We thought we would give you a sneak preview of our beautiful slice of paradise, Praia das Maçãs. A try before you buy exploration of the quaint streets, restaurants and drinking spots that this idyllic Portuguese seaside town has to offer.
Even the story behind the name of the town is something straight from the pages of a fairytale. Praia das Maçãs – which translates directly as Beach of Apples – has a stream running from the Sintra hills, down over the left hand corner of the beach and into the Atlantic Ocean. The legend has it that up in the hills, lining the edge of the stream, were apple orchards. When the apples ripened and fell, they would roll into the water and get carried downstream, all the way down to the beach. Where the stream opened up into the ocean, the apples would escape the current and roll across the sand, therefore creating the “Beach of Apples”.
Let's Start the Tour
The first stop on the tour is on our road, roughly 150m from the front door of the lodge, our wonderful (super traditional) local Butchers. Mario is highly skilled in his profession and is extremely knowledgable, so if you have any questions about what cut of meat to get and how to cook it, he’s your man. Definitely the place to go to get your rooftop BBQ ingredients!
Stop Number Two
A few metres further down the hill is the local “Super Mercado”. Here you will find all the essentials and they even have a vegan and gluten free section – a rare find in smaller Portuguese towns! This little shop also has a great selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, many of which are grown on the owner’s farm. It’s run by identical twin brothers, who are always happy to help and great at recommending the best fruit of the moment.
If you carry on past the shop you come to the best view point in Maçãs. Here you can stop at the picturesque white and blue beach wall and look out across the Ocean. A great place to watch the surfers (you’ll find Luis here after the surf lessons) and if you take a little stroll down here at the end of the day you’ll likely catch one of our famous sunsets. Sundown here is definitely not one to be missed!
Cheese & Ham Toastie of Dreams
If you stop at the cross roads instead of continuing down to the beach, you can’t miss the bright yellow café on the left called “Chitas”. Don’t let appearances fool you, if you venture inside and order a “Tosta Mista” (providing you like cheese and ham) you will not be disappointed. This menu item is a Portuguese classic and you will find it on offer in nearly every café you visit. The one in Chitas however is the best of its kind (and we have tried quite a few!). So if you are desperate for a quick snack after surfing and carbs are on your mind then you have to get yourself one.
The Best Portuguese Restaurant in Praia das Maçãs
Located on the main road of Praia das Maçãs is “Buzio“, a really traditional Portuguese restaurant with an amazing selection of fresh fish on the menu and some delicious steaks served with a classic Port wine sauce that is to die for. Buzio is a slightly more upmarket establishment than the standard restaurant but is still very reasonably priced and the service is attentive and friendly. You can even go and have a look at their pool inhabited with lobsters and crabs or check out their wine cellar that has an extremely impressive stock of bottles, some dating back over 100 years.
115 Year Old Transport
Just past Buzio is the old tram line, built in 1904 to ferry people from Sintra to Praia das Maçãs and vice versa. The quaint tram trundles along at a steady pace allowing you to take in the magical scenery of the Sintra National Park in all it’s green splendour. We advise you catch it just one way as it can be a little on the slow side.
Post Surf Snacks
Surfing for an hour and a half really works up an appetite. If you want something quick and delicious we recommend wandering into town and either taking a sea view seat at “Quiosque das Maçãs” or grabbing a Portuguese classic from Dona Maria in the form of a takeaway Pão com Chouriço.
The pão com chouriço kiosk has been in Praia das Maçãs for as long as we can remember. They have their own wood oven and they bake baguettes filled with chorizo all day in the Summer. Luis likes to bring his home, slice it in half and add avocado, fresh cheese and tomato for the ultimate energy boosting lunch.
Cocktails on the Beach
For those of you that like to indulge in a holiday cocktail, head down to the beach entrance and you’ll find a little beach shack with outside seating. Here you can sit back and take in the view whilst enjoying a cocktail for €5.
Watering Hole No. 2
On the theme of alcohol, our favourite bar in town is “Barmacia”. Located on the beach road it has a spectacular outlook of the ocean. We particularly like going down there when the day is coming to an end, grabbing a window seat and watching nature’s breathtaking display of when the sun goes to sleep. Sipping on a cold gin and tonic and watching the sun sinking into the horizon never gets old.
If you follow the main road south along the tram tracks you’ll come to the local Farmer’s market. They are open Tuesday – Sunday, early morning until late afternoon. Inside they have fresh fruit and vegetable stalls, flowers and a great fish counter. Definitely the place to go to get some amazing produce, especially if you can’t get fresh fish in your home town.
If you like pizza then you have to carry on following the tram tracks out of town until you come to the Aldeia da Praia campsite village. This place was derelict for years but thankfully it re-opened in June 2018 and boy are we glad they did. Aldeia da Praia has since become a bit of a foodie hot spot with street style food trucks, luxury wine bar, tap room for craft beers, gin trolley and most recently a pancake house and ice cream parlour. They also have a little supermarket on site and a cafe so if the shop closest to us is closed you can rely on this one to be open. Anyway let’s get onto the important stuff – PIZZA.
The Soul Dough Pizza team arrived in their truck from Italy last summer. Their truck that had a wood oven built in (we saw that and knew they were serious about their art). Since then they have expanded from the truck into a container due to popular demand and the decked area has got even bigger, meaning more tables to sit at and enjoy their delectable creations. The menu only has vegetarian options but even if you’re a meat eater we can guarantee you won’t miss it. A pizza from the Soul Dough team is a MUST HAVE during your stay.
Here’s a few photos of the other places that I mentioned:
Yoga & Massage
A great new addition to our little seaside town is Aldeia da Praia’s yoga studio and massage rooms. Surfing and yoga go great together so if you want to get some yoga time in when you’re here you can easily book a couple of sessions at Sana Maresia. Likewise, massage is a good companion of surfing, so if your muscles are aching after a challenging session in the waves head here for some relaxation time.