Cabo da Roca is a wild and rugged headland that marks the most westerly point of mainland Europe. The windswept cliffs of Cabo de Roca were believed to be the edge of the world up until the up until the late 14th century and the spectacular, desolate scenery adds to the allure of the location. The raging Atlantic Ocean waves pound the base of the massive jagged cliffs while challenging hiking trails follow the coastal paths.
The isolated atmosphere of Cabo da Roca is enhanced by the very limited development in the area; there is a lighthouse, coffee shop and gift shop but nothing much else. This wind blasted and dramatic landscape is the attraction and this is what most visitors expect for the western edge Europe or end of the world.
There is no entrance fee or parking charges at Cape Roca. Most visitors spend between 30-60 minutes viewing the cliffs, the monument and lighthouse. There are coastal paths for longer visits but the bracing wind usually limits visitor’s stays. Sunset is the best time of day to visit with the sun setting over the ocean but unfortunately this time does not always align in with limited bus services.
The gift shop offers a novel gift, a personalised and handwritten certificate confirming you have visited Cabo da Roca. The basic certificate is €5.60 or the more elaborate certificate is €11.00.
The lighthouse at Cabo da Roca
Cabo da Roca is 18km west from Sintra, 15km north from Cascais and 40km west of Lisbon. The easiest and convenient method of transport is by rental car, the route from Cascais (and Lisbon) follows the scenic N247 and leaves at the village of Azóia. The route is well signed and is a further 2.5km from the village.
Travel to Cabo da Roca by public transport is again relatively easy as the bus stop is on the main Cascais to Sintra bus route (bus number 403). A single ticket cost €4.05, and the journey from Sintra takes 40 minutes or 25 minutes from Cascais. There is a service each hour in both directions between 9:00-17:00 but the times are not regular during the day, so check local bus timetables before departure. Taxis can be hired from Cascais and the journey with a 30-minute wait costs €35.
Cabo da Roca lighthouse was the first purpose-built lighthouse in Portugal and was completed in 1772 but its present form originates from 1842. The lighthouse stands 150m above the ocean, and this height means that the 1,000 watt light can be seen 46km away.
The constant strong winds means that all plant life is low-lying and able to grow under the high saline conditions. The most prominent plant of the headland is the Ice Plant (Sour Fig), which is a non-native plant to Portugal but became an invasive species, smothering out local plants, after escaping from a local garden 3 decades ago.
The Cabo da Roca Portugal headland is marked by a stone monument with a cross atop. The inscription on the side of the monument is a quote from the famous Portuguese poet Luis Camoes (1524–1580) who described the area as "Where the land ends and the sea begins".