If you’re a fan of visiting natural landmarks you may have heard of Cabo da Roca in Portugal. The rugged landscape around this cape is not only beautiful but also has a cool mystical atmosphere enhanced by the ever-present strong winds in the area. This made Cabo da Roca my favourite place to go Hiking in Sintra!
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Before going backpacking in Portugal, I had heard quite a few stories already about this beautiful country, but one destination kept coming frequently on talks with other travellers: Sintra.
This beautiful little town (although technically Sintra is a much larger region) has a great combination of mountains, nearby beaches, castles and mysteries!
I’ll write on another post about things to do in Sintra, but this one is going to be about a really cool coastal hike from the end of the world passing through stunning beaches and ending with a 1945’s tram ride! Keep reading for everything you need to know about going Hiking in Sintra!
The hike from Cabo da Roca to Praia das Maças (Apples’ Beach) is 9 Km long and takes about 2h30min.
How to go to Cabo da Roca
The westernmost point in continental Europe is just a couple of hours away from Lisbon by public transport or a short bus ride from Sintra.
From Lisbon you can go via Cascais or Sintra by train and then take a bus to Cabo da Roca. The bus 403 goes between Sintra and Cascais stopping in Cabo da Roca. Departures are roughly every hour, but check the latest timetable when you’re over there as it can change depending on the season.
The bus ticket costs €4.30 from Sintra and the journey is some 30 minutes long.
Where to stay when backpacking in Portugal
This hike can easily be started from Lisbon or Sintra. In Sintra I stayed at Nice Way Hostel, this was a superb place! with a really chilled vibe, cool kitchen and super peaceful garden. The beds were also pretty cool and perfect for a backpacker on a budget.
I highly recommend to visit Sintra when you’re backpacking in Portugal, but if you go from Lisbon I stayed at Gspot Hostel which was also quite a good place to stay!
What to take to go Hiking in Sintra
This hike is not super technical but it does include some short but steep areas, specially when you arrive to Praia da Andraga.
MY HIKING ESSENTIALS
Still, I did this hike on sneakers so no need for hiking boots although they are always your best choice for hikes! plenty of water and a snack (apple or energy bar) is always a must have. You will find a little shop in Praia da Andraga where you can buy food and drinks though in case you don’t want to carry anything with you.
Starting the Hike from Cabo da Roca
When I went to visit the westernmost point in continental Europe I didn’t plan this hike at all. The staff at Nice Way Hostel told me that there were some trails to walk for about half an hour from Cabo da Roca to a nearby viewpoint so that was pretty much what I had in mind before going there.
But what I found was a really well maintained trail that goes all long the coast, so there was only one way to go: forward!!!
After you have enjoyed the views from Cabo da Roca and its lighthouse (which was closed when I visited in June 2020) you need to walk just a minute or two on the paved road where the bus came from leaving the lighthouse behind. Soon you will see the trail on the left side of the road, well marked on a lamppost.
It only takes a few minutes to start finding amazing viewpoints, which will be a constant throughout the entire hike. At first you get postcard views of the lighthouse and then from the beaches, cliffs and even the trail itself!
The start of this day Hiking in Sintra is relatively flattish, with a few trails intersecting each other taking you to different viewpoints, but eventually they all continue towards on the same direction.
The first beach you will encounter is the Praia da Aroeira which will reward you with the first dramatic rocky sight of this trail, around here is where you will find the first steepish climb of the day, but nothing really serious…
Moving on and leaving the Aroeira beach behind (and below!) you will think that you’re still on the same beach as the next destination, Praia da Ursa has some similar “pyramid” like rock formations!
About 1h20min since you leave Cabo da Roca behind you will arrive to Praia da Andraga which was the first one I saw some people as there’s a paved road there that can be reached by car. There’s also a restaurant there.
Although until this point there are already a few ups an downs, this is the steepest area of the hike. When you cross the paved road it’s possible to see a sort of trail but it’s not very clearly marked from the road itself, so a little bit of scrambling is required, this is the only “tricky” part of the entire hike so just be a bit careful.
You will pass some overgrown areas once you reach the top. The trail is still well marked so no worries that the vegetation is over 2 meters tall as these areas are not too long.
From this point is only about half an hour to arrive to Praia Grande which is quite developed/touristy. If the days allows, you can rent surfboards there. I just kept walking, this time over the sidewalk of the road towards Praia das Maças.
This is a nice little beach and looks like a nice little town to spend some time there as well. For me instead was just time to take the rather noisy but definitely cool 1945 Tram back to Sintra.
Hiking in Sintra: my verdict
Having been a completely unplanned hike, this stretch of the Portuguese coast surprised me greatly.
The hike is not very demanding, except the couple of short but steep areas so anyone with a minimum level of fitness can do it. It only took me 2h30min from Cabo da Roca to Praia das Maças, so you don’t need to plan much stuff for it.
I didn’t see many people during the entire hike and saw incredibly stunning places so I highly recommend you to go there for a good coastal walk!
Feel free to drop any comments or questions if you’re planning to do some Hiking in Sintra!
Check out the rest of my hiking adventures around the world for more inspiration on your next trip!