This picturesque fishing port lies about 40 km due south of Lisbon and is situated nestled at the foot of the hills of Arrabida and inside a sparkling blue bay, protecting it from cold northerly winds.
Since the 1960’s Sesimbra has become increasingly popular with weekenders from Lisbon, looking for an easy escape from the city and a pretty place to eat fantastic fish, stroll on the promenade or relax on the pretty beach with its enticing clean water. However, with its narrow and often steep streets, a beach still full of brightly coloured boats and a large sector of the community still dependent on the catch, Sesimbra retains much of its fishing village atmosphere.
The many local churches are still regularly full of the faithful praying for a good catch and the safe return of their men, and the daily catch is what makes the fare at local restaurants so popular.
It’s deep sea fishing industry has made it a centre for sport fishing since the 1950’s when Manuel Frade captured the first swordfish (espadarte) with a rod and reel. Since then many have come to try their luck with the ‘gladiator of the sea’ although nowadays many prefer to practice the ‘catch and release’ method as fish stocks dwindle. Even so, tuna and swordfish still star on many a local menu.
30 minutes from Lisbon, the quickest access is via the A2 to Fogueteiro and then the EN 378.
That is if you avoid rush hour or else crossing the bridge can be a wearisome drive.
From Setúbal, access is via the EN 10 to Azeitão, then follow the EN 379.
A journey through the Serra da Arrábida on a winding road wedged between the sea and the mountains.
The Fortress of Santiago was built between 1642 and 1648 by D. João IV to reinforce the defence of the Atlantic Coast.
He assigned a Jesuit military engineer Joao de Cosmander to build a fortress that would protect the bay and village from pirates and the Spanish armada.
The Santiago Fortress obeys the dutch military outline, starry polygonal plant, and houses several military dependencies, including the governor’s residence, the cisterns, the armoury and the chapel.
During the summer season the Infantes António, Gaspar and José, illegitimate sons of D. João V – known as “Palhavã’s Boys” would come to Sesimbra and sojourn in this fortress.
In 1832 the garrison left the fortress, and in 1879 the National Guard occupied part of the dwellings.
Housed inside the Fortress of Santiago is the Sesimbra Maritime Museum. It exhibits the course of this fishing community from the beginning of times to the present day
On display are fishing tackle, information on the Luiz Saldanha Marine Park, the evolution of the canning industry in Sesimbra and D Carlos many achievements.
A small alter were you may pray to the Lord Jesus of Chagas, patron of the fishermen of Sesimbra
To be found in the village centre a few meters from the beach and Santiago Fortress. Open during the mornings from Tuesday to Sunday.
Here you feast your eyes on freshly caught fish and seafood, fruits, vegetables, regional cheeses and bread
A group of artists accepted the challenge of the Municipality of Sesimbra to paint, on various walls, doors and windows, themes depicting Sesimbria’s fishing traditions.
Today we have an open-air museum. A captivating route to follow that portrays the traditions and inherent traits of Sesimbra.
The Porto de Abrigo is the hub of all sea connected activities.
For those who enjoy a more active and challenging stay, in the Porto de Abrigo area, companies offer diving, canoeing, sailing, hiking, boating, cycling and other thrilling experiences.
Sesimbra is a saught out diving centre. There at about 25 meters deep is the wreck of the River Gurara, a Nigerian cargo ship, that sunk in 1989 with the loss of 45 sailors.
Visit the fish auction in the fishing port.
Witness the fish being unloaded and tour the warehouse where fishing tackle is stored and prepared for a new catch
The Sesimbra Castle was the last of the Portuguese castles overlooking the sea to conserve its medieval style.
Inside the Castle, there are two permanent exhibitions on its history, a church and a deactivated cemetery. A museum circuit allows visitors to wander through the various points of interest at their own pace. For the brave, climbing the Castle wall will reward them with a privileged view of Sesimbra.
There is a cafeteria offering local products, accompanied by a beautiful terrace and stunning views.
The temple of Santa Maria was expanded in the 16th, 17th and 18th century becoming devoted to Nossa Senhora da Consolação of the Castle.
A Church that wins your heart. The inviting bright red door opens to a gilded altar framed by a profusion of blue tiles. A combination of simplicity, light and comfort. God’s summer house
An hidden treasure! “Praia do Ribeiro Cavalo” is located in the West of Sesimbra bay, in the Natural Park of “Arrábida”.
Is one of the most beautiful beaches of the Portuguese coast.
The beach is divided into two sides: one with white rocks and clear water and other one with soft sand. It’s a perfect place to fully relax and disconnect, as there is no reception, therefore you can truly enjoy the moment and forget about the busy city life. What could be better than a dip in the refreshing blue sea while enjoying the sun?
Another important thing for you to know is that there are no facilities at all on the beach, so bring your own snacks and drinks.
A plateau that extends towards the sky and then falls abruptly into the sea. Was Cabo Espichel the end of the world? Such natural monumentality draws and glorifies the presence of the Sacred.
Dinosaurs, Muslims and anyone who believed that this was the gateway to the legendary island-continent of Atlantis related by Plato, that disappeared in the Atlantic Ocean about 10,000 years b.C, passed through here.
According to the legend of Pedra da Mua, Senhora do Cabo (Our Lady of the Cape) was carried up the cliff by a mule, leaving its footprints on the rock. Today we know these to be dinosaur footprints.
A different legend reveals how, one night in 1410, an old man from Alcabideche and an old woman from Caparica (joining the two banks of the Tagus) dreamed of the presence of the Virgin at the cape. They went there and found the image of Our Lady on top of a rock. This find led to the construction of the small chapel (Ermida da Memória), where this story is depicted in tile panels, and one of the most prominent pilgrimage sites in Portugal
Separated from the sea by enormous dunes and located at the extreme south of the stretch of sand that covers the many kilometres down from Costa da Caparica, the Lagoa de Albufeira Lagoon Beach, surrounded by pines features calm waters, ideal for children and sports such as windsurfing, sailing and kite-surfing.
With a direct connection to the sea via a small canal, the Lagoon sometimes experiences dangerous underwater currents around that area. On the sea-facing side, there is an area of coarser sands leading down to the strong waves that provide for excellent surfing and bodyboarding conditions.
The Lagoa Pequena is a perfect place to initiate your bird watching activities. There you’ll find paths, walkways and small wooden houses for comfortable and sheltered wildlife observation.
You can visit the park at your own pace, or join one of several guided tours (by appointment). Whatever your choice, all essential information on bird watching is given to you on arrival. Along the route, you will find information boards with the species to be seen in the area at any given time.
An excellent suggestion for family outdoor activities