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Best Beaches In Sintra, Portugal – An Ultimate Guide (2024)

Portugal is well known for its stunning beaches. With almost 1,800 kilometres of Atlantic coastline, there’s no shortage of sun-kissed golden sands.

While many foreign tourists flock to the Algarve region in the far south, the beaches in Sintra are equally beautiful. They’re also typically much quieter and visited mainly by locals.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Portugal over the last few years, and the Sintra region is one of my favourite parts of the country (along with the mountains in the north, near Viseu and Douro, where I lived most recently).

Praia da Ursa is my favourite beach in Sintra, although you do need to hike down a steep track to reach it. If you’re looking for something a little more accessible, Praia da Adraga is another gorgeous spot.

Why Visit The Sintra Region?

Confusingly, Sintra is both a town (home to the stunning Pena Palace and other famous landmarks) and a wider region (which contains the town).  In this article, I’m mostly referring to the region, though have stated where this is otherwise.

An hour’s drive west of Lisbon, the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is packed full of beauty, both natural and man-made.

It’s a place of misty mountains, ancient towns, elaborate palaces, vast dunes, towering cliffs, and even the westernmost point of continental Europe.

And the beaches…

You can have many of these beaches almost to yourself

The Sintra beaches are world-class.

Some are super accessible and served by a range of amenities.  Others are totally secluded and hard to reach.  Most are fantastic in their own way.

The only problem is, there are so many of them it can be hard to know which to visit.  But fear not, now you’ve found this post.

If you’re planning to visit the Portuguese capital too, check out this excellent 2-day Lisbon itinerary.

My Favourite Beaches in Sintra

I’ve been to virtually every beach in the Sintra region. Here are 5 of my favourites.

1. Praia Grande (Big Beach)

A firm favourite – Praia Grande

By far the largest beach in the area, Praia Grande is also one of the most popular beaches in Sintra.

This long stretch of golden sand, flanked by tall cliffs, is a solid favourite of many locals.  People flock here from as far away as Lisbon and beyond.

The slate cliffs which rise steeply at the southern end of Praia Grande contain many fossils.

If you climb up the stepped walkway which rises from the cliff base, you’ll see over 60 fossilised dinosaur footprints!

These are believed to have been left by Megalosaurs and Iguanodons roughly 170 million years ago.

At low tide Praia Grande joins up with the neighbouring beach, Praia Pequena (Little Beach).

Between the two beaches is a huge outdoor saltwater swimming pool belonging to the Hotel das Arribas.  At 100 metres in length, it is one of the biggest in Europe.

The powerful Atlantic swell and relatively sheltered, sloping beach make Praia Grande an ideal surfing hotspot.  

National and international surfing and bodyboarding competitions are regularly held here, including the World Bodyboarding Championships.

Praia Grande is also one of the most accessible beaches in the Sintra region.

As well as having a large car park, the beach is easily reachable using the tram which runs between Sintra (the town) and Praia das Maçãs.

There are several cafes, restaurants and bars here, as well as other facilities including toilets and showers.  Lifeguards patrol during the summer months.

Check out this post on the Best Surfing Captions for Instagram.

2. Praia das Maçãs (Apple Beach)

Enjoy a sundowner drink or two at Praia das Maçãs

Another super accessible, and popular, beach – Praia das Maçãs is the final stop on the tram which runs from Sintra (the town) to the coast.

If you prefer beaches with a range of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops within easy walking distance (and/or if you don’t have a car), this is a solid choice.

There’s a small town (also called Praia das Maçãs) next to the beach.  Here you’ll find various accommodation options, from budget hotels, guesthouses and Airbnbs to luxurious villas.

Praia das Maçãs is popular with families and has a range of facilities for children.  On the edge of the beach, there’s a large outdoor swimming pool with diving boards and slides, as well as a children’s playground.

For water sports fans, this is another beach that’s popular with surfers and bodyboarders – although the swell isn’t quite as consistent as Praia Grande.

The name Praia das Maçãs means “beach of apples“.

In the autumn, apples from the orchards in Colares fall into the Colares River (which empties into the sea at the southern end of the beach) and wash up onto the sand.

3. Praia da Adraga (Adraga Beach)

Dramatic rock formations at Praia da Adraga

Tucked away in a cove at the end of a narrow road, and sheltered by cliffs and rocky headlands, Praia da Adraga is a stunning stretch of pristine, golden sand. 

It’s a perfect spot to spend the day, sunbathing and listening to the crashing waves.

If the swell isn’t too rough, it can also be a good place to swim.  However beware of the jagged rock formations on either side of the beach, and the currents, which are sometimes strong.

During the summer season, lifeguards patrol the beach.

While Praia da Adraga is usually much less busy than both of the above two beaches, it can still get a little crowded during weekends and public holidays.  Come midweek if you can!

Despite the wild, natural beauty of the place, there are a few facilities and amenities, including toilets, showers, and a decent little restaurant.

There’s also a wheelchair ramp leading down onto the sand, making this one of the most mobility-accessible beauty spots in the area.

To get to Praia da Adraga, you need your own car (unless you fancy a long walk, or taking a pricey taxi).

Head to the small village of Almoçageme and follow the signs down to the beach.

There’s a car park at the end of the road with enough parking for all but the busiest of weekend summer days.

4. Praia da Ursa (Bear Beach)

Praia da Ursa – the most beautiful beach in Sintra

The most inaccessible beach on this list, Praia da Ursa is also the most magical.

Located a short distance from Cabo da Roca (the westernmost point of continental Europe), this tiny, unspoilt beach is in a cove accessible only via a steep, rocky path down from the clifftops.

It’s a totally wild beach, unsupervised and with no facilities.

If you prefer to be at one with raw nature, surrounded by very few other people, you should definitely check this place out.  Personally, I think this is the best beach in Sintra.

To get to Praia da Ursa, take the road that leads to Cabo da Roca.  Before you reach the lighthouse, keep an eye out to your right for a car park.

This marks the beginning of the trail which winds its way down to the beach.

The walk down takes 30-60 minutes and should only be attempted with decent footwear.  It’s definitely worth it though – the coastal views are fantastic and the beach is beyond stunning.

The colours here are magical at sunset.  However, be careful not to get stuck down in the cove once it gets dark.

Some people choose to camp sheltered by the trees and bushes between the car park and the start of the trail.  Query whether this is strictly permitted, but I doubt you’d have any issues…  🙂

Check out this article for my review of the best tents for wild camping.

In short… One of the best tents that money can buy is the MSR Hubba Hubba 2-person tent.

5. Praia do Magoito (Magoito Beach)

Praia do Magoito – one of the best-known beaches near Sintra, Portugal

Praia do Magoito is another large sandy beach with turquoise waters and an impressive backdrop.

Steep, rocky cliffs rise sharply from the beach, giving the place an air of rugged beauty.

It’s another popular place for surfers, due to the powerful Atlantic waves which pound the sands here year-round.

Praia do Magoito reportedly has the highest concentration of iodine of any beach in Europe.  Apparently, that gives the sea here healing properties.

Located near the town of Magoito, this beach is accessible via public transport (bus) or your own car.  Despite its relative accessibility, Praia do Magoito beach is usually fairly quiet.

Even on busier days, its size means that this place never feels too crowded.

There’s a decent selection of facilities here, including toilets, showers, and a couple of restaurants.

A car park is located above the north side of the beach.  From there, you can access the beach via a sloping path that runs down alongside a stretch of (fairly geologically significant) fossilised dunes.

Practical Information & Tips for Visiting These Beaches

Clifftop path between Azenhas do Mar​ and Praia das Maçãs

This section contains all the practical info and tips you need to visit the Sintra beaches independently.

However, if you’d prefer for someone else to handle the logistics for you, check out some of Indus Travel’s highly-rated Portugal group tours.

See also: Basic Portuguese Phrases For Travel

Where to stay on the Sintra coast

View of the sea from the terrace of my rented house in Azenhas do Mar at sunset
An idyllic spot for a BBQ 🙂

I’d recommend staying in either Azenhas do Mar or Praia das Maçãs.

These two towns are only 2 kilometres apart but have quite a different feel.  Either place would make a perfect spot to base yourself to explore the Sintra beaches.

Which one to pick depends on a few factors.

Azenhas do Mar

Azenhas do Mar

The picturesque little town of Azenhas do Mar is certainly not the cheapest place to stay.

But its stunning location, picture-postcard looks and friendly, laid-back vibe make it one of my favourites in Europe.

It would also be a perfect honeymoon destination

I spent a week living and working remotely here in 2020 and wished I could’ve been there longer.

During that time, I stayed at this place (Airbnb) and it was fantastic.

Praia das Maçãs

If you’re looking for somewhere with a few more amenities, check out the town of Praia das Maçãs, which spreads out from the beach of the same name.

It’s not as pretty as Azenhas do Mar, though you’ll find a larger selection of places to eat, drink and shop.

There’s also a greater range of accommodation in Praia das Maçãs, making it an ideal option for those on a budget.

Also, there’s a beautiful clifftop path which links Praia das Maçãs and Azenhas do Mar (it’s about 2 kilometres), so you could easily spend time in both places.

Best time to visit Sintra

Cabo da Roca – the westernmost point of continental Europe

These beaches are all great year-round. Although the weather is best between April and September.

July and August are usually the hottest months. Bear in mind that this is peak summer season so the beaches will be at their busiest.

If you like warm weather but want to avoid the crowds, try coming in either May or September.

If you’re coming for the surf (and don’t care about colder weather), the swell is most powerful between October and March.

The waves can be intense during these months though, so only really suitable if you’re an experienced surfer.

One final thing to note is that the Sintra beaches can experience extremely localised mist and fog year-round, even in the height of the summer.

This is caused by damp Atlantic air currents hitting the Sintra hills.

It usually doesn’t last too long, but check the local weather forecast in the morning, even if the sun is shining where you’re staying.

There are live beach webcams at Praia das Maçãs (here) and Praia Grande (here), which are also helpful to check before packing for the beach.

How to get to the Sintra beaches

Start of the steep path down to Praia da Ursa

Some of the best beaches in Sintra are accessible by public transport – namely, Praia Grande, Praia das Maçãs, and Praia do Magoito.

You can either take the tram (to the first two) or local buses which depart from the town of Sintra.

The tram usually only runs during the summer months – check their website for further details. It offers fantastic views out over the mountainous Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais.

With your own car, you have many more options. Click here to search for the best deals on car hire in Portugal.

All of the beaches in this post have parking – though, as noted above, to get to Praia da Ursa you’ll need to walk down a steep trail to get to the beach.

For people with impaired mobility, Praia da Adraga and Praia das Maçãs are two of the most accessible beaches in the region.

** Love road trips?  Me too.  Check out some of my road trip-related posts, including:

There are many other fantastic beaches near Sintra.  These are just my favourites.  Have I missed any of yours?  Let me know in the comments below.

Sunset afterglow from a beach near Sintra, Portugal
Which do you think are the best beaches near Sintra, Portugal?

** Check out some of my other posts on my favourite beaches, including:

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