Flying neatly under the radar of most non-Portuguese visitors, Costa da Caparica is one of the most popular coastal regions for locals, stretching almost 19 miles (30 km) down the Atlantic coastline south of Lisbon’s Tagus River. It is a region of powerful surfing waves, long sandy strands backed by dunes and pine forests plus a few low-rise resorts that have grown from traditional fishing villages.
In summer the beaches are a haven for surfing or sun-worshipping Lisboans, and families with young children content to play on the sands; most beaches have a couple of simple wooden beach bars, while summer weekends see beach parties carry on late into the night. The town of Caparica itself is overlooked by a 16th-century monastery and has a colorful array of stores selling lilos and souvenirs along the pedestrianized esplanade Praça da Liberdade, as well as seafood restaurants and a tourist office at Frente Urbana de Praias. A mini-train chugs six miles (10 km) down the coastline from Caparica, giving day-trippers the chance to reach less-crowded beaches as they head south. At the southernmost reaches of the region around the Arriba Fóssil da Costa nature reserve—where fossils have been discovered to be more than 15 million years old—gay and nude beaches proliferate.
The resort is six miles (10 km) south of Lisbon and can be reached by car via the April 25 Bridge. If taking public transportation, take direct bus no 161 from Praca do Areeiro (€3.20); or a combination of ferry from Lisbon’s Cais do Sodre to Cacilhas (€1.25) and express bus TST 135 (€2.40) to Costa da Caparica.