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Praia Grande, Sintra
The Praia Grande is a popular surfing beach that is located on the western edge of the Serra de Sintra national park. The beach faces the fury of the Atlantic Ocean and provides massive waves and powerful swell that are only suitable for confident surfers and swimmers. As the name Praia Grande (Big Beach) suggests this is the largest beach of the Cascais-Sintra coastline.
At the northern end of the beach is Europe's largest salt water swimming pool and this is ideal for families if the waves are too intense or sea to cold. The cliffs at the southern edge of the 1.5km long beach contain fossilized dinosaur foot prints. The village of Alto do Rodízio backs onto the Praia Grande, which means there are good amenities within walking distance but the beach does not have the remote or rugged feel as with other beaches along the coastline, such as the Praia de Guincho.
Tourist Information Praia da Adraga
Praia Grande can get very busy during the summer months but one thing which can not be disputed is that the Praia Grande beach is one big beach. Praia Grande should be the first choice of beach for visitors who are staying in Sintra as it is the closest stretch of coastline to Sintra and there are good public transport options.
There is plenty of car parking along the length of the beach and next to the parking are numerous small cafes, beach bars and gift shops which sadly need a good paint job. The huge salt water swimming pool is part of the Hotel Arribas and the day pass entrance fee is €7.00/€4.00 (adult child). The pool is 102 meters in length and has a flume to entertain children the only downside is that it is only open during the height of the summer season from June until September.
Getting to Praia Grande, Sintra
Praia Grande is 12km to the west of Sintra, 20km north of Cascais and 46km west of Lisbon. All visitors except from Sintra will need the use of a rental car to reach Praia Grande. From Sintra there is a bus service which departs from the main bus station and heads to Terrugem Escola via Praia Grande. The service is operated by Scotturb (number 441) and the journey is 25 minutes with a single ticket costing €3.25. There are few services during the winter and additional in the summer so check timetables before departure.
The alternative to the bus at the weekends during the summer is to catch the Elétricos de Sintra tram which runs from Sintra to Praia das Macas (the next beach north from Praia Grande). This is a quaint and unique method to reach the beach from Sintra.
Dinosaur footprints of Praia Grande Sintra
The dinosaur footprints lie in the cliffs which mark the southern edge of the beach. The footprints originate from Cretaceous period and there are 66 separate different tracks of varying sized. The majority of the footprints (51 prints) follow set pathways which due to geological movements appear to be heading vertical up the cliff face. The footprints are best viewed at night when they are illuminated. Although the cliff face has been exposed for many centuries the features were only identified as 110 million year old footprints by a pair of local students in 1981. The footprints are thought to come from just two sets of dinosaurs Megalosaurus and Iguanodons.