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The birthplace of Vasco da Gama is a fine beach retreat on Portugal’s southwest coast with a semi-bustling town. You could spend time here checking out the town and beaches, but the real treat is the coastline at large and sights nearby. The driving here is easy and the public transport limited, so having a car is a must.
Who to Book With
Lisbon Airport is the closest air gateway to Sines, as well as the one with the most flight options, so many visitors choose to fly here and drive to the town. The airport has several major car rental companies, including Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Budget and Goldcar. If you plan on taking a bus to Sines, Hertz, Europcar and Guerin-Sines also have outlets in town if you prefer to pick up here. Whichever option you choose, use our comparator site for the best value.
Best Time to Go
This region of the Iberian Peninsula has some of the most sublime weather in Europe, owing to the effects of the Gulf Stream which bring mild winters. Summers are hot, dry and busy, however, with high booking rates, so perhaps visit in May or June for the best deals. Winter is the cheapest time, though is wetter which makes the driving on country roads trickier. Keep an eye out for the FMM Sines in summer, which swells Sines tourist numbers.
Need to Know Essentials
When collecting car hire, the following documents must be shown:
- A United Kingdom driver’s licence
- A passport
- The online reservation printed out
- The credit card used for the booking
For more info, please read our FAQs.
The roads are fair around Sines, with coastal routes going north and south, and a major highway serving the town. There is no need to drive within town as it is compact, but you can loop right around the harbour. Some of the roads get tight and tricky inland, where locals are somewhat unforgiving behind the wheel.
Our Guide to Portugal contains more detailed driving information.
If you want to see the area and the amazing beaches on this stretch of coast, having your own transport is a must. Local buses are slow and irregular, and taxis work out to be expensive and can be a hassle. You can get in by bus only—there is no rail service here—but it’s much easier and quicker to drive.
The route from the airport to Sines makes use of the A2 motorway and goes via the town of Grândola, taking around 90 minutes. It’s farther and longer from Faro Airport in the south, although this route uses the same motorway to Grândola. Flights can sometimes be had more cheaply to Faro where there is also car hire.
Rede Nacional de Expressos buses run from Lisbon to Sines for those getting here by public transport. Journey time is around 2 hours, 30 minutes and services terminate at Centro de Saúde, not far from Sines Castle. There is a local bus service but it is hardly worth it to see the sights here.
Taxis are useful for getting to hotels out of town and when going from town to the beaches, but you typically need to haggle the fares here. Check with Táxi Quinta (+351 269 636 535) for bookings by telephone.
Portugal by road is exquisite. The roads are generally uncongested on this stretch of coast in particular and there are beaches either side of the town. The interior is opened up by the A2 motorway, which you can use to hit the capital, Lisbon, or the Algarve quickly.
Porto Covo – Hemmed in by cliffs and parklands is Sines’ most attractive beach. It’s just a few miles to the south of town via coastal route N120 and is exclusive. The swimming and bathing are divine, and there’s an interesting little town with great seafood behind the beach. Nearby is diminutive Pessegueiro Island.
Santiago do Cacém – This attractive hilltop town is just a few miles inland from Sines. Beautifully strewn across the hillside are simple abodes overlooked by windmills and castles. It’s small enough to visit on foot, so park up and have a wander before heading farther inland to the Estrela region.
Algarve – The golden sands of Portugal’s most delectable coastal region are a major draw wherever you are in the country, and it’s a fabulous drive from Sines. The beaches of the Algarve go for miles from Sagres in the west right to the Spanish border. Albufeira is the top tourist draw on the coast and there are unending charming villages to explore by car rental.
Lisbon – The Portuguese capital is the largest and most altogether city here. Sines is close enough to Lisbon to warrant a daytrip by car. Water is the main theme and you can walk much of the town, taking in St George's Castle, the harbour, a funicular ride and Baixa central.