Planning a day trip to Cabo da Roca? Set on the edge of Sintra’s National Park, this prominent cape offers spectacular sea views that you don’t want to miss.
Portugal has a long coast lined with beaches, and in between them, you can find lots of cliffs jutting out into the Atlantic. Cabo da Roca is one of those places.
Breaking waves, rocky shores and windswept cliffs, Cabo da Roca ticks all the boxes, with one added bonus—it’s the westernmost point of mainland Europe. For a while, this was considered the end of the world, and you’ll see why, as there’s nothing but water for miles ahead.
Whether you’re coming from Lisbon via Sintra or Cascais, this guide will help you plan your day trip to Cabo da Roca and what to do once you get there.
Cabo da Roca: the end of the world
Today everyone knows what lies beyond Europe, but that wasn’t always the case for Portuguese explorers, who believed Cabo da Roca was the end of the world.
Who can blame them? Portugal stands on the edge of the Atlantic, so, in a way, this is the place where the land ends and the sea begins. These are the same words that the Portuguese poet Camões chose to describe Cabo da Roca—“aqui…onde a terra se acaba…e o mar começa.”
While it’s not the end of the world, it’s still the last piece of mainland Europe, and it deserves a visit.
What to do in Cabo da Roca
If you’re wondering what to do on your day trip to Cabo da Roca, here are six things we recommend.
1. Enjoy the ocean views
Set over the Sintra mountains, Cabo da Roca is an incredible natural viewpoint. From here, you can capture the waves pounding against rugged cliffs and the little beaches tucked in between them. You can actually visit some of these beaches, but we’ll get to that in a second. Before you leave Cabo da Roca, make sure to follow the trails along the clifftop so you can catch different perspectives.
Insider’s tip: The only downside of being this close to the Atlantic are the strong winds. Be careful while exploring and avoid standing too close to the edge!
2. Take in the Cabo da Roca Lighthouse
Amid the green fields of Cabo da Roca, you’ll find a colorful red and white lighthouse. Completed in 1772, it’s one of the oldest lighthouses along the Portuguese coast. It stands 165 meters above sea level, and its light can be seen as far as 48 kilometers away. Currently, there are three faroleiros (lighthouse keepers) responsible for assisting navigations between Cabo da Roca and Ericeira.
Insider’s tip: There are occasional opportunities for visits to the lighthouse, but you need to check in advance with the Núcleo Museológico da Direção de Faróis.
3. Read the Cabo da Roca poem
Head to the left side of the headland, and stop to see the stone monument. Engraved on this stone is a short poem by the famous Portuguese writer Camões. It’s written in Portuguese, but it translates as “here…where the land ends and the sea begins…” Besides the poem, the stone also includes Cabo da Roca’s coordinates, its sea level altitude and the label of the most western point in the European continent.
4. Visit the tourist office
To remember your trip to Cabo da Roca, you can get a souvenir at the tourist office. It’s a handwritten certificate with your name stating that you were at the most western point in Europe. It costs €11, and there’s also a Braille version for €4.50. Of course, you don’t need to get the certificate, but it’s still worth coming here if you want to ask for recommendations of things to see nearby or if you need help getting back to town.
5. Explore the beaches around Cabo da Roca
There are a few hidden beaches near Cabo da Roca which you can reach on foot. To the left, there’s Praia do Louriçal, and to the right, there’s Praia da Ursa. Praia do Louriçal is a pebble beach, and you can access it via a walking trail from Cabo da Roca. The last stretch of the trail is very steep, so there’s a rope to help you get down. The hike to Praia da Ursa is also a bit challenging, but your reward is a secluded sandy stretch.
Insider’s tip: Be careful when walking down the trails, and make sure you have adequate shoes for hiking!
6. Take a hike around the Sintra Natural Park
Located within the Sintra Natural Park, Cabo da Roca is a good starting/ending point for a hike, if you want to make a day of it. We suggest walking from Sintra, so you can explore a few monuments in town and arrive at Cabo da Roca for sunset, then take the bus back. It takes around 4 hours to walk from Sintra to Cabo da Roca, but you’ll get to explore more of the region this way.
Is Cabo da Roca worth it?
Yes! The views are incredible, and there are few places like this in the world. Plus, you have stunning beaches nearby and challenging nature trails. If you’re planning to come to Cabo da Roca, we suggest combining your visit with a trip to Cascais or Sintra. The first one is a small seaside town, while Sintra is mostly famous for its palaces and historical attractions.
How to get to Cabo da Roca
The best way to reach Cabo da Roca is by car. However, it’s also possible to get public transportation or a taxi. Below are a few tips on how to travel from Lisbon, Sintra, or Cascais to Cabo da Roca:
- Lisbon to Cabo da Roca
If you’re coming from Lisbon, you can take a train to Sintra from Rossio or Oriente or to Cascais from Cais do Sodré, then follow the directions for each town below. For train tickets, we recommend buying a Zapping card from the ticket office/machine and charge it with €5 or €4 if you can. With this card, the train trips will cost you €1.90 instead of €2.25. Plus, you can use the card for any transport within the Lisbon network (train, bus, metro, boat).
- Sintra to Cabo da Roca
You can take the 403 bus from Sintra’s train station to Cabo da Roca. The journey takes around 40 minutes, and the tickets cost €3.35 each way. You can buy the tickets directly from the driver. There’s also a daily tourist ticket for €15 that you can use for all the Scotturb buses. It’s a good option if you want to combine your day trip to Cabo da Roca with a tour around Sintra’s monuments.
A taxi from Sintra to Cabo da Roca will cost you around €25 one way, and the journey takes about 30 minutes.
- Cascais to Cabo da Roca
Once you get to Cascais, you’ll need to get past the barriers and then turn right to exit the train station. You’ll see a shopping centre on your right called Cascais Villa, and there’s a bus terminal underneath it. Head there and look for the 403 bus stop. The ticket from here also costs €3.35, but the trip to Cabo da Roca takes a little less time from Cascais, about 22 minutes.
A taxi from Cascais to Cabo da Roca costs on average €20.
Joana is a Portuguese travel writer based in Lisbon. On her blog City Odes, she writes about the hidden gems of Portugal, fun road trips and train rides worth taking. When she’s not typing away on her laptop, you can find her drinking an IPA on one of Lisbon’s latest craft beer bars.