Located in the cool hills north of Lisbon and very close to the Atlantic Ocean, Sintra was for years a popular summer residence for the families of Portuguese rulers and noblemen. Several extravagant palaces and manor houses were built in the area, all in remarkable styles and colours. Together these unique homes and gardens form a “cultural landscape” and UNESCO world heritage site. On this easy walking and cultural holiday, you will have a chance to visit the famous landmarks in the Sintra Hills - also known as the Moon Hills - and enjoy the coastal trails in the area West of Cascais, while staying at one cosy family hotel and two renovated 1970s beach hotels.
Most of the walks are designed to take in the monuments in the morning, when it is still quiet and you can walk through relatively "quickly" before the crowds appear. Then you “head for the hills” for peaceful walks on dirt trails and woodland tracks. You can also choose to see the monuments just from the outside, then decide whether you wish to return (by bus) later in the day. After five days, you leave the palaces behind and head for the Atlantic Ocean, where you will follow coastal trails down to the westernmost cape of the European continent, ending up in the fishermen’s town of Cascais – just one hour from Lisbon by public transport
Start: Sintra Finish: Cascais
Your first accommodation when you arrive to Sintra is a family run business just outside Sintra’s town centre that has a quiet terrace with splendid views of the town and hills and is conveniently located opposite the train station and with a few restaurants nearby.
Walking tour which takes in the three most prominent monuments of Sintra: Castelo de Mouro, Palacio da Pena and the Palacio Nacional. You start with a steep ascent to the Moorish castle and the colourful dream palace of King Ferdinand, followed by a walk on the vast palace grounds and finally a steep descent via Vila Sasseti to the town centre of Sintra, where the National Palace stands.
Challenge: 9km, 4,5 hours, 475 m ascent/descent
Today you leave the crowds behind with a transfer to the Convento dos Capuchos, a classic example of an austere 16th-century Franciscan monastery which you can visit before starting off. Your walking route leads you through mystical Mediterranean woodlands past hillside menhirs and the shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary of Peninha. Then you descend to Azoia and get the bus back to Sintra.
Challenge: 11,5 km, 5 hours, 425m ascent, 500m descent
In the 19th and early 20th centuries a Romantic wind blowing through Europe was strongly felt in Sintra. Within a few square kilometres you will find extravagant palaces and mansions built by nobles and wealthy merchants, most of which are still occupied or in use as luxury hotels.
Challenge: 4,5 km or 7 km, 2 or 3 hours + time used for visiting the palaces inside
Today you leave the wealth and romance of Sintra behind as you walk north through fields, vineyards and pine forests toward the rugged coast. In the pretty fishing village of Azenha do Mar, you pick up the GR-11 and follow it south to the 1970’s hotel on "Praia Grande" in Arribas, with its huge saltwater pool.
Challenge: 15 km, 4,5-5 hours, 225 m ascent, 485m descent
From Hotel Arribas you take a long-distance walking path, the GR-11 "Costa Atlantica", going south along fishermen’s trails to reach the village of Ulgueira. Beautiful views of the Cabo de Roca -the westernmost point of the European continent- and nice sandy beach along the way. After a drink or ice cream at Casa Doña Maria in Ulgeira you return to Praia Grande via a different route which passes through the authentic village of Almoçageme.
Challenge: 11,3 or 12,6km, 4,5-5 hours, 500 or 575 m ascent/descent
Your last day of walking begins with a transfer to Azoia, where you pick up the GR-11 and follow it along the coast to the 17th-century fortress of "Fortaleza de Guincho", now a luxury hotel with views over Praia do Guincho. You can stop off part-way (after 8 km and approximately 2.5 to 3 hours walking) and take the bus directly to Cascais or walk an additional 9.5 km all the way to your hotel (footpath between the road and beach)
Challenge: 8 or 17,5km, 3 or 5 hours, 175 or 275 m ascent, 375 or 475 m descent
After breakfast, you travel back to Lisbon by public transport (one hour) or private transfer
Hotel founded in 1946 by Mário Bernardo & Etelvina Bernardo, their descendants have followed the tradition and now manage this beautiful establishment that was renovated in 1998.
This hotel was built in the 70-ties as a super modern beach front tourist resort. After a recent renovation it has become fancy again, in 'vintage' style, and is proud of it's Green Key eco-label. All rooms have extraordinary views to the sea and the huge saltwater swimming pool.
Another sea-side Green Key hotel, with a restaurant and roof-top terrace that offers views to the Sintra bay and the centre of the lively Cascais. A perfect location also to book extra nights as Lisbon can be easily reached by public transport www.hotelbaia.com
Nearest airports to Sintra is Lisbon (LIS)
From Lisbon airport, it’s easy to reach Sintra by public transport (approximately one hour), but we can also book a private taxi transfer for you, to your accommodation