Arrâbida Coast (Costa Azul)

Arrâbida Coast (Costa Azul)

Where the Arrábida Natural park meets the sea, one can find a series of unspoiled beaches, most of which have Blue Flag status. Often marketed as Portugal's Dream Coast or Costa Azul, this dramatic and beautiful coastline offers white sands, clear waters and stunning views. The Costa Azul south of Lisbon is becoming one of the most talked-about tourist regions in Portugal. The Costa Azul attracts visitors who not only seek a slower pace of life but also draws those searching for an authentic Portuguese experience.

Sesimbra

Sesimbra
The delightful seaside resort and the fishing village of Sesimbra lies a mere 25 miles (40 km) south of Lisbon. Over the last few years has become increasingly popular with visitors both national and international. The town maintains much of its fishing heritage, although you'd have to get up very early to watch the fishermen land their catch. The fishermen's colourful boats left on the beaches add oodles of charm to the seafront.

Sesimbra markets itself as a family-friendly destination and has amenities to suit all ages. There's a calm persona to the town. It is devoid of noisy revellers, sports bars and stag parties which other more popular resorts are marred with. Protective headlands ensure only the gentlest of waves lap up onto the soft pristine sands. Only the lightest of breezes blow, thus providing a safe bathing environment for the little ones. Children are also welcome at all local restaurants that also attract lovers of fresh fish, for which the town is renowned and revered. So much so the locals have gained the name "Pexitos". Look out for the swordfish (espadarte), which is common in these waters. It also provides sport for anglers.

Palmela

Situated 27 miles south of Lisbon on the North-Eastern corner of the Arrábida National Park is the ancient, yet small, town of Palmela has to a large degree has been overlooked by foreign tourists and remains somewhat unspoiled. Its main attraction is the medieval castle which dominates the skyline for miles around. Perched on a precipice 1200 metres high, the castle has been of strategic importance throughout Portugal's colourful history. Blessed with rich fertile soils the area around Palmela lies in the heart of a highly respected and prosperous wine-growing region. Each September the wine harvest is celebrated with the vibrant Festa das Vindimas (Grape Harvest Festival) which is a major draw for locals and visitors alike. The crowds adorned in traditional attire dance in the street, there's also processions, fireworks, grape-treading and the running of bulls.

The old quarter clings to the edge of the Arrábida foothills and retains much of its original character with narrow cobbled streets and whitewashed houses. Sadly in places, buildings are in desperate need of renovation. Although the Praça Duque de Palmela contains a 17th-century pillory and town hall at its head, the square isn't quite the cultural hub it ought to be. Close by is the 16th-century Baroque style church of Igreja de São Pedro, famed for its azulejos depicting the life of Saint Peter.
Palmela

TOP TOURS

Sesimbra and Arrábida National Park Tour with Wine Tasting

Sesimbra and Arrábida Wine Tasting Tour

Spend a full day exploring the Setubal region of Portugal on a tour that takes you through the countryside to see castles and taste wine. Begin your trip by crossing the Tejo (Tagus) River on your way to the wine region of Azeitão. Here you will visit the oldest cellar of the region and enjoy wine tasting. Then it's time to go to the fishing town of Sesimbra and visit a Moorish castle.

On to the nearby Arrábida Natural Park, located on the shore of the Sado River estuary. Visit the famous beaches of Portinho da Arrábida and Figueirinha, before heading to Setubal for a fish lunch! After lunch, you will make your way to the astonishing Arrabida Mountain. This is a protected (Arrabida Natural Park) area. Here you will visit a small local family-owned cellar in the middle of the peaceful Arrabida Mountain to learn more about how this precious nectar is made. You will see the vineyards, see how the process is completed and of course, taste the results.

On your way back to Lisbon, you will pass near the Cristo-Rei (Christ the King statue), which was erected in 1959 to thank God for sparing Portugal from the horrors of World War II.

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Arrábida Natural Park Kayak and Caves Tour

Arrábida Natural Park Kayak and Caves Tour
Full Day Private Tour

Depart from Sesimbra and discover the beauty of Arrábida Natural Park. Enter the park to explore the different types of habitats, from the mountains to the sea. Venture along the coast by kayak to sacred caves that are only accessible by boat. Encounter small beaches of breathtaking beauty as you make your way towards the remarkable karst formation of the Gruta do Frade.

Then, make your way back towards Sesimbra and stop at the tranquil beach of Ribeiro do Cavalo. Enjoy a snack and go for a swim in the clear waters, surrounded by breathtaking views. Taste some typical sweets from the region to end your incredible experience.

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Arrábida 4x4 Tour & Hike to Galapinhos Beach

Arrábida 4x4 Tour & Hike to Galapinhos Beach

Enjoy a relaxing start to your day of adventure with a pick-up from your Sesimbra located accommodation. After a short meet and greet with your driver, you will hop in your classic Jeep Cabrio-ATV vehicle and set off on your journey. Cross the dense woods of Arrábida Natural Park, passing by Centenarium oak and cork trees, vineyards and old farms. You will have time for a snack in a magical spot idyllically located between the mountain and ocean. Go for a cruise along the most beautiful beaches of Arrábida Natural Park, where you can take part in a hiking tour to visit one of Europe's most beautiful beaches, Galapinhos beach.

Next, it's time to visit the ancient ruins of Roman times near the main beach of Arrábida, where you can also visit an industrial complex of fish production. On the way back you will cross the old paths of south Arrábida, passing by the highest limestone coastal cliff in Europe, in the unique and astonishing form of a stone wave, Serra do Risco. At the end of your tour, you will be taken back to your accommodation to relax after a day of excitement.



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ARRÁBIDA NATURAL PARK

Arrábida Natural Park

Founded in 1971 and covering 42 square miles (108 square kilometres) between Setúbal and Sesimbra, Palmela to the north and terminating at the Tejo estuary. Arrábida has a varied landscape from valleys surrounded by limestone mountain ridges, dramatic coastlines and the Arrábida mountain - Alto do Formosinho (499m) that stands guard over most of the park. This Nature Park contains vast amounts of Mediterranean shrubland biome and a large number of microhabitats. Perched on the slopes overlooking the sea is a whitewashed 16th-century Franciscan monastery. Alongside are five circular chapels which once were used for solitary meditation.

Where the park meets the sea, one finds the crystal-clear waters of the beaches of the Costa Azul. These warm waters are popular with divers and bathers alike. It was along this stretch of coastline where Tracy Bond (played by Diana Rigg) was shot dead by Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat) in a drive-by shooting at the end of the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 1969.

BEACHES OF THE COSTA AZUL

To the west of Setúbal, where the Arrábida Natural park meets the sea, one can find a series of beaches, most of which have Blue Flag status. Often marketed as Portugal's Dream Coast or Costa Azul this dramatic and beautiful coastline offers white sands, warm clear waters and stunning views. Take the coastal road off the N10-4 marked Praias and pass the cement works. There are buses from central Setúbal to most of these beaches:-

Praia Figueirinha, Outão

With the Arrábida Hills as the backdrop Figueirinha Beach extends over a great expanse of sand, at low tide a sandbank is exposed. Due to it's easy access, it's proximity to Setúbal (only five miles west), calm waters, size and amenities this Blue Flag beach can be quite popular, especially with those who have young families. 723

Praia de Galápos

Approached via a staircase, the sheltered cove of the Galápos beach has crystal clear waters that are favoured by divers and bathers alike. With a calm swell, it's ideal for children and popular with windsurfers. Good ample parking and has a restaurant with facilities, who hire marquees, and serve good coffee. There's a lifeguard at hand. The architectural record of the area indicates the richness of marine life here that have been harvested since Neolithic times.

Costa Azul

Separated from Praia de Galápos by a few rocks is Praia Dos Galapinhos and offers the visitor a more tranquil and secluded spot to bathe. A little further along still is Praia dos Coelhos (Arrábida) . Coelho's beach is a small cove surrounded by forest at the foot of the Arrábida Natural Park. It consists of soft white sand, with clear and calm waters. The beach is small and quiet. It has a bar that can be accessed via Galapos beach or by boat.

Praia Portinho da Arrábida

Fourteen miles East of Sesimbra, in the direction of the Convento da Arrábida and down a meandering road is the tranquil little beach of Praia Portinho da Arrabida which is on the turn off after the road leading to the village of the same name. The water here is warm and crystal clear. It is a great spot both for divers and bathers. There's a 17th-century fort close to the village. It is now an oceanographic museum (Museo Oceanografico). It houses live and preserved local marine animals. There's a small restaurant on the beach and more further along the coast in Portinho da Arrabida village.

Praia Figueirinha
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Suggested Hotels

SANA Sesimbra Hotel

SANA Sesimbra Hotel ★★★★

The hotel is ideally located in the heart of Sesimbra and only steps away from the sandy beach. This four-star hotel features a rooftop hot tub and an outdoor covered swimming pool. Most rooms have balconies that boast a picturesque view overlooking the beach. The spacious accommodation of SANA Sesimbra Hotel is decorated in soft colours and chic furniture with a modern touch.

A buffet breakfast is served each morning at the hotel. The Espadarte Restaurant serves tasty Portuguese-style meals, with an emphasis on fresh fish and seafood specialities. With a panoramic view over the bay and a relaxing ambience, the rooftop Caravela Bar allows guests to unwind with a drink whilst enjoying the sunset. The seafront promenade outside features several cafés and quaint little shops.

Avenida 25 de Abril, 11, 2970-634 Sesimbra, Portugal.
38º 26' 33.12" N | 09º 05' 54.8" W | +351 212 289 000 | sanasesimbra@sanahotels.com

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Cerca da Vitória Apartment

Cerca da Vitória Apartment

This excellent accommodation is barely 200 metres from Sesimbra's renowned beach area. The apartments are bright, modern and well equipped. Each unit comes with a satellite TV, sofas, a DVD player and a dining area.

There is a full kitchen with a microwave and a refrigerator. The private bathroom is fully equipped with a shower, a bath, hairdryer and a bidet. Guests are free to cook their own meals in the kitchen or take advantage of the fantastic restaurants within close proximity.

55 Rua Cândido dos Reis, 2970-724 Sesimbra, Portugal.
38º 26' 40.2" N | 09º 06' 07.4" | +351 212 233 040

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Sesimbra Hotel & Spa

Sesimbra Hotel & Spa ★★★★

This wonderful beachfront hotel offers luxurious rooms with Atlantic Ocean views. Facilities include an outdoor infinity pool and a spa. The hotel was refurbished at the beginning of 2015. Now all rooms of Sesimbra Hotel & Spa enjoys comfortable and modern decor. They are equipped with air conditioning, flat-screen cable TV, free WiFi, safe, minibar and a private balcony.

The spa offers a wide variety of health and beauty treatments, including hot stone massage. Other spa facilities include a small heated indoor swimming pool, a Turkish bath, sauna, tropical shower and a vertical hydromassage. Sesimbra Hotel's restaurant, Aquarius, specialises in traditional Portuguese fish and shellfish cuisine. Free private parking is provided.

Rua Navegador Rodrigues Soromenho, 2970-773, Sesimbra, Portugal.
38º 26' 34.72" N | 09º 05' 46.2" W | +351 212 289 800 | info@sesimbrahotelspa.com

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Restaurante Filipe

Translated as "People return here time after time to enjoy their masterful use of freshly caught ingredients. For the standard of cooking the Restaurante Filipe is excellent value for money. No extra charge is added for the fantastic sea views, especially magnificent at sunset. As is common in the area fish is grilled on a Brasa (over charcoal) along with a selection of house specialities including a number of Cataplanas. The staff are always friendly, welcoming and never rush you no matter how busy the restaurant is.

Daily: 12h00 - 22:00
15 Largo da Marinha, Sesimbra 2970-657, Portugal.
38º 26' 35.8" N | 09º 06' 08.3" W | +351 212 231 653
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Casa Mateus

It a homely family affair that is always welcoming and friendly, no matter how busy the restaurant is. Chancers are you'll be greeted by Mateus, the proprietor, personally who is always more than willing to make suggestions depending on the season and the day's catch. The chef is Mateus's wife, who is extremely gifted in the kitchen at both traditional Portuguese dishes and meals with their own personal flair. Their take on a green curry is infamous locally. Make sure you keep room for one of their amazing desserts. The wines on offer are locally sourced from small producers and are excellent. Although this small restaurant is tucked away in a street behind the main strip it is normally busy and booking is recommended, especially in high season.

Daily: 12h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 23:00
4 Largo Anselmo Braancamp, Sesimbra 2970-654, Portugal.
38º 26' 35.1" N | 09º 05' 58.8" W | +351 963 650 939
reservas@casamateus.pt | Website | Facebook


O Velho e o Mar

O Velho e o Mar or "The old man and the sea" restaurant is ideally located on the promenade next to the Fortaleza de Santiago, affording great views out to sea. Somewhat a traditional restaurant. The fish is sold by the KG once chosen from the tank or as a fixed price per dose. The menu lists all dish options. You need to ask what is available on the day. There's plenty of staff at hand to offer you an efficient and friendly service, who are equally keen to advise and make recommendations. Choose a simple grilled fish or a stew, rice dish or cataplana for two to share – all options are equally fantastic.

Daily: 11h30 - 15h00/19h00 - 23:30
30-32 Rua Joaquim Brandao, Sesimbra 2970-764, Portugall.
38º 26' 34.2" N | 09º 06' 00.2" W | +351 210 879 995
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32 miles (46km) south of Lisbon Portela Airport. Website

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From Lisbon take the A2 South over the Ponte do 25 Abril bridge and take up the N378 after seven miles (10km) into Sesimbra.

Latitude - 38º 31' 33.1" | Longitude - 08º 53' 43.1"

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The closest train station is in neighbouring Setúbal.

Urban train services (comboios urbanos) from Barreiro train station, south bank of the Tejo river (reached by ferry from Lisbon Timetable
• Linha do Sado line Timetable | Trains of Portugal Website

Fertagus trains from Roma-Areeiro station in Lisbon runs a regular service across the Tejo river and beyond.
• Fertagus Timetable | Website

Sul do Tejo buses service Sesimbra and the surrounding area: Website

• 205: Cabo Espichel - Sesimbra (via Serra Azóia): Timetable

• 207: Lisboa (Pça Espanha) - Sesimbra (via AE): Timetable

• 230: Setúbal - Sesimbra: Timetable

• 260: Lisboa (Pça Espanha) - Sesimbra (via Laranjeiro): Timetable