The best independent guide to Lisbon
The best independent guide to Lisbon
The Praia do Guincho is a stunning beach set within the dramatic scenery of the Serra de Sintra hills.
Guincho beach is exposed to the powerful Atlantic Ocean and is famed for its immense surfing waves. If you are an experienced surfer and have your own transport, then this is the beach to head to for surfing!
Guincho is a surfer's beach, but in the summer, when the weather is calm, and the winds lessen, it is also a fantastic destination for a beach day.
The Praia do Guincho with the Sintra hills to the rear
Guincho beach boasts a 750m shoreline that sits in a natural depression on the southern side of the Serra de Sintra hills. Into this valley, the powerful sea has formed a sandy beach, while the constant winds have blown the sands inland, creating sand dunes and a thriving beach ecosystem.
The Praia do Guincho lies within the Serra de Sintra natural park, and this has protected the region from any major development. It is difficult to believe that such a pristine beach is only a 35minute drive from central Lisbon or a 20minute bus ride from the lively resort town of Cascais.
The beach may have a wild and rugged ambience, but there are good amenities here, with two sets of beach cafes/restaurants/showers/car parks at the northern and southern sides of the beach.
The beach is the starting point for a coastal footpath that snakes along the cliff tops (part of the PR4 hiking route). It is also the endpoint of the Ciclovia do Guincho, a 9km cycle path that leads to Cascais.
Related articles: Lisbon beach guide – Cascais guide
The 16th century Fortaleza do Guincho fort has been converted into a 5star hotel along with a Michelin star restaurant
Guincho is an amazing destination for surfing or kitesurfing, but it is less suitable for a conventional relaxing day on the beach. There can be very strong sea breezes, and any onshore winds are funnelled around the Sintra hills, further strengthen them.
Before heading to the beach, it is advisable to check the weather conditions as there is very little shelter on the beach from these strong winds. The summer winds (Jul-Aug) tend to be from a northerly direction, so most visitors tend to head to the northern side of the beach and shelter along the cliffside.
Insight: The exact weather conditions can be seen with the Guincho beach webcam (hosted by Meo mobile phone company) and can be found at beachcam.meo.pt
Immense waves roll onto the beach
There is very limited public transport to Guincho beach, with just a single bus service from Cascais (details later), so most visitors head to the beach by car. There are two car parks at Praia do Guincho, one to the south near the Mar do Guincho restaurant (€2 all day) and a larger car park (500 spaces €2) near the Bar do Guincho, on the north side. There is also free parking on the road if you are lucky!
The Praia do Guincho would never be recommended for children due to the powerful waves and strong sea currents, but the beach is lifeguard protected in the summer season. The sea waters are very clean as they flow in from the Atlantic Ocean, this also means that they are always chilly, barely reaching 21C in the summer.
The beach is surrounded by sand dunes, which the wind has blown inland
Guincho is amazing for experienced surfers, with huge Atlantic waves that roll onto the sands. The gentle incline of the beach means that decent waves are formed at both high and low tides. No matter the season or weather conditions, there will always be decent waves at the Praia do Guincho!
The northerly summer winds blow the length of the beach, and this provides favourable conditions for kite surfing and surfing. The waves, currents and winds can be extremely strong, and may not be suitable if you are an inexperienced surfer. Always check local advice from surf shops or lifeguards before heading out.
Advice: If the winds or waves are too strong consider visiting the Praia Grande further north along the coast.
Boards and wetsuits can be hired from the beach either from Moana Surf School (north side) or Guincho Surf Shop (south side). Prices for board and wetsuit range between €20 for 2 hours to €45 for a full day.
Related websites: Moana Surf School
The huge Atlantic waves smashing against the walls of the former fort, which is now the swimming pool complex of the Estalagem Muchaxo hotel
Heading south from the Praia do Guincho is the Ciclovia do Guincho cycle path. This is a very scenic 9km route that follows the N247 road along the coastline to Cascais. Bikes can be hired from Cascais, and the Ciclovia is one of the best cycling routes of the Lisbon region.
At the southern end of the beach is the yellow painted Fortaleza do Guincho fort, which has been converted into a 5-star hotel. Next to it is the Estalagem Muchaxo hotel, with its outside swimming pool built around the ruins of a much older fort.
There is a challenging coastal footpath that leads north from the beach and follows the cliffs of the region. The footpath is part of the PR4 hiking route and passes the Forte do Guincho, the Praia do Abano beach and continues to the remote Praia da Grota beach.
There are numerous good options for food and drink at Guincho beach. On the north side The Bar do Guincho serves decent food and is an excellent setting for an evening drink. Along the main road are more restaurants and recommended places include Panorama Guincho and Mestre Zé.
Guincho beach has barely any tourist development
Guincho Beach is 6km to the northwest of Cascais, and this is the only town with public transport to the beach.
There are two bus routes from Cascais, the 405 and the 415. Both services follow the same circular route, but one heads in a clockwise direction and the other in an anti-clockwise direction.
The buses depart from Cascais bus station, which is below the Cascais Villa shopping centre and is close to the train station. A single bus ticket costs €2.35 and the journey is 20-25minutes. The two bus services are seasonal, and there is at least one departure per hour in each direction; the latest timetable can be seen on the Scotturb website: scotturb.com
If you are travelling from Lisbon to Guincho, first catch the train from Lisbon to Cascais, then the bus. The train to Cascais departs from the Cais do Sodré train station (green metro line), and a single ticket costs €2.25
Praia Guincho was a filming location for the 1969 James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service. The beach was the setting for the pre-title scene where James (George Lazenby) prevents the suicide of Contessa Vicenzo (Diana Rigg) and fights two men in the sea.
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