A Guide to Lisbon Beaches

Lisbon is surrounded by a stunning coastline that offers a variety of beautiful sandy beaches, many of which are easily accessible by public transport. The close proximity of Lisbon to these 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.

Lisbon beach

The beaches of Lisbon stretch along four very different regions of coastline, which range from wild, rugged surfing beaches through to calm, family-friendly, locations packed with great tourist facilities. This article will explain in detail the four different regions along the coastline and highlights the best beaches in each of these areas.

Introduction to the Beaches of Lisbon

The beaches of Lisbon can be divided into four main regions with the following characteristics:

The Estoril-Cascais Coastline: Family friendly, popular with locals and tourists (can get crowded in peak season) and easily accessible by public transport.

• Serra de Sintra: Unspoilt, rugged surfing beaches but a car rental is a must to get here.

Costa da Caparica: A 15km strip of sandy beach with a trendy bar scene, reachable by public transport.

• South side of the Setubal Peninsular: Stunning, untouched beaches that are regarded as some of the most beautiful in Portugal, a car rental is a must to get here.

Sintra coastline

The stunning but difficult to get to Sintra coastline

Let’s keep it simple

If you are looking for a beach day trip from Lisbon then head to Praia de Carcavelos or Praia Sao Pedro. Both beaches are on the Lisbon-Cascais railway, they have large sandy beaches with clean waters and are suitable for most visitors.

São Pedro do Estoril

The beach of São Pedro do Estoril

Many other tourist guides list the best beaches of the Lisbon region but these will include beaches that are 40km away or are impossible to reach via public transport. The beaches of the Estoril-Cascais coastline are only 20 minutes away via an inexpensive train ride (€4.00 return) and are perfect for the majority of tourists who want a relaxing day on the beach.

Carcavelos beach

Carcavelos beach is massive

Advice and Tips for Lisbon’s beaches

When to visit

The weather in Lisbon is suitable for spending time (and sunbathing) on the beach from May through to 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).

surfing lisbon beach

Lisbon's beaches are great for surfing

Things to be aware of

Water temperature: The waters surrounding the Lisbon coastline are shockingly cold, even at the height of the summer the water temperature reaches a shiver-inducing 15C. The water temperature remains cold, even in summer, as it is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, not the comparatively warm Mediterranean Sea. For tourists intending to be in the waters for an extended period it is advisable to bring/hire a wetsuit.

beach lisbon

This is the main beach of Cascais

Sun protection: The intense summer sun means that most tourists will need to use a parasol to create some shade and, as such, rental prices are highly inflated. Expect to pay between 12-15 Euro for a day’s rental, which includes two deck chairs. Sunscreen and sun block are incredibly expensive in Portugal and it is advisable to bring these items from home as it will save money.

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.

The following section details the different coastal regions near Lisbon and highlights the best beaches in each of these areas.

The Estoril, Cascais and Oeiras Coastline

The Estoril, Cascais and Oeiras coastline is the most popular and accessible from central Lisbon. These beaches are located directly west on the northern bank of the Tagus River Estuary.

Tamariz beach estoril

The main beach of Estoril (Tamariz beach)

Beaches in this area are characterised by calm waters and a family-friendly atmosphere, but can get very busy during peak season. This is due to the excellent train service connecting Lisbon with Cascais. The best beach within this region is undoubtedly Praia de Carcavelos. Click here for a guide to the beach.

Praia da Ribeira cascais

Praia da Ribeira in central Cascais

Estoril and Cascais are popular holiday destinations, filled with traditional Portuguese charm, and are highly recommended for a short holiday.

Costa da Caparica Coastline

The Costa da Caparica coastline stretches along the western side of the Setubal Peninsular. The beach is located on the southern side of the Tagus River but faces in a westerly direction. This 15km beach stretches continuously along the length of the peninsula and offers great surfing, cool beach bars and miles of uninterrupted golden sand.

Costa da Caparica beaches

A fishing boat pulled onto the Costa da Caparica beaches

The northern end of the peninsula, around the town of Costa da Caparica, has good public bus connections that make the beach accessible as a day trip from Lisbon. Costa da Caparica is a good destination for tourists looking for a relaxed, modern beach holiday. Click here for a guide to the Costa da Caparica.

Serra de Sintra coastline

The Serra de Sintra coastline is located north of Cascais against the Atlantic Ocean. As these beaches are protect by the Serra de Sintra National Park there is limited tourist development. Visitors to this region are instead treated to a more wild and rugged beach experience.

Guincho beach

The amazing surfing beach of Guincho

The beaches are renowned for the amazing surf, and visitors can partake in a variety of water sports here. There are powerful waves and currents in this area and less confident swimmers should be wary. The best beach in this region is undoubtedly Praia de Guincho. Click here for a guide to the beach.

Guincho beach

The wild and rugged coastline of the Serra de Sintra

The lack of tourist development along the Serra de Sintra coastline makes travelling by public transport rather complicated (a combination of train and bus is required). Therefore, for tourists wishing to visit this surfer’s paradise it is highly recommended to travel by car or to stay at nearby Cascais.

Other Beaches a Little further From Lisbon

The pretty resorts of Sesimbra and Setubal are situated on the southern side of the Setubal Peninsular. As these beaches are too far to visit in one day by public transport, it is recommended to visit by car. However, this website does not contain further detail on these beaches as it would be misleading to highlight them as a day trip option from Lisbon.

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The best guide to Lisbon's beaches