My Guide: from Sintra to Praia das Maçãs.
A former royal retreat.
This is the location of a number of royal summer residences: Sintra is a small picturesque town in the mountains, around 30 kilometres west of Lisbon. It is the starting point of an AVIS Best Road, a spectacular twelve-kilometre-long route leading to the Atlantic coast. The two bloggers Inês Manique and Ana Sofia Reis are on the road in the Mercedes-Benz C 220 d heading for Praia das Maçãs, a surfer’s paradise and breathtaking beach on the Atlantic coast. Another of their destinations is Azenhas do Mar.
Relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of the capital.
Once in Sintra, there’s plenty to discover: in 1995, the town with its dreamy cafés and shops in narrow alleyways became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its location and unique climate were previously reason enough to attract Portuguese kings.
For centuries, the royals sought cooler climes away from the heat of the country's capital in the summer months.
A dream for all vintage fans.
Anyone wishing to spend the night in Sintra should have the Chalet Saudade on their list. The adorable boutique hotel in the heart of the town is a real insider’s tip. Dark stone floors, colourful tiles on the walls and artistically decorated ceilings – the lovingly equipped hotel doesn’t just appeal to vintage fans. Chalet Saudade has a feel-good atmosphere from the 19th century despite it having been completely renovated. It’s the perfect place to experience traditional Portugal.
The right place to relax.
Approximately 200 metres away from the Chalet is Café Saudade. Sweet or savoury, coffee or wine – this home of all things traditional offers an almost limitless selection. Rustic wooden tables, lovingly selected accessories and comfortable sofas all add to the café’s unique charm. Delicacies like the irresistible “Pastéis de Nata” egg custard tarts or savoury toast with cheese and ham are a taste sensation. It’s just the right spot for drinking a relaxing coffee or reading a book.
And with the souvenirs on offer, it allows you to bring that holiday feeling back home with you – there are ceramic versions of Portugal’s “Galo de Barcelos” mascot, as well as delicious wines, teas and preserves from the local area.
Replete and in good spirits, Ana Sofia and Inês take the Mercedes-Benz C-Class in a westerly direction. Narrow, curving roads snake their way down into the valley. Breathtaking landscapes surround the two bloggers. With the wind in their hair and surrounded by fresh pine-scented air, the ocean just starts coming into view on the horizon: time for a spot of slow driving – continuing on towards the sea!
Miniature villages with whitewashed houses fly by albeit as if in slow motion. They alternate with forests and noble palaces which reign majestically above the mountain peaks – heavenly scenes!
Waves and a vast beach.
A surfer’s paradise and idyllic beach – after an impressive drive, the two arrive at Praia das Maçãs. “Particularly in the summer, the fantastic waves draw both sunbathers and sports fans alike to this vast beach,” explains Ines. Some say the beach got its name from the Portuguese word for apples (Maçãs). Apparently, they made it down the river Colares to the estuary before landing here on the beach.
Into the sunset.
The day is drawing to a close. One last destination is on the cards. An absolutely astounding place just over the hill. The C-Class accelerates with ease and carries Inês and Ana Sofia up the mountain road against the backdrop of the sunset. One final bend before the spectacular view of the fishing village of Azenhas do Mar is no longer obscured by the rocks. Above the ocean, white houses line up next to one another like terraces, closely compacted one on top of the other. In the middle stands the Azenhas do Mar Restaurante Piscinas, a top-class fish restaurant. The numerous aquariums are home to lobsters and other seafood which can be freshly prepared upon request. Then there’s the view which is out of this world.
A view which disappears above the ocean and the endless horizon which the sunset has immersed in a flaming red light as a special treat to end this unforgettable day. The route, including travel tips, can be found at Mercedes me “My Guide” and downloaded as a GPX file.