The Lisbon Coast is a seductive stretch of golden beaches, wave-lashed cliffs and vibrant seaside towns – but there’s more to the Atlantic coastline than that. Delve beneath the surface to discover hidden coves, undiscovered seafood restaurants and pristine natural parks. Costa da Caparica is the favoured escape of in-the-know locals, Cascais and Estoril are refined seaside enclaves, and Sintra is a destination plucked straight from a fairytale. The wilder Parque Natural da Arrábida coastline offers an off-the-grid alternative. With some of the best beaches in Lisbon, the Atlantic coast is the perfect getaway.
When to go
Portugal is a great year-round destination, with over 3000 hours of annual sunlight. July and August are the hottest months, but also the busiest. The best time to visit Lisbon is May or June and early to mid-September, when it’s warm and not too congested.
How to get there
British Airways, easyJet and TAP Portugal fly direct between the UK and Lisbon Airport. The airport is a 30-minute bus ride or 20-minute taxi journey from the city centre. Cascais and Estoril are a 30-minute train journey from Cais do Sodré station, while Sintra is 40 minutes from Rossio station. We recommend hiring a car to explore the more remote parts of Sintra and Serra da Arrábida.
Why go to the Lisbon coast?
To make the most of the Lisbon food scene, you need to try fresh seafood on the coast – and Sintra is the best place to do so. Feast on clams in white wine at the ocean-view Restaurante da Adraga; taste local speciality percebes (goose barnacles) at cliff-side Azenhas do Mar; or share a platter of sea bass, bream, mussels and prawns at Mar do Inferno.
Walkers will love Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais, where hiking trails carve through Serra de Sintra, a craggy mountain range stretching to Cabo da Roca. Further south, the forest-cloaked slopes of Parque Natural da Arrábida conceal polecats, badgers, buzzards and eagles. It’s our favourite hiking spot, and you can go mountain climbing or diving too.
The Lisbon Coast beaches are among the finest in Portugal, from remote bays like Praia dos Galapinhos in Parque Natural Arrábida, to sun-kissed stretches such as Praia da Conceição. For the best beaches in Lisbon though, head to Sintra where you’ll discover glorious swathes of sand and crystalline waters.
Estoril sheltered refugees during World War Two, with the likes of Salvador Dalí and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry holing up in Hotel Palácio. Europe’s exiled royalty rubbed shoulders with spies in Casino Estoril – the inspiration behind Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale.
Surfing and windsurfing
The strong southerly swell makes the Lisbon coastline a great surfing and windsurfing destination. Our top choices include Praia da Carcavelos, Praia da Guincho and Costa da Caparica.
- Framed by huge rocks, Praia da Adraga is the most beautiful beach in Sintra. Unexpectedly, this secluded bay is undeveloped and has fewer crowds than neighbouring Praia das Maçãs and Praia Grande. Visit at sunset when the cliffs burn amber and the sand appears to glow.
- Serra da Arrábida is a little off the tourist trail, with surprisingly few visitors to its stunning natural park – head inland for hikes where you’re unlikely to cross paths with another soul.
- Once a sacred site, the Neolithic ruins of Adrenunes are hidden down an overgrown track, near Sintra. They offer panoramic views of the untouched countryside, coastline and, just beyond, Cascais and Lisbon.
- Parque Natural da Arrábida is home to some of the wilder Lisbon beaches. Our pick of the bunch is Praia dos Galapinhos, an under-the-radar cove beach with calm waters and pristine sands.
Where to visit on the Lisbon coast
With its turreted villas and grand hotels, Estoril was once the glamorous playground of the rich and famous. Today it’s a well-heeled resort with bars and restaurants clustered around palm-fringed parks. Praia do Tamariz is a popular swimming spot, while the coastal promenade to neighbouring Cascais is great for sunset strolls.
Cascais has been a coveted summer retreat ever since King Luís stayed here in 1870. The culture-rich resort is home to fine mansions, small galleries, museums and a historic old town. It’s livelier than Estoril and the beaches are ideal for active visitors: rent paddleboards at Praia da Conceição, or catch a wave at Guincho – one of the finest surfing beaches in Portugal.
Costa da Caparica
On the southern side of the river, Costa da Caparica is a popular beach getaway for Lisbonites. The former fishing village still has colourful boats bobbing in the water and local fishermen selling their catch of the day to river-facing seafood restaurants. Today, a cluster of late-night bars creates more of a buzz. A little train travels along the 10km coastline, calling at different beaches – the further south you head, the fewer the crowds.
North of Lisbon, Sintra has long been an exclusive retreat for Portuguese royalty – and it’s easy to see why. Soaring cliffs plunge to sandy coves, while, inland, forest-cloaked hills shelter ancient castles. The UNESCO-listed town centre is filled with pastel-hued mansions and ornate palaces. Be sure to head to Cabo da Roca, a craggy headland and lighthouse looming over wave-lashed cliffs – the westernmost point in mainland Europe. Visit at sunset for incredible views.
Serra da Arrábida coastline
Toward Sétubal is Serra da Arrábida, where forested slopes tumble down to sugar-white beaches. This corner of the UNESCO-protected Parque Natural da Arrábida has surprisingly few visitors – yet the most glorious of Lisbon beaches. Our favourite is Praia dos Galapinhos, with its calm, jewel-toned waters and flour-soft sand, near the tiny harbour village of Portinho da Arrábida.
Now you’re armed with our handy guide to the beautiful Lisbon Coast, why not read up on the best beaches to visit on Lisbon Coast as well as our list of top outdoor activities? Then, when fully Lisbon’d out – have a look at the diverse and charming villas that we have in the region.