Carcavelos is one of the top surfing beaches on the Lisbon coast
Located roughly halfway between Lisbon and Cascais, the wide beach of Carcavelos is one of the largest on the Lisbon coast (it’s the biggest between Lisbon and Cascais). Its strong waves and surf schools attract surfers and bodyboarders, and its over 1km of sand is quite popular among volleyball and beach soccer players, who find nets waiting for them. The promenade also attracts skaters and joggers, even in wintertime, and there are pull-up bars and other fitness equipment. Between the months of May and September there are wicker parasols for rent and massage services. Many of the crowd-pleasing restaurants and bars with outdoor seating are open throughout the year.
On New Year’s Day, this is where many get together for the first dive of the year.
Wicker parasols may be rented in the summer
This may not be the most peaceful beach on the Lisbon coast, but its size, facilities, and convenient transportation links make it a destination for everyone. It now competes with Praia da Conceição in Cascais as the tourists' favorite, in part also because of its surf schools (where equipment can be rented). During the spring-summer bathing season, it’s supervised by lifeguards, and the swimming and surfing areas are separated.
Carcavelos is one of the favorite beaches on the Lisbon coast for locals and tourists
On the eastern end is the fort of São Julião da Barra, built in 1553 to control the entrance to the port of Lisbon. Today, it’s the official residence of Portugal’s Minister of Defense. The closer you get to the fort, the quieter it is, as the crowds tend to stay close to the road to the train station. This section by the fort is rocky, but on low tide it creates small rock pools for those who prefer calmer waters.
The 16th-century Fort of São Julião da Barra marks the eastern end of the beach
Beach for: Surfers, Sports
Bar or Restaurant: Yes
Transportation: Train from Lisbon
How to Get to Carcavelos Beach
To reach Carcavelos from Lisbon, take the train from Cais do Sodré station. It departs every 20 minutes, and the journey takes just 26 minutes (19 minutes at rush hours -- mornings until 10am and evenings from 5pm to 8:30pm). Then it’s less than a 10-minute walk down a pine-scented road from the station to the beach (just follow the crowds).
If you have purchased the Lisboa Card, you may ride the train for free.
Other Beaches and Attractions by Carcavelos Beach
Behind the fort is the smaller beach of Torre, which can be reached in less than 10 minutes, walking down the road past the modern campus of New Lisbon University.
You can also get on the train and head in the direction of Cascais, stopping 4 stops later (taking 9 minutes) in Estoril. Here you find Praia do Tamariz, another popular beach with a fort (which became a castle in 1890) and across the road is Europe’s largest casino. From the beach you can walk down a promenade to Cascais, passing by three more beaches on the way, until you reach the center of town.
Hotels by Carcavelos Beach
Located between the beach and the train station of Carcavelos, this is a family-friendly hotel, with different pools and family rooms and suites, in addition to standard rooms, all of them with a balcony. The beach is a 5-minute walk away.
Abla Guest House
This guesthouse has an outdoor swimming pool, but the beach is a short walk away. It’s mostly made up of twin rooms, but there are also family rooms and suites accommodating as many as five or six people.
Carcavelos Surf Hostel
If you’re a surfer, you’ll want to stay at this hostel which is just a 2-minute walk from the beach. It’s budget accommodation with shared bathrooms, but there’s also a double room with private bathroom. Guests can prepare meals in the kitchen or use the outdoor barbecue facilities. It also has a surfing school and provides equipment and storage.