Lisbon is one of the few European capitals that can boast excellent beaches only a 15-minute car ride away. Golden beaches stretch out either side of the River Tagus, the river that flows by Portugal’s capital city before joining the sea.
During the day locals come to sunbathe in the dunes, stroll on the beach and lunch al fresco, and by night they let their hair down in the buzzing bars and discos. Now that smoking has been banned in restaurants and bars, Lisbon’s party people have even more reason to spend their summer in these open-air playgrounds, with the sea as their backdrop. Here’s our guide to the hottest beach bars on the Lisbon coast.
On the south bank: Costa da Caparica
Delmare Café: Surf and fun
For the past three years Delmare Café has been one of the most popular places to hang out on the Costa da Caparica. During the day this restaurant and bar is a welcoming place for bathers and surfers from the café’s surf school looking for a refreshing fruit juice or lunch of salad or fresh, grilled fish. The party moves to the beach in the evening, with DJs and live music late into the night. Fridays and Saturdays are particularly crowded, with an influx of younger customers. (Praia Cabana do Pescador, Costa da Caparica, www.delmarecafe.com)
Borda D’Água: Juices, milkshakes and loungers
This is one of the hottest destinations on the Costa da Caparica — especially with the Lisbon residents who endure long lines of traffic to get there. Have a sandwich or salad for lunch on the terrace, or move onto their part of the beach where you can relax on a lounger with a caipirinha, morangosca, sangria, natural juices or milkshakes in the shade of a straw umbrella. Borda d’Água becomes especially charming in the early evening, when you can dine on fresh grilled fish as you watch the dazzling sun set into the sea. Enjoy the cool tunes and a drink while you’re cradled by the warm breeze. (Praia Morena — Costa da Caparica, bordadagua.com.pt)
On the north bank: Cascais
Open all year long, the Bar do Guincho is a Cascais hotspot in winter and summer. Guincho beach is a “sanctuary” for windsurf and surf lovers, with refreshing but angry waves from March to October, and the best conditions for windsurfing in July and August. Bar do Guincho is a haven for surfers with a shop, lockers and a large terrace for drinks, dinner and parties with DJs and live music. Sandwiches and toasts are a must, as are the salads and shellfish dishes. Try the house cocktail “Bar do Guincho,” with Baileys and Coconut Shake, the caipirinhas and the white and the green wines. (Guincho-Cascais, www.bardoguincho.pt)
Bafureira: Sushi and caipirinhas
This bar-restaurant on Bafureira beach, S. Pedro do Estoril is famous for its caipirinhas, morangostas and mojitos. You can also enjoy a late dinner of delicious tapas and grilled fish and shellfish dishes or Japanese food at Sushinalinha, as their kitchens are open until 2 a.m.
A fabulous setting for a glass of local wine in the late afternoon with a view over Cascais Bay, the Bafureira has terraces on two floors with wooden chairs and tables, and chaise-longues with extra-comfortable ergonomic mattresses. It is a good spot for thirtysomethings and is easy to get by train, from Lisbon. (Praia da Bafureira, S.Pedro do Estoril. www.bafureira.net)