The best independent guide to Cascais
The best independent guide to Cascais
The bike ride from Cascais to the stunning, surfing beach of Praia do Guincho follows a purpose built cycle path and the 10km round trip is an enjoyable half day tourist activity. The route follows the dramatic cliff coastline and passes multiple interesting sights.
This is also an inexpensive activity for tourists as the municipal council of Cascais offers basic bike rental for free. This guide will detail the cycle route, where to hire bikes and offers useful tips.
The vast Guincho beach is only 8km from Cascais
Guincho beach is a vast sandy beach that faces the might of the Atlantic Ocean, the huge waves are great for surfing while the near constant breeze is ideal for kite surfing. The beach is situated on the edge of the Serra de Sintra National Park, which has enabled the region to maintain its unpreserved, natural beauty. Cycling is one of the best ways to travel to Guincho beach, as there is only a limited bus service from Cascais and taxi fares are expensive. Most visitors to Guincho drive but it can be difficult to find a parking space during the summer.
The cycle path follows the main coastal road (the N247) but cyclists can follow a separate path. This enables tourists to take it at their own pace and enjoy the vistas. The route closely follows the coastline and there are some gentle but long inclines along the way. The route is relatively easy but the main challenge is the heat in peak seasons. Make sure to stop at one of the plentiful cafes, viewpoints and free water fountains along the way.
The free Bicas bikes and the cycle path
Most tourist will attempt to rent the free bikes (called Bicas) that are provided by Cascais council. These bikes can be rented for the whole day and need to be returned before the office closing time. The free bikes are very basic and have no gears or safety equipment provided. Another inconvenience is that no lock or chain is provided so bikes cannot be secured or left unsupervised.
There are only a limited number of the free bikes and the demand outstrips supply during the peak season. The bikes also cannot be reserved so if you wish to secure one during the peak season it is recommended to collect them early in the day. During the summer the Bicas bikes can be hired from 8:00 and have to be returned by 19:00, while in the winter it is 9:00 until 16:00.
The most convenient rental location is the stand opposite the train station, close to McDonalds. The other Bicas rental locations are at the main tourist office and Casa da Guia (2km along the cycle route). Better bikes (with safety gear and locks) can be hired from the rental shop in the marina. This is a better option for families and serious cyclists.
The pathway to Guincho beach
Identification (passport or driver licence) is needed to rent the bikes. This identification is not retained by the rental office and is handed back to the visitor. They will also ask for an address (hotel) and contact number (again give the hotel).
The marked cycle route starts in front of the Castro Guimarães museum, which lies just to the west of the marina and across the narrow cobbled bridge.
The Castro Guimarães museum in Cascais
The first sight along the route is an interesting cliff formation with a very dramatic name, Hell’s Mouth (Boca do Inferno). The Boca do Inferno is a collapsed cave that has left a natural sea arch, which waves dramatically crash into (this is most spectacular during winter storms).
The Boca do Inferno, on a calm day
As the cycle path crosses from the left side of the road to the right there is the striking canary yellow Casa da Guia. Whilst taking in this site, it is worth stocking up on refreshments found in the kiosks and cafes within the palace grounds – ideal for a midway break. Back on the bike and a little further along the path there is the Farol da Guia lighthouse. Do note that tourists cannot enter the lighthouse though as it is a restricted building.
The Farol da Guia and cliffs of Cascais
The next site along the path is the Forte de São Jorge de Oitavos. Inside this small 17th century fort there are original cannons, which once guarded the coastline from attack.
The cannons of the Forte de São Jorge de Oitavos
The following section of the cycle path passes along the barren and wind blasted cliffs of the Serra de Sintra National Park. On a clear day the colourful Pena Palace can also be seen at the top of the hill to the east.
The Arriba by the Sea is a popular wedding venue and swimming Pool!
The first beach which is passed by cyclists is the small Praia da Arriba. On the cliffs above the beach there is a popular wedding venue, Arriba by the Sea, and a swimming pool complex.
The Fortaleza do Guincho, as viewed from Praia da Crismina
As the path starts to descend, the second much larger Praia da Crismina beach is passed. This beach is separated from Praia de Guinch by the headland and the distinctive Fortaleza do Guincho. This historically important fort has been converted into an exclusive hotel and restaurant.
From here a raised walk way spans the sand dunes of Guincho beach and then the cycle path turns right and inland at the junction. Continue along the road (N247) to the left and take the first left junction to turn into the main car park and the northern side of Guincho beach. Unfortunately, there are no coastal paths to continue cycling to the Cabo de Roca.