Ferry Across the Tejo: Porto Brandao, Trafaria

IMG_0186 modern ferry 260xFrom the Lisbon side of the Tagus river the other bank (or outra banda) with its cliffs, small coves and prominent silos offer an interesting alternative in sightseeing. You can cross by ferry from the Estação Fluvial jetty a few minutes walk from the Belém railway station. The ferry’s open back gives good views of the monastery and monuments.

To reach Belém from Cascais or Estoril change to the train waiting on the adjoining platform at Oeiras, it stops at all stations. The ferries sail on the hour and half hour until 11.00am and then hourly from 11.30 until reverting to twice hourly at 4.30pm. They stop at Porto Brandão, some eight minutes journey from Belém, just to disembark and embark and continue on to the other port of Trafaria – another short sail, about ten minutes.  This has a few houses, a church and a small café but also has some good restaurants specialising in fish and seafood, all at reasonable prices.

Trafaria is a small town with a number of restaurants , cafés and bars and an indoor market plus a large church. There is a massive silo at the port. The cove harbours small fishing boats with catches of fresh fish and shellfish that go to the restaurants. If you spend the morning visiting the Jeronimos Monastery and Coach and Navy Museums in Belém and perhaps mid-morning coffee tasting the famous Belém pasteis de nata (custard tarts) it is pleasant to sail across the river to lunch at one of these small ports.

For beach lovers the Costa da Caparica provides miles of golden sands. A somewhat quirky way to reach the beaches is an early ferry to Trafaria and a bus ride, the stop just outside the landing stage, which takes you into the centre of Caparica in about twenty minutes.

This is a lively town, complete with hotels, bustling trade shops and restaurants. Walking along the sea front there are many restaurants and bars on the beach and this is a popular venue with people from Lisbon both on weekends and in the summer. There is a train on the beach that takes you from one end to the other.

The last ferries are at 11pm but please ask at the ticket counter for times of the return journey.

Pat Rodrigues