Portugal is famous for its beaches. Sand, sun and wind make for the perfect holiday and the best way to relax during the hot summer months. With 1,700 km of coastline, there is enough sand for everyone.
If you don't have time to drive all the way to the Algarve region with its beautiful beaches, which may also be a little too crowded in the summer, take your car rental on day trips and visit the hidden gems just around the corner from Lisbon. You have many beaches around Lisbon to choose from.
1. Praia dos Galapinhos
This beach is the closest to Lisbon (about 55 km) on the other side of the Tagus River at Setúbal. Its direction is Serra da Arrábida and there are two ways to get there from Lisbon, either via the Vasco da Gama Bridge or via the 25 de Abril Bridge.
The road to the beach is closed in summer, so there is a bus service from the car park and a few more narrow steps on foot down the cliff. Bring comfortable shoes, and you'll find it's all worth it if you enjoy spending time on the beach. After all, it was voted Europe's most beautiful beach in 2017.
The beach is surrounded by green forests, which provide a beautiful setting. The length of the beach is small, with 550 meters long and a strip of sand to the sea of 60 meters, which gives the feeling that you are on a private beach. Praia dos Galapinhos in Portugal is ideal for people looking for a quiet place with stunning views.
Compared to the Atlantic beaches, this beach around Lisbon has low tides, the water is crystal clear and perfect for swimming and snorkelling. There is also a refreshment bar (and a couple of restaurants at the opposite end) that offers chair and umbrella rental and, most importantly, ice cream.
2. Praia da Adraga
North of Lisbon in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park you can visit the Adraga beach, Praia de Adraga. It is set in the green hills with dramatic cliffs sculpted by the sea and is not as crowded as its neighbours, Praia das Maçãs and Praia Grande.
Since there is no public transport, you can drive there in your rental car and it is only a 40-minute drive from Lisbon. You can drive there through the beautiful town of Sintra, a small picturesque town with old castles and breathtaking scenery where the highlight of your trip can be the beautiful Palácio da, Pena. Or you can turn south through Sao Domingos de Rana and enter the nature park from the south side. In the village of Almoçageme turn left and follow this road for another 2 km, the beach is well signposted. There is a car park at the beach.
At Praia da Adraga you can enjoy a meal or a coffee in the restaurant, but during the summer months, you should definitely make a reservation.
The golden sand is waiting for you, visit Praia da Adraga to enjoy the waves and the breeze.
3. Praia de Comporta
Across the river from Lisbon, and again across the water from Setubal, is the Tróia Peninsula, a 20 km-long sandy spit lying between the mouth of the Sado River and the Atlantic Ocean. Some 120 km from Lisbon, Comporta beach is at the southern end of this spit, beyond which lie only sand dunes and pine forests. The whole area is part of the Estuário do Sado Nature Reserve, which covers about 12,500 hectares and 7 villages, and there are many activities you can do. For example, bird watching (there are flamingos!) and watching the dolphins of Sado.
To get to the beach, you can use the Waze App which runs along this scenic road where you pass hundreds of cork oaks, stork nests, rice paddies, and fields and eventually arrive at the beach. It stretches as far as the eye can see, so you can drive a few hundred meters further and have the luxury of the beach to yourself. Some Portuguese say it is the best beach in Portugal.
Praia de Comporta also has kiosks selling sandwiches and drinks, two restaurants and if you like the shade, there are also umbrellas and sun loungers.
4. Praia de Dunas (Baleal to Peniche)
Praia de Dunas near Peniche is something you have never seen before. It stretches from Baleal to the island of Peniche. Baleal, with its red roof houses on the rough rocks, offers great scenery and the best view of the Atlantic waves all the way to Peniche.
The beach is 100 km from Lisbon, which is a good hour's drive. You can take the A8 (there is a toll on this road) and turn left onto the IP6 just before Óbidos. We suggest you make a small turn and visit the charming town of Óbidos with narrow cobbled streets, traditional painted houses and an imposing medieval castle. You can explore the town on foot and try the Ginjinha d'Obidos, a sweet alcoholic liqueur often served in a chocolate cup.
The beach from Baleal to Peniche is a great place for any surfer as there is something for everyone. Light waves for beginners, calm ones and bigger ones for advanced surfers. However, the long stretch of the beach also offers a meditative walk or plenty of opportunities for families with children to play, as the water does not get too deep very quickly. Locals and visitors alike recommend this beach as it has many restaurants and bars and plenty of parking. Like everywhere in Portugal, you can go swimming here, but beware, the Atlantic Ocean has colder temperatures.
5. Praia da Ribeira do Cavalo
This paradise is only 40 km from Lisbon. It is one of the best-kept secrets of Portugal. It is located in Sesimbra, and to get there you have to walk a footpath through the hills for about 15-20 minutes. But it's well worth the effort. The place is quiet and pleasant, the sea is calm and the water is crystalline, of intense and exotic colours.
To find your way there, walk on the west side of the village of Sesimbra to the port of the city. Near the Marine Club, there is a dirt road on the right that takes us through the hills to a place with several boulders. There you should leave your car and walk for about 15-20 minutes. The trail is marked somewhere with green lines in the rocks. The descent is steep, but the view is breathtaking and the urge to get to the beach is enormous.
It is said to resemble the beaches of the Caribbean, perhaps due to the colours of blue and green that glow in the middle of the grove from the top of the slope. To enjoy it, bring your backpack with all the necessities for a day (there is no bar or lifeguard) and wear shoes suitable for hiking. In some cases, you'll have to climb the rocks, but it's worth the effort. You will be surprised! And since it is not very accessible, it retains its silence and a unique feeling of being close to nature. It is a pure, exotic and wild beach.
If you are not as adventurous as others but want to have an unforgettable experience on the sea, we recommend a boat trip from Sesimbra. Lots of fun, great company and a unique experience to remember.
Beaches around Lisbon are a perfect stop between your road trips or visiting scenic Portugal cities and villages.