Costa da Caparica is really a seemingly endless 15km-long beach
Costa da Caparica (or Costa de Caparica, as some claim to be the correct name) is an uninterrupted, seemingly endless 15km-long stretch of dune-backed sands. It’s just half of a 30km-long coastline south of Lisbon, and is where everyone from the region goes to on a warm and sunny day.
It’s really one enormous beach, but it’s divided by imaginary lines, creating a group of different stretches, each with its own feel (you’ll only know their names if you’re driving and see the blue signs from the dusty gravel road behind them). The atmosphere depends on the crowds, with the northern section closer to Caparica town attracting families, the middle section skewing more middle-to-upper class and trendy, and the one at the very end (to the south), attracting naturists and gay men (it’s an official nude beach). The closer you are to town, the more crowded it is, and the further south you go, the more space and peace you have for yourself.
Costa da Caparica is overdeveloped on the northern end but wild to the south
The town of Caparica is made up of blocks of 20th-century condominiums, and is not particularly attractive, but is packed in the summer, due to the neighboring campsites and weekenders from Lisbon. The first five kilometers are the most developed and crowded, but after that it’s a rather wild coast (surrounded by pine and acacia trees, protected since 1984), preferred by the local 20- and 30-somethings, who often stay for drinks at the bars until way past sunset.
A promenade runs along much of the northern shore, while a tourist train (the “Transpraia”) goes down the first 9 kilometers during the summer (June to September). Along the way, you’ll find the bars and restaurants, especially at the stretches known as Praia da Morena and Praia da Sereia.
The nude section is Fonte da Telha, which is just south of the areas for kite and windsurfers. Right before it is Beach 19, known as the gay beach and named for being the 19th stop of the tourist train.
Unlike Cascais and Estoril west of Lisbon, this is not an international destination with grand hotels. It's mostly frequented by locals in the summer, and there are few places to stay. The main reason is that getting here by public transportation is time-consuming, but an increasing number of tourists are making it their alternative to the coast of Cascais, and many rent a car.
Beaches in Costa da Caparica
Starting in the north, these are the most recommended beaches of Costa de Caparica. To help you locate them, we indicate their signposted number on the Transpraia train route:
Praia da Saúde
It’s the first beach reached by the Transpraia tourist train (which departs a few feet to the north), but it’s signposted number 4. It’s a beach that stands out for its colorful, wooden fishermen huts built right on the sand. Photographers may want to stop by, and those who enjoy fish will want to try some at the restaurant.
Praia da Mata
Stop number 7 of the tourist train, this is where the coast starts to become wilder and more beautiful. It’s just south of the camping site, and attracts surfers.
Praia da Riviera
Beach number 8 is the beach for surfers, as it has a surfing school. Joining the surfboards on the ocean are often fishing boats, which are sometimes seen bringing the catch of the day to shore.
Praia da Rainha
Thanks to the parking lot behind it, this beach (number 10) gets a little more crowded than the ones before it, but it’s still a peaceful and relaxing place. Wicker parasols provide shade to those sitting on loungers.
Praia do Castelo
It’s called “Castle Beach,” but there’s no castle. The name may refer to a castle-shaped house, which is seen from the road nearby. Because of its bar, it tends to attract young crowds. There’s also a very popular restaurant known for its fresh fish. It’s number 11 on the train route.
Praia da Cabana do Pescador
“Fisherman’s Hut Beach” is best known for its restaurant/beach club that remains open throughout the year. It places straw parasols and loungers on the sand during the bathing season. It’s stop 12 of the train, and although it was once known as a family beach, you’ll now likely be in the company of Lisbon’s youngish bohemians, due to the restaurant.
Praia da Morena
Home to the most famous restaurant on the Caparica coast (“Borda D’Água”), this is a trendy beach (number 14). Young crowds fill the entire outdoor seating area of the restaurant and the sun loungers. Others prefer to take advantage of the volleyball net, and there is still plenty of space to simply spread the towel and sunbathe.
Praia da Sereia
Praia da Morena becomes Praia da Sereia to the south (number 15), and that’s where you find another very popular bar and restaurant. At night it turns into a club, so this is the “party beach” of Caparica. During the day, however, everyone lies quietly on the sand, catches some sun on the restaurant’s loungers, or grabs the surfboard and heads to the ocean.
Praia da Nova Vaga
It tends to be rather windy on this section of the coast, which explains why it was Portugal’s first “kitebeach” and why you’ll see kitesurfers. For that reason it tends to have fewer sunbathers, but if you like to be almost by yourself, this could be your spot -- just don’t forget to bring a windbreaker. It’s number 16 on the train route.
Praia da Bela Vista
When you reach beach number 17, you’re far enough from the center of Caparica, so it’s where many have traditionally found enough seclusion for nude sunbathing (walk about 400 meters from the restaurant). It officially became a nude beach in 1995, one of the first in Portugal.
Just a 5-minute walk from Praia da Bela Vista is "Beach 19," Europe’s largest gay beach. But don’t expect Mykonos -- this isn’t a beach for parties, it’s for sunbathing (with or without your bathing suit) and to meet people (apparently it works better than dating apps). For more details (and to know how to get there), see the Beach 19 guide.
Fonte da Telha
When you see the “20” sign by the train tracks, you’ve arrived at the last beach of Costa da Caparica. Home to a fishing community, it has a more developed area with a number of bars and restaurants, and a wilder area where nudists sunbathe. The southern stretch (known as Praia da Adiça) was officially declared a nude beach in 2015. For more details (including how to get there by bus), see the Fonte da Telha guide.
How to Get to Costa da Caparica
Regular buses connect Lisbon to Costa da Caparica, ending at the northern side of the coast. There’s also a bus departing from Cacilhas across the river from downtown Lisbon that ends at Fonte da Telha, to the south. For complete details, see the guide to getting to Costa da Caparica by bus.
Once in Costa da Caparica, you may take the Transpraia tourist train that operates in the summer and goes down the coast, past the different beaches.
If you’re driving, take 25 de Abril Bridge, and follow the signs to Caparica or “Praias” (“Beaches”). From there, each beach is signposted off the road, and most have parking.
From mid-June to early September (especially on weekends), leave the beach early or stay until past sunset, or you’ll find yourself stuck in traffic on the way back to Lisbon.
Hotels by the Beaches of Costa da Caparica
Tryp Lisboa Caparica Mar Hotel
The only non-budget option on this coast, this 4-star hotel features 352 rooms with balconies, about one-third of them facing the sea. It’s located on Caparica’s main avenue, just steps from the sand, and includes a pool, bar and restaurant. The bus from/to Lisbon is about 10 minutes away, as is the tourist train that passes by all of the beaches.
A renovation has given this 2-star hotel a more contemporary interior, which, together with the central location, makes it a good value.
Real Caparica Hotel
This beachfront hotel features classically-styled rooms, some of them with sea views. The room to book is the double with balcony.
Hotel Praia do Sol
It’s perfectly located on the main pedestrian street of the center of Costa da Caparica, but unfortunately it’s a little dated and in need of refurbishment. Still, if you’re on a budget, this 2-star hotel could be an option for you.