Colares, Lisbon coast’s best kept secret
Just a few kilometres west of the world-famous town of Sintra with its crowds of tourists spending a sightseeing day away from Lisbon, you will find a beautiful and authentic landscape with picturesque villages, stunning beaches and magic rain forests. Miraculously undiscovered, Colares will delight you.
Besides being a favourite summer destination for Lisboans, lucky enough to own a summer house there, it is an area almost exclusively inhabited by locals with the exception of surfers that have discovered its ideal conditions to practice their sport.
Spreading along the coast north of the Sintra mountains it is not just the magnificent landscape and views that will fascinate you, but the endless things you can do. From just lying in the sand, watching the sundown from one of the trendy spots on the boardwalk, eating fish and seafood at a restaurant right on the beach to hour long walks along magic trails through misty forests.
The villages and routes near Colares, Sintra
The village of Almoçageme, nestled in the foot hills of the Sintra mountains overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is a bit of a local commercial centre with a week-end market and yearly festivities. In case you are staying in a self-catering accommodation, the best grocery shop is called Dias just in front of the fire department. There is an excellent restaurant on Praia da Adraga, but as it has become more famous the prices have risen quite a lot.
One of the nicest short drives I know in Portugal is from the hamlet of Pé da Serra through Penedo and from there downhill towards the historic part of Colares.
Azenhas do Mar
Azenhas do Mar features on almost all catalogues and tourist books about Portugal as it is something truly special. The funny thing is that you do not see that many tourists there as most don’t know where it actually is.
The beaches near Colares
Praia da Adraga is probably the most special beach in the area, nestled at the end of a picturesque valley. It does have two small downsides: in summer it is difficult to park and the ocean is quite dangerous so please follow the life guards’ advices.
Praia da Adraga
Praia Grande, as the name says the biggest beach, looks a bit uninviting at first glance with its large hotel Arribas, built in the seventies, and two other unsightly buildings. If you drive all the way to the end though it turns into a quite special place. The beach is wide and has golden sand, there are numerous beach bars and the “Bar do Fundo” restaurant has a fantastic terrace where you can enjoy a wonderful lunch or aperitif at the end of a day on the beach. For surfers it is one of the best spots around. Parking is not easy, but there is a private parking area at the last round-about (entrance next to the Galé restaurant).
The Paria Pequena is a nice uncrowded beach just north of Praia Grande
On Easter Friday each year the local population heads for the Praia do Magoito to harvest “mexilhões” (mussels) and cook them in the nearby pine forests. Coal fire smoke and wonderful seafood aromas linger between the trees all day.
Praia de Magoito
There are many more beaches such as Praia das Maças, Praia das Azenhas and Praia de São Julião.
The restaurants in Colares, Sintra
Azenhas do Mar
At lunchtime or even better early dinner we recommend a table on the terrace of the “Água e Sal”, a moderately priced restaurant with good fish and seafood dishes. Although the terrace looks onto the parking area, the views over the village and the ocean are beautiful. Just across is a little kiosk with a great view to have an aperitif. Down right on the beach is a beach bar where you can chill out at the end of the day. The “Azenhas do Mar” restaurant has excellent fish and seafood, although at a higher price.
Água e Sal
Down right on the beach is a beach bar where you can chill out at the end of the day. The “Azenhas do Mar” restaurant has excellent fish and seafood, although at a higher price.
Restaurante Azenhas do Mar
Praia das Maças
Most sea-food restaurants are in this simple little beach resort.
Our favourite is the “Restaurante Búzios”. It is surely the best sea food and fish restaurant in the area. It is not cheap, but certainly worth the price. Try the “Arroz de Marisco”, the typical delicious half liquid seafood rice, the “Ameijoas á Bulhão Pato”(clams) or the two types of crab “Santola” or “Sapateira”. They have a hidden parking lot at the back of the restaurant that comes in handy in summer.
Luis Alberto from the Restaurante Búzios
At the end of the beach, you will find the “Bar do Fundo”. Pleasant atmosphere and a superb terrace to savour dishes such as the lobster risotto, tuna steak and the octopus. Acceptable prices though not cheap.
Bar do Fundo
They really know how to grill a fish from the sea just in front at the “Adraga”. The restaurant is at the end of the valley just above the beach. Expensive.
The Cooperative ALDEA in Janes is real heaven for health foodies, vegetarians and vegans. It is not just the cosy feel, tasteful decoration and atmosphere that convinces, but also the quality of the dishes and produce on sale.
The best “tosta mista”, a typical Portuguese ham and cheese toast, you can get anywhere near here is in the “Moinho Verde”, a simple little café on the main square in Almoçageme.
Just next to the week-end market of Almoçageme on the junction to Praia Grande on the main road from Cabo da Roca to Colares is a simple food truck with great pizza at affordable prices called “Gigi’s”
Gigi’s pizza food truck
The beach bars
The “31 terrace and lounge”
The “31” is the newest spot in Praia das Maças. Terrace open to the beach and ocean. During winter months enjoy live concerts or the dance floor in the evenings.
31 terrace and lounge
The “Quiosque” is a former newspaper stand turned into a bar. Goof atmosphere, drinks and finger food with a terrace to watch the sun go down over the ocean.
The “Aldeia da Praia” a former summer camp for children has turned into a hip spot with lots of fine places to choose from: Souldough Pizza with its delicious selection of vegetarian Napolitanian sourdough pizza, baked on a sizzling hot stone oven, breakfast or brunch at the Nomads or a burger with hand-cut fries at the Burgeria Aldeia to the Matsu wine bar & sushi or a drink at the Hops & Drops sering artisan brewed beer.
Where to stay in Colares, Sintra
This unique OUTPOST Casa das Arribas sits above the cliffs of the deep blue Atlantic Ocean and welcomes its guests with a great combination of modern design, rooms full of light, wooden decoration and panoramic views.
Azenhas do Mar Villas
Five dream villas that offer breath-taking sea views and a unique setting. The villas feature balconies and terraces with panoramic views. Each unit offers a living room, fireplace and a fully equipped kitchen.
Azenhas do Mar Villas
Casa do Vale
Casa do Valle is a stunning house located in the middle of a large garden, on a slope that was once a vineyard but is now home to a blooming orchard. The surroundings are stunning with views to the mountains and palaces of Sintra. You'll be able to see all of this from your room, or from the garden.
Casa do Vale
Imagine driving down a pretty country lane and discovering an old watermill. Cross the tiny stone bridge, open the gate; walk up bougainvillea covered steps to a second cottage on a sunny patio. That’s what you get with the Azenha do Corvo, two very lovingly restored and tastefully decorated cottages, set in 5000 metres of unspoilt woods of oaks and ferns, a charming garden, sunny patios, a lovely pool and sun deck, topped off with the luxury of peace and quiet.
Azenha do Corvo
If you want to enjoy wonderful views over the mountains of Sintra let the Casa Holstein be you first stop. Although near the centre of Sintra, the famous national palace of Sintra is only in 300 metres away, it is hidden well enough amongst the eucalyptus trees of its large garden that guests will feel in the middle of the countryside, albeit one that offers the Moorish castle on top of the hill as a backdrop.
The Dream Guincho is located on the southern side of the Sintra mountains, but it is only a 20-minute drive from Colares and deserves to be mentioned as a recommendation. A stay at Dream Guincho will feel like more than a dream. The location, the house itself, the service, the food… everything is perfect.
The walking trails in Colares, Sintra
Our next post will show you a sample of beautiful walking trails in the Sintra mountains that will astonish you.