Bike ride from Lisbon to Belem, Cascais, and Sintra

Today we decided to warm up our legs and head out for a ride along the coast.

We arrived in Belem early enough to have a short line at Pasteis de Belém for their famous pastel de nata (yes, it was life-changing!), but the tourists were already descending on the other attractions, so we headed out quickly.

The ride along the coast varied greatly from wide, well-marked smooth bike paths along the coast to narrow, pot-holed lined cobble streets with steady traffic. As we got closer to Cascais, it became beautiful, and we stopped for a snack overlooking the waves and the surfers.

Past Cascais, we followed the coast around and started climbing, our destination being the Santuário da Peninha, one of the highest points in the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, which would afford us 360° views for dozens of miles.

(There it is, all the way at the top of the hill, in the picture below!)

You can kind of make out the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge in Lisbon, 40km away, behind us.

Finally we headed down into Sintra. It was getting late, and the riding past Pena Palace and Castelo dos Mouros was beautiful, so we decided to take our time and enjoy the views and hang out at a cute bar to have some tapas and beer. Steve has discovered that the local beers both have a non-alcoholic version that many bars carry, so he’s been able to join in for a toast or two. I resisted having a ginginja, a cherry liquore that comes in a chocolate cup. I had two a few days ago and they are delicious. Beer makes me take abstract photos, so here you go:


One of the things that is going to take some getting used to is sticking out like a sore thumb in our cycling get-up. We got quite a number of stares today, and some guy on the train kicked Steve’s bike and said something rude-sounding in Portuguese and then got up and walked out of the train. There was plenty of room in the train, so I’m not sure what his deal was. It’s difficult trying to figure out the cultural faux pas we are undoubtedly making, given that we don’t speak the language.

We have a host family lined up near Evora for Monday night, so initially we were planning to stay another day in Lisbon, but we are starting to get tired of the over-priced and over-touristy area we are staying in. We are well over our budget already, and whenever we walk out of our hostel, we are instantly bombarded with dudes pushing drugs (we’ve been told they aren’t real, so don’t get excited!) and people trying to corral us into their shitty restaurants. We have had some amazing experiences in the city that more than make up for these annoyances, but we are ready for a slower pace for a while, and we are eager to get going for real.

So instead, we are thinking on Saturday to take an extra day riding south to find some beach-side camping along a part of the coast that we hadn’t planned on visiting. Stay tuned for more details. I’m also going to bug Steve to write another blog post! He has some great photos from today.

8 Replies to “Bike ride from Lisbon to Belem, Cascais, and Sintra”

  1. What a great start to your journey, guys! Brings back some memories for me: my first stay ever in a youth hostel was near Cascais and I remember eating the delicious queijadas along the walls of the Arabic castle in Sintra. Ahhh, good times. Happy travels Steve and Tim 🙂

  2. nice guys.. you should enjoy the scenery! who cares if you are late a day or two if it means missing out on something “once in a lifetime”. 🙂

  3. You need to write a Universal Translator app that’s always listening and printing out what it’s hearing translated to English. Then you could see that the rude passenger was saying, “My mom rides a cooler bike than that!”

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