Costa da Caparica Mini Train

Almada, Portugal

Photo Credit: Carla Capela

Costa da Caparica is a beach town near Lisbon on the southern shore of the Rio Tejo. The lively, modern town is part of the longest continuous sandy shoreline in Europe, and has not yet been discovered by a majority of tourists. This mini train provides a public transport service that connects the main resort town of Costa de Caparica to the 30-kilometre coastline of the Setubal Peninsula during the summer months.

The town’s name “Caparica” comes from the legend of an old woman who wore a patchwork cape and lived near the ocean. She was thought to be a witch who guarded a fortune. One day, villagers discovered her body along with a letter in her cape addressed to the King. In it, she requested a church for the people of her village.

The King, outraged by rumors of witchcraft, ordered the woman’s cape to be destroyed. That is, until gold coins started falling out of it. With that money, he fulfilled the woman’s request. This is supposedly how the name Capa-Rica developed. The words capa (cape) and rica (rich) became associated with the region.

This land was part of the parish of Caprica until 1926, when it became part of the civil parish of Trafaria. It wasn’t until 1985 that this urban agglomeration would be classified as a town, and it was elevated to the status of a city in 2004.

Costa da Caparica’s economy relies heavily on the neighboring sea. Until the late 20th century, fishing was the most lucrative industry. A seasonal influx of tourism now makes up a significant portion of the local economy.

Today, Caparica has a large immigrant population, particularly during the summer when an additional 7,800 residents and 35,000 visitors flock to the coast, many of which ride this mini diesel train that makes stops at a number of different beaches. Its colorful carriages with wooden bench seating illicit a whimsical charm.

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