Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is a protected area with 145 square km that includes not only an incredible natural heritage, but also very rich historical sites. It's close proximity to Lisboa, explains why it used to be the chosen holiday retreat for the royal family and many other wealthy families, who longed for fresh air during the summer.
Nowadays it remains a perfect relief from the hustle and bustle of the city and a great place to disconnect and get immersed in nature, no matter the season. Even winter is a great time to visit it, mainly due to the fact that during the colder months it is very quiet and the misty landscapes become even more magical.
These are some of the reasons why you should visit Sintra Cascais Natural Park!
Sintra is located within a 30 min. drive from Lisboa and is considered UNESCO World Heritage due to the magnificent landscapes, castles, monasteries, beautiful palaces and incredible private estates.
Even though the small and picturesque village of Sintra deserves a visit, the musts are scattered around town amongst the dense forest and at the top of the rolling hills. There are way too many highlights and each building tells its own story, so the best is taking the time to explore the town and its surroundings with no rush. Having in mind that Sintra is the main touristic point around Lisboa, it’s usually very crowded during the day when day trippers arrive from the city, specially during peak season. However, during winter and towards the end of the afternoon Sintra becomes almost unrecognisable and the only sound you'll hear are your own footsteps on the cobble stone streets.
Cascais is another city located inside the natural park and just over half an hour west of Lisboa. This old seaside fishing town became the favourite holiday spot of the Portuguese king, who turned it into one of the richest areas in the country. Today it's still a great place to live in, but also a nice one to visit thanks to its friendly and chilled vibe. Not to mention the coastal promenade and the amazing views over the ocean...
Nature and Biodiversity
The natural park comprises an impressive biodiversity, from exotic plants to endangered animal species. There are over 200 animals in total, of which about 160 are birds. This explains the delightful daily natural alarm clock.
The climate and the park's geo formations create perfect conditions for the flora to thrive and that's why there are over 900 species of plants, herbs, trees and flowers covering this territory. 150 of them were brought over from distant lands, but found their home in this central-west Portuguese paradise. This amount of green generates a high humidity index and it's common to drive or walk around through misty areas, which creates a very mysterious aura.
The park is cornered against the Atlantic Ocean and there are some spots worth visiting on the coast. One of them is the adorable fishing village of Azenhas do Mar, set in the cliff and filled with small white-washed houses. At the bottom of the cliff there are small beaches and a magnificent pool which was dug back in the 50’s. Cabo da Roca, continental Europe’s westernmost point, is another highlight. This natural promontory sits at about 150 metres above sea level and from there you have amazing panoramic views over the mountain and the coast.
Surfing is another reason why some beaches get crowded early in the morning. Praia Grande and Praia do Guincho are two great ones with a consistent good swell that attract many surfers from the city, specially during the weekend.
Fresh fish and seafood are a given and also a great excuse to head to the shore. After all, there's nothing better than wrapping up a day of active sightseeing than a delicious meal by the sea.
These are only a few reasons to visit Sintra-Cascais Natural Park and there are many other different parks and natural reserves across the country, so get in touch and we'll help you create a perfect holiday plan to meet your interests and expectations.