Portugal is not just a world-class kitesurf holiday destination…

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Portugal is not just a world-class kitesurf holiday destination…

Portugal has some of the best kitesurfing in Europe, with a rare combination of flat water and superb waves. The two very best kitesurf beaches in Portugal are opposite ends of the country (Algarve kitesurfing in the South, and Viana kitesurfing in the North), easy to combine with a stopover in Lisbon, one of the greatest cities in Europe. Lisbon is around 3 hours drive from both Lagos in The Algarve and Viana, so it is easy to fly into one, depart from the other, and drive between with a few days in Lisbon. This makes for an amazing trip, and you get to see 3 very different sides to the country.

What is so great about Lisbon?

With a vast and diverse selection of experiences on offer, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Lisbon. And with scenic routes and stunning views along the way, a fantastic way to make the most of a trip is on four wheels. Here are some of the top suggestions in and around Lisbon.

Arrive in Lisbon and explore

The adventure kick-starts with a couple of days to enjoy the capital before hitting the open road. As some of the best ways to explore Lisbon’s city centre are on foot and on the iconic and charming trams, travellers can take advantage of the various parking options available in and around Lisbon. Then it’s time to make the most of everything Lisbon has to offer, from the breathtaking architecture to the vibrant nightlife and culture along with an exciting gastronomy scene. Must-visits include Castelo de São Jorge perched on one of the city’s highest viewpoints, the stunning 25 de Abril bridge, the iconic Belém Tower and the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, as well as the up-and-coming areas of Bairro AltoAlcântara and Cais do Sodré.  

Head west to Cascais  

A former fishing village, nowadays Cascais is a chic seaside resort, favoured by European royalty for centuries and brimming with fabulous food and shopping opportunities. The N6 is the ideal route to this charming destination, following the coastline from Lisbon past beaches such as Santo AmaroOeiras and Cascavelos – all favourites amongst local Lisboetas and tourists alike and perfect for an afternoon of sunbathing – and charming beach towns such as Paço de Arcos and Estoril. Those looking to get active, can head along the rugged coastline north of Cascais via the N247 to arrive at the beaches of Cresmina and Guincho, whose stronger winds make them hotspots for windsurfers and kitesurfers. For a relaxing evening, Cascais’s marina, home to elegant yachts, has waterfront eateries and bars ideal for taking in stunning views whilst indulging in local delicacies and sipping a drink or two.

Explore Sintra’s picture-perfect viewpoints and palaces    
Driving time: Under one hour and a half

The N247 is one of Lisbon’s prettiest roads and travellers heading north on this route will arrive at Cabo da Roca, central Europe’s most westerly point and the perfect spot for early morning once-in-a-lifetime vistas. The secluded Ursa Beach is less than a five-minute drive from the breath-taking viewpoint and can only be reached via a steep and twisting route, perfect for more adventurous travellers. When it’s time for lunch, Vila da Azóia, is dotted with local restaurants serving fresh fish and seafood, as well as locally produced Corales wine. For a bonus stop and more stunning views, the viewpoint at Santuário da Peninha is located less than 15 minutes by car from Vila da Azóia and offers spectacular views over the entire Sintra coastline. The Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is a place of great natural beauty boasting walking trails with views of deep blue seas and idyllic beaches for those who want to stretch their legs with some hiking.

No visit to Sintra is complete without exploring the picturesque UNESCO World Heritage town and with various parking options available nearby, the best way to explore is on foot and public transport. Packed with fairy-tale castles, palaces and gardens it is easy to spend a whole day exploring the area. Must-see places include the spectacular Sintra National Palace, the stunning and colourful Pena National Palace and the atmospheric Jewish quarter. Travellers can complete the day with a ‘queijada’ and a ‘travesseiro’ (traditional sweets) or dinner at the picture-postcard village of Azenhas do Mar – just 20 minutes north of Sintra town on the picturesque N247.

Getting active – or relaxing – at Ericeira’s beaches
Driving time: Approx. 30 minutes

It only takes 30 minutes on the N247 to get to Ericeira from Azenhas do Mar. The first World Surfing Reserve in Europe, Ericeira is the ultimate destination for surf enthusiasts in Lisbon. Surf spots are spread over a series of bays such as Foz do Lizandro, which is great for beginners and other water sports like stand-up paddle boarding and Praia do Sul, with its rugged reefs, which is more suited to experienced surfers. For those who prefer to spend the day relaxing, the waters of Praia dos Pescadores are calmer, perfect for sunbathing and refreshing dips.  

Explore Mafra, the wine region of Bucelas and departure
Driving time: Approx. one hour

Located a 15-minute drive from Ericeira, visitors will find the UNESCO-listed National Palace of Mafra, an opulent monument to Baroque period architecture and home to a magnificent monastery, church, and library. The famed wine-producing area of Bucelas is on route to the airport, making it the perfect pit stop for an indulgent lunch and a glass of wine, an educational visit to the vineyards and wineries or for buying the perfect souvenir for a wine-loving friend or family member back home.

With relatively short drive times, this itinerary can be easily achieved over a long weekend. Alternatively, travellers wanting to relax and take their time could spread the journey over a week and spend longer at their favourite places.

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