Three Secret Hiking Trails Between Sintra and Ericeira, Portugal

Includes a deserted beach, a tour by the organic gardens and a tour by the Lizandro River.

One of the activities that Saúl likes most is to discover new hiking trails in Portugal. I keep remembering when we lived in Madrid. He used to wake up very early from Monday to Friday to go to work. Nevertheless, he could do even better on Saturdays. About 6 a.m., he would start his ritual. Pack the material, prepare a sandwich, close his backpack and take the car. He would drive 60 kilometres to reach a mountain and make his trail. Halfway there, he would look for a comfortable place and sit watching the landscape and eating his sandwich. For him, the hiking was his best moment of the whole week.

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A year before we moved to Portugal, while being in holidays in our house at Sao Julião, we had the opportunity to adopt a little Portuguese dog. Pipo was small and funny. He liked to run and be on the street. Every time Pipo found the gate open, he would run away. He seemed to be calling us to discover the beauties of his country.

On a winter afternoon, Saúl went out walking with Pipo. When we went out walking the dog, we would not stay out of home more than 15 minutes and we always did it in the neighbourhood. That day Saúl took over an hour. The first half hour I was still calm. I know he really likes to be talking and could have met some neighbour. However, the last half hour was quite distressing. It was already dark and the streetlights were on. I thought about to go out and try to find them but I did not know in which place they could be.

After the long wait, they finally arrived. Saúl with a huge smile and holding some flowers. Pipo with the tongue out, which I understood was happiness too. The story of their experience that afternoon, gave meaning to everything in the coming months.

Saúl told me that they had found an amazing trail among pine trees and that the smell throughout the walk was fantastic. He told me it was possible to see São Julião beach among the pine trees and see the sunset from a place where be alone and only hear the song of the birds. I was upset he did not have a sandwich to enjoy that moment. He continued telling me about the beautiful experience to find a secret hiking trail in São Julião. Then he told me that he realized it would be possible walk on other paths and that there were many hiking trails that we could make right next to home. The good part of the history is how they discovered that. Can you guess who led Saúl to find this path? Of course, It was Pipo!

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From this moment on, every day was and still is an adventure between Sintra and Ericeira. This is to say, they could go hiking in Portugal all the time. Saúl and Pipo meet places they did not even know if were allowed to pass. Luckily, Saúl always carries a huge smile, which characterizes him and Pipo is a very funny little dog. Consequently, they ended up making friends with the people they met.

For example, it happened to a farmer in the valley of Rio Falcão, who found them in the middle of his vegetable cultivation, trying to cross to the other side of the river by a private path. In that moment, the farmer did not had good words. Nowadays, every time the good man sees Saúl and Pipo, he offers them some onions and some potatoes. Some days they come with figs and apples from someone else who has an orchard and has been explaining to them the time of pruning the trees.

When they discovered the beach trail between São Julião Beach and Vigia Beach, they made friends with a couple of fishermen. Since then, Saúl already knows how to catch mussels and goose barnacle. He knows the types of fish that come along this coast and the season of each one. The other day he came home saying that the sea already smells like sardines. It was the beginning of June and this is really Sardine month.

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With Pipo’s help, Saúl discovered hiking trails, made friends and learned about the cycles of nature. He likes to draw the hiking trails on a piece of paper as if it were a treasure map. Well, this really is one of our greatest discovered treasures since we moved to here. Of course, nothing would have been possible without Pipo, our Portuguese explorer.

Now we are very grateful and confident that this place was our destiny. To live here and to enjoy the nature that surround us is a gift and we cannot keep it only for us. We must share. That´s why Saúl made a selection of the three most beautiful and secret hiking in Portugal on which to live authentic experiences. You may not meet anyone during your journey but you may find someone with a little dog, someone who likes to talk, someone who likes fishing or someone to share a handful of blackberries.

We hope you have fun in this adventure but remember: respect the trails set. Do not damage the plants. Do not leave garbage, taking it with you to a place where there is a collection service. If you find garbage, pick it up, you will see that it is good and can become a practice that helps to preserve our environment. Do not make fire. Be kind to the locals and to nature and you will see that they will give you much more in return.

Some recommendations:
Take suitable footwear, comfortable and already used to the foot. A walking or running shoe is the best option. Do not use sandals.
Wear a cap or hat and do not forget your sunscreen.
Take comfortable clothes, suitable for the weather. Take a swimsuit and a raincoat or thermal clothing. On this way, you can cool down at sea or protect yourself from the wind in case there is a change in weather conditions.
Take a small backpack with a water bottle, a sandwich, fruit and a garbage bag.
Don´t forget your camera. Landscapes like these are worth remembering.

Hiking trail from São Julião Beach to River Lizandro.

Length: 75 minutes
Level of difficulty: light/moderate
Distance (Kms): 4,5

Leave the Eco Soul Ericeira Guesthouse heading west. Find on your right a narrow street that will lead to Rua do Barril de Baixo. Go down to the end and turn right on Rua da Tapada. Follow until you find the main road that will lead to São Julião Beach. When you have passed the Bar Gota de Alcóol, take the road north through the cliffs until you reach the fountain of São Julião. The fountain dates from the year 1788. At the triangular pediment there are blue and white tiles representing São Julião and Santa Basilissa, the patron saints of the Hermitage of São Julião. The tank has two spouts, one with a circular hole and the other quadrangular.

Go straight to the Hermitage of São Julião, about 50 meters north of the fountain. The construction is 1554. After the Lisbon earthquake, the Hermitage was rebuilt and the current building dates from the 18th century. In 1754 the sundial was placed and then the tiles that cover the interior of the Hermitage. The surrounding buildings were destined to receive pilgrims. As you pass by the group of houses, you will find the road again.

At this point, go left entering a sand road. Soon you will see to the north the village of Ericeira. Follow the trail always to the north and to Foz do Lizandro beach. When you arrive at the fort, a semi-circular stone building, you can go ahead and cross the river if the tide is low. On this beach, you will find bars and restaurants where you can have a coffee or a fresh drink.

If you wish to continue without crossing the river, turn right following the trail along the Lizandro River. When you get to a white house with blue windows, turn right on the asphalt road. Go up the slope. When you find a white building, turn right. After 100 meters, turn left passing the houses of the Valbom locality until you find the main road. Cross-straight through Rua do Centro do Barril and after 100 meters turn right into Rua do Barril de Baixo and you will see the Eco Soul Ericeira Guesthouse sign.

Hiking trail through vegetable gardens and Falcão River Valley

Duration: 60 minutes
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Distance (Kms): 5

On this trail, you can see local farmers, our neighbours, growing their vegetables and working the land so that we always have fresh and organic food.

Leaving Eco Soul Ericeira Guesthouse to the east, walk 200 meters. You will find a street on the right that will then turn into a rural path. This path will take you to the area of the Falcão River valley, which flows into the beach of São Julião. Walk all the way down. When you find a house on the corner, turn left and soon you will see the vegetable gardens.

Follow the marked path. You will pass through the vegetable gardens and then a greenhouse crop, with a white cover. At this point, you will hear the sound of the Falcão River and you will be immersed inside the valley, with all the beauty of the landscape. You will pass by the wall of wild blackberries, which in September is worth taking a break to try some.

The trail follows to the left until you reach a stone building at the top. When you reach the top, turn left. Continue walking along the hilltop until you reach a modern house. At this point, you should turn left, (west) towards the sea. When you reach the fork of paths, choose the path on the right. You will follow through bushes and countryside. At this point you will see on your right the houses of the locality of Barril de Baixo in Carvoeira and further on you will see São Julião beach.

Follow always towards the sea and soon you will start to go down the hill to reach the vegetable gardens again. At this point turn right until you reach the house on the corner and then right to return to Eco Soul Ericeira Guesthouse. You can also choose the path on the left and walk to São Julião beach to refresh yourself in the sea.

Hiking trail in Sintra Cascais Natural Park – From São Julião beach to Vigia beach

Duration: 90 -120 minutes
Level of difficulty: Moderate /difficult
Distance (Kms): 6,5

The Vigia beach is a deserted beach. This is because it can only be accessed at low tide through São Julião beach. However, with this trail you can walk the 3 km of cliffs and have a view of the beach from the top of the cliffs.

Leave the Eco Soul Ericeira Guesthouse towards the east. In approximately 200 meters, turn right in a street that will later turn into a rural path. This path will take you to the area of the vegetable gardens of the Rio Falcão valley, which flows into São Julião beach. Go all the way down until you reach the Sintra road. Follow until the beach parking, which is on the left. Before you reach the beach bar, you will see on your left a way up the hill.

Go up the hill on the right path towards the sea. At the top turn left and continue walking approximately 2.5 kilometres. You will see all the beaches and the Sintra Cascais Natural Park. Follow the path towards the south. The path ends when you reach a roundabout and a parking lot. Turn around and make the same way back. You will see large rocks, seagulls, some fisherman at the end of the wall.

The trail ends at São Julião beach, where you can go up to Gota de Álcool bar to enjoy the views and have a coffee or a fresh drink. Then just follow the road towards Ericeira. In 200 meters you will find the signpost to the Barril de Baixo, where is Eco Soul Ericeira Guesthouse. Follow the Rua da Tapada up and turn left at Rua do Barril de Baixo passing an urbanization under construction until you reach the top of the hill and find a narrow street, you will soon have arrived back to Eco Soul Ericeira Guesthouse.

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