods, it is advisable to bring/hire a wetsuit.