Praia das Maçãs is one of the most family-friendly beaches on the Lisbon coast
A favorite of local families, this is the most popular beach on the Sintra coast, due to its playgrounds and number of inexpensive restaurants. There are some rocks by the sea, but the golden sand is perfect for children to run around. The waves can be quite powerful but, unlike other beaches on this coast, this isn’t known as a major surfing beach. During the summer, there are lifeguards on duty, and striped beach tents and sun loungers for rent.
Its name (“Apples Beach”) may have originated from the apples that washed up on its shores in autumn, after falling from the trees of the orchards in the town nearby and rolling down the stream (the Ribeira de Colares) that flows along the southern end of the beach.
Striped beach tents and sun loungers are available for rent in the summer
A famous old tram from 1904 connects it to Sintra three times a day during the summer season (mid-June to mid-September), but it’s not really a reliable form of transportation, as service is often interrupted for days, for the required maintenance. Still, if you find it in operation, it’s a pleasant (slow) 45-minute journey between the mountains and the sea (see transportation information below).
Although it’s now a tourist attraction, the tram originally served the population of the village that grew around the beach in the late 1800s. Today, it remains a relatively peaceful town, except when people from Lisbon and surroundings invade it on summer weekends. They’re mostly families, but also those who enjoy watersports such as surfing and bodyboarding.
The tram that goes from Sintra to Praia das Maçãs
Due to the Sintra microclimate, mornings at this beach may be cool, cloudy and misty even in the summer, but it tends to be sunny by the afternoon.
Many of the seafront cafés and restaurants have outdoor seating, and are open throughout the year, serving as meeting places for the residents of Sintra.
Between June and September, there is also the option of swimming in two seawater pools by this beach. They belong to the Sintra Sol apartments complex but anyone may use them, upon paying an entrance fee. One of them is an Olympic-sized pool, and the other is for children and includes slides.
How to Get to Praia das Maçãs
There is no public transportation from Lisbon to Praia das Maçãs, but there is a bus and a tourist tram from Sintra. Bus 441 of the local Scotturb company departs from Portela de Sintra station around every hour (less frequently on weekends), and reaches Praia das Maçãs in less than 20 minutes, before continuing on to Azenhas do Mar and the village of Terrugem.
Another option from Sintra is the old tram mentioned above, that departs from the center of town (by the MU.SA museum, on Largo Dr. António José de Almeida, about a 10-minute walk from the Sintra or Portela de Sintra stations). It goes through the town of Colares for 13km (8 miles), and ends by the sea in Praia das Maçãs around 45 minutes later. However, this is not public transportation, it’s a tourist service, so it only departs about a handful of times a day, depending on the season.
The most convenient way to get to this beach from Lisbon or Sintra is, of course, by car.
Attractions by Praia das Maçãs
About a 20-minute walk (or a 5-minute drive) from Praia das Maçãs is Azenhas do Mar, one of Portugal’s most beautiful seaside destinations. It’s the perfect postcard town, with whitewashed houses tumbling down a cliff towards the sea.
Hotels by Praia das Maçãs
The only real hotel in Praia das Maçãs is a budget property, but it’s a good place to stay if you want to wake up to views of the beach.
The reason to stay at these tourist apartments is the two seawater pools, but it’s also a good option for families.
This guesthouse is perfectly located above the beach, with ocean views.