I was invited to share one of my favourite journeys through Portugal as part of a campaign by Inntravel. As a Portugal native, there’s nothing I love more than showing off my home country and encouraging other people to visit. I go back home to Lisbon as often as I can, and when we travel there as a family, we always try and experience something new every time, whether that be a break in the city, a beach, trying a new type of food (or a wine tour!)”
or an activity we’ve never done before. Be it exploring Portugal’s second city of Porto or driving through the country’s less travelled roads, one thing’s for sure – you’re bound to experience Portugal like no other way.
If I was going to introduce someone to Portugal for the first time, I think I would suggest they spend at least a part of their holiday exploring the Sintra coast, just outside Lisbon. Sintra is probably the best-known day-trip from the capital, with its fairytale castle, winding streets lined with cafes, shops and magnificent traditional houses. We often visit when we have friends with us, and usually escape the crowds by walking up to the ancient Moorish castle at the top of the hill, from where you can enjoy incredible views across countryside and sea. Another lovely spot here that we recently discovered was the Quinta da Regaleira, a UNESCO-site with a mysterious grotto that my son loved exploring.
Along the ruggedly beautiful coastline you’ll find many other points of interest, such as Cabo da Roca, which is the westernmost point of mainland Europe and worthy of a photo opportunity; Boca de Inferno (Hell’s Mouth) in Cascais, which is a natural rock formation that dramatically foams and crashes with waves when the tide comes in, and a number of picturesque but windy beaches.
The Sintra coast is among the best places in Europe for sports such as surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. The World Bodyboarding Championships are held on Praia Grande every August, and on Guincho, which is one of our favourite beaches in Portugal, you will often see the surfers heading out into the waves.
The summer just past, we rented a villa on the coast for a week and spent some time getting to know the area a little better. When I was young, my family would often holiday along the Sintra coast, but it has been years since I have properly roamed around freely and revisited some of these spots. Happily, they were just as gorgeous as I remembered.
Where’s good to eat on the Sintra coast?
More often than not we go for the easy, reliable option of the bar overlooking Guincho beach – they do a good burger and after you’ve eaten and drunk your fill of our finest beer, Super Bock, you can pop down to the sands to walk it off.
But I suggest if you want somewhere a bit more upmarket, trying the restaurant at Adraga, another wonderfully windswept beach that represents wild Portugal at its best. They serve up delicious fresh seafood as well as my favourite snack, percebes, harvested from the rocks. It’s easily reached from the main road, taking you through the narrow streets of a charming fishing village.
Where’s good for a sundowner on the Sintra coast
A new place we fell a little bit in love with this year was the beach bar at Azoia. Park up at the top, snap a few photos of the fabulous coastal views, then walk down the steps to the small beach at the bottom. It’s a lively place as popular with the locals as it is with tourists, and a great place to watch a sunset. We’ll be back there before too long I think.
Nb: This post has been written in collaboration with Inntravel, but as always all tips, experiences and opinions are my own.