Carcavelos beach is undoubtedly the most popular beach on the outskirts of Lisbon. Winter or summer, there are always reasons to go there!
CARCAVELOS BEACH in LISBON
Surfers and athletes arrive in the winter before dawn, and in the summer bathers stay until sunset. At the end of the day, you come across some who leave the beach salty and others who arrive perfumed, on their way to the bars and restaurants. It is the beach with the longest stretch of sand between Lisbon and Cascais. The fine, white sand delights bare feet. The waters are clear and attractive, but generally cold. The beach is watched from May to October, with well-equipped lifeguards along its entire length. In summer, the sea is generally calm, but do not let this induce you to take it easy. Always respect the indications of the lifeguards and the flag signs. There are some swamps in the sea where even experienced swimmers run the risk of getting stuck, and sometimes, even in summer, the swell can get strong.
Carcavelos beach is very well equipped. From one end to the other, there is an excellent promenade with bars, esplanades, restaurants and even stores selling surfing clothes and material. On the promenade you can also find fitness equipment and a clean public restroom. Along this promenade there are also several drinking fountains, showers and foot baths.
In addition to 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 Lisboetas… During the bathing season, especially on weekends, you can expect a full beach. If you are driving, it is best to arrive early so you can park.
WHERE IS CARCAVELOS BEACH ?
Just follow the Tagus River to the sea to find Carcavelos Beach. Right after the mouth of the river, this is the first beach where the river says goodbye and gives way to the Atlantic Ocean. Only 20 km from Lisbon, you will find this beach, halfway between the capital city and Cascais, a neighboring town. It is located between Praia da Torre, belonging to the municipality of Oeiras and Praia da Parede.
From Lisbon and Cascais there are several easily accessible beaches, smaller than Carcavelos. Some are uninteresting, like Cruz Quebrada, others are small and charming, like Avencas beach in Parede. Of these, the only one with a relatively large sandy beach, although smaller than Carcavelos, is Santo Amaro de Oeiras beach. However, the water is not as clear. Throughout most of the Santo Amaro beach, you can hear the noise of cars passing on Avenida Marginal (a very busy national road that runs parallel to the beach). None of these beaches is as well equipped as Carcavelos.
WHAT TO DO IN CARCAVELOS BEACH?
There are many options at Carcavelos beach. Check these 8 suggestions!
SPEND A DAY AT THE BEACH
The most obvious and most popular option! Spend the day between towel “sunbathing” and “sea bathing” in the waves of Carcavelos. The beach is long enough to find a space to relax without having too many people around. If you like to alternate sun and shade you can always bring your sun hat or rent an awning and a beach chair.
SURFING AT CARCAVELOS BEACH
The beach has great conditions for surfing. In Portugal, it is one of the beaches where tubular waves occur more frequently. Although Guincho beach, less than 20km away is even better for surfing and is set in an impressive natural scenario, it does not have the same access and infrastructure as Carcavelos. The excellent accesses to the beach allow surf lovers to enjoy their passion every day. Many people enjoy the waves early in the morning, take a shower on the beach and in five minutes are already on the highway to work. National surfing and bodyboarding circuits and competitions such as the Perfect Chapter, which brings together national and international names, pass through Carcavelos Beach.
If you want to know the sea conditions before you go surfing, just access the live cam of Carcavelos beach.
SURF LEARNING IN CARCAVELOS
There are several surf schools in Carcavelos Beach, offering different services. You can choose the option that suits you best: daily lessons, intensive courses, group lessons, individual lessons, beginner’s lessons, one time surf baptism lessons, children’s lessons, birthday parties… Whatever best meets your needs is certainly available. If you don’t need lessons, but don’t have the equipment with you, you can also use the surfboard and wetsuit rental service. And if you have a four-legged friend, you can always opt for canine surfing!
VISIT THE FORT OF SÃO JULIÃO DA BARRA
On the edge of Carcavelos beach is the São Julião da Barra Fort, marking the border between the municipalities of Cascais and Oeiras. It is a military fortress of unparalleled grandeur. Its construction began around 1553 and its main function was initially to control the entrance and exit of boats on the Tagus River. Its initial design is attributed to the architect Miguel Arruda, however, throughout history, the construction was growing to adapt to new needs. It was once a political and military prison and is currently the official residence of the Minister of Defense. It is possible to visit the fort, but only by appointment.
HAVING A DRINK OR GOING TO A RESTAURANT
There are many options to eat or have a drink at Carcavelos beach. Just walk a little along the promenade to discover what will satisfy your appetite. Light meals, pizzas or traditional dishes, a cold beer, a glass of wine or a natural juice. Puffs on the beach, terraces or indoor spaces with magnificent views, artisanal ice cream parlors or the Olá ice cream stand, the choice is very varied.
LACK THE TIME OR PATIENCE TO EXPLORE? WE SHARE OUR PREFERENCE WITH YOU!
Almost at the end of the beach you will find the Bar do Gémeos. A space all in wood, which was recently remodeled, managing to keep all its personality. On the walls inside, we can follow the history of this place through photographs originally framed with wood restorations, in perfect symbiosis with the space. The ambient music is soft and of good taste, usually jazz. It also has a pleasant terrace, ideal to end the afternoon or start the evening. Light dishes are served, and the hamburgers are famous. You can also choose very nice salads, homemade toast, or, my winter choice, a tasty soup. If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to try the homemade chocolate and walnut cake, it’s enough to make your mouth water!
Halfway down Carcavelos beach there is also the cozy Stuppendo Beach restaurant in the Veleiro building. The view is extraordinary, provided by the restaurant’s circular architecture, with windows all around the service space, decorated with lightness and harmony. Here you can enjoy well prepared dishes and good service.
TAKE THE CHILDREN TO THE PLAYGROUND OF CARCAVELOS BEACH
Near the sports field you will find an excellent, all-wood playground that includes two slides and a wooden boat with slide and climbing nets. It is so appealing that sometimes adults can’t resist trying it out. Taking the kids there is very easy. The hard part is telling them it’s time to go home!
PRACTICING SPORTS AT CARCAVELOS BEACH
On the beach there is a sports park with volleyball nets, a soccer field, and beach tennis nets. This space is in good condition and is very popular. Running is also a good option. You can do it by the sea or on the wall. The beach also has several fitness equipment that allow you to do a multiplicity of exercises. Since 2019, Carcavelos beach benefits from a surveillance plan throughout the year. Outside the bathing season, a team of lifeguards patrols the beach in Moto 4. This service has proved very useful in providing assistance in the event of accidents, many of which occur during sports activities.
WALKING OR CYCLING AT CARCAVELOS BEACH
Another very simple but super nice option! A simple walk along the beach or the promenade. You can bring your four-legged friend and take him along the promenade (dogs are not allowed on the beach). If you like cycling you will also enjoy the experience!
CURIOSITIES ABOUT CARCAVELOS BEACH
- It is at Carcavelos beach that, since 1950, the “Lisboetas – people from Lisbon” fulfill the tradition of the “first bath of the year” on January 1st of each year.
- This was the place chosen for the video clip of Inna’s song “Amazing”.
- In the beginning of the century it was the telegraphic connection point between Europe and America.
- The fort of São Julião marks exactly the “mouth” of the river Tagus. This means that Carcavelos beach is already bathed by the Atlantic Ocean and not the Tagus River.
WHAT TO DO NEAR CARCAVELOS BEACH?
If you want to rest from the heat of the beach, you should know that there are many other options in Carcavelos. Check these 6 suggestions and a map to help you organize your outings!
It is about 20 minutes walk from the beach of Carcavelos. Today it is an urban park, but in the past it belonged to the Society of Jesus and it was in this place that the Carcavelos Wine was produced. From the farm, you can still find some traces, such as ruins of the buildings or parts for capturing underground water and even areas that preserve the original forest of the farm. Here you will find a refreshing pond with ducks, a large green area with lawn, peacocks, and garden spaces with benches. You can also enjoy the picnic tables in the woodland area, two playgrounds, an esplanade, a public toilet and even two tennis courts that you can rent.
From Carcavelos beach to Santini Ice Cream Parlor in Carcavelos is a distance of 1600 meters, a distance that can be covered in 21 minutes (on foot). Close to the Carcavelos station, treat yourself to a Santini’s handmade ice cream. The space is very welcoming. Although there are only five small tables inside, outside there are large wooden tables with benches, protected by large parasols. Some people prefer to sit in the amphitheater of the square where Santini is located to enjoy their ice cream.
From Carcavelos beach to Atlântida Cine is only 1200 meters (16 minutes walking). If the morning at Carcavelos beach is enough for you, use the afternoon to go to the cinema. Right in front of the train station, on the land side, there is a small Shopping Center, once very important. From its glory days, it still keeps the cinema, with two rooms, very well preserved. It still has the traditional counter to buy the tickets that will be presented at the entrance to someone who cordially wishes you a good movie. In the theater, when the lights go out, literally, the curtains open to start the show! There are usually afternoon and evening screenings. Enjoy the experience!
From Carcavelos beach to the market is 1400 meters, a distance that can be covered in 17 minutes. The Carcavelos fair is one of the oldest fairs in the vicinity of Lisbon. It takes place every Thursday and on the second Sunday of every month. Take the opportunity to plan your trip to Carcavelos beach on one of these days of the week and visit the fair. It is located very close to the train station. You can find everything, from the traditional wicker basket to the “fashionable bikini”, as the market man says. 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 is easy to see which are the best stalls.
A 22-minute walk from Carcavelos beach (1700 meters), you can visit the Nossa Senhora dos Remédios Parish Church. Its construction dates back to the early seventeenth century, when Carcavelos was a hillbilly village. The church is surprising because, instead of the traditional gilded woodcarving, it has colored tiles that completely cover the chancel and the remaining walls halfway up.
Just across the street from Carcavelos beach is the “Nova School of Business and Economics”, dedicated to research and education in economics, finance and business. It is so close that it has a tunnel with direct access to the beach! It is a large complex that, in addition to classrooms, amphitheaters and study spaces open permanently, has numerous services, from supermarket to medical clinic, among many others.
HOW TO GET TO CARCAVELOS BEACH?
There is no way to get lost. It is really very easy to get to Carcavelos Beach. We explain below how to get there, but if you don’t feel like reading, save the GPS coordinates: 38º40’49.50 N – 9º20’12.10 W
If you are driving from Lisbon, you can take Estrada Nacional 6, better known as Avenida Marginal, in the direction of Cascais. After passing the University Campus, you will arrive at Carcavelos beach. On your right side, you will find a long stretch of free, dirt parking lots and a park consigned to the fire department, which charges a reduced daily rate during the bathing season. On the sea side, there are paid parking lots.
You can also take the A5 freeway, exit at exit 8 towards Carcavelos and then just go straight ahead, five traffic circles later you will be in front of Carcavelos beach.
Although at first sight there seem to be many parking lots, the truth is that, on a summer weekend, finding a place to park, paid or unpaid, is an arduous task. It can also be painful to get out of the parking lots on busy days, either because of badly parked cars that make it difficult to move around, or because of the large number of cars trying to get out at the same time, each parking lot 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 ride takes 27 minutes, and is usually on time. The trip is quite pleasant, much of its route is along the Tagus River.
Right at the Carcavelos station, there are signs indicating the direction of the beach. Straight ahead, along 700 meters, 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 are the difference between reaching the beach quickly or having the feeling that 700 meters have turned into 7 kilometers. The price of the train ride is very affordable and the schedule comprehensive. Trains leave Cais do Sodré every 20 minutes during the day, every 12 minutes during rush hour, or every 30 minutes at night.