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Lisbon Day Trip – Biking Along the Atlantic

portugal coast estoril

One of the most fascinating and important years of my life was spent in Lisbon. My schedule was unmercifully busy, with grad school and work filling most days, nights and weekends. And pressing educational loans forced me to find ways to explore the city and its surroundings on a limited budget. A favorite activity of mine that fit those criteria was biking along the coast outside of Cascais.

Every hour, several local trains leave Cais do Sodré on the banks of the Tagus River in downtown Lisbon for Cascais. The return ticket is less than €5 and the tracks hug the shore for forty minutes as you travel east. If you are in the eastern part of the city, Cascais-bound trains also leave from the Alcântara-Mar and Belém stations.

Once you arrive in Cascais, head to the “biCas” rental hut located across the street from the train station for your bike. The biCas name (a combination of bicycle and Cascais) is a pun – “bica” is common parlance for a short espresso in Lisbon cafés. Yet the stain of this bad play on words quickly fades, as using one of the biCas is free. Just bring an identification document as your deposit, whether it’s a residence card or passport, and a bike is yours for the day. The bikes have a basket on front to store your things. Be sure to test out the bike before you leave, as some malevolent users have not treated them respectfully.

The bike path leads through the town, past a couple of high-end communities, then along an unspoiled stretch of the Atlantic. The cliffs across the road from the bike path are jagged and stunning. With only open ocean and the Azores between this part of Europe and North America, a decent wind will mean waves crashing into the cliffs, spraying and churning the sea water. Every time I biked this path, I couldn’t resist stopping to watch the ocean for a few minutes, with only the occasional passing car interrupting the experience.

Costa do Estoril

The ride is not overly strenuous and only a few gentle hills will test your legs. After several kilometers, you arrive at Praia do Guincho, a world famous surfing and windsurfing beach. Praia do Guincho is perfect for a picnic (carried in the handy bike basket) and a couple glasses of wine – just be sure to weight everything down given the frequent wind gusts. Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in continental Europe, dominates the landscape north of the beach.

Praia do Guincho

After the picnic calories are worked off on the return ride, be sure to spend some time walking around Cascais before heading back to Lisbon. The town can be very touristy – especially during the summer – but there are still elements of local life, like the fisherman’s gear scattered in front of the azulejo below.

Cascais Portugal

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Mrs. Chasing the Donkey January 19, 2014, 2:00 pm

    Thanks for linking up again! This bike ride sounds great, especially the part about it being gentle. Mrs. CtD legs are not in very good shape. Either way the landscape would make it all worth hwhile! (I am also pinning this post now)

    • Dave January 20, 2014, 10:57 am

      Thanks for the pin! The landscape really is something special – very wild sea so close to the capital.

  • A Southern Gypsy January 19, 2014, 3:32 pm

    Thanks for linking up again to the #SundayTraveler! I love biking and this looks like a lot of fun. Those pictures are great as well:)

    • Dave January 20, 2014, 11:03 am

      Thank you, Ashley :) It’s definitely worth a half-day…although it’s always tough to leave Lisbon.

  • Kelly January 19, 2014, 5:57 pm

    Great photos! I think I need to do a trip to Lisbon and Porto after seeing your photos of Portugal xx

    • Dave January 20, 2014, 11:52 am

      Thank you, Kelly! Both cities are great to wander around then duck into a random cafe – I’m always excited to return to either.

  • noel morata January 19, 2014, 6:55 pm

    What a gorgeous and scenic landscape, thanks for taking us on a tour in the region! I hope that you can also join us and link up for Travel Photo Mondays, the link is live for the entire week

    • Dave January 20, 2014, 11:56 am

      Thank you, Noel – very glad you stopped by, as I really enjoy your work. I have a new photo up today and will link up for Travel Photo Mondays.

  • Jess January 19, 2014, 9:32 pm

    I love that the bikes are free! Those cliffs are amazing – how close is the bike path to them, though? I have visions of me forgetting how to break and heading straight for one . . .

    • Dave January 20, 2014, 11:55 am

      Haha, not to worry, Jess – the path is on the other side of the road from the cliffs (for most of the ride, at least). Thanks for reading the post.

  • frankaboutcroatia January 20, 2014, 9:48 am

    These cliffs are really stunning. I love cycling. Especially if it leads to a picnic at the beach. With a glass of wine.

    • Dave January 20, 2014, 12:50 pm

      That is certainly how I sold my then-girlfriend/now-wife on the day trip.

  • Samantha @mytanfeet January 20, 2014, 6:55 pm

    Beautiful!! I never imagined Lisbon with such a beautiful landscape (my bad) but wow. Although I might pass up riding on that cliff haha

  • Travis January 22, 2014, 4:56 pm

    Great post Dave! We loved Lisbon, but unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to travel along the coast nearby…looks like that would have been absolutely spectacular. I guess we will have to pencil it in for next time! Safe travels!

  • Lunaguava January 23, 2014, 1:19 pm

    Cascais is not really my cup of tea, but the bike ride is indeed beautiful. I still love the wild sea – brings back old memories of that side of the Atlantic. Lovely post and photos, congrats! Good luck and safe travels!

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