Caparica itself is a lively if not particularly pretty town whose overwhelming popularity with holidaying locals from Lisbon and the surrounding area rests largely on the access she offers to some ten kilometres of sandy beach.
The beach, known as Costa da Caparica, is backed by acacia and eucalyptus trees and home to a string of campsites, packed out during the summer months.
The first five kilometres of beach are the most well-known, and the initial stretch of sand is dominated by bars and cafes. A mini-railway (June-Sept daily, every 20min) is the best way to explore further. The first few stops have a distinctly family feel, but by stop eighteen the atmosphere is rather more youthful and risqué. Nudism, technically illegal, becomes the norm, and the dunes hide numerous wooden beach bars.
If you are a fan of solitude simply take the train to the last stop and walk. You may discover the fascinating Arriba area, a fossil cliff that constitutes one of only thirty areas officially under protection in the whole of Portugal.
The water quality is surprisingly good, although the beach does possess a dangerous undertow. Costa da Caparica is also one of Lisbon’s most popular surfing beaches, with waves to suit all abilities, separated by jetties.