The beaches of Sintra
Inspired by the recent new publication of Sintra Tourism Office, entitled Sintra Beaches, I write this blog entry. Sintra is not primarily a beach destination, but it does have some great beaches. Golden sand, beautiful round stones and magnificient cliffs. Surfing, tanning, walking. Great restaurants, dinosaur footprints, paragliding and fishing. Attention though – the beaches are Atlantic beaches, so the water is not as warm as the Mediterranean ones in the Algarve – and the waves are stronger and more dangerous as well. The long Atlantic Walk passes on the cliffs over all of these beaches. I will start from the Southern most beaches and work my way up.
Praia da Ursa – The southernmost of Sintra beaches got its name from the enormous rock that reminds one of an animal sculpted by a giant. Down below, in the sand, there are many rock formations and the effort of the descent is well worth it. The beach is only reached through a path from Azoia, on the road to Cabo da Roca (which is the Western-most point of Continental Europe, well worth visiting). This is the only beach in Sintra where you will see nudists.
Bus 403 toward Cascais gets you to Azoia and Cabo da Roca – distance from Casa do Valle is about 14 kms.
Praia da Adraga comes next. With its stone arch it is one of the most beautiful beaches of Sintra. It is an accessible beach, with parking and a great restaurant. It is popular for walks even outside the bathing season, and during the bathing season it has lifeguards and also launge chairs and shades to rent. A couple of our guests actually got married on the beach there last year! The cliffs have caves that you can explore. Busses 403 and 439 take you to Almoçageme, the beach is another 2.8 kms down from the village. Distance from Casa do Valle to Almoçageme is 10 kms, 13 kms to the beach.
Praia Grande has a long stretch of sand. The sea offers a great swell all year around, attracting surfers and bodyboarders. The World Bodyboard championships, which are part of the sports’s intenational circuit, are held there every year, in the beginning of September. Praia Grande has good facilities, as well as the advantage of having a carpark located very close to the sand, in an area with cafés and restaurants along the road on the beachfront. The best restaurants though are up top between Praia Grande and Praia Pequena. Life guards are on duty during the bathing season, launge chairs and shades for hire as well. In a basalt cliff face on the south end of the Praia Grande there are dinosaur footprints. You can reach Praia Grande with busses 441 and 439. Also the old Sintra tram passes about 1 km from the beach. Praia Grande is 10 kms from Casa do Valle.
Praia Pequena is just North of Grande. No facilities, great for fishing. It is also saught after by lovers of water sports. Though it has no lifeguards, it is favorite for bathing as it is sheltered. Same busses as to Praia Grande, 441 and 439. Also about 10 kms from Casa do Valle.
Praia das Maçãs, the Apple beach, is the first of the Sintra beaches to become famous for tourism; many families from the Lisbon region had their vacation houses here. An ‘eating house’ was built there in 1888 and holiday houses soon began to appear. In 1904 the tramway terminus was built, and you can still take the tram down from Sintra center. Its name came from the large quantity of apples that used to to appear on the beach, carried by the water of the brook thar crosses the lowland, where once there were numerous orchards. It is well served by restaurants, shops, bars and parking. Public outside swimming pool with slides, and tennis courts are near by. Lifeguards and launge chairs are available during the bathing season. In addition to the tram, you can reach the beach with bus 441 – about 10 kms from Casa do Valle.
Next beach to the North is Azenhas do Mar, a pictoresque village sitting on a cliff and natural sea water pools down at the bottom. Sometimes, depending on the tide, there is an accumulation of sand, creating a small beach on the top of the rocks. A nice restaurant, great for fishing, no lifeguards. Distance from Casa do Valle is about 11 kms, and the busses 440 and 441 take you there.
Praia de Magoito, like Grande and Maçãs has a large stretch of sand. Formed in a valley cut by the Mata Brook, it forms a contrast with the surrunding cliffs. It has good facilities, parking is up the hill, and it is quite crowded during the season. 9 kms from Casa do Valle, it is served with bus 444.
Praia da Samarra is at the mouth of a brook between two slopes. Its relatively small stretch of sand opens itself to the quiet ocean in a vee. The rocks on both sides of the mouth of the brook are great spots for line fishing. The beach is only reachable through Assafora. Follow the signposts till you reach Catribana, passing through Cortezia. At the end of the asphalted road you will find the road to Samarra. No facilities. Assafora is about 15kms from Casa do Valle, Bus 443 take you to Catribana.
Praia da Vigia is a beach with very high cliffs and access is currently very difficult. You can reach it through a footpath called Caminho de Descedouro das Mós – or at low tide you can walk to Vigia from the Southern point of Praia de S. Julião.
Lastly, we have Praia de São Julião. At the northern boundary of the municipality, and shared with the neighbouring municipality. It is a large, sandy beach. It is located at the mouth of Ribeira de Falcão that has, throughout the years, excavated the cliff, forming a very sizeable creek. It has good facilities, and can be quite crowded at weekends. Access to the beach is about 3 kms from Assafora village, 18 kms from Casa do Valle to the beach, bus 443 takes you to Assafora.