Walking at Cape Roca, Europe’s mainland westernmost point, Portugal

At Cape Roca breathtaking views await along walking trails. If landscape photography is your passion, these trails beckon you.

Quite close to Lisbon lies Europe’s mainland westernmost point, Cape Roca.

The cape also sits near Sintra, and many Sintra, tours incorporate a visit there.

Please check our company’s tours here

Cape Roca’s coordinates are 38° 46’49.59″N 9° 29’56.19″W. As depicted in the featured photo of this article, it perches atop a high point and boasts impressive sea landscape views, naturally befitting its status as a cape.

Accessible by car, consider indulging in a spectacular walking experience if you love hikes and have the time. 

This hike is one of the most spectacular walks near Lisbon.

You can explore both north and south from Cape Roca on foot.

Landscape coastal view
Landscape coastal view

Two different walks, logistics

For a clearer breakdown, I’ll categorize the walks into two sections:

1) Southward: From Forte do Guincho to Cape Roca

2) Northward: From Cape Roca to the Dinosaurs’ footprints

Please note: The concept is to walk south or north, passing Cape Roca. However, you can either reach Cape Roca and continue on one trail or something similar.

This isn’t a loop trail but a linear one, so there’s always the challenge of returning to the starting point or finding transportation from the endpoint. 

If you’re walking with a group of friends and have at least two vehicles, you can leave one car at the endpoint and, upon arrival, drive back to retrieve the cars left at the starting point.

 Alternatively, you can consider taking a bus back to the starting point.

Armeria pseudarmeria

Along the trails, you can try to find a rare flower, the Armeria pseudarmeria. 

This species is at risk of extinction because tourists pick it up due to its beauty during blooming and because it only grows along these cliffs, a somewhat restricted area.

Walker at Cape Roca, Portugal
Walker at Cape Roca, Portugal


If you are interested in geology, granite is king in this area. Along the coast, you will find magnificent cliffs, often higher than 150m/492ft (+/-) and high tall standalone rocks looking like coastal guardians searching for the enemy boats at the horizon.

Coastal walk, Portugal
Coastal walk, Portugal

About the walking trails

I use these trails to assess Portuguese guests’ fitness to the mountain tours I promote.

Walking these trails at a slow pace can be considered to have a moderate difficulty level.

However, by increasing the speed, just a little bit, the difficulty level of these trails will increase and become strenuous.

On the other hand, the terrain, on both paths, is uneven, with gravel and not suited for inexperienced walkers.

Be sure to wear walking boots and take walking poles with you. You might need them.

Also, at specific points, you will find some higher steps that will require you to grab on something, like a branch or a rock.

Although one can not consider these situations as rock climbing, they can represent an obstacle for less experienced people.

Walker at Cape Roca, Portugal
Group of walkers near Cape Roca in Portugal

Let’s check the two trails

1) South: from Forte do Guincho to Cape Roca

The trail from Forte do Guincho to Cabo da Roca stands as a classic among Lisbon’s outskirts pathways.

Nearly every adventure organization, be it a company, association, or informal group, has embarked on this journey.

It’s a captivating route, one I never tire of traversing, offering unique charms depending on the season.

I vividly recall my inaugural hike in June 2000, on what felt like the hottest day of the year.

Covering 8 kilometers with an elevation gain of 830 meters, the trail meanders through valleys, presenting continuous ascents and descents.

Commencing at the 17th-century Forte do Guincho, part of Portugal’s coastal defense line established after the Dec’1640 revolution, the route offers various paths, creating length and terrain variances.

As it’s a linear trail, returning to the starting point poses a logistical challenge, but groups with two vehicles can strategically leave one at the endpoint.

Alternatively, one can explore bus options, though schedules may be limited.

For those seeking a return journey, the coastal walk offers captivating vistas in both directions.

However, it’s essential to consider the trail’s difficulty, as walking it one way is moderate, while covering it twice is strenuous.

Notable along the route are the ruins of Espinhaço Fortress, constructed during the 17th-century Restoration War.

2) North: from Cape Roca to Dinosaurs footprints

This walk closely resembles the one previously described but is shorter and features more Points of Interest (POIs).

Covering a distance of 6.1 km (3.8 mi) with a 600 m elevation gain, it commences at Cape Roca, near the parking lot, positioned on the left side of the road.

Once you embark on the right track, the route becomes predominantly clear.

However, attention is required when traversing Ursa Beach, the first beach encountered, as both the descent to and ascent from the beach are steep and potentially slippery.

En route to Adraga Beach, the trail leads to Fojo, a sizable hole providing a panoramic view of the sea—exercise caution in this area.

The journey culminates at the dinosaurs’ footprints if undertaken one-way.

During inclement weather, exercise caution on the wooden steps, as they may become slippery. Key POIs include Ursa Beach, ideal for long exposure photography,

Fojo, a notable geological feature, Adraga Beach, boasting white sands and a sea-view restaurant offering fresh seafood, and the dinosaurs’ footprints, featuring 66 imprints dating back 110 to 115 million years; note that ongoing restoration efforts are underway due to a wall collapse.

Note: The end of this trail lacks coffee shops, restaurants, or any other infrastructure, only featuring some houses. If you require dining options, either backtrack to Adraga Beach, approximately 1.5 km from the trail’s end, or continue along the path for an additional 1 km to reach Praia Grande. At Praia Grande, several restaurants and bars are available, and you can also access bus services from there.

Praia da Ursa, Ursa Beach, Portugal
Praia da Ursa, Ursa Beach, Portugal

To conclude

Well, I hope you enjoy the walks as much as I do.

If you want to embark on this adventure and others like it, you can contact me through my company, Iberactive.

Have fun.

Carpe diem,

David Monteiro