The Best Beaches on the Lisbon Coast
November 23, 2023
Lisbon stands out as one of Europe’s most captivating city breaks, celebrated for its effortless beauty, rich culture, delectable gastronomy, and enchanting views. Despite the city’s fame for its azulejo-tiled facades, pastéis de nata, and iconic trams, the coastal wonders surrounding Lisbon often linger in the shadows. Yet, the stretch of shoreline from the city is home to some of the finest beaches in Europe. Keep reading to discover the best beaches on the Lisbon Coast.
Praia da Ursa
Hidden away near Cabo da Roca, Praia da Ursa is a hidden treasure, often regarded as one of the best beaches on the Lisbon Coast. Accessible via a scenic trail, this secluded cove boasts dramatic cliffs and golden sands, as well as its sharp, distinctive rock formations rising dramatically from the crashing waves. Positioned in the heart of the remarkable Sintra-Cascais National Park, Praia da Ursa welcomes visitors year-round. Unsurprisingly, amenities like bars, stores, and restaurants are absent on this unspoiled shoreline, so consider packing a picnic for a day. Don’t forget to wear comfortable walking shoes as the descent to the sand demands courage, but the panoramic view makes it worthwhile.
Praia do Guincho
Praia do Guincho, located six kilometres northwest of Cascais, is celebrated for its wild beauty and robust Atlantic winds, establishing itself as a haven for surfers and water sports enthusiasts. Nestled between the Sintra mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, this expansive beach is known for hosting international windsurfing competitions. The beach’s enormous amphitheatre of soft white sand, flanked by shifting dunes, offers a spectacular setting but is less suitable for those seeking sheltered sunbathing. Although not ideal for swimming due to hidden undertows and strong currents, Guincho is a Blue Flag destination. Its cinematic allure, featured in James Bond’s ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,’ further adds to its charm.
Praia da Adraga
A short drive from Sintra, Praia da Adraga enchants visitors with its pristine sands and dramatic cliffs. Surrounded by lush greenery, this beach is known for its striking rock formations and clear waters. It’s a surprisingly undeveloped cove with fewer crowds than neighbouring beaches. Ideal for a peaceful day by the sea, Praia da Adraga is often considered one of the most beautiful beaches on the Lisbon Coast. The restaurant, Restaurante da Adraga, is nearby and has excellent ocean views and day-fresh seafood.
Praia de Carcavelos
Praia de Carcavelos, a short train ride from Lisbon, is a beloved destination for locals and tourists seeking a perfect blend of convenience, relaxation, and vibrant energy. With its extensive golden sands and lively atmosphere, the beach is a favourite among families and beachgoers during the summer months. Spanning over a mile, it’s a popular spot for experienced surfers and offers surfing lessons from reputable schools. Visitors can rent e-scooters, bicycles, and paddleboards, and enjoy beach volleyball matches. Lined with cafes and seafood restaurants, Praia de Carcavelos is both a local hotspot and a destination easily accessible from the Carcavelos railway station, just a 15-minute walk away.
Praia da Figueirinha
Set within the beautiful Arrábida Natural Park, Praia da Figueirinha stands as the largest beach in the park, offering a tranquil haven with calm waters and soft sands. Ideal for families with children, the surrounding hills create a sheltered environment, providing a scenic backdrop of lush greenery and turquoise waters. Accessible from Setúbal via a convenient bus route, Figueirinha is a popular choice for locals, known for being slightly warmer due to its shallow waters. Lounger chairs and beach umbrellas are available for rent, offering extra relaxation by the sheltered lagoon. The beach boasts clear waters teeming with tropical fish, making it an ideal spot for a family-friendly dip and play. A beachside cafe provides refreshments, and with a lifeguard on duty during the summer months, Praia da Figueirinha offers a safe and serene escape for beachgoers.
Praia da Conceição
Praia da Conceição in Cascais is renowned as the favoured retreat of Portugal’s royal family in the 1800s. The beach features clear waters and a deep stretch of sand leading to the lapping waves. Positioned between the Albatroz Hotel and Chalet Faial, this beach is popular among residents and visitors alike for its exclusive allure and powdery sand. The sheltered inlet and calm shallows make it ideal for children and those with limited mobility, earning it a Blue Flag for water cleanliness. With beachfront cafés and nearby restaurants, Praia da Conceição offers a delightful seaside day-out option, and it marks the starting point of the scenic seafront promenade stretching three kilometres east to São João do Estoril.
Praia dos Galapinhos
An hour south of Lisbon and nestled within the captivating scenery of the Arrábida Natural Park, Praia dos Galapinhos emerges as a postcard-worthy gem, concealed amidst a rugged expanse of wild vegetation. It’s been voted several times as Europe’s most beautiful beach, offering calm, crystal-clear waters and a pristine landscape with relaxing surroundings. The beach’s unique tropical island ambience is accentuated by the dense forest that envelops it. The calm waters are good for wading, swimming, splashing, paddle boarding or cooling off on a hot summer day. Praia dos Galapinhos boasts a solitary wooden beach bar providing refreshing drinks and ice creams, while thatched, rustic umbrellas gracefully blend into the natural surroundings on one side of this picturesque beach.
Ribeira do Cavalo Beach
Ribeira do Cavalo Beach, situated off the coast of the Arrabida National Park, boasts calm teal waters that surround its tranquil shores. Tucked into a secluded cove, this beach is an ideal spot for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkelling. Accessible by land through a scenic 20-minute hike in the national park, the journey has historically kept crowds at bay. However, the beach’s growing reputation as one of Lisbon’s marvels has led to an increase in visitors, with boat access now available. During peak times, the beach can become crowded and noisy, but opting for weekdays or the off-season can offer a more serene experience, provided the tide is low. As the beach remains undeveloped, visitors are advised to bring essential items like sturdy walking shoes, food, water, sunscreen, and snorkelling gear. It’s important to note that there are no rubbish bins available, so please take all waste home.
Tamariz Beach, in the resort town of Estoril, is renowned for its emerald green waters and a generous stretch of 2 km white sand, is a local hotspot near bars, restaurants, and the Estoril garden. This trendy destination attracts beachgoers who can relax on lounge chairs or set up camp on the sands while admiring the waves along the Iberian Peninsula’s coast. For a protected swimming experience free from the strong Atlantic currents, head to the east end and take a plunge in the Tamariz Ocean Pool. Accessible by a 30-minute drive or train ride from central Lisbon to the Estoril station, Tamariz Beach offers a convenient escape. While in Estoril, visitors can explore another local attraction tied to James Bond—the Estoril Casino, where it is rumoured that author Ian Fleming found inspiration for his debonair spy character after encountering a double agent at the casino.
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