If you’re visiting Lisbon and want to feel the sand between your toes it’s easy! Just a short cycle tour from Lisbon across the Tagus River lies the beautiful Costa da Caparica. Here you’ll find mile after mile of unspoilt golden sand lapped by deep blue rolling seas. If you’re looking for excellent seafood you’re also in luck – lining the boardwalk and hidden in the dunes you’ll find countless small restaurants and bars. This cycle tour from Lisbon to Costa da Caparica is a highlight of the region!
Cycle tour from Lisbon to Costa da Caparica – an easy option
Although you’re only a few km’s south of Lisbon, this cycle tour from Lisbon takes you to another world. The Costa da Caparica has a slight whiff of California about it – the endless golden sand, the chilled beach restaurants, the surfer dudes clutching their boards. For a day long cycle tour from Lisbon this is the idea choice. Although it’ll get busy on summer weekends as the city empties, visit as I did at the start or end of the season and you’ll have all the space you need.
Hiring a Bike for your Cycle Tour from Lisbon to Costa da Caparica
If you want to know where to get hold of good rental bikes in Lisbon, check out my guide to cycling in Lisbon. Aditionally, the Varina Bike shop is located at the ferry terminal in Trafaria itself (open Spring-Autumn)
Route for your Cycle Tour from Lisbon to Costa da Caparica
Take the Ferry from Belem to Trafaria
The starting point for this route is Trafaria on the far side of the river from Lisbon. Regardless of where you’re staying in Lisbon you should to head to the Belem ferry Terminal. This is an easy ride along the Tagus River cycle route from downtown Lisbon, and should take you about 30 minutes. Check the ferry times since they run only every hour or so, and the journey takes about 30 minutes. You can use your Viva Zapping ticket to pay (or buy one at the terminal) – it only costs 1.15€ each way and the bike goes free!
Note that the ferry makes a loop between Belem, Porto Brandao and Trafaria. Make sure you get off in the right place!
From Trafaria to the Costa da Caparica and back
From the ferry the route is easy to follow using the below GPX track. The route is signposted, and the cycle track follows the main-road once you leave Trafaria. Just follow the road to your right as you leave the ferry, turn left at the end when you reach the fence and once up a small hill you’ll join the path.
You’ll follow this cycleway for about 5km to the beach, so it won’t take you long. The path is wide and swaps sides a couple of times, but it in good condition and perfectly suitable for families to use.
At the end of the day just follow the same route back, making sure you leave enough time to catch the ferry!
Cycle tour from Lisbon to Costa da Caparica Highlights
I was lucky enough to do this tour on a beautifully sunny day in late October. The temperature was in the mid to high 20°’s, and there was barely a cloud to be seen in the piercing blue skies overhead.
The village of Trafaria feels a million miles away from Lisbon after you step off the ferry. A sleepy village looking out on to a raft of fishing boats bobbing in the waves on the Tagus. You’ll find a smattering of small restaurants and bars looking out over the beach, and old storehouses and cottages line the streets leading back from the seafront.
After you hit the beach, you’ll realise why this coast is so popular. The beach just goes on and on into the distance – a wide strip of golden sand as far as the eye can see. The beach is backed by sand-dunes, and apart from the centre of Costa da Caparica itself, the beach feels pretty undeveloped with few overbearing buildings. To the immediate north of the centre is a recently built promenade above the beach, and to the south this continues further.
Costa da Caparica town
The town of Costa da Caparica was developed in the late 1940’s as an urban masterplan. On the main road most of the buildings are newer. Go into the backstreets however and you’ll see many beautiful 1940’s and 1950’s “seaside” homes. Most of these are second homes used at the weekend or in the summer by those espaping from Lisbon
The beach is a stunning stretch of sand, dotted with fishing boats dragged up onto the sand or surfers in wetsuits. It was warm enough to sunbathe, but the sea was already a bit chilly for bathing! The sand was beautiful and warm, and I spent a happy couple of hours lazing on my beach-towel reading a book and listening to the waves!
The restaurant scene
Every 100m or less, the beach is backed by a small restaurant, bar, cafe or surf school. Most were closed up as I visited, but several were open and offering a huge variety of drinks, foods or services. I made my way a little further south of town past the end of the promenade to the undeveloped beach. I rode my bike on the hard sand by the waters edge which was quite fun! After a couple of kms I dragged the bike up the beach to a restaurant nestled in the dunes – the Grao D’Areia. I had some amazing Octopus here washed down with a couple of beers. The view was staggering and I could have stayed the whole afternoon!
Heading Home on the cycle tour from Lisbon to Costa da Caparica
Sadly it was before long time to head back and catch the ferry back to Lisbon. I’d become a little too relaxed at the restaurant and underestimated a little the time to get cycle back. I peddled furiously and made it with 5 minutes to spare. Still, Trafaria would not be an unpleasant place to spend an hour waiting on the next ferry if required.
I’d had a wonderful day out on the Costa da Caparica. The coast feels so relaxed, with so much fresh air and a different vibe to the city. If you want to breathe in the fresh atlantic air and hit the beach, there’s no better place! The cycle tour from Lisbon to Costa da Caparica is well worth a try.
Side-Trips on the cycle tour from Lisbon to Costa da Caparica
If you have a whole day and/or plenty of time to fill, I can suggest the following:
Cova do Vapor
This small fishing village at the mouth of the Tagus sits on a peninsula surrounded by the sea. It’s a jumble of colourful tin-roofed shacks and buildings with narrow sandy streets. There’s a fair few small cafe’s, amazing views and a huge beach. You can break your journey to or from the Costa da Caparica here.
This miniature train starts at the southern-end of the promenade on the Costa. Sadly it only runs June-September so wasn’t open as I was there. This train links to and stops at many of the remote beaches and restaurants south of town. The line stretches 8km to Praia Fonte da Telha, and for those without a car is a great option. Hit the link to see more information about tickets and stops. I’ll definitely try it in the summer!