Top 5: Beaches
Lisbon truly comes to life in the summer, be it through outdoor music festivals, al fresco dining or just enjoying the sun in one of city’s many Art Nouveau refreshment kiosks. But there is life beyond the city as well – situated on the banks of the Rio Tejo, Lisbon is one of few major European cities to be surrounded by beaches, proving to be one of the most exciting destinations for beach-goers in 2015. We have handpicked five beaches in or around Lisbon that will satisfy surfers, families or adventure-seekers with all their sea and sand desires.
Guincho in Cascais is where residents of Lisbon flock to escape the city heat on summer weekends. The sandy beaches, dunes and pine forests of the Guincho Coast are recognised as having some of the world’s best breaks, so it’s a surfers’ and wind-surfers’ paradise, complete with jaw-dropping Atlantic Ocean views. Here nature is untamed and dramatic; the waves are big and the wind is strong – perfect for kite-surfers as well.
The long, winding road that leads to it seems taken out of a movie – and it is. The road was used in the opening sequence of the Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It is also home to some of the best fish and seafood restaurants in the area.
Whether watching the surf championships, horseback riding or simply enjoying the vast swathes of sand, embrace every inch of ruggedness in Guincho.
This hush-hush coastal retreat is set within the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve. Comporta overwhelms visitors with its wild natural beauty: a lagoon leads to imposing dunes that flatten into rice fields and vast pine forests in one direction, and mellow powder beaches flanked by pristine rolling waves in the other – the beaches of Praia do Pêgo and Carvalhal are our top picks, Head to Sal restaurant in Praia do Pêgo, the best spot for catch-of-the-day, grilled fish with a squeeze of lemon. A rustic bohemian vibe abounds, with the focus firmly on simple, outdoor living: a game of cards on the beach, grilled fish in a waterfront café, rustic chic fishing houses with outdoor showers and views that stretch forever. The omnipresent storks personify the unspoiled rural stillness, with authenticity, space and harmony the words on everybody’s lips.
A firm favourite among celebrities such as Princess Caroline of Monaco, Christian Louboutin, Jacques Grange and the Rockefeller family, Comporta is fast gaining a reputation as Lisbon’s trendiest – and most chilled-out – summer beach retreat. Find a deserted spot to call one’s own and indulge in the serious art of relaxation.
Praia da Ursa
Cape Roca, “where the land ends and the sea begins” according to famous Portuguese poet Luís de Camões, marks continental Europe’s most westerly point. Don’t forget to collect a commemorative certificate: not everyone gets this close to the edge!
Head to the lighthouse for the best views and photo ops. But the really special part of Cabo da Roca is Ursa Beach – a beach so utterly paradisiacal it really looks like it belongs in a fairy tale. Only reached by foot after a half-hour-long descent through the rocky chasms of Cabo da Roca, it is not for the faint-hearted, but Ursa Beach’s beauty lies untouched amid the rocky cliffs and green wilderness that surround it. No beach bars or cafes, no crowds lining up – just the beach and the sea.
Perched on cliffs overlooking the Atlantic, Ericeira is a picturesque and lively seaside village with a huge claim to fame. Beneath the pretty narrow streets, whitewashed chapels, blue-edged houses and superb seafood restaurants stretches Europe’s first World Surfing Reserve: 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) of outstanding natural surf breaks, and one of only a handful of protected surf reserves in the world (alongside Malibu and Santa Cruz, California, and Manly, Australia).
Within the reserve lies Ribeira d’Ilhas Beach, widely-regarded as one of Europe’s best surfing beaches and host to an annual round of the ASP World Tour Surf Championship.
Costa da Caparica
Head South from Lisbon, crossing over the 25th of April suspension bridge, and after only a couple of minutes one is on a stretch of nearly 30 kilometres (18 miles) of white sandy beaches and calm water known as Costa da Caparica.
This collection of beaches is extremely popular with city-dwellers, each with their own beach bar/restaurant where one can enjoy some Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato (clams) during the midday sun or sip a cool drink while watching the sun set – it’s hard to believe that such fantastic beaches are just a few minutes away from the Portuguese capital. Our top pick would be the Praia de São João that sits at the far end of the road that leads to Costa da Caparica, and is therefore more secluded and peaceful.
Often referred to as Lisbon’s Copacabana, celebrity Chef Olivier just opened this summer a new restaurant on the beach that promises to bring high-quality food to the sands of Caparica.