15 Best Activities in Sines (Portugal)

On the Costa Alente Janasines is an ancient fishing town, best known in Portugal as the birthplace of the explorer Vasco da Gama. His statue stands proudly next to the walls of the castle where he grew up, and the museum inside tells the life of the national hero. Now, Sines is making waves as Portugal’s largest container port, separate from the old town and in a huge industrial enclave along the coast.

If you like this kind of stuff, this is a fascinating place because it has a natural underwater trench that allows the largest cargo ships to dock near the coast. Continue south, where industry fades away, and you’ll come to a scalloped coastline with coves and the whitewashed village of Porto Covo.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Sines:

1. Vasco da Gama Monument

Vasco da Gama monument

The town’s most famous son was born here sometime in the 1460s, but no one can agree on the exact date of his birth or where in Sines.

Vasco da Gama earned his historic place on a voyage to India between 1497 and 1499, becoming the first European to reach India by sea, expanding the Portuguese Empire, opening up world trade and ushering in colonization era.

Fittingly, the statue of Vasco da Gama faces the sea with its square profile, next to the west tower of the castle.

It was placed here in 1970, the 500th anniversary of his birth.

2. Castelo de Sines

Sines Castle

The deep waters that housed the container port also made Sines one of the busiest fishing ports in Portugal during the Middle Ages.

The castle was built to defend the fleet and town from enemy navies and pirates.

The hill on which it sits has been settled since the Paleolithic period, but the castle was only built in the 15th century.

That’s why the building is very compact, since the streets around it were planned long ago when it was built, and it had to adapt to this shape.

The Tianshou Pavilion is three stories high, and the beautiful mullioned windows on the top are authentic.

Soon after it was built, its guardian was Vasco’s father, Estewanda Gama.

3. Sine Museum

Sine Museum

The town’s museum is on the reservation and has a fascinating small exhibit on Sines’ past.

Perhaps the best display here is the Visigothic masonry found during excavations at the castle.

Also see Gaio’s treasure: it was discovered in 1996 during the excavation of a tomb 13 km from the town.

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It was made by the Phoenicians and includes a necklace and earrings, and was buried on a wealthy woman around the 3rd century BC. There is also a multimedia presentation on Vasco da Gama’s life and achievements, and you can visit the room where he grew up in the castle.

Afterwards, you can climb onto the railing and gaze out at the bay.

4. Sine Journey

Playa da Vasco da Gama

The town is divided into upper and lower parts.

At the top of the hill is the castle and small streets along the corridors of white and tiled buildings.

There are several bars and cafés here to grab a coffee and local pastries, and as you walk around you’ll see some good examples of Art Nouveau architecture.

Down the hill is Praia da Vasco da Gama, a natural cove with the town’s fishing port.

The promenade runs along the embankment, and you can follow along the coast to observe the fleet, sea and castle from below.

5. Industrial tourism

port sines

Sines has one of the largest coastal industrial parks in Portugal, consisting of container ports, oil refineries, polymer refineries and thermal power plants that generate more electricity than any other plant in Portugal. While this may not be of much interest to leisure tourists, avid industrial tech enthusiasts can book tours at the complex’s seven different facilities.

This is all part of a tourism programme launched by the municipality.

One location of general appeal is the deep sea port, which handles more cargo than any other port in Portugal.

Groups of four or more will take a guided two-hour tour of the state-of-the-art terminal.

Learn more here: http://visit.stis.pt/experiences/port-of-sines/

6. Porto Covo

porto kovo

After passing the industrial area, it’s hard to believe that this lovely whitewashed fishing village is in the same city.

Porto Côvo is located 10 km to the south and is converged by a uniform grid of single-storey houses in the center of Praça Marquês de Pombal.

With its sweet parish church, iron gas lamps and palm trees, this cozy square is flanked by low-slung huts with terracotta roofs.

It’s a small community but with plenty of restaurants to satisfy the growing number of tourists discovering this beautiful village and the fabulous rocky coastline next to it.

7. Praia dos Buizinhos

Praia Dos Buizinhos

The closest beach to the center of Porto Corvo is this beautiful bay surrounded by cliffs.

Rocks a few meters away help block the tides, so you can take your kids there as the waves are smooth and transparent. Unlike the larger Praia Grande nearby, there are no lifeguard patrols, but as long as you stay in the bay, it’s a safe place to swim, or just roll around in the water for a while.

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If you’re hungry or thirsty, the village’s shops and restaurants are at your fingertips.

8. Forte do Pessegueiro

Pesegero's strengths

In a very photogenic setting, an abandoned sea fort guards a bay 100 meters from a small island not far from the sea.

The fort was built during the Philippine Dynasty in the 16th century, when Portugal was under Spanish control.

It has a polygonal floor plan surrounded by a moat, a battery facing the beach and two pointed forts at the rear.

You have to go through a tunnel to get in, and you can enter the scene from the roof.

Below is a beach lapped by gentle waters, and across the strait on the island lies the ruins of Fort San Alberto, erected at the same time.

9. Playa de San Tropez

playa de santopez

Now, even though the beach is just off the coast of that sprawling industrial complex, it’s been awarded a Blue Flag every year.

To earn this honor, the beach must pass rigorous water testing, which should give you peace of mind.

But a very peculiar thing about St Tropez Beach is its warmth, thanks to a huge thermal power plant just a few hundred meters away.

So you get that weird feeling of paddling in Atlantic surf that doesn’t make you chill.

As you drive south, the factory disappears into the distance, nothing but the sandy beaches, rolling waves and greenery of the Alentejo Southwest Natural Park

10. Igreja de Porto Côvo

Igreja De Porto Côvo

This sweet little church in Porto Corvo is a parish church.

It rose to the end of the 18th century during the reign of Queen Maria I and has the sober lines that were popular after the Baroque.

The nave has a painted wooden ceiling, the walls are lined with enameled (hand-painted glazed tiles) and a gilded wooden altar.

In the center is a color image of Nossa Senhora da Soledade.

If you’re around at the end of August, the statue goes on a night and day procession from the church on August 29-30.

11. Praia do Cerro da Águia

Praia Do Cerro Da Águia

In fact, this is one of the many beaches you can choose from within the 10-minute drive from Sines to Porto Côvo.

The open coast of São Torpes slowly becomes more rugged and rugged, with coves like this one hidden among sandstone rocks.

Families with children will love this location, as the tall cliffs at the entrance to the bay block the waves and protect the beach from the wind.

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In a little piece of paradise, all you’re left with is sparkling, crystal clear sea and golden sand.

12. Ruínas Romanas de Miróbriga

Ruínas Romanas De Miróbriga

The ruins of entire Roman towns are ready to be discovered a few kilometers away.

Miróbriga was settled from the Iron Age some 3,000 years ago and was finally abandoned in the 3rd century.

The Romans left their biggest footprint here, arriving here in 50 years and building a forum, market, racecourse and baths, said to be the best preserved in Portugal.

The first floors of many houses and temples have been excavated, and there’s a new interpretive center to give you clues before you explore.

13. Bardoka Wildlife Park

Bardoka Wildlife Park

A top family day in the neighborhood, this zoo features a variety of large habitats with exotic creatures spread across a wide area.

You’ll ride a bus through the safari area and get real-time commentary.

In these large spaces there are giraffes, ostriches, zebras and antelopes.

The rest of the park is explored on foot, with a lemur island where those paying an extra fee can hand feed the animals.

A smaller enclosure houses tigers, as well as an aviary and farm where children can bond with tame domestic animals such as donkeys and goats.

14. Horseback riding

Herdade Do Pessegueiro Equestrian Center

The desolate beaches, coastal meadows, dunes and coastal forests of the Costa Alentejana are designed to be traversed by horseback.

In Porto Corvo there is the Herdade do Pessegueiro Equestrian Centre, which offers something for everyone.

If you already know the ropes, you can get in the saddle for a five-day trail ride across unspoiled terrain on the nimble and responsive lusitano.

However, you can also come here for a beginner’s lesson or go horseback riding over the Atlantic at sunset.

15. Food and drink

Feyoada Debzios

As a town with a fishing tradition long before the era of Huasca da Gama, Sines feeds on the ocean.

There are many seafood preparations on the menu, including mussels, limpets, snails or clam rice, and seafood açorda, a thick, savory sauce made with soaked bread, garlic, vinegar, eggs and herbs , and mixed with shrimp.

In summer, you can order a salad with roe, cuttlefish or conch, while in winter you can order a feijoada de búzios, which includes conch and white beans, simmered with chouriço, bacon, garlic and tomato.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Sines, Portugal
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