Overview: This part of the route takes you out of Lisbon along the Tejo estuary and then up around the coast towards Peniche. Highlights along the way include:
- Cabo da Rocha – dramatic cliffs at the most westerly point of the European mainland
- Sintra – grand palaces where royals and aristocrats came to escape the summer heat
- Ericeira – surrounded by development but with an attractive Portuguese fishing town at its core
- Peniche – once the site of an infamous prison, now famed for its incredible surfing
Some of the roads on this section will be busy – particularly getting out of Lisbon. However, there are quiet spots to enjoy and this is the most attractive and interesting stretch of coast in the northern half of the country.
Distance & Difficulty: Total distance is about 163km (102 miles).
In terms of traffic, the worst part is getting out of Lisbon. We timed our visit so we left early on a Sunday morning when the roads were almost empty. Traffic levels will also depend on the time of year. Cascais and Estoril – which are on route – are popular weekend/beach escapes for people from Lisbon.
The hills around Sintra are steep – we struggled with a tandem, panniers and trailer but just shifted down to a low gear and kept plodding.
There are also some sharp ups and downs along the coast as you dip in and out of valleys going down to the coast but there’s nothing too major. Overall, the rest of the route is fairly rolling, getting easier as you head further north.
Stages: We did this part in three days of riding, stopping in Sintra (70km), Ericeira (36km) and Peniche (60km). The first day – with the hills around Sintra – was definitely the toughest. Day two was relaxing and day three was a bit more of a plod because of the wind but mostly scenic.
If you have more time on your hands, you could think about detouring inland. Particularly to the east and north of Ericeira, there are some pretty – and quiet – country roads, plus lots of small villages. If you want an alternative route, try the one below. It will take you through some backroads and give you a taste of the countryside in this part of Portugal.
If you take the detour via Torres Vedras, this could provide an extra overnight stop. There are also several day rides giving a flavour of the area are detailed on the Torres Vedras Circuits page.
The town itself makes a convenient base but is otherwise not that interesting – unless you’re interested in the history of the Peninsula War. The lines of Torres Vedras were a ring of defences – earthworks and forts – that were built around Lisbon by the Duke of Wellington and marked a turning point in the war against Napoleon.
Accommodation & Provisions: You won’t have any problems finding a place to stay on this route, whether you’re camping or staying in hotels.
There are also plenty of shops, supermarkets, cafes and restaurants along the way. Bigger places include Cascais, Sintra, Ericeira, Santa Cruz and Louinha. However, there are also quite a few smaller villages – as well as cafes at many of the beaches.
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