This central and most important area is known in the Portuguese language as "Costa de Lisboa" and the geographical area was originally created by the Portuguese Tourist Authority. It extends along the coastline, starting north of Lisbon at the beach town of Ericeira and then extends inland to the east to the town of Abrantes. It then heads south following the bank of the River Tagus (Rio Tejo) down to the town of Vila Franca de Xira. Moving to the southern bank of the river it cuts across country, southwards, in the direction of Vendas Novas. Continuing further southwards it takes in Alcácer do Sal and Grândola before going west and joining up with the coast on the sandy beaches of Porto Covo.
There are many towns within this area apart from the City of Lisbon. From the visitors point of view the main ones are Cascais, Estoril, Mafra, Sesimbra, Setúbal and Sintra. The one exception is Queluz which is only a urban suburb to Lisbon, but it is very worth while visiting for its charming Royal Palace which is a much smaller version of that to be found at Fontainebleau near to Paris in France.
The natural wide water expanse and port created by the Estuary to the River Tagus also provides good protected beach locations for holiday makers and their families. The two towns with these sandy beaches are at the mouth of estuary and named Cascais and Estoril, with swimming conditions that are generally calm with the sea water almost free from pollution.
Around the corner to the west of Cascais and facing the Atlantic Ocean are two other beaches, Guincho and Costa da Caparica. The former enjoys world-wide fame for its high rollers and attracts the windsurfers from around the world - but this beach is not safe for families. The later of the two beaches is quite the opposite in nature and much appreciated by people from the Lisbon area.
Directly to the south below Lisbon are the two towns of Sesimbra and Setúbal. The former was once a small intimate fishing village before it was discovered by tourism, and the later, the second biggest port in Portugal and also an attraction for tourists due to the natural sheltered cove and blue shallow sea of Portinho da Arrábida, and across the Estuary to Troia with lovely sandy beaches.
The town of Setúbal is connected by two motorways to Lisbon and acts as a dormitory town and at the same time also supporting an active fishing industry. Just to the north of town is Palmela with its restored castle walls perched high on its hill hiding within an attractive "Pousada". In the restoration the past has been carefully respected and it is a charming place to stay with its magnificent views across the countryside.
Wine, fruit and horticultural products are in abundance as the region has many flat areas which contain good mineral qualities and irrigation . The region is so rich in its subsoil and it has never been fully developed. Other main products besides light industrial items being many marble, granite and schist.
Within the area of "Lisbon Coast" lives more than 40% of the country’s population and within Lisbon and the Rio Tagus valley the density is above double that of the national average. The core of this area can also be divided into four sub-regions. The City of Lisbon itself on the northern bank of Rio Tejo, the area directly to the south of the Rio Tejo, the west coast and the lower Tejo basin. Manufacturing industry is mainly concentrated on metallurgy, general engineering, foodstuffs, beverages, tobacco, chemicals and paper. Nearly 50% of the national catch of fish is still made from this part of the coast.
Topographically the countryside varies considerably, from the open rolling plains to the mountain ranges of the Serra da Arrábida and the Serra de Sintra, the first to the south of Lisbon, and the latter being directly to the west between the coast and the city of Lisbon. Within the region there are two ecologically protected areas and are both near to Lisbon. These are named Reserva Natural do Estuário do Tejo and Reserva Natural do Estuário do Sado, and are considered restricted zones against urban development and nature protected.