Portugal

PORTUGAL – Costa da Caparica / Beach 19

Costa da Caparica beach in summertime. The boulevard of the village itself is undergoing major reconstruction. A huge boardwalk is being built, where half of Lisbon is parading on a warm summer day. Take the little train (in season) at the end of the boardwalk (€ 5 return) and it will take you 8 kilometres south to the quiet stretches of sand. The train has 21 stops (the first three are under the new boardwalk now, so it starts at stop (paragem) number 4 (September 2008). Stop (paragem) 19, also known as Beach 19 or Praia de Bela Vista, is where the nudist beach starts, also world famous for being Portugal’s most popular gay beach. The best ones are Morena and Sereia, surrounded by dunes and with good bars. At almost every stop there’s a beachclub and the further south you go, the more you have the place to yourself. As everywhere in the world: where the nudist beach ends, the gay cruising begins and this is the largest in Portugal. In the vast bushes behind the railway track, guys from all over Europe and beyond, meet for some fun and relaxation. From Lisbon to Costa da Caparica: by car, go South to Caparica and south again all the way to the last access to the beaches. When the road goes uphill, you have just passed the access you want to go! Go past Praia do Rei until the parking at the end of the dust road. Upon Bela Vista, walk south, to the left of the restaurant. It’s some 2 miles of white sand beach and dunes! A taxi will take you there from downtown Lisbon for a little over € 20. By bus: from Praça de Espanha take bus 153 to Costa de Caparica busstation. Walk five minutes south along the boulevard and you’ll see the little train, that leaves every half hour (until end of September). The 161 bus from Praca de Areeiro will also take you to Caparica. An alternative route includes a mini-cruise on the ferry from Cais do Sodré across the river to Cacilhas. Get on bus 138 (directo) to Costa da Caparica (bus 124 via Almada will provide you with a long detour past 1960 highrise architecture, that’s better avoided). By train: cross the Tagus river to Pragal railway station and take bus 196 to Caparica. The train may be a good alternative on weekends, it’ll help you avoid the traffic jams on the 25th of April Bridge. From Lisbon to Costa da Caparica: by car, go South to Caparica and south again all the way to the last access to the beaches. When the road goes uphill, you have just passed the access you want to go! Go past Praia do Rei until the parking at the end of the dust road. Upon Bela Vista, walk south, to the left of the restaurant. It’s some 2 miles of white sand beach and dunes! A taxi will take you there from downtown Lisbon for a little over € 20. By bus: from Praça de Espanha take bus 153 to Costa de Caparica busstation. Walk five minutes south along the boulevard and you’ll see the little train, that leaves every half hour (until end of September). The 161 bus from Praca de Areeiro will also take you to Caparica. An alternative route includes a mini-cruise on the ferry from Cais do Sodré across the river to Cacilhas. Get on bus 138 (directo) to Costa da Caparica (bus 124 via Almada will provide you with a long detour past 1960 highrise architecture, that’s better avoided). By train: cross the Tagus river to Pragal railway station and take bus 196 to Caparica. The train may be a good alternative on weekends, it’ll help you avoid the traffic jams on the 25th of April Bridge. At stop (paragem) 21 at the end of the line where the train turns, there’s the village of Fonte da Telha (‘Fountain of the roof’). This little fishermen’s village is perfect for that holiday feeling. This is the real Portugal, with some trendy beach cafés added to it. Fonta da Telha can also be reached by bus from Cacilhas harbour. Beach 19 is just a short walk from the centre of Fonte da Telha. A taxi there from Lisbon will put you back a little over € 25. Even further south, about 10 kilometres from Fonte da Telha: Meco Beach, a real mecca for nudists & surfers A useful place to contact is the Centro Comunitário Gay e Lesbica de Lisboa, at Rua de Sao Lazaro 88 in Lisbon, contactable on 218 873 918, which arranges gay events in the town and can advise on similar activities in other destinations, perhaps providing contacts or at least pointing you in the right direction for more information. In Lisbon you will find several gay bars, community centres, restaurants, saunas and even beaches. The best place to go is the Bairro Alto or the Praça do Prínçipe Real where the relaxed atmosphere in the clubs and bars is a welcome change to the rest of Portugal. Although scenes of homophobic violence are rare, discrimination at work and at school is reported regularly.


PORTUGAL – Meco Beach

The beach of Meco is really wonderful, very popular by the Portuguese and the most well known internationally. Meco near Alfarim, 40 km south of Lisbon, is located in the middle of a natural park called ‘Serra da Arrabida’. This is a real ‘mecca’ for nudists & surfers. The excellent beach cost line in this area, the well persevered surrounded forest and the climate attracts tourists from all across Europe. Nudist tourism is growing vastly in the last several years in Portugal. The beach of Meco got famous in the 70s as one of the first nudist beaches. Website Young Naturists. At the beach, facing the ocean, on the left side is a high dune from where onwards start the naturist area, opposing to the right side, where the beach amenities are situated, frequented by families. Protected by a high cliff, with small springs (drinking water) and excellent green mud for skin treatments, which is a common sight. Beach restaurant “”Bar do Peixe (Fish)””, an excellent bar/restaurant with a chill out area (closed Tuesdays). Traditional Portugese meals. Our choice for lunch: Salada Russa con gambas (Russian salad with shrimps) € 7.50, Salada Atum (Salad with tunny) € 7.50, a small bottle of white wine (vinho branco) € 3.80, agua (water) € 1.00. Rua Praia do Moinho de Baixo, Meco. Fishermen with their nets, September 2008. The village lives mostly from the local tourists; when the season is over, people like to visit Meco because of the good restaurants and to walk on the beach. This friendly lady will take care of your car for the whole day: € 1,00. Closer to the beach the price is € 1,50 per day. If you travel by car: from Lisbon, take the A2 South Highway, then towards Sesimbra and after Fernão Ferro turn right to Alfarim, and right again to the beaches (“Praias”). Meco Beach has several paid parking lots. Once agricultural fields, nowadays transformed into car parking lots during summer time, as it is much more profitable for the local families. Public transport: from Lisbon this beach is not the best to be reached. You’ll need to catch the bus to Sesimbra from Praça da Espanha bus terminal in Lisbon and get off at Santana. Several buses run to Meco on a regular basis. Don’t forget to ask for a timetable to go back to Lisbon. Meco Beach: excellent for activities such as surf, parapente, fishing or windsurf. On windy days the sea can be quite rough.

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