Portugal charms travelers with its easy manner of mingling century old traditions with modern amenities and its friendly people. This is a land steeped in many tiers of diversity and stark contrasts. There are also dramatic changes in landscape and climate within this small, westernmost country of continental Europe with over 1,000 kilometers of wonderful coastline.
We have chosen to settle in the region of Sintra because of its mild climate, verdant hills, amazing cliffs , many pristine beaches, its proximity to Lisbon and because it also offers many cultural activities.
Several of Portugal’s most beautiful beaches are in the Sintra region. Each unique and worth exploring. Our favorites are:
Adraga beach is a majestic smaller beach, surrounded by craggy cliffs and flower-decked green hillsides. It is below the picturesque village of Almoçageme. A great restaurant flanks the beach. Their fish specialties are praised throughout the area and the lively outdoor bar draws folks who love to linger late into the evening enjoying the fine regional wines and spirits while being serenaded by the pounding of the surf. Behind some large boulders is a secluded area for those wanting to sun-bathe in the buff.
The amazing vast Guincho beach near Cascais is a 15-minute drive from Adraga along a breathtaking serpentine coastal road. Guincho is a beach paradise for swimmers, surfers, and sun-lovers. We go there several times a week at sunset to walk along the shore. There are several cafes and restaurants and hiking trails right above the beach.
The municipality of Cascais offers free daily bicycles enabling day trippers to pedal along the gorgeous 7-kilometer flat coastal bike path to Guincho beach, or 2 km in the other direction to Cascais proper with its many shops and restaurants.
The lovely Praia Grande, Praia Pequena, Praia das Maçãs, and other beaches are a few minutes drive north of Adraga beach and can also be accessed along the coastal walking path. Praia das Maçãs borders a village which hosts several good restaurants, bars, internet cafes, shops and tennis courts.
The larger beaches, such as Guincho, have life guards, sun umbrellas, lounge chairs, and surfboards to rent and usually cafes, bars and restaurants are close by. Guincho also has a surfing school. We see surfers riding the waves year round and several major surfing competitions have been held there.
Several secluded white sandy beaches can only be reached on foot and offer respite from summer crowds.
Praia da Ursa is below Ulgueira, reached by wandering for 10 minutes down a steep trail. It is absolutely splendid and mostly devoid of fellow humans. The Portuguese love their beaches which are well maintained and very clean. July through September is major beach time, but hardy folks swim all year round.
Coastal hiking trails connect these beaches and lead into quaint villages and to paths into the forest of the vast Sintra National Park. Avid walkers can spend days wandering through these magical woods, marveling at the panoramic views and diverse flora and fauna, and visiting the many interesting historical sites.
Amidst all this beauty, and after months of searching, we have found a wonderful site for Quinta Colina Flora, our elegant “green” Bed & Breakfast! We are currently negotiating with the seller for a beautiful, secluded property set in lush green wooded hills overlooking the ocean. We hope to open by Christmas 2010 with three of the five planned guest rooms ready for occupancy.
We will pamper our guests with tasteful, casually elegant, large sunny rooms (each with private bath), sumptuous organic breakfasts, luncheon picnic baskets, afternoon tea by the swimming pool, and delicious dinners served with local wines.
This property is located is only a few minutes from Adraga Beach in the tiny hamlet of Pé da Serra. Many days worth of wonderful hiking lie outside the front gate of this property. The spectacular historic city of Sintra, a UN World Heritage site, with its many castles, museums and summer music/theater festivals is just a 10-minute drive, and the very agreeable city of Lisbon only a 40-minute drive. Due to the mild, temperate climate, this part of Portugal is a great four-season vacation destination.