The original, independent guide to Lisbon
The original, independent guide to Lisbon
The Praia de Carcavelos is one of the finest beaches of the Lisbon coastline.
Under the right weather conditions, the Praia de Carcavelos provides decent surfing waves and the surf schools based on the beach make it a popular place to learn to surf. Carcavelos is easy to travel to from Lisbon, as it is served by the Lisbon-Cascais urban railway, while behind the beach is a large cark park if you plan to drive.
This article will provide a guide Carcavelos beach, along with travel information, tourist details and activities in the surrounding region.
Related articles: Lisbon beach guide – Cascais guide
Our opinion: If you are new to the Lisbon region and you are planning your first day trip to the beach, then the Praia de Carcavelos is the best choice.
Carcavelos is fantastic for a relaxing beach day, of basking under the glorious sun and splashing around in the cold sea. The area attracts an equal mix of Portuguese and foreign tourists.
The beach tends to attract a young and active crowd, and there is always something going on, from a social game of volleyball, through to a much more competitive beach football competition.
Along the beachfront promenade are numerous beach bars and cafes, ideal for a light lunch or to escape the intensity of the summer sun.
Considering the popularity of Carcavelos, it is surprising that there is so little tourist development surround the beach. The beach is not overshadowed by large hotel complexes or ugly apartments, and the actual town of Carcavelos, 1km inland, has a very low-key ambience.
If Carcavelos beach is too busy for you there is a second smaller beach on the opposite to the Sao Julião fort, this beach is known as the Praia da Torre.
Carcavelos has decent medium-sized waves, which are ideal for beginner to medium surfers or bodyboarding. During the autumn and winter, the waves tend to be more powerful, while in the summer, the sheer number of people in the water can make surfing difficult and sometimes slightly dangerous.
The Praia de Carcavelos is a popular beach with Portuguese families and is ideal for children of all ages. The beach is clean, the waters are safe, and there are good tourist facilities.
During the summer months, the beach is supervised by lifeguards and swimming sections are clearly separated from surfing areas. Young children should be wary of the intense summer sun, but parasols and sunshades can be hired for €15 per day.
The Piscina Oceânica de Oeiras (Oeiras Ocean Swimming Pool) is a great place for children if the sea is too rough or cold. This swimming pool complex also boasts high diving boards and is well set up for families. The entrance fees is €14/€7 (all day/half day) and opening times are seasonal, and further information can be seen on the Oeiras council website:
The Passeio Marítimo de Oeiras is a cycle path and footpath which follows the coastline from the Praia de Carcavelos to the Paço d’Arcos, 3.5km to the east. This is a very scenic route and passes the Oeiras Marina, the Piscina Oceânica de Oeiras, the Santo Amaro fort and Oeiras beach. The Passeio Marítimo de Oeiras is a popular walking route and a favourite with the Portuguese.
The pink footpath begins on the eastern side of the Praia da Torre beach, but is easy to reach from Carcavelos beach; just walk along the beach towards the imposing Forte de São Julião da Barra and then follow the path around the fort.
As the Lisbon-Cascais railway is an important commuter route there are numerous hourly departures, and the trains start early in the day and continue to 1:30am. The journey from Lisbon to Carcavelos takes 26 minutes, and the latest timetable can be seen on the CP (Comboios de Portugal) website at:
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The train fare from Lisbon to Carcavelos pass through three fare zones, and a single ticket costs €1.95. The fare is charged to the reusable "Viva Viagem" card, which is used for all of the public transport in Lisbon, and the initial price for this card costs €0.50.
Insight: If the walk to the beach is an inconvenience consider the Praia do Tamariz, in Estoril, which is directly next to the train station.
If you plan to drive, Carcavelos is 20km from central Lisbon, and the route follows the scenic N6 coastal road, which outside of rush hour takes around 25 minutes. At the beach, there is plenty of car parking, and if you’re willing to park on the field there is free car parking. There is much more parking at Carcavelos than in Cascais or Estoril, and this makes Carcavelos a better choice of beach if you plan to drive.
At the eastern edge of the beach is the mighty Forte de São Julião da Barra, this fort used by the Portuguese army and not currently open to the public.
The Praia de Carcavelos was the filming location for the very bland Euro-dance song Amazing by Inna (2010), the song was very average, but the video makes Carcavelos beach look fantastic.
On Thursdays, there is a large market held on the fields behind the beach and is a great chance to experience normal Portuguese daily life.
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