Escape Lisbon's city hustle and bustle for the beaches and budding night life of Costa da Caparica.
So you've traversed the seven hills of Lisbon. Stepped into its history-laden buildings and contemporary sites. Admired its azulejo-adorned buildings. You've taken in its gorgeous coastal views and tasted the best of Portuguese cuisine. NOW, it's time for some R&R at the beach! One great option to consider is Costa da Caparica, an area that lies just south of Lisbon on the other side of the river's mouth (the Rio Tejo/Tagus River).
Why visit Costa da Caparica? While it's always been known as a convenient beach stop for Lisboetas (Lisbon locals), it's now experiencing a revival of sorts. After being somewhat ignored for the better part of the last decade, Costa da Caparica is seeing a resurgence in investment (likely spurred by the saturation of investment in Lisbon proper) that has once again attracted local young professionals and tourists alike.
Where exactly is Costa da Caparica? Once you drive cross the iconic "Golden Gate-esque" Ponte 25 de Abril bridge leaving Lisbon, the Cristo Rei statue (reminiscent of "Christ the Redeemer"in Rio) greets you with open arms, followed by the municipality of Almada. Costa da Caparica is just one of the many parishes located within Almada and makes for a great day trip to take advantage of the beaches and extensive coastline that lie just beyond Lisbon.
Meet Bruno, our travel guide from "Costa" as its affectionately called by locals. Here, he shares insights on what to experience while visiting the "other side" of Lisbon.
Meet Bruno: Olá! I'm originally from Foz do Arelho and came to live in Costa da Caparica because it was close to my school, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa. I ended up buying a house here because it's a great place to live! Currently, I work in Oeiras (in Lisbon) but I still live in Costa. I’ve become attached to this beautiful place and have been living here for the past 12 years.
1. Where can you get the best food in Costa da Caparica?
Costa is a city with a rich food culture and has lots to restaurants to try. Caldeirada is a typical seafood dish in most coastal towns, especially in Costa since it's originally a fishing town. There is even a caldeirada cooking contest during the winter every year! My favorite restaurant and the one I'd recommend is Barbas, which offers an array of seafood meals and a beautiful sea view at an affordable price.
2. Does Costa have any typical pastries or desserts?
For pastries and desserts, you can check out several lovely places. In the summer, I'd suggest Pastelaria de Santo Antonio, which has its own coconut version of the famous Portuguese pastry, pastel de nata. They also have tons of other pastries to satisfy any sweet tooth, as well as a large outdoor eating area under pine trees.
The bakery, Capote, located on Rua dos Pescadores, is another great place where you can find a famous local pastry called the claudino, which is a long, flaky pastry with various sweet fillings.
3. What's fun to do in Costa?
The most fun thing you can do in Costa is take advantage of its extensive beaches and coastline. Along with basking in the sun, you can stop by certain beaches to see fisherman go out on their boats and fish for their catch of the day. The fish are then carefully sorted on the beach and small fish are sent back into the water. People come around to watch the fisherman and bargain to get the best deal on freshly-caught fish.
If you're looking for a spot to lay out your towels and beach umbrellas, it's really easy to find a beach as they are all connected along the coastal promenade, Estrada Florestal.
And if you're looking for campsites in Portugal, Costa da Caparica has a few. The ORBITUR Costa da Caparica campsite offers both bungalow and open space options where you can park a camper van or set up a tent.
4. Coolest event to attend in Costa da Caparica?
Nightlife is really picking up again in Costa. But the best-known event is the annual Sol da Caparica music festival, which usually takes place in mid-August and features diverse Portuguese musical acts — the largest festival to solely feature Portuguese artists of every music genre you can imagine. In the summertime, catching one of these concerts is a great way to end your day after the beach.
5. What else should I see near Costa?
While in Costa, take a day trip to Setúbal! There is a direct train to Setúbal from the Pragal station in Almada. Once there, stroll past the riverwalk along Avenida Todi, enjoy amazing seafood restaurants that serve locally caught fish, and catch a ferry to the resort town of Troia. Sometimes dolphins can even be spotted swimming in the Sado River as you cross it! In Troia, you can relax on the beach with of a view of the green Arrábida hills in the distance (shown in the picture below) or enjoy one of its luxury amenities, such as testing your luck at its casino resort. On the way back, I recommend stopping in Setúbal again to taste the local delicacy, choco frito, or fried cuttlefish.
While Portugal is brimming with towns that take you back to the past, Costa definitely evokes a more contemporary vibe with tall, modern apartment buildings and a long boardwalk connecting its many beach outlets. With all of these amazing insider tips from Bruno, we hope you enjoy your time in Costa da Caparica!
It makes for a perfect day trip from Lisbon to enjoy a Portugal beach day or is a good place to stay if you want to save money on lodging while exploring Lisbon.
The ferry from the Cacilhas station in Almada (the side of the river where Costa da Caparica lies) drops you off at the Cais do Sodré station (one of the main train and bus depots in Lisbon), making it convenient to get to Lisbon in about 15 minutes. Plus, by taking the ferry instead of driving, you get to skip the bottleneck traffic that plagues the 25 de Abril bridge. To get to the Cacilhas station from Costa da Caparica, take a bus, taxi, or Uber.
Don't forget to share your experiences with us by tagging @liveluso on your social media!
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