One of the things that makes Lisbon such a special city is its proximity to so many truly amazing beaches. This is something no other European capital can offer and in fact very few cities worldwide come close.
Within half an hour of the city centre you can be lying on golden sand soaking up the sun or even surfing world class waves. A little further afield and you could be on the dramatic and wild Atlantic coast.
Lisbon's nearest beaches are located along the coast that stretches westwards from the city towards the popular resort town of Cascais. These tend to increase in quality (and cleanliness) the further out of Lisbon you head with Carcavelos beach being the first beach where you would want to consider heading into the sea. The beaches beyond here include those of Estoril and Cascais, all of which have their own individual characters. What makes this stretch of coast so fantastic though is the train service that runs between Lisbon and Cascais - the "Linha". Cheap and reliable the trains stop within minutes of virtually every beach along the coast, taking less than an hour to go from one end of the line to the other.
For those happy to travel a little further there are a range of options, all of which are well within day trip territory. The choice basically boils down to whether to head south, across the river from Lisbon or north and west towards Sintra. But whichever you choose the beaches are very different.
Across the Tejo river, just minutes from the huge 25 Abril suspension bridge are the beaches of Costa da Caparica. This gently curving coastline is made up of 15 km of virtually unbroken golden sand backed by dunes which becomes increasingly wild the further south you head.
Further south still and you will reach the stunning coastline of Sesimbra and Arrabida.
The coastline to the north and west of Lisbon starts once you round the corner from Cascais. A few minutes drive out of the town and you will arrive at Guincho beach, a wild, beautiful and often windswept beach. Popular with surfers and kitesurfers this beach takes the full force of the Atlantic Ocean and the waves will be significantly bigger than along the Lisbon-Cascais coast.
Beyond here is Cabo da Roca, the most westerly point in mainland Europe. As you can imagine the coastline here is quite rugged, but it is dotted with some spectacular coves, although some of these are rather challenging to get to. A little north and this becomes the Sintra coast where there are a number of very good, easily accessible beaches. The biggest of these is the aptly named Praia Grande which is a wonderful, wide beach only a few kilometres west of Sintra itself. Also not to be missed is Praia das Maçãs (Apple beach); this charming, family friendly beach is equally close to Sintra but can be reached by tram from the nearby village of Colares.