I recently spent a week in Portugal where I visited Porto and Lisbon, which are both quite lovely cities. Porto, questionable weather aside, is picturesque and full of interesting architecture. Lisbon, sunny skies included, brims with a surprising and palpable creative energy and teems with culture. It’s truly a special city. We were lucky enough to spend the weekend with a couple lifelong locals of Lisbon. The highlight of the weekend was without a doubt our trip to Meco Beach (Praia do Meco, in the local tongue). Let’s keep things short and sweet: eight reasons why no trip to Lisboa is complete without a trip to Meco.
1. It’s close to Lisbon. At just forty kilometers from the capital, it’s less than an hour away by car.
2. Small, rocky cliffs provide an aesthetically-pleasing backdrop to the beach, providing shelter from the wind, climbing opportunities, and paragliding. Paragliders regularly silently drift over the beach, their colourful parachutes decorating the sky along with the occasional seagull.
3. There are several points along the cliffs that provide an abundance of wet clay near the sand, perfect for slathering your entire body for sun protection and the pore-shrinking, toxin-extracting benefits of a clay mask (Google it).
4. Eventually washing off said clay mask in the ocean.
5. It’s not overrun with families and screaming children, and there are few tourists.
6. This last reason is probably due to the substantial nudist section of the beach. However, it’s not your stereotypical nude beach of old, flabby men ogling young, innocent creatures. Meco beachgoers are a diverse, mature, and respectful crowd of all colours and stripes. If you’ve never gone nude at the beach before, this is the perfect place to try it.
7. There’s a great bar near the entrance of the beach, serving up fifteen euro pitchers of amazing white wine sangria that really hits the spot after a day of soaking up the sun, while a DJ blasts Ibiza-worthy chilled house tunes to a laid-back crowd waiting for the sunset.
8. It’s free.
WHERE: Forty kilometers south of Lisbon. By car via the N377 is preferable, but you can also take the bus to Sesimbra from the Praça de Espanha bus station and then change to a bus to Meco.
WHEN: Year-round! But really March to October.
HOT TIP: Bring whatever you may need on the beach, as there isn’t much to rent or buy.
HOT TIP: Leave your inhibitions in your suitcase.