The original, independent guide to Lisbon
The original, independent guide to Lisbon
Praia das Maçãs is a charming town situated on one of the most beautiful beaches of the Sintra coastline.
The town sits on the mouth of the Colares river, and into this valley, a wide beach has formed, protected on both sides by rocky headlands. The pretty town perches on the cliffs to the north of the beach, and although small, has a distinctly Portuguese atmosphere, packed with cafes, restaurants and bars.
The region has always been a favourite with the Portuguese but is barely known by foreign tourists. This is surprising considering the beauty of the beaches, the stunning scenery and the closeness to major tourist areas such as Lisbon, Cascais and Sintra.
For a holiday, Praia das Maçãs is a great destination if you enjoy low-key and authentic Portuguese, but want the convenience of being close to Lisbon.
This article will provide an introduction to Praia das Maçãs, either for a beach trip, or as a destination to explore as a day trip.
Insight: If you on holiday in Sintra, the Praia das Maçãs is your best option for a beach and can be reached via public transport.
Advice: Before heading to the Praia das Maçãs for a beach trip always check the Meo (mobile phone company of Portugal) webcam as the beach can have very localised weather with sea mist or low cloud cover. (Details of this unique weather is discussed later in this guide). The webcam can be seen here: https://beachcam.meo.pt/livecams/praia-das-macas/
The Praia das Maçãs rarely gets overly crowded but the Praia Pequena do Rodízio on the other side of the southern headland provides an even quieter beach. The Praia Pequena do Rodízio sits at the base of the cliff and can be reached by crossing the Colares river and following the coastal path.
The Praia Grande is the other main beach of the region, and is a 900m stretch of sands, that is popular for surfing. Found on the beach and surf rental shops and surf schools – If you want to go surfing this is the beach to head to.
Overlooking Praia Grande is one of the largest saltwater pools in Europe, with a length of 100 and containing two diving boards. The pool is part of the Arribas hotel, and entrance to the pool complex is €11.00/€5.00 (weekday adult/child) or €14.00 €6.50 (weekend adult/child)
Advice: There are is never enough car parking at Praia Grande. If you want a hassle-free day at the beach, head to Praia das Maçãs
To Escape tourists: If you want a truly wild and remote beach to visit, along with challenging hiking trails, visit the Praia da Ursa. It is a rough dirt road to the car park and then a 1km hike through dramatic scenery and down steep cliffs to a stunning untouched beach.
A slightly more accessible beach but with an equally stunning setting is the Praia da Adraga 2.6km south of Praia das Maçãs (but the limited roads mean a 7km drive)
The Praia das Maçãs region makes for an enjoyable day trip from Lisbon, but you will need a car to get the most from it.
We would recommend beginning in Praia das Maçãs (to get a car parking spot!) and visit the Mercado Praia das Maçãs market.
After a coffee in a café, wander along the coastline south to Praia Grande, which passes the Praia Pequena do Rodízio beach. In the summer Praia Grande is always buzzing with surfers, surf schools and families.
For lunch we would suggest one of the restaurants in Praia das Maçãs, both Búzio and Atlantiko on the main street sever outstanding dishes, and are highly recommended.
For the afternoon we would suggest visiting the beautiful Praia da Adraga beach and the scenic drive along the N247 road. This road winds around the steep hills of the Serra da Sintra and provides many wonderful views of the region.
The best of these viewpoints is at the Sanctuary of Peninha, a chapel and abandoned villa that sits atop one of the regions highest peaks.
At the end of the day, visit the Cabo da Roca headland, which the most westerly point of mainland Europe. This is a magical location to watch the sunset.
Related articles: Cabo da Roca
Praia das Maçãs translates to Apple beach. The beach is named so, as apples grown in the fertile region would be washed down the river by winter storms and be deposited on the wide beach.
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