Taking your time to enjoy the natural beauty around you is the Portuguese way. This ride isn’t a race, it’s a way to make every moment count.
Text: Kaitlyn Bové
Photos: Carlos Neto
Praia do Guincho embraces the crisp Atlantic coast. Lisbon isn’t a hustle and bustle kind of city like Paris, New York or London, but the city life is ever present amongst the cluster of cars and commotion. Just 40k out of the heart of Lisbon is Cascais, a traditional Portuguese fishing town decorated with 19th century architecture that situates itself just on the brink of where Lisbon’s Rio Tejo marries the Atlantic Ocean. From there you can easily bike around the bend to the other side of the Atlantic to find Guincho beach on Portugal’s Estoril Coast.
The silence on the train en route from Lisbon welcomes the weary city dweller. Embarking from the riverside railway station Cais do Sodré, the train passes through the outskirts of the city through the suburbs and into outer districts. The train crosses along the coast marking the river to the Atlantic with only the sunlight and beaming water in sight.
On the train you’re able to bring your own bike, but if not the Municipal Council of Cascais provides free bikes at the start of the trail (for those who get there early enough). The brick-red coloured bike path parallel to the road aligns with the coast of the Atlantic with a battered rocky edge carved out by bashing waves. The dramatic scenery is a gentle reminder of the country’s coastal charm and the nature that envelops the city of Lisbon.
Being along the coast the ride is in nature rather flat, with a variation of 6m-41m above sea level. And while we are dealing with only 10k of bike path, the sights will not leave any rider bored. At the beginning of the trail you can note “Boca do Inferno” (Mouth of Hell), which consists of vast cliffs that form into an open cave carved by the intense conditions of sea and rock. As the trail moves along, keep on the lookout for the Guia Lighthouse, the Säo Jorge de Oitavos Fortress and the Cabo Raso lighthouse.
About halfway through the journey you’ll approach the bend that leads you into a northwest direction – time to prepare for some strong winds going against you. The strong winds are in part of why Guincho has made a name for itself, as it’s known for its surf culture: surfing, bodyboarding, kitesurfing and windsurfing. Approaching the beach after the bend are the Sintra mountains (informally known as the mountains of the moon). They appear just ahead of the bike path. Note the point to the far west, Cabo da Roca which marks the westernmost point of continental Europe. When the brick-red coloured path turns to a dusty sand-covered path, and sand dunes mirroring the Atlantic emerge to your right, you’ve arrived at Praia do Guincho.
Do take the time to stop and enjoy the lookout points along the way. Taking your time to enjoy the natural beauty around you is the Portuguese way. This ride isn’t a race, it’s a way to make every moment count.
Amplify the ride
Too simple? For those who want more of a challenge, there are paths from Lisbon to Cascais, and then the path to Guincho. For a reminder, it is about 40k, but still seaside with a path to match. After arriving to Cascais, you can then continue onto Guincho for that next 10k. If you still hope to continue along on a saddle, continue another 12k on the road to Cabo da Roca to see nothing but the Atlantic for as far as it goes.