The Arrábida region, 30 minutes from Lisbon, is a surprise to all those who visit. After crossing the Tagus and before reaching the River Sado, the hills, sea and land come together in these three magical and enchanting places where history is written in the stones and the quality of life can be felt in the air.
If you head south out of Lisbon, you don’t have to go far to find three small gems worth discovering with time and leisure. Sesimbra, one of the most popular holiday regions for the Portuguese, has all the hustle and liveliness of a holiday resort. With snack bars and classy restaurants for partying, Sesimbra also offers a lively family environment besides beach and nightlife. Distant from the urban excitement, the imposing Cape Espichel and the legend of Azóia envelop it in a mystical and contemplative atmosphere that is ideal for enjoying the sunset.
And as you approach, you start to see the outline of Palmela and its castle forming, with the form of the hills of the Serra de Arrábida hills in the background. Palmela has plenty of food options which help you to gather your forces to climb up to the castle and visit the old main square, from which smoke signals would be sent to communicate with the castles of São Jorge and Alcácer do Sal. In Setúbal today, the only smoke you see is from the BBQs, grilling fish for the hungry customers who have been on the beach or gone for a walk. Don’t miss the great culinary speciality of the area: fried cuttlefish. It’s ideal as you try to catch a glimpse of the bottlenose dolphins in the River Sado.
In this area, which is perfect for nature tourism thanks to the Sado estuary nature park, you can also combine your passion for golf. Arrábida provides a unique verdant backdrop, with its beaches hidden in the middle of the vegetation, its walking trails and the beautiful town of Azeitão where you can visit the wineries and the famous muscatel producers and try the incomparable tortas which are the delight of the region.
From central Lisbon
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