Combing a city and beach holiday in Lisbon is rather easy considering the Portuguese capital is surrounded by beautiful coastline, with a wide variety of type of beaches bound to please even the pickiest of travellers. Find out my top choices for where Lisbon’s best beaches are.
One of the main perks of being in Lisbon is its proximity to the beach, and not just one crowded patch of sand, but miles and miles of gorgeous coastline featuring dozens of individual stretches of beach, each with their own distinctive characteristics, culture and vibe.
With so many beaches to choose from, I thought I’d save you a bit of time and put together a guide to Lisbon’s best beaches, highlighting just what makes them unique, so that you can choose your very own piece of paradise.
+ If you’re not a strong swimmer, be very careful of the strong waters. Even if you are a good swimmer, just don’t venture out too far as the ocean can be very deceiving with rip currents and just generally strong currents.
SAO JOAO, COSTA DA CAPARICA
Caparica is the closest cluster of beaches to the centre of Lisbon, and it tends to be the one we visit the most when we’re in the city. From our base near Estrela, it takes us approximately 15 minutes to get to Caparica if the traffic isn’t too heavy. Not bad for a busy European capital, heh?! It’s the perfect way for you to visit some of the city’s best beaches, without having to trek very far, making it a splendid day trip from Lisbon.
There are no end of beaches for you to choose from along the Caparica coastline, from the trendy shores of Sao Joao to the more traditional Praia da Rainha. As you can imagine it gets busy on hot summer days, and parking can be a little hellish, which is why we tend to stick with the more ‘upmarket’ Sao Joao, not so much because we care to be seen in the place to be, but because there’s a huge carpark, where you can get a nice spot, under the shade if you’re lucky, for only €3.50 (day rate). For me it’s money well spent.
Spend the day catching some rays, having a cold drink and snacking on caracois (snails!) and the freshest fish dishes by the bar and at about 7ish, why not make a quick dash to Cacilhas and enjoy a seafood dinner by the river, while you look over the sun going down behind Lisbon – after all, it’s the best view of the city.
+ By car: View on google maps
+ Public Transport: Catch bus 153 to Costa da Caparica (from Praca de Espanha)
Where to eat in Sao Joao
The restaurant Bicho d’Água has good seafood and grilled fish, plus it enjoys a lovely setting, though if you’re having dinner make the short trip to Cacilhas for an incredible view over the city of Lisbon.
Is Caparica beach good for kids?
Costa da Caparica, and Sao Joao in particular are very child-friendly beaches. There are wooden-paths leading from the car park to the beach itself, restrooms and several on-site restaurants.
CASCAIS & ESTORIL (LINHA)
The most easily accessible-beaches from Lisbon are those located in the Cascais ‘linha’, a quick and pleasant train ride away from Lisbon. Lisbon-folk try to avoid the traffic on the 25 Abril bridge going to Caparica, and opt to take the train instead, enjoying a very scenic ride to Estoril or Cascais.
TAMARIZ BEACH, ESTORIL
One of our favourites is the Tamariz beach in Estoril. Perfectly located right in front of the train station, this beach is ideal for a spontaneous getaway, without the hassle of having to hire a car.
Tamariz was one of the city’s most glamorous beaches back in the 1950’s/’60’s and still retains much of this atmosphere. The beach benefits from being sheltered in a bay, and is a pretty safe bet when the wind is strong. The water is also milder, making it the most baby and toddler friendly beach on the Lisbon coast.
+ By car: View Google maps. Parking is generally easy at the Casino’s pay & display car park.
+ By train: Catch the train to Estoril/Cascais from Cais do Sodré or Algés. Exit at Estoril. Tickets cost €2.15 one way.
The beach restaurants are overpriced, and the food isn’t all that. Instead, cross the road, and go to Garrett, for an old-school Estoril meal. The legendary spot has a great menu and impeccable service, plus it’s decorated beautifully. If you can, go at tea time and enjoy its incredible cakes and patisseries. See what tripadvisor has to say.
Out of all our options Tamariz is the most child-friendly beach. The bay keeps the sea warm and quiet, and there are lots of rock-pools perfect for little ones to explore. It’s got easy access too, and lots of restaurants & cafés if you need.
GUINCHO BEACH, CASCAIS
Famous within the surf, windsurf and kitesurfing world, Guincho is one of my personal favourites and one of the beaches we go to the most. A mere 10 minutes away from Tamariz, Guincho couldn’t be more different.
Here the wind blows strong, the waters are choppy and cold and the landscape is rugged and dramatic.
The beach bar has plenty of shades and wind-breakers for hire in case you find it’s too strong, and when you get peckish pop up for some seriously mouth-watering burgers & a nice cold beer. Both the bar & the beach are very family friendly, with a huge sand-stretch, and a wooden walkway which is great if you plan on bringing your stroller. The bar has tables right by the sand, so if your little ones get bored waiting for their food, they can jump down and keep busy building sandcastles.
+ By car: View on google maps
+ By train & bike: From Cais do Sodre/Alges to Cascais. From here you can rent a city bike and cycle the 2km.
The on-site café Bar do Guincho has a great menu that ranges from small sandwiches, melt-in-your-mouth burgers and grilled fish.
Guincho is fantastic for an adventurous day with the kids. There is a great surf/windsurf/kitesurf school for older kids, and little ones have a large stretch of sand to play safely. The waters are very strong, so keep a close eye on your little ones.
PRAIA DA ADRAGA, SINTRA
Venture a little further from Lisbon towards the Sintra coast to find an absolute gem with breathtaking scenery – Praia da Adraga.
Located in a fairly remote spot, amongst high cliffs and dramatic rocks, this is a beach you’ll go home raving about, the one that reminds you this is the charismatic Atlantic. Adraga’s waters may prove too chilly for those who are sensitive to low temperatures, but I promise you the combination of a usually strong ocean, jagged rock scenery and a fantastic restaurant make for the epic sunsets. The beach restaurant is one of the best seafood joints outside Lisbon and will not disappoint!
(I lost my photos of Adraga, so this one is from shutterstock)
By car: View on google maps
Car-park: The beach’s car park is very small, so arrive early or you may need to park far.
Restaurante da Adraga
Praia da Adraga can be a lot of fun with little ones, exploring caves, and the rocks, but you may struggle as the water can be too cold and strong and you’ll be sand-bound all day. If you’d like to visit, I’d recommend going for lunch and staying for a play after, rather than a full day.
PRAIA DO MECO, SESIMBRA
Meco is a haven of long stretches of sand, with large dunes and simply incredible landscapes. Located near Sesimbra, about 50km from Lisbon, Meco is far enough from the city for you to escape the hordes of city-daytrippers, and has a huge coastline, meaning that you can enjoy a relaxing day without having to deal with a crowded beach.
The restaurant is very good, with a beautiful seating area, where you get a spectacular view of the beach as you taste the famous (and super-fresh) Sesimbra seafood. (See more of my photos of Meco here)
If you’re not a strong swimmer, be very careful of the strong waters. Even if you are a good swimmer, just don’t venture out too far.
By Bus: take bus 207 from Lisbon, which will take you to Meco village. From there you can walk (about 30mins), catch a taxi or hitch a ride!
Meco is great for kids to run around in the large stretch of sand, or play in the old fishing boats. The dunes are off-limits, and the water can be too choppy/dangerous so do keep a close eye on your little ones.
Do you have a favourite beach in Lisbon, let me know in the comments.