by Maria João Proença
It is well known that the sea is responsible for attracting the vast majority of visitors to Ericeira, but there is much to discover and experience in this land kissed by the intense blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. From walking trails surrounded by incredible natural sceneries to places deeply linked to Portuguese History, there are so many experiences to be lived and turned into sweet memories to take home.
The cliffs that run along the entire coast offer golden opportunities for long walks with uninterrupted views of the sea. The route continues along crop fields and small villages that show you the most authentic side of the area. The sunset’s warm light will make the experience even more magical.
Back in the historical center of Ericeira, you’ll be walking among the village’s quaint whitewashed houses, some of which are over 200 years old. It is definitely worth getting lost in its narrow streets, paved with white stone, discovering all the small details that give this village so much charm. Stop at one of the many terraces in the famous “Largo do Jogo da Bola” and just enjoy the coming and going of the local population and tourists.
Heading south, make sure to include a stop at the Praia do Sul Viewpoint in your itinerary. Take a break and sit on one of the benches to quietly admire the view over the sea, the cliffs and the center of Ericeira. If you still feel like continuing the walk, follow along the sidewalk that stretches all the way to Foz do Lizandro Beach. Along the way, you’ll find several other viewpoints.
It is difficult to talk about Ericeira without mentioning Mafra, the county seat. Just 10 minutes away by car, here you’ll find one of the most fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Portugal, the Convento de Mafra, also known as Palácio de Mafra. A holiday residence to the royal family since the 17th century, the Palace offers a trip back to the times of kings and queens. Inside, you can still find all the furniture used by Portuguese royalty, making it easy to imagine how people lived at that time. In the grand Basilica, there are carillons (bells) concerts held regularly.
Still in Mafra, you’ll find yet another landmark in Portugal, also linked to royalty, the “Tapada de Mafra”. Created in the 17th century as an addition to the Mafra Palace/Convent, this 1200-hectare forest was used by the royal family as a recreational ground and hunting area. Today it’s the perfect place for moments of pure natural bliss.
Rent a bike on-site, join one of the electric train tours or set off on foot on one of the many trails that cross the Tapada. Along the way, you can admire the wild species that make it their habitat, from wild boars to deers and fallow deers. It is not uncommon at all to see them crossing the road with the peacefulness of an animal used to human visitors.
To discover Ericeira’s true essence means having to take a look not only towards the sea but also towards the land because if the sea brings it its wealth, it’s on land that its soul can be found.