Cabo da roca

The Cabo da Roca is the wild and rugged headland that marks the most westerly point of mainland Europe. These windswept cliffs and barren lands were believed to be the edge of the world up until the 14th century, and even today the region possesses a remote and untamed atmosphere.

This isolated ambience of Cabo da Roca is enhanced by the very limited development within the area; there is a lighthouse, a coffee shop and a gift shop but nothing much else. The wind blasted and dramatic landscape is the primary draw of the Cabo da Roca, and is ideal for tourists who appreciate nature’s raw beauty.

The Cabo da Roca is a popular destination with organised tours, as a stop between Sintra and Cascais, but it is easy to escape the throngs of tourists. Skirting along the top of the cliffs are challenging hiking trails that follow ancient coastal paths, and lead to pristine cove beach such as the Praia da Ursa or Praia da Adraga.

To truly experience the magic of the Cabo da Roca, visit at sunset, just as the last golden rays of sunlight illuminate the ocean.
Related articles: Cascais guide – Sintra guide

Tourist information for the Cabo da Roca

There is no entrance fee or parking charges at Cabo da Roca. Most visitors typically spend just 15-30 minutes here, which is enough time to view the cliffs, taking a photo of the monument and see the lighthouse.

This rushed experience is often encouraged by the coach tours, which make a brief stop here on their way between Sintra and Cascais.
If you enjoy hiking or breath-taking natural scenery your visit should be much longer.

  • Tourist Info: As this is an exposed headland, expect bracing winds and for it to feel significantly chiller than in Cascais or Sintra.
  • The gift shop offers a novel gift, a personalised and handwritten certificate confirming you have visited Cabo da Roca.
    Warning: The cliffs around Cabo da Roca are steep and unstable, while the strong winds are unpredictable – never go beyond the fences for the perfect photo

Travel to the Cabo da Roca

Cabo da Roca is 18km west from Sintra, 15km north from Cascais and 40km west of Lisbon. Driving is the easiest method of travel, 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.

Cabo da Roca is served by a regular bus service, which connects Sintra to Cascais. The bus route is the 403 and operated by Scotturb, and a single ticket costs €4.30. The bus service departs from Sintra train station and takes 37 minutes to reach Cabo da Roca.

  1. From Cascais, the bus leaves from the bus station below the Cascaisvila shopping centre and takes 22 minutes.
  2. There are at least two hourly departures between 10am and 6pm, but the exact number of departures varies at the weekend and service has season variations, for the exact timetable see the Scotturb website:
    https://scotturb.com/carreira-403-eb/
  3. An alternative method is to hire a taxi, and this will cost around €35 from Cascais with a 30-minute wait at Cabo da Roca.

Hiking and the region’s undiscovered beaches

Leading from Cabo da Roca are numerous paths but all either head in a northerly or southerly direction.

To the north is the Praia da Ursa beach (1km) and Praia da Adraga (2km) both beautiful beaches, which are accessible by well-worn footpaths. The Praia da Ursa is regarded as one of the hidden gems of the Serra de Sintra region, with a picturesque natural setting, golden sands and unique rock formations. Further north is the Praia Grande and the charming resort town of Praia das Maçãs.

Interesting facts about Cabo da Roca Portugal

The Cabo da Roca Portugal headland is marked by a stone monument. The inscription on the side of the monument is a quote from Portugal’s most famous poet, Luis Camoes (1524–1580), who brilliantly described the area as “Where the land ends and the sea begins”.

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Cabo da Roca

  • Cabo da Roca, as part of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, marks the western most point of mainland Europe. Its impressive cliffs reach up to 140m above sea level and the stunning view over the Atlantic ocean gives a real end-of-the-world feeling. 16th century portuguese poet Luis de Camoes honored Cabo da Roca as the place “where the land ends and the sea begins”.
    Some hidden beaches and amazing tracks around the cliffs allow for your own little discoveries.
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Die Umgebung – Cabo da Roca

  • The extensive Praia Grande and its little sister, the scenic Praia Pequena with its steep cliffs are only a short walk from The Lodge. Great beaches for surfing, here you find little restaurantes, snackbars as well as a surfshop. Take a short bike ride or a 20 min walk and you get into Praia das Macas, a nice little beach with a little village that offers restaurantes, little grocery stores, bakeries and cafes.
    Besides these more wellknown beaches the area also has some more hidden bays on offer, where even on a summer sunday you will hardly find any people, if you don't mind a little hike down the cliffs.
    In a radius of 30km to the south/east (Cascais/ Lisbon) and north (Ericeira) you find dozens of more beaches, bays and reefs offering perfect conditions for all kinds of watersports.

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cabo da roca
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  • Sintra-Cascais Natural Park
  • The Natural Park of Sintra-Cascais, spreading out from the the mountains of Sintra to the beaches of Cascais, represents a unique diversity of landscape and without doubt the most breathtaking region in Portugal. It includes sanddunes, rugged coastline with high cliffs and sandy bays, dense forrests and calm lakes, with the majestic Serra de Sintra overlooking it all. The centuries old symbiosis of manmade Sintra and the surrounding nature has gained the whole area the status of UNESCO cultural heritage. It is in its approx. 145 sqkm where most of our activities take place, and where you never stop to marvel at the countless historical and natural wonders.

Die Umgebung – Naturpark Sintra-Cascais

  • 15 min inland from The Lodge lies Sintra, an UNESCO World Heritage Site. This historic town has been a summer residence for the Portuguese Royal families from the 14th to the 20th century and thus there is several impressive royal buildings to visit. Dominating the city's center you find the Palacio Nacional, with its two famous conic chimneys. On top of the Monte de Pena you can see the fantastic 19th century Palacio da Pena from as far away as Lisbon. Surrounded by a beautiful and exotic garden, this combination of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic and Neo-Renaissance architecture is a must-see and the view of the surrounding area will blow you away. The remains of the Castelo dos Mouros, the Castle of the Moors, date back to the 8th century, the period of Arab occupation of the Iberian peninsula. Nowadays the ruins of the castle invite the visitor to get lost in time and enjoy the majestic view from its ancient walls. Brightly illuminated at night it still seems to protect the city of Sintra. Further sites not to be missed include the Palacio da Regaleira estate, a romantic palace and chapel surrounded by 4 hectares of park, featuring fountaines, lakes, grottoes and wells and declared UNESCO World Heritage Site, or the Palacio de Monserrate with its laid back park, where you find one of the richest botanical gardens in Portugal.
  • The coastal towns of Cascais and Estoril are culturally and naturally rich and offer innumerous sight-seeing attractions. Great shopping, beaming nightlife and the Casino of Estoril, Europe's largest casino, add to the attractions of these twin cities in the Greater Lisbon subregion

Die Umgebung – Cascais- Estoril

  • The Portuguese capital is one of the oldest cities in the world and less than a 40 min drive from The Lodge. Rich in architecture and culture, its is also a very vibrant city and a must-see for everybody coming to Portugal. It can be easily reached from the camp for a daytrip. Highlights include the view from the Castelo Sao Jorge on the top of the oldest district Alfama, a stroll through the shopping districts of Baixa and Chiado, a tram ride with the traditional Nr. 28, taking you up and down steep, narrow streets or the modern architecture of the Parque das Nacoes, with the Ocenarium, one of Europe's largest aquariums. And don't miss out on a night in Bairro Alto, a quiet neighbourhood during the day but turning into the center of nightlife after the sun has gone down. Between Lisbon and Cascais we suggest a stop at Belem, where you can visit the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, a huge monastery giving impressive proof of Portugal's former wealth and importance during the Age of Discoveries. Built in the 16th century, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Closeby at the river shore you find the Torre de Belem, a 16th century watch tower guarding the entrance of the river Tagus. UNESCO World Heritage as well, the Tower of Belem is one of Lisbon's famous landmarks. Once in Belem, don't forget to taste the world famous Pasteis de Belem! Finally, a visit to the top of Cristo Rei, the 80m tall Jesus statue on the hills on the south shore of the river, allows for a breathtaking view over Lisbon. If you wish we can arrange with two local guides to show you the real Lisbon that you won't find in your guidebook.
  • Colares is a little traditional village a short bike ride from the camp. A nice place to have a coffee and enjoy its quiet charme. In our opinion it is one of the nicest small towns in the area where Portugal is still Portugal.

Day Trip to Cabo da Roca: 6 Things You Shouldn’t 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.

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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

Photo Credit: Joana Taborda, Text Overlay: Devour Lisbon Food Tours

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!

cabo da rocaWith a dramatic location just over the Atlantic, it’s easy to see why Cabo da Roca was once considered the end of the world. Photo credit: Joana Taborda

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.

cabo da rocaKeep your eyes peeled for this unassuming stone plaque, which offers deeper insight into just how incredible this place is. Photo credit: Joana Taborda

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!

Cabo da Roca

“Cape Roca” redirects here. For the cape in Antarctica, see Cape Roca (Antarctica).

Cape RocaThe Cabo da Roca lighthouse, overlooking the promontory towards the Atlantic OceanHighest pointPeakCabo da Roca, Sintra-Cascais Natural ParkElevation140 m (460 ft)Coordinates38°46′51″N 9°30′2″W / 38.78083°N 9.50056°W / 38.78083; -9.50056Coordinates: 38°46′51″N 9°30′2″W / 38.78083°N 9.50056°W / 38.78083; -9.50056NamingEtymologyRoca: Portuguese for sea cliffNative nameCabo da RocaGeographyCape RocaThe location of Cabo da Roca in continental Portugal
Country PortugalRegionLisboaDistrictLisbonMunicipalitySintraParent rangeSerra da Sintra

Cabo da Roca (Portuguese: [ˈkaβu ðɐ ˈʁɔkɐ]) or Cape Roca is a cape which forms the westernmost point of the Sintra Mountain Range, of mainland Portugal, of continental Europe, and of the Eurasian land mass.[1] It is situated in the municipality of Sintra, near Azóia, in the southwest of the district of Lisbon. Notably the point includes a lighthouse that started operation in 1772.

History

Cabo da Roca was known to the Romans as Promontorium Magnum[1] and during the Age of Sail as the Rock of Lisbon.

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Lighthouse

This section is an excerpt from Cabo da Roca Lighthouse.[edit]
The Cabo da Roca Lighthouse (Portuguese: Farol de Cabo da Roca) is a beacon/lighthouse located 165 metres (541 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean, on Portugal's (and continental Europe's) most westerly extent (Cabo da Roca).

It is located in the civil parish of Colares, in the municipality of Sintra, situated on a promontory that juts out into the ocean, made up of granite boulders and interspersed limestone. It is a third-order lighthouse, which originally began operating in 1772.

It was the first new purpose-built lighthouse to be constructed in the country: the older lighthouses in existence at that time, were constructed on existing platforms or from pre-existing beacons.[2]

Geography

Monument announcing Cabo da Roca as the westernmost point of continental Europe
Granite boulders and sea cliffs along the coast, north of the cape
Invasive Carpobrotus edulis growing on the cape plateau
The shoreline at Cabo de Roca

The cape is within the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, 42 kilometres west of the city of Lisbon and in the southwest of Sintra. A location (38°47′N 9°30′W / 38.783°N 9.500°W / 38.783; -9.500) is inscribed on a stone plaque, located on a monument at the site.

The western coast is a mixture of sandy beaches and rocky cliff promontories: around Cabo da Roca, cliffs are more than 100 metres in height, and cut into crystalline rocks, composed of strongly folded and faulted sedimentary units. These forms are disturbed by dikes and small beaches.

[3] This promontory of “high” beaches is the extreme western immersion of the ancient eruptive Sintra massif, as evident from the rose-coloured granite in the north and syenite of the Ribeira do Louriçal in the south.

In the vicinity of the Cape, there are geomorphological examples of gabbro-diorite, volcanic breccia, and granite.

Part of the granite formations show evidence of strong coastal erosion, while in other areas there are limestone deposits embedded in the granite.[4]

Much of the vegetation on this cape is low-lying and adapted to saltwater and windy conditions.

Once home to a variety of plant life, Cabo da Roca has been overrun with the invasive plant species Carpobrotus edulis.

This creeping, mat-forming plant, a member of the Aizoaceae succulent family, was introduced as ground cover by local residents several decades ago, but now covers much of the arable land on Cabo da Roca.

Many migratory and marine birds roost temporarily along the cliffs and protected coves of the coastal area.

Climate

The climate present at Cape Roca is extremely moderated by the ocean. Due to seasonal upwelling, the area comprising the cape has cool, stable summers with little to no rainfall but very common occurrences of fog which boosts the humidity and decreases insolation.

Summer is also the windiest season of the year with July and August averaging around 15 km/h (9.3 mph).

On the other hand, winters are rainy and have very mild temperatures during the night, though the amount of precipitation received in this season is unparalleled with other places nearby such as the Sintra Mountains which can receive triple that precipitation.[5] Due to the seasonal lag, September is the warmest month.

Climate data for Cabo da Roca, 1961-1990 normals, 1940-1966 sun hours, altitude: 142 m (466 ft)
Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Average high °C (°F)

Daily mean °C (°F)

Average low °C (°F)

Average precipitation mm (inches)

Average relative humidity (%)

Mean monthly sunshine hours

Percent possible sunshine

14.0(57.2) 13.8(56.8) 15.5(59.9) 15.9(60.6) 17.0(62.6) 19.2(66.6) 20.2(68.4) 20.7(69.3) 21.1(70.0) 19.4(66.9) 16.6(61.9) 14.6(58.3) 17.3(63.2)
11.6(52.9) 11.6(52.9) 12.5(54.5) 13.3(55.9) 14.5(58.1) 16.5(61.7) 17.6(63.7) 17.9(64.2) 18.1(64.6) 16.7(62.1) 14.1(57.4) 12.1(53.8) 14.7(58.5)
9.3(48.7) 9.3(48.7) 10.0(50.0) 10.7(51.3) 11.5(52.7) 13.8(56.8) 15.0(59.0) 15.1(59.2) 15.1(59.2) 14.0(57.2) 11.6(52.9) 9.6(49.3) 12.1(53.7)
63(2.5) 67(2.6) 52(2.0) 41(1.6) 32(1.3) 15(0.6) 2(0.1) 5(0.2) 23(0.9) 61(2.4) 92(3.6) 60(2.4) 513(20.2)
78 81 80 79 82 85 86 86 85 80 78 80 82
136.4 146.9 167.4 216.0 248.0 246.0 272.8 275.9 219.0 204.6 147.0 139.5 2,419.5
45 48 45 55 56 55 60 65 59 59 49 47 54
Source: IPMA[6]
Average wind speed (km/h) 1961-1990

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Year

Cabo da Roca[6] 13.5 14.1 13.6 13.0 13.0 13.7 15.0 15.2 13.6 13.6 13.7 13.8 13.8

See also

  • Extreme points of Europe
  • Cape Finisterre
  • Pointe de Corsen
  • Cape Nordkinn
  • Land's End

External links

  • Panoramic view of Cabo da Roca

References

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cabo da Roca.

Notes

  1. ^ a b “Cape Roca”. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Retrieved 12 August 2008.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Costa, Patricia (2004). SIPA (ed.). “Farol do Cabo da Roca” (in Portuguese). Lisbon, Portugal: SIPA – Sistema de Informação para o Património Arquitectónico.

  3. ^ Anja Scheffers and Dieter Kelletat (2005), p. 6
  4. ^ António Oliveira Fonseca (2010), p. 11
  5. ^ “IPMA – Monitorização diária”. www.ipma.pt. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  6. ^ a b Domingos, Sónia Isabel Sequeira (2008).

    “Microclimatologia do Município de Sintra com base em estações meteorológicas”. Retrieved 5 June 2021.

Sources

  • Fonseca, António Oliveira (November 2010), Relatório da Visita ao Parque Natural Sintra-Cascais (PDF) (in Portuguese), Lisbon, Portugal: Universidade Aberta, retrieved 28 September 2011[permanent dead link]
  • Scheffers, Anja; Kelletat, Dieter (2005), “Tsunami Relics on the Coastal Landscape West of Lisbon, Portugal”, Science of Tsunami Hazards (PDF), 23, Essen, Germany: University of Duisburg-Essen, pp. 3–16, retrieved 28 September 2011

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