When the first signs of summer appear, going to the beach immediately becomes part of everyone’s plans in Lisbon.
The best Lisbon beaches aren’t in the city but are a short trip away. Jump on a car, a train, or a ferry, and you’ll be soaking up the sun faster than you realize it. Follow Devour Lisbon’s tips on what to do and not to do at the beach, and check out the five top spots around the city to go for a swim.
The Best Way to Enjoy the Lisbon Beaches
Not all stretches of sand by the water constitute a beach in Lisbon. That means that the riverside of the Tagus from Cais das Colunas near Terreiro do Paço to Cais do Sodré is not a place for stripping to your swimsuit to sunbathe nor swim, no matter how appealing it looks.
Beach season officially starts at the beginning of June, but the warm weather typically comes sooner. The water might be too cold for a dip and most beaches don’t have lifeguards working before the season starts, but you can still go for some sunbathing.
The best local snack to eat at a Lisbon beach is a bola de Berlim, no questions asked. Even if you think a deep-fried dough, cream-filled pastry is not the ideal treat to eat at a beach just go with the flow. Bolas de Berlim are the beach version of Lisbon street food and vendors are one of the hallmarks of the season in Lisbon.
The Five Best Beaches Near Lisbon
From the Cais do Sodré train station to the nearest beach is a 30-minute trip. Praia de São Pedro do Estoril, Carcavelos, and Cascais are perfect if your Lisbon itinerary must include one beach day. The proximity of these urban beaches to the city center is great for mobility but not so good if you want to avoid crowds, especially in the peak beach season between June and September. The best way to have a guaranteed quiet time is to go in the mornings, on weekdays.
Barreiro is a former industrial city on the Southbank of the Tagus River, 20 minutes from Lisbon by ferry. For years, Lisboans saw no appeal in this place that always seemed to be engulfed in factory smoke. But those days are long gone. Although Barreiro is not the first place that comes to mind when you think of Lisbon beaches, Praia da Alburrica is worth crossing the river. The family-friendly river beach is a short 10-minute walk from the ferry boat station.
3. Costa da Caparica
In the summer, all locals roam south to Costa da Caparica. The popular beach area is also the location for one of the top summer music festivals in the main Lisbon area, Sol da Caparica. With dozens of beaches stretching for almost 15 miles, space is not an issue. All frequent beachgoers will have a say at which one is the best, but Praia da Sereia (also known for the local café’s name, Waikiki) frequently makes the lists of the best Lisbon beaches for its family-friendly atmosphere.
While a windy beach may ruin the day for some, for surfers it means time well spent riding the waves. That’s what the beaches at Guincho are: the perfect location to surf, kitesurf, and windsurf, less than 40 minutes from Lisbon. Surfers of all ages and expertise levels roam here all year.
A 45-minute drive from Lisbon, Sesimbra is the perfect beach destination for weekend trips. It’s probably off the scope of a Lisbon beach, but it’s worth the trip for the picturesque town and the fresh seafood restaurants steps away from the sand—a great excuse to stay for dinner. There are options for all budgets and all culinary tastes, but they all source their fish locally.
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Sandra Henriques Gajjar is a freelance web content writer and travel blogger born in the Azores and based in Lisbon for 20+ years. Since 2014 she’s been blogging about travel, culture, and the people she meets in between at Tripper, a blog on sustainable cultural tourism.