What makes Lisbon a favorite tourist destination is the fact that it is a capital city in Europe that lies so intimately close to lovely beaches, thus the Costa Lisboa or Lisbon Coast. The region is endowed with beautiful sandy beaches that attract locals and tourists alike. It stretches from the seaside town of Ericeira north of Lisbon, through the banks of the river Tagus or Rio Tejo to the coastline of Porto Covo.
Having so many beaches along the area, Ericeira is best known as a surfer’s haven. Its reputation as one of the best surf spots in Europe is mainly owed to the beach of Ribeira d’Ilhas, which has hosted the prestigious World Surfing Championships since the early 80’s. It is also one of only four Surfing Reserves in the world, with Manly Beach in Australia and California beaches Malibu and Santa Cruz.
Another famous Atlantic beach lies on the coast of Estoril in Cascais, the Guincho Beach or Praia do Guincho. Locally referred to as the Costa de Estoril-Sintra or Costa de Lisboa, the beach of Guincho is popular for its strong winds and powerful waves, which make it ideal for windsurfing and kite surfing. It is one of the venues for the windsurfing world cup and other sporting events. With its majestic seascape, it was also featured in the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Formerly a fishing village, Cascais is now gaining fame due to its natural beauty. The Sintra Mountains and the town’s cliffy shorelines provide eye candy to the nature-lover visitors. Its water sports supply adventurous endeavors to thrill-seeking visitors. One of its famous tourist sites is Boca do Inferno, which literally means Hell’s Mouth. It is a chasm found in one of the cliffs of Cascais. Exploring the city will prove worthy with its castle ruins such as the Palacio de Conde de Castro Guimaraes, museums like Museu do Mar, and an attractive park named Parque Palmela. With its new marina and a yacht harbor, Cascais is a perfect place for tourists.
Portinho da Arrabida is one, and the more well-known, of the two beaches found in Arrabida Natural Park, a natural and unspoiled protected area in Setubal Portugal. It is a small but exhilarating beach with its calm and clear water excellent for some peaceful and tranquil beach experience. It is also best for swimming and diving. Another nice and quiet beach that is nestled at the foot of Arrabida Natural Park (not within the park) is Coelhos Beach. Surrounded by lush green forest and with not so many visitors (due to its size and location), it is an ultimate getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. Another beach of interest is Meco Beach or Praia do Meco near Alfarim, south of Lisbon. It is said to be the Mecca for surfers. And aside from its state-of-the-art facilities, the well-preserved forest and nature’s wonders such as a massive dune and high cliff attract tourists to come and enjoy the beach life the place offers. And for some gastronomical experience, why not try paying a visit to Tropical do Meco, a popular restaurant bar in the area, or the Bar do Piexe for some traditional Potuguese meals.
For some luxurious escapades, why not go to Troia, a peninsula just a ferry boat ride away from the city of Setubal? Aside from its white sand beaches, it provides hotels, resorts and superb amenities for tourists who prefer staying in this part of the region. Sightings of dolphins, Roman ruins, and its one-of-a-kind Porto Palafitico, a wooden harbor buried in mud, are some of its features. Within the city of Setubal are some interesting architectural structures such as the historical Manueline-style Monastery of Jesus, the Sao Juliao Church and the 16th-17th century fortress Castelo de Sao Filipe.
One of the most popular sites in Portugal is Cado da Roca, a magnificent cliff above the Atlantic Ocean and known as the westernmost part of Europe. From its lighthouse, you can see the point that Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes poetically described as “where the land ends and the sea begins.” They also give certificates to visitors as proof that they have been to the most western part of Europe.