Posts About 'Beaches'

The Other Lisbon Coast

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Carvalhal Beach

When people talk about beaches in Lisbon they usually mean the coast immediately west of the city center which are the towns of Cascais and Estoril. For most locals they also mean the long stretch of sand that is Costa da Caparica south of the city. But further south is a lesser known and more upscale paradise. It’s the Troia Peninsula, still relatively secret because it doesn’t cater to mass tourism. It’s also a more recently-developed area, complete with a landmark design hotel and other newer accommodation choices, golf courses and even a casino.
The waters are calm and clean, and there’s lots of sand with plenty of space to spread your towel. All around you is pristine natural beauty and not very far into the Atlantic is a natural habitat of dolphins which you may observe on a boat trip.
All of it is just about one hour south of Lisbon. The main beaches are Comporta and Carvalhal by the village of Grândola. They’re two of the few that remain completely wild, preserving their natural vegetation and fowl. You’ll still see several storks and their nests, and feel the fresh scent of pine trees.
But you don’t even have to look for Comporta or Carvalhal, since all around the main resort areas of Troia is fine, soft sand. The weather is usually sunny and mild or warm from late April to early October.
If you’re coming to Lisbon with peace and relaxation in mind, Troia is an alternative to Cascais or Algarve and is just a short trip away. You can find accommodation here: Troia (Grandola) Hotels

Troia Design Hotel

Lisbon to Become Beachier

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Ribeira, Lisbon

Apparently having beaches just a few minutes away from downtown is not enough for the people of Lisbon. Soon they’ll also have a beach right in the center of the city, by its largest square. By the end of this summer, work will begin to create a real urban beach by the river next to Comercio Square.
This area was in fact a beach in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it was where many of the ships used during Portugal’s Age of Discovery were built and docked. The name comes from that time — “Ribeira das Naus” (the “Ships’ Riverfront”).
This new urban space will cost close to 15 million euros, and will include plenty of shade from a 10-acre park.
Everything is supposed to be ready in just over a year from now, so if it all goes as planned, you can sunbathe by the Tagus at the end of next summer or early autumn.
Next year the Lisbon waterfront will also be in the spotlight during one of the stages of the worldwide 2012 Volvo Ocean Race, happening on the eastern waterfront of the city, where the river becomes the Atlantic.

10 Lisbon Outdoor Sightseeing Activities for the Summer

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

It’s now June which means that from now until October, Lisbon will be sunny about 90% of the time. When visiting the city at this time, touring museums feels less appealing and you’ll likely be drawn to the great outdoors. Lisbon is perfect for that, with a marvelous setting: It has a river that many mistaken for the ocean, hills creating an amphitheater-like landscape best admired from the top of its castle, and terraces scattered around offering panoramic vistas. In between you’ll discover charming gardens, monuments offering views, and the approaching breeze of the Atlantic. Here are 10 ideas for what to do in the open air this summer in Lisbon:

Principe Real, Lisbon

1. RELAX IN PRINCIPE REAL’S GARDENS
The Principe Real neighborhood is one of Lisbon’s most charming residential areas, and its main square has just reopened last week after months of renovation. That square is actually a garden and you can sit under a gigantic “umbrella tree,” try one of the city’s traditional drinks at a kiosk café, and admire the architectural details of the colorful buildings of the surroundings. Go down the hill and you reach Praça das Flores, perhaps Lisbon’s most romantic corner. It’s never mentioned in guidebooks, but this small, shaded square has a couple of the city’s most inviting cafés with outdoor tables, including the new “Novamesa Snack Bar,” an extention of the recent Nova Mesa restaurant. Back up the hill is the enchanting Botanical Garden.

Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon

2. STROLL DOWN THE BOULEVARD
Avenida da Liberdade is Lisbon’s mile-long “Champs Elysées,” a boulevard know for its luxury shops, theaters, and cafés. A new Prada store is opening this week in one of its most beautiful buildings, and you can do some window-shopping as you go down the avenue admiring the city’s trademark mosaic pavements and stop to take a look at the many scattered statues, all the way to the city’s biggest park. Edward VII Park goes up a hill and once you reach the top you’re rewarded with a postcard-view of the city.

Praca do Comercio, Lisbon

3. STAND IN THE RENOVATED RIVERFRONT COMÉRCIO SQUARE
As GoLisbon reported, Lisbon’s biggest and most monumental square has just been renovated. The planned cafés will only be open in September or October, but you can sit by the river, at Cais das Colunas, a quayside area with two large columns marking the entrance to the city from the Tagus. From here you can admire the square and its triumphal arch, and sit as you watch the ferries cross the river, and see the landmark 25 de Abril Bridge and the Monument to Christ in the distance.

Panteao Nacional, Lisboa

4. CATCH SOME SUN FROM THE ROOFTOPS OF ALFAMA’S MAIN MONUMENTS
The National Pantheon and St. Vincent’s Monastery are both located in Alfama just steps from each other, and besides both being painted in shining white, they both offer rooftop terraces for city views. You can stop to check your guidebook or simply stay admiring the city as you work on your tan.

Portas do Sol, Lisbon

5. GO MIRADOURO-HOPPING IN ALFAMA
Alfama is Lisbon’s most picturesque neighborhood and it’s always best enjoyed outdoors. It forces even the laziest walkers to go up and down its cobbled streets, and the reward are its terrace viewpoints. Three of the most beautiful viewpoints in the city are located within walking distance from each other, and they allow you to do some sightseeing as you enjoy your sunny summer days. Start in Miradouro de Santa Luzia, go up to Miradouro das Portas do Sol (stop for a drink at its fantastic terrace café), and continue up the hill to Miradouro da Graça where you won’t be able to put your camera down.

Belém, Lisbon

6. STAND BY THE LAUNCH PAD OF THE DISCOVERIES
Florida’s Cape Canaveral is the launch pad for the exploration of space today, but five centuries ago the launch pad for the exploration of planet Earth was Lisbon’s Belém district. That’s where you’ll find the city’s three biggest landmarks, the Discoveries Monument, the Belém Tower, and Jerónimos Monastery. Starting at the monastery, walk west along the waterfront to admire the architecture and stone work of the other two monuments, and picture Vasco da Gama departing on his way to discovering the maritime route to the East or Pedro Alvares Cabral on his way to discoverig South America.

Parque das Nações, Lisbon

7. GO BACK TO THE FUTURE IN PARQUE DAS NAÇÕES
Lisbon’s waterfront is not just about the voyages of the past. At the former site of 1998’s World Fair you now find a modern residential and business district with futuristic architecture. You may see all of it from a bird’s-eye perspective on a cable car ride, or walking along the riverfront from one of the world’s biggest aquariums all the way to a Dubai-like tower, Torre Vasco da Gama. In between you’ll see lawns and gardens inviting you for a picnic.

8. CRUISE DOWN THE TAGUS
With so many walks by the river you’ll probably end up wishing you were in it. You may do that by taking a sightseeing cruise which departs every afternoon from the center of the city and goes all the way to Belém and Parque das Nações. Be sure to take your camera, especially when you pass under 25 de Abril Bridge and see Vasco da Gama Bridge at the end of the journey. Get complete cruise details here: Tagus River Cruise

9. GO ON A PHOTOGRAPHY WALKING TOUR
By now you probably already know that Lisbon is one of Europe’s most picturesque cities which is why it’s so loved by photographers. Even if you have very little talent and don’t aspire to become one, you’ll enjoy a walking tour where photographing the city is the theme. Your attention will be guided to all the details that make Lisbon so special, from the tiled façaded to the cobbled mosaics, to the surprising views along the way.
Complete tour details here: Lisbon Photography Walking Tour

Estoril

10. TAKE THE CASCAIS-ESTORIL BOARDWALK
Lisbon may have a Mediterranean look and feel, but this is actually a very Atlantic city. Its river opens to the ocean from the Belém district to the seaside towns of Cascais and Estoril. Known as “the Portuguese Riviera,” these are two chic resorts which are connected by a beachfront boardwalk. You’ll find pretty villas, marinas, small coves, and Europe’s largest casino but on a sunny day nothing will make you leave the boardwalk with occasional stops for a drink at a beachfront café or some sunbathing on the sand.

Lisbon Shows Off in the “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition 2010”

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition

After the J. Crew catalogue, now it’s the annual swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated magazine to feature Lisbon in a major photo shoot. It hit the newsstands yesterday, with the usual beautiful women (one of them is model Jessica Gomes of Portuguese heritage), but this time also with beautiful views of Lisbon as the backdrop. Lisbon is referred to as one of Europe’s most exciting cities, and in addition to the city center, the shoot also took place in the Estoril and Cascais coast (Lisbon’s most famous beach area) and the magnificent Portinho da Arrábida beach south of the city.
You can see those photos on the Sports Illustrated website or you can pick up an issue of the magazine now.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition

Lisbon’s Best Beach Bars

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Metro Newspaper Canada
The Portuguese capital has been quite a popular destination for North America’s daily Metro newspapers. Last week the American edition featured a 2 Minute Guide to Lisbon, and yesterday the Canadian edition recommended the city’s beaches and beach bars.
It does in fact highlight the best ones, including my personal favorite, Borda D’Agua in Praia Morena.
Another recommendation was Bar do Guincho, a Cascais hotspot at any time of the year, and the two other choices were Bafureira in Estoril, and Delmare Café in Costa da Caparica.

If you think it’s too soon to be talking about Lisbon’s beaches and its bars, you must remember that summer essentially starts in May in this central-southern part of Portugal. While we may be getting the usual April showers this week, we can expect plenty of beach-worthy days next month. The water will still be cold, but it will already be pleasant enough for sports on the sand and catching some sun at a beach bar — and those recommended by Canada’s Metro are in fact the ones to be at.

You can read the entire article here.

Visiting James Bond’s Birthplace in Lisbon

Sunday, November 2nd, 2008

Estoril, James Bond's birthplace on the Lisbon coast

The latest James Bond film just premiered last week, making this the perfect time to visit his birthplace in Lisbon. You may not know it, but James Bond is really Portuguese. That character came to life when its creator, author Ian Fleming, was enjoying the sun in the Lisbon Coast, or more specifically in Estoril.

When Fleming stepped into the casino of Estoril and saw himself surrounded by spies from all over Europe, together with European nobility and aristocrats, he was inspired to write Casino Royale. At that time the Lisbon Coast was the resort for those looking to escape the tragedies of World War II, as neutral Portugal provided the peace and the sun they were looking for. That’s when the then quiet seaside villages of Cascais and Estoril boomed with tourism and became the cosmopolitan playgrounds they still are today.

The casino is still there and still has its title as Europe’s largest. Across the street is the beach of Tamariz, overlooked by a castle that belongs to the royal family of Monaco. Walk west along the boardwalk and you’ll arrive in Cascais, where other fine aristocratic mansions now coexist with hotels welcoming those wanting to experience a little sand and the sea, to go together with all of the cultural attractions in Lisbon only a short train ride away.
While these autumn and winter months are not exactly inviting for a stroll through the beach, Cascais and Estoril are refreshing destinations at any time of the year.

Lisbon is Europe’s Best Weekend City Break Destination

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Weather forecast for Lisbon and other European capitals

You’ve probably already read that Lisbon is Europe’s sunniest capital (and this weekend’s weather forecast sure does prove that, as illustrated above). But even during those darker, rainy weekends, Lisbon is the best choice in Europe for a quick city break. Not only do most of the low-cost airlines connect the Portuguese capital to most other major European cities, but as it was revealed earlier this year, Lisbon has the cheapest average hotel rates in Western Europe and its hostels rank among the best reviewed by guests. Also, where else can you see Picasso, Warhol, Bosch, or Rembrandt for free?

Until the end of this year the Berardo Museum’s acclaimed modern art collection is free to see every day of the week, while every Sunday morning (until 2PM), most of Lisbon’s museums (including the Gulbenkian and the Ancient Art Museum) offer free entrance to their permanent exhibitions.

If you’re also looking to party, you won’t find a bigger bar hop than in Lisbon’s Bairro Alto neighborhood, where every Friday and Saturday night there is a street party with all kinds of tribes going from bar to bar and standing outside their doors with a caipirinha or a beer in hand. From there most move on to a riverside club, until the sun rises and it’s time for brunch at one of more recent cafes in the city, be it Deli Delux, Pois Café, Kaffeehaus, or Royale Café (see our cafes page for more details about them).

We don’t recommend it for these autumn and winter months, but from about late April until October you can always sleep for the rest of the day at the beach before returning to your hotel to shower, pack, and head back to the airport.

Really, do you know of any other European capital that offers free culture, such affordable accommodation, a contagiously vibrant nightlife, has a better climate, such a beautiful riverside setting, vast sandy beaches so close by, and such a variety of attractions to be enjoyed over one weekend?

10 Reasons to Go to the New Cool and Sophisticated Algarve in September

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Memmo Baleeira Hotel, Algarve
Portugal’s Algarve has gone from being a cheap holiday destination for British tourists, to an attractive European family getaway, to an increasingly upmarket resort area. We just told you about Europe’s first 6-star hotel opening up in the region soon, and a growing number of luxurious and more sophisticated design hotels are popping up like mushrooms along the coast.

The rich and the famous have taken notice, and this year saw familiar faces like Hollywood actor Tim Robbins and French actress Catherine Deneuve descending towards the southern Portuguese shores. Joining the crowds then came Olympic medalist Michael Phelps, who flew straight from Beijing to Algarve for a few days of rest by the beach after his record-breaking performance in this year’s Olympics. It was reported that he spent €5,000 in drinks in just one night, but you don’t have to spend that much or be a celebrity to enjoy the best of Algarve. There are many reasons why you should go there this month, and these are the top 10:

1. The August crowds are gone, prices have gone slightly down, and the weather is still great! Summer goes on in September in Algarve, and in fact, lasts through October. These are the most enjoyable weeks in the region.

2. I stayed at the Memmo Baleeira Hotel last year and will return again next time I’m in Sagres. The rooms look out over the pool standing on top of a cliff which also offers a view to the coast that was known as “the end of the world” to the ancient Europeans before Prince Henry the Navigators’ exploration of the oceans. Even cooler is the modern design all throughout the hotel, including in the wellness center and spa.

3. An alternative to Memmo Baleeira is Pousada de Sagres, just a few steps away. It does not have the all-modern design but offers the elegance and top-notch service that the Pousadas de Portugal chain is known for. Look from your window or stand by the pool and you’ll see Prince Henry the Navigator’s fortress in the distance, which you may visit later in the day. Even better news is that in September there are good deals you can’t get during the traditional summer months.

4. I have stayed in six Pousadas de Portugal so far and the Pousada de Tavira was one of my favorites (which I wrote about here). Being housed in a former 16th century convent, it has the historical feel of other pousadas, but the contemporary décor gives it a light and fresh atmosphere which is just what you want when you’re so close to the beach. And speaking of the beach, the little island of Tavira just outside the town of Tavira is perfect under the still-warm September sun, minus the summer overcrowding!

5. Another sign of Algarve moving towards satisfying the more refined tastes of the modern traveler is Monte D’Oiro Refugio Design Hotel. It’s located just outside Lagos, arguably Algarve’s most beautiful town and with the best beaches. Every detail from the breakfast room to the outdoor swimming pool combines characteristics of the Algarve with stylish modern furnishings. A hotel of this calibre would cost you about 5 times more anywhere else, so the time to book it is now.

6. You no longer have to go to Miami or St. Tropez to experience the ultra-cool Nikki Beach. Now open in Algarve’s Vilamoura, this beach club and lounge is the place to see and be seen. Surrounded by the famous marina, you can relax in luxury at the lakeside restaurant and then stay all night long for drinks. It’s only open until October, so if you don’t want to have to wait until next year, go now.

7. Once you’ve been-there-done-that at Nikki Beach, head to Amo-te Pine Cliffs. Located in the Sheraton Pine Cliffs Resort, this 2-year-old space is one of the new places to be at night. The ambience may feel slightly formal when you look at some of the people but overall it manages to maintain a casual attitude in service. Have a caipirinha or a sangria as you listen to house music, or move to the more chilled-out zone in the open air.

8. From Septemer 26 to the 28th, the Grand Prix of Portugal Powerboat P1 World Championship will take place in Praia da Rocha, the postcard beach by the city of Portimão. As if there weren’t enough reasons to come to this big and beautiful beach, now you can watch the powerful boats cutting through the waves at speeds of over 160 kph in an exciting and spectacular contest.

9. Also in Portimão, the Formula Windsurfing World Championships will take place from September 9th to 14th. It’s the world’s largest annual windsurfing event, for which only the finest international windsurfers quality. Watch the thrilling competition from the beach, and work on your late-summer tan while you’re at it.

10. What would Algarve be like without golf? The two words are almost synonymous, as this is one of the top golfing destinations not just in Europe, but of the entire world. Check out the deals for this month at the Dona Maria San Lorenzo Resort, where you can golf in the stunning 18-hole course, or if you’re not into that, simply stay in the hotel with its breathtaking views of the Atlantic and world-class facilities at incredibly affordable prices. You have no excuse for not taking advantage of it.

See GoLisbon’s complete Algarve guide for all the information you’ll need about visiting Portugal’s southernmost province where it’s summer almost all year long.

Beauty and the Beach

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Cascais
August is the month when Lisbon gets its largest number of tourists, and that’s also when they stay for a longer period of time. It’s a fact that doesn’t allow for excuses for not visiting Sintra, something that should be done even with only 3 or 4 days in the city.

Sintra is the stunning World Heritage town right outside Lisbon. It’s Portugal’s most beautiful, and undoubtedly also one of Europe’s. Visit its fairytale palaces (even Disney couldn’t have come up with one as fantastic as Pena), and then escape to its beaches. Adraga has been ranked among the most beautiful in Europe, and you probably won’t disagree. And if you’re in town on a family holiday, Praia das Maçãs should be your sandy destination.

But if it’s in fact sand and the sea you’re after (and understandably so considering the warm August weather), get on the train in Lisbon, and within minutes you can have your feet in the Atlantic. Cascais and Estoril were the secret resort destinations for European nobility and royalty in the early 20th century, but they’re now open to anyone looking for a beautiful setting in which to relax and catch some sun.

Check out GoLisbon’s guides to Sintra, Cascais, and Estoril, for beauty and the beach right outside Lisbon, to follow the city’s cultural and cosmopolitan attractions.

Praia da Comenda

Monday, July 17th, 2006

I spent Saturday afternoon on a small beach called Praia da Comenda, at the foothills of the Serra da Arrábida, close to the city of Setúbal.

This area is popular with families, since there is a large picnic area, through which the smell of charcoal and grilled fish pervades as the sun starts setting and the evening meals are started.

The beach is formed by the banks of the inlet of a small river, the Ajuda, which flows into the larger Sado river, on the other side of which the more popular beaches of Troía can be seen, together with the ferries which take day-trippers from the Troía peninsula back to the port of Setúbal. The nearby Palacio da Comenda provides some architectural interest.

Palacio da Comenda

It was a nice, relaxing afternoon, allowing us to cool off in the water and escape the much higher temperatures in the city and inland. Afterwards we headed into Setúbal, to one of the hundreds of excellent fish restaurants lining the waterfront. We shared a dourada de mar (sea bream), accompanied by some refreshing white Sado wine, then headed back north to the heat!