Lisbon has emerged as one of Europe’s most exciting city breaks, with its effortless beauty, rich culture, gastronomy and scenic miradouros (viewpoints). While the Portuguese capital is famed for its azulejo-tiled facades, pastéis de nata and rattling trams, fewer people are aware of its beaches. Yet the coastline unfurling from the city is home to some of the top sandy stretches in Portugal. In fact, Lisbon beaches are some of the finest in Europe. From hidden coves and calm swimming lagoons to Atlantic-battered surfing spots, here are some of the best beaches in Lisbon.
Best for water-sports: Praia do Guincho, Cascais
Praia do Guincho is located just north of Cascais, with northwesterly winds crashing Atlantic breakers over its golden sands. One of the best Lisbon beaches for surfing, it also regularly hosts national and international windsurfing and kitesurfing competitions. There’s a rental centre for water-sports equipment, while Bar do Guincho is a chilled spot for drinks, with the party spilling onto the sands as the night goes on. Grab a beanbag and relax with a caipirinha as the sun sinks into the sea. Regular buses traverse the 6km journey from Cascais, or there are surfer lodgings nearby.
Best for natural beauty: Praia dos Galapos, Parque Natural da Arrábida
South of Lisbon, Parque Natural da Arrábida is a stunningly beautiful place, with forested slopes giving way to white-sand cove beaches. Many visitors head inland to the remote Serra da Arrábida, a craggy mountain range with a web of hiking trails. But its pristine coastline is just as enticing. Praia dos Galapinhos is often dubbed one of the best beaches in Lisbon, and even Europe, with tourists flocking to its shores. However, nearby, is a lesser-known gem: Praia dos Galapos. This secluded bay is lapped by calm, jewel-toned waters and is great for snorkelling. There are two restaurants: O João and Ondagalapos. We recommend the one-hour train journey from the capital, as it can be difficult to find parking around Setúbal in the summer.
Best for foodies: Praia da Adraga, Sintra
To the north of the capital, Sintra is renowned for its beaches – and the best Lisbon food. Forest-cloaked hills conceal ancient castles before dropping down to craggy cliffs and sandy coves. Our top pick is Praia da Adraga, a surprisingly undeveloped cove with fewer crowds than neighbouring Praia das Maçãs. It only has one eatery, Restaurante da Adraga, but it’s an excellent one with ocean views and day-fresh seafood. Order the clams in white wine, and visit at sunset when the sand glows like burnished gold. A string of restaurants in the region serves up local speciality percebes (goose barnacles); Azenhas do Mar is a must-visit, carved into the cliff face in the village of the same name.
Best for tranquil seclusion: Praia da Ursa, Sintra
Around a half-hour’s scenic walk from Cabo da Roca, Praia da Ursa may be challenging to reach – but it’s worth it. Free from crowds, this isolated little beauty is accessible only by a steep descent along a scree-covered slope. Around 50 metres wide, the slender cove is one of our favourite Lisbon beaches for sunsets, with the sinking sun casting dramatic shadows over the wave-contoured limestone stacks. We recommend bringing a picnic and just relaxing on the champagne-coloured sands. Be cautious of swimming here though, as the Atlantic waves and currents are strong.
Best for sports: Praia de Carcavelos, Cascais
Praia de Carcavelos is the longest stretch of sand on the Estoril coast, watched over by the imposing São Julião da Barra Fort. This golden swathe is a buzzy spot with plenty of activities for sporty types. In the summer, there are regular beach volleyball and football competitions kicking off on the shore. In the winter, the strong southerly swell sees the water given over to bodyboarding and surfing. It’s one of the busier Lisbon beaches, however, as it’s within easy reach of the city.
Best for adventure: Praia do Baleal, Peniche
The Peniche peninsula is another good surfing destination, but there are plenty more adventures beyond the swell. An hour’s drive north of Lisbon, Praia do Baleal is a crescent of honeyed sand, dotted with rocks that create secluded nooks and bathing lagoons. Further north, limestone cliffs dip into ravines and sea caverns – great for rock climbing and bouldering. Seafood restaurants and beach bars lining the coastline offer the best Lisbon food – fresh seafood, caught that day.
Best for families: Praia da Figueirinha, Setúbal
Backed by emerald-green hills, Praia da Figueirinha is an arc of icing-sugar sand, dotted with parasols and sun loungers. It is also home to some of the calmest waters around – one of the best beaches in Lisbon for families. A sheltered lagoon provides a safe spot for a dip, with shallows for children to splash around in. The crystalline sea is so clear you can see the fish darting beneath you. There’s a beach café for refreshments and a lifeguard on duty in summer too.
From villas in the heart of culture capital Lisbon, to others that are on Lisbon’s coast, we’ve got a huge selection of places to stay that’ll have you in amongst the action or on the outskirts. Whatever type of holiday you prefer.