21 Feb

Sintra is a fairytale town, close enough to Lisbon to offer a vibrant nightlife but also on the doorstep of some of the wildest, most beautiful beaches in Portugal. This place has bewitched artists for centuries. The poet Robert Southey called it, “the most blessed spot on the whole inhabitable globe.” Cooler than Lisbon and featuring its own beautiful microclimate, Sintra is a refreshing place to be.

Better still, all you have to do is travel a few miles – and make a worthwhile effort – to discover beaches so dramatic you’ll never want to leave.

This place weaves a spell. If frothy seas and vast cliffs, hot sunshine and sparkling water are on your list of things to do in Sintra, read on. Your destination is Cabo da Roca, the most western point of the European continent and home to a long list of spectacular golden sandy beaches. It’s spotlessly clean too. No wonder they’re so popular with the world’ surfers and bodyboarders.

Because Sintra faces west it offers a fresh, windy, wild and invigorating beach life, with an average water temperature of 15C or 59F. The awesome natural scenery is all jagged steep cliffs and dizzying descents giving way to quiet curved bays. First explore Ursa and Adraga beaches, where there are very few people, to get a taste for the extraordinary atmosphere. Then visit these 3 Sintra beaches and lose your heart to their unique natural beauty.

Scenic with a great eatery – Praia da Adraga

An extremely scenic beach, Praia da Adraga sits between huge cliffs and qualifies as one of Europe’s best beaches according to several sources. It’s a challenge to get to, which makes it even more fun, and there’s a lovely restaurant at the entrance of the beach where you can eat facing the sea. Plus and private sunbathing between the rock formations and, if you like, thrilling caves to explore at low tide.

Like your beaches big? Marvel at Praia Grande

This beach is huge, the biggest in Sintra at more than a mile long. Overlooked by a massive seawater swimming pool, this beach is world renowned for surfing and bodyboarding, host of plenty of European surfing competitions as well as world bodyboarding championships. The people are young and chilled and the vibe is sporty. But there’s more. Examine the cliffs to see loads of 170 million year old dinosaur footprints. Mind, blown…

Praia da Aguda

Not far from Azenhas do Mar there’s a properly-wild beach, accessible via a steep set of steps from the cliff top down and not for the faint hearted. This is the haunt of a handful of local people and some fishermen, isolated enough to put off the madding crowds. It also happens to be an unofficial nudist beach. Shining tidal pools form between the rock at low tide, making it a great place to paddle, find interesting sea creatures, and simply relax to the mesmerising sound of nothing but the waves.

If you’re booking a Sintra holiday for seclusion, peace and refreshing adventures by the sea, the beaches we’ve mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s wild, and that makes it perfect for the wild at heart.

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