I do not know why it took me so long to make it to Portugal. But once I have been there, I was on the hook immediately. Portugal was one of my first destinations after travelling for a pretty long time. The travel spirit came back immediately when I stepped out of the airplane. Sintra is a great starting point and Portugal is an amazing country to travel the crazy way with a backpack, no plan and lust for adventures.
Arriving in Portugal
As I do not like to plan my journeys at all, I booked a flight from Berlin to Lisbon and a return flight from Porto back to Berlin. That was all of my preparation. The evening before departure, I browsed through Couchsurfing, created a public event and got in touch with a guy from Sintra – Nuno. Nuno invited me to stay at his home in Sintra. I told him that I would come the day after my arrival in Lisbon because I felt too lazy to make my way from Lisbon to Sintra after the flight and he offered me to pick me up by car at the airport as he was working close by anyways. I was a bit nervous about stepping into the car of someone I do not know but decided to go with it and agreed. The right decision – I had the best time I could have imagined. At the airport, Nuno spotted me directly, offered me some water and we walked to his car and headed to beautiful Sintra area for dinner.
Couchsurfing in Sintra
We made some antipasti for the both of us and introduced me to his two dogs. Oh my gosh, I loved the olive oil, the queso fresco and the chorizo (still ate meat at that time). The Portuguese cuisine is amazing, try it out! I got my own room and had a great sleep with my full stomach. Sintra is a small town with beautiful castles (beautiful especially at night) and definitely worth a visit but unfortunately pretty crowded with tourists at high season. In my opinion, the national park close by is the better option if you are a nature lover as I am. Without Nuno, Sintra would not have been on my list at all. That is what I love so much about Couchsurfing – things just happen. And just two hours after meeting the guy from Couchsurfing, it felt like visiting a friend already and we enjoyed a great conversation about love, life, travelling and plastic waste.
Praia da Ribeira – Ribeira beach
After having breakfast the next in a cute restaurant in Cascais, we drove to the closest beach: Praia da Ribeira de Cascais and I was so stunned. Cute fisherboats waiting close to the shore to sail into the ocean, tasty bakeries and a little breeze. Praia da Ribeira de Cascais is easy to reach by car. When Nuno told me that this was just random in comparison to the upcoming beaches, I did not trust his words. “Wait, till you see the other beaches” he said. And he was so right.
Cabo da roca
Next we drove to the Cabo da roca, the most western mainland point of the European Contintent. Wild flowers were growing everywhere filling the coast with colours. That is the beauty about travelling at spring time. Life just begins. Nuno told me a lot of these place but I was so stunned that I barely listened at all.
Praia da Adraga – Adraga beach
Next stop was praia da Adraga. By that point, I learned a few Portuguese words already and we decided to enjoy breakfast before heading to the beach. When we parked at the parking lot in front of the beach, I asked Nuno to have breakfast in the trunk of the car as this is how I used to live and travel for more than a year and I missed it so much. I was so happy when we squeezed into the trunk, ate the fresh bread, cheese and fruits. It’s the little things that make you happy.
While having breakfast some dogs came to us begging for food. And once we shared the ham with them the friendship began. The dogs followed us to the little bar in front of the beach for a tiny beer and to the beach where we found wind protection between the cliffs and all of us chilled for a while. It was really hard for me to leave my new friends and step into the car again to head back.
Praia de São Julião -SãoJulião beach
I can hardly recommend any beach to you because every one is so special in itself. During summer, you can easily sleep at the beach or in your car at the car park without worries. You will probably meet some other travellers there anyways and be in good company and it is going to be super hot and perfect weather to chill at the beach and go for a swim. If you prefer to travel without meeting many people – summer and autumn are the time to go for you. I did both already and Portugal and especially Sintra and the National park are worth visiting at every season of the year.
As I am a huge fan of sunsets, we drove back to the beach to watch it. The perfect time to take pictures and review the day and all its magical moments.
And because I loved Sintra area and the time with my host Nuno so much, I came back for sure. I came to Portugal the first time to meet a stranger but left a friend behind me which I will always visit again. Be prepared if you go to Portugal for the first time: you will be on the hook and it will not be the last time you went there. Not only the beauty of the nature but also the kindness of the locals will make you fall for the country.
Have you been to Portugal, Sintra and the Sintra-Cascais National Park yet? How did you like it?