Carcavelos beach is undoubtedly the most popular beach on the outskirts of Lisbon. Winter or summer, there are always reasons to go there!
Surfers and athletes arrive in winter before dawn and in summer they stay in the bathing pool until sunset. At the end of the day, some come out of the beach and others arrive perfumed, on their way to the bars and restaurants.
It is the beach with the biggest sand between Lisbon and Cascais. The fine white sand delights the bare feet. The waters are clear and attractive, but usually cold.
The beach is guarded from May to October, with well-equipped lifeguards along the entire length.
In summer, the sea is generally calm, but this does not induce ease. Always respect the indications of the lifeguards and the flag signs. There are some willows in the sea, where even experienced swimmers run the risk of getting stuck and sometimes, even in summer, the swell can get strong.
Since 2019, Carcavelos beach has benefited from a year-round surveillance plan. Outside the bathing season, a team of lifeguards patrols the beach in Moto 4. This service has proved to be very useful in providing assistance to accidents, many of which occurred during the practice of Surf and Paddle.
Carcavelos beach is very well equipped. From one end to the other, it extends an excellent promenade, with bars, esplanades, restaurants and also shops of clothes and surf material. On the promenade you can also find fitness equipment and a clean public toilet. Along this promenade you can also find several water fountains, showers and foot washing.
On the sand there is a sports park with beach volleyball nets, a beach soccer field and also beach tennis nets. This space is in good condition and is very sought after.
Near the sports field, you will find an excellent children’s playground, all made of wood, which includes two slides and a wooden boat with slide and nets for climbing. It’s so appealing that sometimes adults can’t resist experimenting. It is difficult to make children leave the park.
Besides stairs, the beach has access ramps. Thinking of people with reduced mobility, one of these ramps is followed by an extensive walkway.
All these attractions are no secret to the Lisbots… During the bathing season, especially at weekends, count on a full beach. If you’re driving, it’s best to get there early to park.
WHERE IS IT?
Just follow the Tagus River to the sea to find Carcavelos Beach. Right after the mouth, this is the first beach where the river says goodbye and gives way to the Atlantic Ocean.
Only 20 Km from Lisbon, you find this beach, half way between the capital city and Cascais, a neighbouring city. It is located between the Torre beach, belonging to the Oeiras council and the Parede beach.
From Lisbon and Cascais there are several beaches with easy access, smaller than Carcavelos. Some are uninteresting, such as Cruz Quebrada, others are small and charming, such as the Avencas beach on Parede. Of these, the only one with relatively extensive sand, although smaller than Carcavelos, is the beach of Santo Amaro de Oeiras. However, the water is not as clear. Along almost all the Santo Amaro beach, you can hear the noise of the cars that pass on Avenida Marginal (a very busy national road that runs parallel to the sand). None of these beaches is as well equipped as Carcavelos.
HOW TO GO?
You can’t get lost. It’s really easy to get to Carcavelos Beach.
We’ll explain how to get there, but if you don’t feel like reading, save the GPS coordinates now:
38º40’49.50 N – 9º20’12.10 W
If you drive from Lisbon, you can follow the National Road 6, better known as Avenida Marginal, towards Cascais. After passing the University Campus, you will arrive at Carcavelos beach. On your right side you will find a long stretch of free parking, on dirt and a park consigned to the firemen, which charges a reduced daily fee during the bathing season. On the sea side, there are paid car parks.
You can also take the A5 motorway, exit at exit 8 towards Carcavelos, and then just go straight on, five roundabouts then you will be in front of Carcavelos beach.
Although at first glance there seems to be a lot of parking, the truth is that on a summer weekend finding a place to park, paid or not, is an arduous task. It can also be painful to get out of the car parks on busy days, either because of badly parked cars that make circulation difficult or because of the large number of cars trying to get out at the same time, with each car park having only one entrance and exit.
The train is an excellent option. Take the train at Cais do Sodré station, in Lisbon, towards Cascais, and get off at Carcavelos station. The train journey takes 27 minutes, usually on time. The journey is quite pleasant, most of its route is along the Tagus River.
Right at Carcavelos station, there are signs indicating the direction of the beach. Always in front, along 700 metres, you walk along a nice avenue, spacious and adorned with trees on both sides. This is not a detail, in summer, the shade of the trees is the difference between getting to the beach quickly or having the feeling that 700 metres have become 7 kilometres.
The price of the train trip is very affordable and the timetable comprehensive. Trains leave from Cais do Sodré every 20 minutes during the day, every 12 minutes at peak time or every 30 minutes at night.
BARS AND RESTAURANTS
There are many options to eat or drink at Carcavelos beach.
Just walk along the promenade to find out what will satisfy your appetite. Light meals, pizzas or traditional dishes, a fresh imperial, a glass of wine or a natural juice. Puffs in the sand, esplanades or indoor spaces with magnificent views, homemade ice-cream parlour or the Olá ice-cream kiosk, the choice is very varied.
Do you lack the time or patience to explore? We share our preference with you.
Almost at the end of the beach, you find the Twins Bar (Bar “os gémeos”). A space all in wood, which was recently remodeled, managing to keep all its personality. On the interior walls, we can follow the history of this place through photographs originally framed with wood recoveries, in perfect symbiosis with the space. The ambient music is soft and good taste, usually jazz. It also has a pleasant esplanade, ideal for finishing the afternoon or starting the night.
Light dishes are served, and hamburgers are famous. You can also choose the very pleasant salads, the homemade toasts or, my winter option, a tasty soup. If you’re a glutton, be sure to try the homemade chocolate and nut cake.
In the middle of Carcavelos Beach there is also the cozy Stuppendo Beach restaurant in the Veleiro building. The view is extraordinary, provided by the circular architecture of the restaurant, with windows all around the service space, decorated with lightness and harmony. Here you can enjoy well made dishes and a good service.
SURF AT CARCAVELOS BEACH
The beach is great for surfing. In Portugal, it is one of the beaches where tubular waves occur most frequently. Although Guincho beach, less than 20Km away is even better for surfing and fits in an impressive natural scenery, it does not have the same access and infrastructures as Carcavelos.
The excellent beach access allows surf lovers to enjoy their passion every day. Many people enjoy the waves early in the morning, take a shower still on the beach and in five minutes are already on the highway to work.
National surf and bodyboard circuits and competitions such as the Perfect Chapter, which gather national and international names, pass through Carcavelos beach.
If you want to know the sea conditions before going to catch waves, just access the live cam from Carcavelos beach.
CARCAVELOS SURFING SCHOOL
There are several surf schools in Carcavelos Beach that offer different services. You can choose the option that best suits you: daily lessons, intensive courses, group lessons, individual lessons, beginner’s lessons, single surf baptism lessons, lessons for children, birthday parties… Whatever best suits your needs, is certainly available.
If you don’t need lessons but don’t have the equipment with you, you can also enjoy the surfboard and suit rental service.
WHAT TO DO NEAR THE CARCAVEL BEACH?
If you want to rest from the heat of the beach, be sure to visit Quinta da Alagoa Park. It is about 20 minutes walk from Carcavelos beach.
Today it is an urban park, but in the past it belonged to the Society of Jesus and Carcavelos Wine was produced here. There are still some remains of the farm, such as ruins of buildings or pieces to capture underground water and even areas that preserve the original forest of the farm.
Here you will find a refreshing lagoon with ducks, a large green area with lawn, peacocks and landscaped spaces with benches. You can also enjoy the picnic tables in the woods, two playgrounds, an esplanade, a public toilet and even two tennis courts that you can rent.
Near the Carcavelos station delight yourself with a handmade ice cream from Santini. The space is very welcoming. Although there are only five small tables inside, outside there are large wooden tables, with sliding seats, protected by large sunshades. Some people prefer to sit in the amphitheatre of the square that houses the Santini to enjoy the ice cream.
If you only need the morning at Carcavelos Beach, take advantage of the afternoon to go to the movies. Right in front of the train station, on the land side, there is a small Shopping Centre, once very important, but today without much interest. From its glory days, it still keeps the cinema, with two cinemas, very well preserved. It keeps the traditional counter for the purchase of tickets that will be presented at the entrance to someone who cordially wishes you a good film. In the living room, when the lights go out, literally the curtains open to start the show! There are usually afternoon and evening sessions. Enjoy this experience!
CARCAVELOS BEACH AND FORTE DE SÃO JULIÃO DA BARRA
On the edge of Carcavelos beach, the Fort of São Julião da Barra appears, marking the border between the councils of Cascais and Oeiras.
It’s a military fortress of unparalleled grandeur. Its construction will have started around 1553 and initially its main function would be to control the entrance and exit of boats on the Tagus River. Its initial project was attributed to the architect Miguel Arruda, however, throughout history the construction has grown to adapt to new needs.
It was once a political and military prison and is now the official residence of the Minister of Defence.
It is possible to visit the fort, but only by appointment.
UNIVERSITY IN CARCAVELOS
In 2018, a University Campus – New School of Business and Economics – was inaugurated in Carcavelos, dedicated to research and economic, financial and business teaching.
It’s in front of Carcavelos beach, so close it has a direct access tunnel to the beach!
It is a large complex that, besides classrooms, amphitheatres and study spaces permanently open, counts on innumerable services, from the supermarket to the medical clinic, among many others.
Going by car to the beach, the paid parking of the Campus can be a good option. If you want to take a break from the beach at lunchtime, the university space has a good restaurant with sea view and affordable prices.
CARCAVELOS FLEA MARKET
The Carcavelos fair is one of the oldest fairs in the vicinity of Lisbon.
It takes place every Thursday and second Sunday of each month. Take the opportunity to plan your trip to Carcavelos beach on one of these days of the week and go to the fair. It is very close to the train station.
You can find everything from the traditional wicker basket to the “trendy bikini”, as the fairground proclaims. The prices are very affordable, but you have to know how to buy, check the item to see if it is not defective. For the more assiduous frequenters, it becomes easy to understand which are the best stalls.
CONCISE HISTORY OF CARCAVELOS
Carcavelos belongs to the municipality of Cascais.
In the past, the Carcavelos region was shaped by vineyards and wine production. Carcavelos wine enjoyed a great reputation among the Portuguese court in the 18th century. Today, the municipality of Oeiras has recovered the production of this historic wine, with the Villa de Oeiras brand.
Five minutes away from the train station, opposite Carcavelos beach, you can visit the Parish Church of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios. Its construction dates back to the beginning of the 17th century, when Carcavelos was a saloia village. The church is surprising because, instead of the traditional gilded carving, it has coloured tiles that completely cover the main chapel and the remaining walls up to half.