Guincho beach is surrounded by dunes and the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park
Surrounded by dunes and Mediterranean vegetation, this 1km-long beach is located between Cascais and Sintra, in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. It’s best reached from Cascais, about 6km (close to 4 miles) away. It’s known for being windy and for its powerful waves, which have made it part of international surfing and windsurfing circuits and championships. Note that it’s ideal for experienced surfers, but there are strong currents, so those with little experience should head to Carcavelos instead.
The northern side of the beach is more protected from the winds
The large sandy area, the natural landscape of dunes and cliffs, plus the water quality, make it one of the best and most beautiful beaches on the Lisbon coast and even in the country. It once caught the attention of Hollywood -- it was a backdrop in a James Bond movie ("On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”), for the opening scene.
Parasols and loungers are available in the summer
Decades before, in 1940, Time magazine wrote that this beach “had no future,” due to its remoteness and winds, but apparently that sounded perfect for royalty and celebrities from all over the world, looking for some days in the sun without the crowds and photographers. By 1945, there was a restaurant above the beach, and soon came others targeting high society. Walt Disney, Evita Perón, Roger Moore, Omar Sharif, Ingrid Bergman, Rita Hayworth, Grace Kelly, and monarchs from around Europe all ended up here (more recently, famous personalities like Bill Clinton, Brad Pitt and the king of Sweden dined at the oceanfront restaurants).
Guincho is one of the top surfing beaches on the Lisbon coast
The constant winds and rather remote location of the beach, however, means that it’s never crowded. The most crowded part is the northern side, which is more protected from the winds, and where you find parasols and loungers for rent in the bathing season. It’s also here that you find the very popular Bar do Guincho, a bar and restaurant with outdoor seating, open throughout the year.
The popular Bar do Guincho faces the beach
If you’re traveling with children or just want to sunbathe, there are better choices down the coast, but if you’re a watersports enthusiast (surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing and bodyboarding) or want to photograph a beach of raw natural beauty, this is the place for you. And it’s quite a stunning place, with very little development except for the few excellent restaurants, mostly specializing in fish, seafood and sunset views. Facilities include rentals for surfers, and there are lifeguards on duty in the summer.
The sheltered beach of Abano, to the north of Guincho.
To the north is Praia do Abano, a tiny, sheltered beach which has lost most of its sandy area. It can be reached by going over the rocks from Bar do Guincho, or following the gravel road behind the parking lot by the restaurant. On the cliff above the beach are the ruins of a fort, built in 1642 to watch over and protect this coast. From its surroundings you have breathtaking sea views, all the way to Guincho.
The ruins of the Abano Fort, above the small beach of the same name.
To the south of Guincho, on the other side of the fortress that’s now the Fortaleza do Guincho Hotel (see below), is Praia da Cresmina, a smaller stretch of sand more suitable for families, as it tends to be less windy.
How to Get to Guincho Beach
The stops of the 405 and 415 buses by Guincho Beach
To reach Praia do Guincho from Lisbon, take the train from Cais do Sodré. It departs every 20 minutes, and Cascais is the last stop (taking 40 minutes). From the center of Cascais, take bus 405 or 415 (each departing once per hour from the terminal below the CascaisVilla shopping mall, across from the train station), and you'll be at the beach around 15-20 minutes later. Although the buses depart only once per hour, the two services (the 405 and the 415) depart at different times, so there’s a bus to/from Guincho around every 30 minutes (tickets are bought from the driver). There are fewer buses on weekends, and the last one departs between 7pm and 8pm -- if you miss it, you’ll have to walk for over one hour to Cascais.
Alternatively, you may rent a bike in the center of Cascais, and go down the cycle path along the sea for about 20 minutes all the way to Guincho.
If you have purchased the Lisboa Card, you may ride the train for free.
Hotels on Guincho Beach
Fortaleza do Guincho
Wake up to the sound of the waves at this 17th-century fortress that’s now a classy hotel. It has a distinguished restaurant and rooms and suites overlooking the beach.