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Nature Route

Real adventurers will love this!

Beach and Countryside (Without Leaving the City)

Lisbon does not just stand out for its unique and unmistakeable light. Surrounded by both marine and terrestrial ecosystems, it is one of the world’s most complete cities.

Mafra, or to be more precise Tapada Nacional de Mafra (Mafra National Park) (TNM), offers an unexpected range of habitats, from woods to pasture land, bushland to rivers, that sustain a large diversity of animal species.

The Serra de Sintra, whose coastline is of great ecological and cultural interest, is remarkably diverse. From walking trails and roads to palaces and castles full of history, not to mention a huge range of marine activities, this is a genuine oasis for those who truly enjoy Mother Nature.

Sintra and its surrounding area is a World Heritage Site. Monserrate Palace and Park, one of the richest botanical gardens in Portugal and one of the most beautiful examples of Romantic-era landscaping, deserve visitors’ full appreciation.

A little further along the coast is Cascais with its dune system and one of the most iconic beaches for those who enjoy sailing (or just love wild beaches): Guincho.

Much further south, the pursuit of nature continues. Between the blue of the sea and the green of the hills, the Parque Natural da Serra da Arrábida (Serra da Arrábida Nature Park) is an excellent place to test your physical limits.

Like a green wall rising vertically beside the Atlantic, the Serra da Arrábida conceals small bays of white sand and, although at the edge of the ocean, the sea here has almost no waves.

Far from the hills and closer to the sea stands Portinho da Arrábida. This is a good diving spot, with its unique fauna and flora. For those who have a thing for acquiring new knowledge, the Oceanographic Museum, housed in the Fort of Santa Maria da Arrábida, promises to provide the answers to lots of questions linked to the issues of the sea and the hills.

Enjoyment of some of the most beautiful beaches in the country (and Europe) continues with the Galápos, Galapinhos and the hidden Praia dos Coelhos and Praia da Figueirinha, one of the most popular.

It is also possible just to contemplate the beauty of nature and nothing more from various viewing points. The Miradouro das Antenas, Miradouro da Santa ou Arremula and Miradouro dos Conventos all promise stunning vistas.

In front of the eastern end of Lisbon stands the Reserva Natural do Estuário do Tejo (Tagus Estuary Nature Reserve), better known as the “Mar da Palha” (Straw Sea). These are the largest wetlands in the country and among the tenth most important in Europe. Their status was awarded to protect the migratory seabirds that nest here. During migrating season, the estuary is home to more than 120,000 birds. The Reserve extends to Vila Franca de Xira, covering an area of meadowland where bulls and horses are reared. Other traditional activities, today in decline, have left remains of their presence, such as the Salinas do Samouco (Samouco Salt Pans) and the Moinhos de Marés no Seixal (Seixal Tide Mills), currently being used as eco-museums.

South of the bridge across the Tagus, the main highlight is the Protected Landscape of the Fossil Cliffs of Costa da Caparica (PPAFCC), which extends along the coastline from the town of Costa da Caparica to Lagoa de Albufeira, within the boundaries of the municipalities of Almada and Sesimbra.

Further south, the Reserva Natural do Estuário do Sado (Sado Estuary Nature Reserve) suggests other attractions, such as dolphins and the over 250 species that are seen in this area. The Moinho de Maré da Mourisca (Mourisca Tide Mill) is one of the best places to do it.

Lisbon is a place whose interest goes beyond what a city has to offer. Beach or countryside, high mountains or plains, when the theme is the vast range of tourist attractions, Lisbon’s sky (and its outskirts) really is the limit.