What Is the Most Western Point of Europe?
Have you ever wondered, “what is the most western point in Europe?” We’ve got your answer! Cabo Da Roca, also known as Cape Roca or Focinho Da Rosa, is the westernmost point of the European continent. It’s a cliff made out of granite which juts out in to the Atlantic Sea at the height of 144 meters, marking the western most end of the Sintra Mountains.
Since Cabo Da Roca holds both historical and strategic significance because of its unique location, we decided to explore both the past and the present of this western most point of the continent. From where exactly it is located to all the things that you must do while visiting this place, we have compiled all the interesting bits and pieces about the western most point of Europe that we could find. If you are visiting Portugal, or hitchhiking across Europe, then you must head over to this western edge of the continent.
Where exactly is the westernmost point of Europe?
The western most part of Europe is situated in Portugal. It’s 17 kilometers way from the city of Sintra, 16 kilometers away from the city of Cascais, and nearly 40 kilometers away from the city of Lisbon. Standing at the exact coordinates of latitude 38 degrees 47’ north and longitude 9 degrees 30’ west at the very edge of Portuguese Riviera, Cabo Da Roca is part of the Sintra-Cascais National Park and is open for visitors completely free of charge.
What’s the History?
It’s widely acknowledged that the most western point of Europe is as historically relevant as it’s strategically relevant. Called Cabo Da Roca in Portuguese, the western most point of Europe was known as “Promontorium Magnum” by the Romans and as the “Rock of Lisbon” during the Age of Sail.
The most interesting thing to note about this place is that it was considered to be the “edge of the world” by Europeans up until the 14th century and has been largely uncultivated or developed since. Even today, there is nothing more than the pure, raw, beauty of nature except for a small coffee shop and a lighthouse which was first built in the 18th century.
The lighthouse is an attractive feature of the western most point of Europe as it was the first lighthouse built for its purpose in Portugal. It was first built in 1772 but was then reconstructed to its present-day form in 1842. The lighthouse rises to a height of about 150 meters above the sea. This means that its light can be seen as far away as 46 kilometers into the sea, making it quite useful for navigation.
Apart from the lighthouse, there is also a stone monument which features the following inscribed words of a famous poet Luis Camoes describing what is now known to be the western most point of Europe: “Where the land ends and the sea begins”. This truly adds to the rustic aesthetic of the place, making it even more beautiful yet formidable.
How to Get to the Most Western Point of Europe?
Although Cabo Da Roca is literally the edge of the continent, it’s not as hard to reach this point where the land ends and the sea begins. Given its close proximity to the cities of Sintra, Cascais, and Lisbon, it’s very easy to hop on a train or a taxi and make your way to this unique location of Europe. Furthermore, you don’t even have to worry about parking charges as they do not exist, making it all the more attractive to travel to this place from any of the cities you are visiting by road.
If you are in Lisbon and want to make your way to Cabo Da Roca, you have an option of taking a train to either the city of Sintra or the city of Cascais as both of them are significantly nearer to the place and are within 20 kilometers radius of the area.
If you choose to take a train to Sintra, it will take you additional 40 minutes to make your way to Cabo Da Roca. You can easily get a train from either Rossio or Oriente. From Sintra, you have an option of either getting on a 403 bus or hailing a taxi for yourself. The bus option, of course, is more economical but it has time constraint attached to it since buses stop running in the evening. If budget is not an issue and you want to explore the western most point of Europe at your own leisure, then getting a taxi is the most flexible option. Alternatively, you can also rent a car for not only your visit to Cabo Da Roca but also anywhere you want to go beyond that.
If you plan on traveling to Cabo Da Roca from Cascais, then again you would need to take a train from Lisbon to reach the city of Cascais first. Since Cascais is closer to the place than any other city, it will only take you 25 minutes to make your way from Cascais to Cabo Da Roca. Similar to the journey from Sintra, you can get a 403 bus, book a taxi, or use your own rented car to reach this western most point of Europe. Traveling in a taxi from Cascais to Cabo Da Roca is relatively cheaper than doing the same from Sintra because of the shorter distance, and you can expect to save up to 5 euros.
In terms of traveling costs, a return train ticket from Lisbon to either Cascais or Sintra costs about 5 euros. You can bring this cost down by getting a Zapping card which can be recharged with credit to use for any transport medium within the Lisbon network. Moving on, a return bus ticket from Sintra to Cabo Da Roca costs about 7 euros. If you are traveling in a taxi, you should expect to pay about 50 euros for a return trip.
The cost of taking a bus from Cascais to Cabo Da Roca is the same as that from Sintra but the journey is shorter and quicker. Similarly, the cost of getting a taxi from Cascais to Cabo Da Roca is approximately 20 euros for one way which is less than you will have to pay if traveling from Sintra.
No matter which city you are staying in or planning on reaching Cabo Da Roca from, it’s always a good idea to plan ahead and check the bus and train schedules. You might also want to explore other attractions that the nearby cities have to offer, so it’s recommended that you organize your time accordingly.
When is the Best Time to Visit this Part of the World?
The best time to visit the western most point of Europe is during summers in the evening, preferably at the time of sunset. Although the place is relatively busier in the summers with all the tourists spending their vacations by sightseeing, the evenings are generally less populated. The time of sunset is actually the ideal time of the day to visit Cabo Da Roca because the dying sun illuminates the place beautifully, making it extremely gorgeous and refreshing to take in.
Your plans to visit Cabo Da Roca will not be hindered by any weather-related restrictions since the place is easily accessible throughout the year. However, since this place is at the end of the coastline, it’s almost always windy and slightly chill. Keeping a cardigan or a jacket handy regardless of the season is a good idea while visiting the western most point of Europe.
The temperature of the western most point of the Europe starts getting chiller as spring approaches and can go as low as 10 degree centigrade at night. Still, springtime is the time of flowers blooming and greenery flourishing which adds to the scenic beauty of the rugged promontory landscape. The wind and chill is not a significant problem during summers as the temperature does not really drop below 20 degree centigrade. Specifically during summers, you should plan to visit the place during July or August as these two months do not experience as much rainfall.
Similarly, weather during fall is largely pleasant and warm with day time temperature not exceeding 25 degree centigrade and the night time temperature not falling below 15 degree centigrade. However, visiting the place during winter monsoon season might not be the best idea so avoid traveling during the months of October and November. Likewise, you might not want to visit the western most point of Europe during full-fledged winters as daylight hours are limited and temperature is often recorded in one digit only. However, the cold drizzle and the fog has its own thrill and if that is the kind of thing you want to experience while standing at the western most headland of Europe, then feel free to visit the place during December or January.
With that being said, no matter what season you decide to pay a visit to Cabo Da Roca, you will surely enjoy the picturesque landscape and the scenic beauty of the place.
What to do Once You Arrive?
Unlike other tourist destinations that you might visit while exploring Portugal, the western most point of Europe does not have a lot to offer in terms of activities or food or something similar. You can visit Cabo Da Roca as a quick stop between your tours of the cities of Sinatra and Cascais but that does not mean that you should miss out on this unique natural site altogether.
Firstly, this is a great spot if you want to see the sun go down in Europe. Sitting at the edge of the cliff while looking over the ceaseless waves breaking at the foot of the cape is truly rejuvenating experience that will stay with you for a while. You can follow different trails to reach the top of the cliff and while there, all you need to do is let all your worries go and take in the breathtaking view of the ocean.
Although the cliff is steep and the slopes are slippery, there is a certain thrill attached to feeling the soft sea spray of the Atlantic Ocean across your face. All of this becomes all the more visceral when witnessed against the backdrop of a setting sun as the changing colors of the sky make one wonder at the marvelous nature.
Secondly, try and visit the lighthouse. Apart from being a lonely standing structure in the area, the lighthouse is exceedingly interesting for those curious about European history of navigation. Despite popular belief, many visitors do get a chance to visit the inside of the lighthouse and see how it facilitate nighttime navigators. The key to making sure that you get a chance to see the lighthouse not just from the outside but also from the inside is to plan ahead. You can ask your local guide about the possibility of stepping inside the lighthouse or you can head over to the official website of the Portugal lighthouses to learn more about the visit days and timings.
Thirdly, get a picture taken by the stone monument that graces the most western point of Europe. After all, what is the point of visiting the literal edge of the continent if you cannot prove it? Once you are done reading the inscribed poetry praising the rustic beauty of the place when land ends and sea begins, make sure to pose next to the stone plate for a quick picture. It will be a memory that will remind you of happier times later.
If some Instagram pictures at the western most point of Europe are not enough, then you must get yourself a handwritten certificate from the Tourist Office to prove that you have seen the edge of the continent. This customized certificate with your name and time of visit written on it costs 11 euros, which you might or might not want to get depending on how you determine the certificate’s worth. We do feel that it is certainly a souvenir worth getting if you are to boast about being at the western most point of Europe to your friends later.
Next, if just viewing the ocean waves breaking against the headland is not enough for you, you can actually go and satiate your adventurous thirst by visiting one of the many beaches that lie hidden within the rocks of the cape. You can walk over to Praia do Lourical, Praia da Adraga, Praia de Assentiz or Praia da Ursa although the walk to these beaches is not as easy as you might expect.
Praia da Ursa and Praia da Adraga are situated one and two kilometers to the north of Cabo Da Roca respectively. These two are the easiest to access out of all and offer spectacular beauty to their visitors. Their golden sand, foamy ocean, and distinct rock formations make them quite attractive for the tourists eager to explore the raw natural beauty of the region. Praia do Lourical is perhaps the hardest to access from Cabo Da Roca as the last bit of stretch requires the tourists to make use of a rope to descend down to the beach.
As mentioned earlier, the slopes of the cliff are steep and the terrain is generally rugged so you will have to be extra cautious when looking for these beaches. Once you do get to the beach, however, you will find that the challenge was worth it. It will surely be something you will not regret.
Other than all these things, you cana slo choose to venture beyond the western most point of Europe and explore the National Park of Sintra. There are also plenty of sights to see and places to visit in the nearby city of Sintra, so you can always decide to get on a bus and head straight into Sintra city to witness the life it has to offer. All in all, we find the idea of visiting the literal edge of the European continent quite fascinating.
If you happen to be visiting Portugal, particularly Lisbon, then you must head over west until there is no more land for you to travel on and you reach the western most part of Europe, Cabo Da Roca. Apart from the realization that it was once believed to be the end of the world, the presence of the lighthouse is also quite bizarre and amusing. This, coupled with the rugged beauty of the terrain and the largely wild atmosphere of the place, makes Cabo Da Roca an important spot to stop at during your exploration of Portugal. The fact that you can take pictures and even get a handwritten certificate to boast about your presence is an added bonus, making it an experience that you should not miss.