The Portuguese capital is perfectly positioned for a great day out on the beach.
With so many incredible sandy beaches within easy reach of the city, Lisbon is special in offering both the buzz of a city break and the breeze of the fresh ocean air.
Once the heart of a mighty empire, Lisbon was strategically positioned in a sheltered inlet on Portugal’s long Atlantic coastline.
Nowadays that coastline sees more bikinis than battleships, and what with Lisbon being the sunniest capital city in mainland Europe it’s clear to see why.
That said, while the sand may be baking in the sun’s powerful rays, the Atlantic Ocean brings with it a crashing chill, so be prepared for that stomach-jolting moment when you’re heading in for a splash.
30km from Lisbon, Praia do Guincho sprawls across 750m of shoreline, on the southern side of the Serra de Sintra hills.
The backdrop is imposing and impressive. The beach is idyllic, with soft, golden sand edged with foaming white waves crashing out of the deep teal water. This beach is the thing of impressionist paintings.
You’ll also be excited to be on the very beach where James Bond rescued a drowning lady in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The waves are powerful as they charge over rocks towards the beach, so this beach is best for relaxing on the sand unless you’re a strong swimmer.
If you’re driving, it’s half an hour from Lisbon. Otherwise grab a train from Lisbon to Cascais (worth a stop in its own right), and then hop on a local bus from outside the Cascais Villa shops.
You’d pass through Cascais if you’re heading to Guincho Beach, but it’s well worth considering a day out in this fun fishing village too. Stopping at Cascais means you’ll hit the beach half an hour sooner than continuing on to Guincho.
Cascais offers a variety of beaches – the larger beaches of Praia da Conceição and Praia do Duquesa can be found to the east of the village, whereas the quickest beach to get to is just moments from the main square in the historic centre (Praia da Ribeira).
If you love watching the boats bobbing in and out as you sunbathe, you can’t do better than Praia da Ribeira, which is also known as Fisherman’s Beach. If you’re looking for space for the kids to run around, take the out-of-town options.
It’ll take roughly 20 minutes to get to Cascais by car, or half an hour if you’re taking the train from Lisbon.
Praia dos Galapos
If you’re looking for the most beautiful beach in the region, Praia dos Galapos must be on your list. This picture-perfect beach is set on the edge of the Arrábida Natural Park to the south of Lisbon.
Praia dos Galapos is easiest beach to access in the area and offers a wide stretch of bright white sand, with calmer waters than other sections of the Atlantic coastline.
It’s no surprise that this winning beach gets a bit busy in peak times, but no worries, just beyond the rocks there’s another beach (Praia dos Galapinhos), which was once named “Europe’s Best Beach” and is generally less crowded because it takes a bit more effort to get there.
If you’re driving, follow directions to Arrábida and park at Praia do Creiro. Public transport is also easy from Lisbon – just take the bus or train to Setúbal and walk from there.
Monumental cliffs provide an awe-inspiring backdrop to this remarkable beach. In low tide, you’ll be able to explore the caves that emerge either side of the golden beach.
If you look closely, you might be able to spot some percebes in the shallow water around the rocks. Percebes, also known as goose barnacles or dinosaur toes, are a local delicacy known for their soft flesh and salty taste. They only grow in shallow, cold water so Adraga Beach is perfect for them.
Just a note of caution – look but don’t touch as it’s illegal to harvest percebes without a permit. Head to a local restaurant after a day on the beach and order a plate.
The easiest way to get to Adraga Beach is by car. However, in peak times, the car park is always full, so it’s often a good idea to take a taxi from nearby Sintra or Cascais. The journey time from Lisbon comes in at roughly 40 minutes.
Praia de Algés
The closest beach to the centre of Lisbon delivers wonderful views across the Tagus. Unlike other beaches on this list, which are enveloped by striking nature, Algés is very much a city beach.
Flanked by two pontoons, and in the shadow of the VTS Tower, this is a really convenient beach for a spot of lunchtime sunbathing, or as a break from sightseeing when the kids are getting restless.
The city beach is just a moment further along the river front from Belém, which is a great spot for history and culture enthusiasts… as well as foodies – Belém is reputed to be where the original recipe for Portugal’s fames Pasteis de Natas was created.
The best way to get to this popular, local beach is to jump on the local train from Cais do Sodré in the city centre and jump off at Algés. It’ll only take about 15 minutes.
Praia da Adiça
Sometimes you just need to take your kit off. There’s nothing more liberating that a care-free afternoon on a nudist beach, and Lisbon offers four to choose from for those who prefer living without tan lines.
Praia da Adiça was officially registered as a nudist beach in 2015 and has long been the beach of choice for those looking for a nudist beach in the Lisbon area.
The smooth, cream sand eases up to a wall of green vegetation and ochre rock turrets.
This beach is the last beach of the 15km coastline of Caparica, which sits to the south of Lisbon, close to the fishing village of Fonte da Telha. The beach stretches for almost a mile, so there’s plenty of room for all.
The sea can get a bit choppy at Praia da Adiça, but offers good swimming conditions in the summer. Be aware that no lifeguard is on duty at this beach.
The nearest village is a 15-minute walk away, with a few bars and restaurants… you’ll need to put your clothes back on for these, mind!
If you’re travelling by car, you’ll have the easiest journey to this beach. For public transport options, take a bus from Lisbon to Costa da Caparica, or the train to Fonte da Telha and then walk the final 15 minutes.