From Costa da Caparica to Lisbon is only 20 minutes! It is a parish in the municipality of Almada and was elevated to a city in 2004. It is famous for its beautiful beaches!
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COSTA DA CAPARICA
There are many beaches that are part of Costa da Caparica. The most famous are: São João beach, Nova beach, Castelo beach, Sereia beach, CDS beach and fonte da Telha. But the attractions of this town are not limited to its beautiful sands. The protected landscape of Costa da Caparica’s Arriba Fossil is, by itself, worth your visit. But there is more, much more to discover…
In 1770 the first fishermen from Ílhavo (a town near Aveiro) settled in Costa da Caparica. They settled on a tongue of sand between the ocean and the huge cliffs (70 to 100 meters high) of the area. If you are interested in the history of Costa da Caparica follow to the end of the article. The parish also has fishermen neighborhoods (Cova do Vapor and Fonte da Telha. Despite the progress of modernity, these neighborhoods keep their characteristics almost intact. If you like walking on the beach and if you have a particular interest in fishermen’s quarters and their people, then you will love Costa da Caparica. If so, be sure to read our article on Figueira da Foz as well.
THE BEST BEACHES OF COSTA DA CAPARICA
There are many (and good!) beaches on the Caparica coast. Check our recommendations:
COVA DO VAPOR BEACH
It is a perfect beach for those who don’t like “trendy beaches”. This is clearly my case. It is next to the neighborhood of cova do vapor, a middle class or middle/lower middle class neighborhood. There are many houses (small villas) that work as second homes. The beach is large and has far fewer people than (probably) all the other beaches on the coast. Sometimes it has the disadvantage of being a little windy. It has a beach support (expensive) but good quality. For those who like typical and cheap places (like me), there are some cafes at the entrance of the beach (example: association of residents of Cova do Vapor).
Beware of the strong currents that are sometimes felt near the pontoons (as indicated in the photo BELOW).
SÃO JOÃO BEACH
One of the most historically frequented beaches in Costa da Caparica. It has the advantage of providing a paid parking lot (but that can save you a lot of headaches when arriving and departing the beach). But don’t be fooled, in the summer months the traffic is always very intense.
Contrary to what many people think, the beach has no political connotation or connection. In fact, CDS is the initials for Centro Desportivo de Surf. Those who travel to the coast by bus get off at the CDS beach station. In the 1970s, the acronym was drawn on the rocks of the pontoon of this beach to distinguish it from the other beaches on the coast. It is also a very popular beach with surfers.
WALKING ROUTE – SUGGESTION
There are several attractions in the Costa da Caparica area. If you like hiking and want to see some of the main attractions on foot, follow this walking tour suggestion (we suggest you do it over a full day). If you do, you will get to know Trafaria, Cova do Vapor and the pontoon on the coast.
COSTA DA CAPARICA’S WEATHER
Costa da Caparica has a moderate climate, not reaching extreme temperatures at any time of the year. But it is between May and October that we have the best period to enjoy what this city has to offer: beaches, walks, activities or cultural visits. In a more graphic way, here is the temperature and rainfall of Costa da Caparica throughout the year.
NEAR COSTA DA CAPARICA
In Costa da Caparica there are many tourist attractions with special emphasis on the beaches. If you want to go beyond sunbathing and swimming, know that there are other points of interest near the coast. Below is a map to help you choose the sequence of your walks.
If you visit Costa da Caparica and the Cristo Rei, be sure to climb to the top of this monument. Firstly because you will have a magnificent view over the 25 de Abril bridge. But also because from there you can see the natural parks of Sintra-Cascais, Arrábida and, obviously, the city of Lisbon! The Cristo Rei is the most emblematic monument of the south bank. It is a religious monument that represents the sacred heart of Jesus and is inspired by the famous Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. It was inaugurated in 1959. It has an astonishing height of 110 meters (!). Not to be missed!
COSTA DA CAPARICA TRAIN
It started operating in 1960 at a time when few people had cars. The train allowed the Portuguese to get to know and consequently to frequent more assiduously the most remote beaches of the Caparica coast. It makes the connection between the Caparica coast beach and Fonte da Telha. Despite being a means of transportation, it is essentially a leisure experience. A 9 km trip, with 4 stations and 15 stops. Available only during the summer months.
The trains are old and not very comfortable. But these peculiarities make the trip picturesque and an authentic trip to the past. During the trip you can admire the Arriba Fossil of Costa da Caparica on one side and the beaches of the coast and ocean on the other.
PROTECTED LANDSCAPE OF THE COSTA DA CAPARICA FOSSIL CLIFF
It is located 10 kilometers from the city center. To get to know this place, the best option is a walk. Start your walk at Fonte da Telha. If you choose to walk through the middle of the forest, then you will have the opportunity to see some magnificent viewpoints. But if you choose the path closer to the beaches, you will get to know many of the beautiful beaches of this bathing area.
MATA DOS MEDOS – Trails of Costa da Caparica
In Costa da Caparica, near the beaches, there are many special places. The Mata dos Medos is one of these places. It was ordered to be planted by King D. João V to retain the sands, thus preventing them from advancing into the agricultural land. Today it is a Botanical Reserve, on the Fossil Cliff of Costa da Caparica. As you approach the coastal limit of the Mata, a breathtaking view of the ocean opens up. Once there, you can enjoy a view of the Sintra Mountains (to the north), and Cabo Espichel (to the south). But Mata is also a pleasant place for a picnic, a family outing or a walk, enjoying the aromas of sea air, pine and rosemary. The forest also has two pedestrian paths available: the Green Trail and the Blue Trail. Both start and end at the Zimbral picnic park. The Green Trail is a very beautiful walk, along an easy path of only 1.2 km. It is a walk that can be done in about 1 hour and passes by a viewpoint with a fabulous view.
The Blue Trail follows the Green Trail to the viewpoint, however, on the way back the trail takes us to another viewpoint, further south, ideal for enjoying the sunset. This trail is 2.2 km long. Although it is longer than the green trail, this path is just as easy.
A different and striking way to enjoy the beauty of Costa da Caparica is through a horseback ride. There are two rides available, one along the immense sandy beach, between the cliffs and the ocean, the other, penetrating the trees and secrets of the Mata dos Medos. The walk along the beach is only possible outside the bathing season. If you are curious, do not let this experience pass you by. More information is available here: https://www.casadesaocristovao.com/pt/passeios-a-cavalo
COSTA DA CAPARICA SEEN FROM THE SKY – PARAGLIDING FLIGHT
Believe me, the experience of Costa da Caparica from the sky is unforgettable! I advise to the fearless a paragliding flight. Don’t worry if you’ve never done anything like this before, everything will be handled with supervision, safety and professionalism. Don’t forget to bring your camera, you will want to register the moment. If you are already excited, take advantage and make your reservation now. https://parapenteportugal.com/batismos-de-voo/
FUN PARK/PARQUE DE DIVERSÕES DE SÃO JOÃO
Right in front of S. João da Caparica beach is the adventure park Fun Parque. You can spend good moments here with friends or family, enjoying recreational activities such as tree climbing, climbing, inflatables and paintball. The Fun Parque is a great proposal for fun in Costa da Caparica.
COSTA DA CAPARICA URBAN PARK
The park smells like the sea! It is just over 600 meters from the beach of Santo António da Caparica. The Parque Urbano da Costa da Caparica, or Santo António Park, occupies a very large area, and has some resources that can be very useful. In the enclosure, there are two stupendous playgrounds where, besides the classic equipment, there are also other less common ones: boats, wooden houses and bridges, hammocks and rope swings, slide, trampoline… Those who have small children know that a good park can be a lifesaver!
On site there is a restaurant and a picnic park, for those who prefer picnics. Sportsmen have tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer fields, and bike paths available, although the courts don’t seem to get much use. Also in this space is a parking lot with more than 200 spaces.
CAPUCHOS CONVENT AND VIEWPOINT
The Convento dos Capuchos is located in Costa da Caparica, very close to the access to the highway. If you’re driving to the beach, take the opportunity to visit the convent on your way or when you’re leaving. The space is open from Wednesday to Saturday between 10am and 6pm. The Convent of Capuchos is a 16th century construction with a simple and elegant design. It belonged to the Franciscan order, who remained here until the 19th century. But in the 20th century the building was acquired and restored by the Almada City Hall. Currently, in the privileged location of the convent, it functions as a cultural center, hosting shows and exhibitions.
Besides the beauty of the convent building, all the surrounding area provides a pleasant walk. Take the opportunity to visit the beautiful gardens. Access to the gardens is free and is done through a gateway on the left of the convent. Between the green paths opens a beautiful viewpoint, next to the Pablo Neruda monument.
There is yet another viewpoint a few meters from the convent, but outside its property. This is known as Miradouro dos Capuchos and has an impressive panoramic view. On a clear day, from this spot you can see the entire Costa de Caparica, the Sintra Mountains, Lisbon, the Bugio lighthouse, the S. Julião Fort, Cascais Bay, the Arrábida Mountains, and Cape Espichel.
SOLAR DOS ZAGALLOS
Solar dos Zagallos is an 18th century manor house surrounded by an extremely charming garden. The interior is a place of great beauty. The Solar was acquired by the City Council of Almada in 1980. It was later converted into a cultural space with frequent musical events and exhibitions. But with or without events, the Solar is worth visiting. There, the two noble salons stand out, ordered to be built expressly to receive King D. João VI. After visiting the salons, go out to the wonderful garden. There you will find a small chapel with blue and white tiles, consecrated to the Lord of the Steps. The Solar is open for visits on Sundays, between 2:00 PM and 5:30 PM, and Wednesdays through Saturdays, between 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM.
CROSSING THE TAGUS RIVER BY FERRY
From Lisbon to Costa da Caparica, as an alternative to the car and the bus, you can enjoy the crossing of the Tagus River by ferry. But don’t think you’ll make a sacrifice! If you board at Belém, you will disembark at Trafaria, and from here there is a direct connection with the bus that goes to Costa da Caparica. Another possibility is to take the ferry at Cais do Sodré, get off at Cacilhas and take the bus to Costa da Caparica.
It is possible to do the whole trip from Lisbon to Costa da Caparica by bus, just take vehicle 153, 155 or 161 from the TST (Transportes Sul do Tejo). This is a practical solution, but does not have the same charm as the ferry.
FRIGATE DOM FERNANDO II AND GLORY
If you take the ferry at Cais do Sodré, heading for Costa da Caparica, when you disembark in Cacilhas, be sure to pass by the Fragata Dom Fernando II e Glória, anchored at quay 2 in Cacilhas. By the way, even if you don’t come this way, it is worth making a small detour to get to know this historical and glorious sailboat. The Fragata was built in the 19th century in Damão, a city that belonged to Portuguese India at the time. The sailing ship first sailed from Goa, the main Indo-Portuguese city, bound for Lisbon. For several years it made the connection between the Portuguese territories in India and mainland Portugal, carrying up to 600 passengers. During the visit to this ship, you will tour its four floors, which reproduce the original environment in detail. The Frigate can be visited every day, Monday from 12:00 pm and the other days of the week from 10:00 am. From June to September the Frigate closes at 6 pm, and from May to October at 5 pm. The adult ticket costs €4, and those for children, young people, and people over 65 years old cost €2. Admission is free on the first Sunday of each month and on May 20th.
BOCA DO VENTO PANORAMIC ELEVATOR
After visiting the Fragata Dom Fernando II and Glória, enjoy the walk along the river until you reach the Boca do Vento Panoramic Elevator (it is less than a 15 minute walk). First because this elevator will give you an incredible view. Then because it makes a quick connection between the riverside area, where you can find many restaurants, and the historical area of Almada. The elevator leaves every 15 minutes and the ticket costs 1€.
CASA DA CERCA
In Almada’s historic center, almost opposite the panoramic elevator, is Casa da Cerca. This is a municipal space, transformed into a center for contemporary art, which focuses on the plastic arts, particularly drawing. Casa da Cerca is part of the space of the Cerca Palace. But if contemporary art doesn’t appeal to you, be sure to stop by for a walk in the Casa da Cerca Botanical Garden.
Trafaria was (and still is) a fishermen’s district belonging to the parish of Costa da Caparica. It has a population of 5696 inhabitants. The neighborhood in front of the boat station deserves a visit so you can get to know its narrow streets and its typical houses.
According to some historical accounts, Trafaria had its origin in an agglomeration of fishermen. Fishing is still an important activity (although it has been losing importance over the last years).
VIRTUAL TOUR TO COSTA DA CAPARICA
COSTA DA CAPARICA HOTELS
TRYP LISBOA CAPARICA MAR HOTEL
Hotel with a good location (in front of the beach). According to the reviews I reviewed, the hotel has comfortable rooms, an outdoor pool, friendly staff and a great breakfast. Some difficulties with parking.
MERCURE LISBOA ALMADA
Located a little far from the beach but very close to Cristo Rei, Almada Forum and a park. The reviews are very good (4.3/5) – it is the best rating of all the (4 star) hotels in the Costa da Caparica area.
MAR E SOL RESIDENTIAL
The reviews are quite good. It has an excellent relationship between quality and price. Compliments include the cleanliness of the place, the quality of the breakfast, and the comfort of the rooms (despite being small).
LISBON SOUTH HOSTEL
It also has, according to the reviews, a very good ratio between quality and price. The comments mention the friendliness, the terrace, the pool, the coworking space and the presentation rooms. It is very central and the breakfast has excellent reviews.
RESTAURANTS COSTA DA CAPARICA
I have been a regular at Trafaria’s restaurants for many years. Consequently, the recommendations that follow are the result of accumulated and repeated experience.
CASA BOM PETISCO
Magnificent option for those who like fish (sea bass, cuttlefish, sole). It is a small restaurant, very cozy, run by a small family nucleus. It’s in the center of Trafaria (a 3 or 4 minute drive from the Caparica coast). I’ve been a regular customer for many years. It has excellent quality and a great price-quality ratio. Price: 17 to 19 euros per person (starter+dish+wine+dessert).
Close to the Trafaria boat station. The dishes of the day and the meat are very cheap and of good quality (attention because the fish is expensive). The staff is friendly, the restaurant is big and once again, with a fantastic price-quality ratio. Price: 10 to 14€ per person (starter+meat+wine+dessert+coffee).
EVENTS AT COSTA DA CAPARICA
It is often thought that cultural activities are limited to the large and cosmopolitan city of Lisbon. But the truth is that the south bank of the Tagus has an impressive dynamic of cultural events. To find out about upcoming events in Costa da Caparica, click HERE!
COSTA DA CAPARICA DEMOGRAPHY
COSTA DA CAPARICA HISTORY
It is not difficult to believe the records that state that the name of the area is directly related to its geographical position. Shortly after the arrival of the group from ílhavo (1770), another group of fishermen arrived, the Algarvians. They are said to be in smaller numbers. The two “peoples” settled in different places on the coast but close enough to give rise to a rivalry between groups.
But as time went by, the groups mixed together and gave birth to “CAPARICANO”. A mixture where the specific characteristics of Ílhavo and the Algarve disappeared. And to this “new man” were added, with the passing of time, fishermen from Sesimbra, Setúbal and men from “land to land”. Many of these “foreigners” would show up during the summer months to work in fishing and stay in tents. Thus, they were called “barraqueiros” by the people of the Caparica coast. In the beginning of the 19th century, the first stone and lime house was built where Dom João VI stayed. The area between the houses and the cliff began to be used for agriculture at the end of the 18th century. In the seasons of the year when the sea did not allow fishing, the land was used to occupy the area. The soil was fertilized with algae and fish. This measure, together with the large amount of water present in the lands of that region, made those lands a solution for subsistence. Initially they grew cereals and vines. Later, they started to grow vegetables that were sold in the big Portuguese markets of that time.
A LAND OF MISFORTUNES
But there were many misfortunes that befell the people of the coast. Famine, maritime tragedies, diseases, and even fires were part of the daily life of the “Caparicans”. As a consequence of the successive catastrophes, a space was opened for a fervent religion among the locals. Consequently there were many religious manifestations: building of churches, processions (Senhor dos Passos), religious festivals (Nossa Senhora da Conceição) and pilgrimages (Círios à nossa senhora do Cabo).