The coast along the city of Lisbon is definitely worth exploring if you’re in Lisbon. The fairytale towns of Sintra and Cascais are a must visit. About 40 minutes drive from Lisbon, Sintra is a perfect day trip option.
Park and the Palace of Penã
One of the most popular sights Sintra is the crowning castle National Palace of Penã. From the ticket shop till the palace entrance is an uphill walk amongst the luxuriant gardens of the park of Penã. The garden is home to more than 500 species of plants! As you approach the toy-like palace, the child within you gets bright-eyed. The colorful palace is a treat to your eyes. The detailing is intricate and the views-mesmerizing.
The view of the castle is best from High Cross, the highest place of the Sintra Hills. Carved in stone as intertwined branches, High Cross is the highest place in Sintra hills and within the perimeter of the park of Penã. The walk till High Cross is a bit steep but the view of the vibrant palace is absolutely worth it! The 15-20 minutes walk from the castle also takes you a bit away from the crowded palace.
Castelo dos Mouros
There is another castle in the vicinity of Pena Palace which we really enjoyed going to, Castelo dos Mouros or the Moorish Castle. Unlike it’s neighbor, this one is monotone with its all white and grey stone facade. The castle is a configuration of two stone wall rings that run along the sharp cliffs of Sintra. The rings can be walked along through a series of steep steps. Take as many breaks as you like while walking up through these walkways because there is the opportunity to admire the unique landscape that features Sintra town, the Palace of Penã and the hills.
Cabo da Roca
While we were in Sintra, we really wanted to explore Cabo da Roca as well. Known for being the western most point of mainland Europe, the windy cape is capped with a flashy red lighthouse. The ocean has carved out intense rock formations along the coast making it full of dramatic landscape. Walk along the rocky coastline toexperience what I am talking about. The sound of powerful sea waves crashing at the steep cliffs is bewildering.
Praia da Ursa
There are many small beaches along the coast near Cabo da Roca. Amongst them is Praia da Aroeira, Praia da Ursa, Praia da Adraga. Praia da Ursa is an offbeat small beach which is accessible by a 15-20 minute hike. You can park your car along the road that leads to Cabo da Roca and walk it down from there. The views from the hike down is stunning and the beach itself is clean dotted with rocks brought by the sea. The hike back to the car is steep and bit difficult, be prepared with all things necessary.
Since the coastline near Lisbon is full of places worth exploring, we reserved two full days for it. On day two we headed to the coastal town of Cascais and places to go to nearby.
Casa das Histórias Paula Rego
Casa das Histórias Paula Rego is an art museum housing the works of a portuguese painter, Paulo Rego. If you’re missing a dose of architecture while visiting all the rocky cliff formations, the museum designed by the modern architect Eduardo Souto de Moura is a must visit. The red colored concrete facade and the two pyramidal towers strikes you from a distance. Perfect place for architecture geeks and a cup of coffee in the modern cafe to kick start your day!
Boca do Inferno
Boca do Inferno (hell’s mouth in Portuguese) is a crevasse made by waves crashing into the seaside rocky cliffs near Cascais. The result is a rocky cave which ultimately collapsed forming a small bay and a rocky arch.
Farol Museu de Santa Marta
We started walking east along the coast from Boca do Inferno. The Santa Marta lighthouse in blue and white stands tall dominating the skyline in Cascais. If you have some extra tine and interest in lighthouses’ history, the museum and the stripped lighthouse designed by the Portuguese architectural firm, Aires Mateus, is worth a visit.
Farol do Cabo Raso
Cabo Raso is another lighthouse towards the west along the coast of Cascais. The pebble beach nearby (Cabo Raso) is a quiet spot nearby to admire the lighthouse and the sea waves breaking into the pebbles.
Clicked this picture on our way back from a lovely dinner in the beautiful town of Cascais. Loved too much to not share :) #allplacestogo
Sintra and Cascais provide abundant options for small beaches, capes, rocky cliff formations and beautiful lighthouses. If you want to escape the city crowd in Lisbon, we can highly recommend these towns. Do let us know which places you went to in Sintra and Cascais. Any thing that I missed? Waiting to hear from you guys :) Till the next time then! Can’t wait because up next is our super adventurous trip to Iceland!