Fabian Arzberger of Ridingstyle is traveling a lot! This time, he went to Portugal. This is his report!
While searching for a new riding destination in the southern climes, I stumbled across Portugals Serra de Sintra. Just a few kilometres east of the capital Lisbon, this mountainous forest area is a protected natural park that promises incredible trails spread across a breathtaking landscape, with sea views to top it all off. The host of other sporting options and its broad cultural offerings rendered the region even more appealing to me. So, flight and accommodation duly booked, the fun could begin.
On the edge of the national park and directly by the coast stands The Lodge, where I’d call home for the next six days. I’d decided that the ultimate way to explore the region would be a B&B with a beautiful garden, chill-out room and self-catering option. Here, I’d be provided with plenty of information on the local bike trails and could book both a local guide and a shuttle service.
What’s more The Lodge offers a yoga and fitness pavilion, swimming pool, sauna and whirlpool – decide between a complete workout or total relaxation. Your choice entirely. The surrounding area boasts over 50 surfing locations within a short drive, so you’ll always hit the perfect swell. For fans of bouldering, there are tons of opportunities in the immediate proximity. The Lodge’s reception is a mine of information with maps and details on local guides.
But first I head off on my mountain bike to get to know the area a little. At just 16 km wide, the Serra de Sintra isn’t particularly big, but its highest summit of 529 m can be seen from every direction. Reasoning that there had to be some adventure to be enjoyed, I pedaled off in search of it.
As I pedal up I find the odd trail or two. The open and friendly local riders that I encounter let me tag along and show me just what the Sintra Mountains have to offer.
You gradually pick up on the fact that the locals are pretty proud of their trails. Carefully laid, and furnished with berms, drops and jumps, there’s something to suit every taste. Flat, steep, flowing, techy, jumps, drops, berms – it’s all here. And despite the descents all being rather brief, they’re easy to link into each other and you’ll soon find yourself back up high.
By the end of the day I’m shattered, having seen and ridden quite a few kilometres. In fact, too many kilometres probably, as my navigational skills kept failing me and I wasted time looking for trails. If you want to have a more worthwhile day of riding, turn to WERIDE. and get a local guide to accompany you. After appealing to the reception at The Lodge that evening, they arrange a guide for the next day.
Our guide Hugo guides us through the forests of Sintra the following day. WE’re riding trails that I’d never have found on my own. Super diverse, WE get down to business and repeatedly climb and descend. It’s the ideal terrain for enduro riders.
For those who aren’t so keen on climbing – or would just prefer to ride downhill as much as possible – you can book a shuttle guide. I decided to do this for a day as the conclusion to my trip and headed out again with the guys from WERIDE.
Unfortunately my riding came to a premature end after destroying my front wheel and one of my ribs on a hard landing. However, this allowed me to check out the hospital in nearby Colares – my verdict: not bad.
The schedule of the last two days took on a slightly more cultural theme, with a visit to the beach, a shopping trip to Lisbon and a good look at the fish in the Oceanarium.
Conclusion: Given the great value flights and accommodation, a week of riding in Serra de Sintra is definitely worth recommending. Diverse trails and Mediterranean flair are a winning combination. For those who want to stay longer, there are more than enough activities and attractions to keep you busy. In my opinion it’s the blend of surfing, bouldering and yoga that render the region and The Lodge so appealing too. They also offer airport transfers so rental car hassle can be avoided. The guys from WERIDE will guarantee that you find every single trail and there are more areas to be discovered on your bike too, such as closer to Lisbon or north of Sintra.
Words: Fabian Arzberger | Pictures: Ridingstyle / WERIDE / TheLodge