The commanding Sesimbra Hotel & Spa reigns supreme at the eastern edge of the seafront, stretching majestically along a mile of the bay's golden sands, with the marina lying just beyond. Along this scenic route, travellers encounter an array of smaller hotels, abundant fish restaurants, and charming shops. Divided by the historic Fortaleza de Santiago, the beach unfolds into Praia da Califórnia on the west and Praia do Ouro on the east.
Dating back to Portugal's illustrious age of exploration, Sesimbra emerged as a pivotal port, requiring fortified defences against raiders. Erected in 1648 as part of an extensive coastal protection strategy, the fort boasts a polygonal layout with bastions adorning each corner. Within its walls lie the governor's residence, barracks, a cistern, a storeroom, and a chapel. Evolving through various roles over its storied existence, the fort has served as a royal summer retreat, the administrative hub of regional military governance, the headquarters of local coastguards, and a customs office. Designated a Monument of Public Interest in 1977, it now stands as a cherished tourist attraction, housing the Maritime Museum.
Daily: 08h00 - 16h00
Located within the historic confines of the Fortaleza de Santiago fort lies a captivating oceanographic museum, offering a treasure trove of maritime knowledge. Celebrating Sesimbra's deep-rooted connection with the sea and its rich fishing heritage, the museum showcases a diverse array of exhibits. Visitors can marvel at saltwater aquariums teeming with marine life indigenous to the Sesimbra coastline, alongside meticulously preserved species and artefacts spanning millennia of seafaring history. Immersive lighting and interactive displays elevate the visitor's journey, providing a truly enriching experience.
June to September Tusesday - Sunday: 15h30 – 19h00/18h30 - 23h00, Monday: CLOSED
September to May Tusesday - Sunday: 10h00 – 13h00/14h30 - 17h30, Monday: CLOSED
Rua da Fortaleza, 2970-738 Sesimbra, Portugal. | 38º 26" 34.4' N | 09º 06" 03.7' W
+351 212 288 206/7 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Website
Adult: €3.00, Concessionary: €1.50, Family: €6.00
Venturing away from the coastline, Sesimbra unfolds its charm along winding streets that ascend steeply, revealing hidden gems and culinary delights. Nestled within these quaint lanes are the town's best-kept secrets—value-packed restaurants awaiting discovery. Amidst this maze, a notable landmark awaits: the historic Capela do Espírito Santo dos Mareantes chapel. Dating back to the 15th century, this revered structure once served as the headquarters for the Sesimbra Seamen's Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit, doubling as both a hospital and a place of worship. While much of the building fell victim to the devastating earthquake of 1755, the chapel persevered and was painstakingly rebuilt. Today, following extensive restoration efforts, it houses Sesimbra's esteemed Municipal Museum. The upper floor, reminiscent of its former chapel glory, showcases a remarkable collection of Sacred Art, including the exquisite Nossa Senhora da Misericórdia panel by Gregório Lopes, dating back to the 16th century. Downstairs, visitors can explore a medieval hospital, adorned with parietal drawings depicting boats used from the 16th to the 18th century, offering a fascinating glimpse into Sesimbra's maritime history.
July to August Tusesday - Sunday: 14h30 – 19h00/21h00 - 23h00, Monday: CLOSED
August to July Tusesday - Sunday: 09h00 – 12h30/14h00 - 17h30, Monday: CLOSED
Adult: €1.00, Concessionary: €0.50, Child: FREE
17 Rua Cândido dos Reis, 2970-724, Sesimbra, Portugal. | 38º 26" 37.9' N | 09º 06" 06.1' W
+351 212 231 134 | email@example.com | Website
Constructed during the Moorish rule, the castle stands as a testament to Sesimbra's ancient defences, with its origins dating back to the era's strife against Christian forces. Despite falling to the Crusaders in 1165, its resilient walls were promptly reconstructed and fortified. Positioned strategically to the north of the city, commanding panoramic views over the coastline, the castle served as a bulwark against the incursions of North African pirates, safeguarding Sesimbra and its inhabitants.
Ascend the 230-metre trek to the castle's summit and be rewarded with sweeping vistas of the town, the tranquil Sado estuary, the picturesque Tróia peninsula, and the majestic Arrábida mountain range.
Within one of its towers lies a captivating museum, delving into Sesimbra's storied past and the evolution of Portuguese castle architecture. Explore further within the castle complex to discover the quaint Igreja de Santa Maria, boasting a modest exterior that belies its lavishly adorned interior. Need a break? A comfortable café awaits, offering refreshments amidst the historic ambience. Best of all, admission is free for all visitors, although do note that the Porta do Sol gates close at nightfall.
High Season Daily: 07h00 – 20h00
Low Season Daily: 07h00 – 19h00
38º 27" 10.8' N | 09º 06" 24.8' W
Established in 1971, the Arrábida Nature Park sprawls across 108 square kilometres (42 sq. mi) between Setúbal and Sesimbra, extending northwards to Palmela and culminating at the Tejo estuary. This breathtaking park encompasses a diverse terrain, featuring valleys embraced by limestone mountain ranges, rugged coastlines, and the imposing Arrábida mountain - Alto do Formosinho (499m), which commands prominence over much of the landscape. Within its bounds, the park harbours extensive Mediterranean scrubland and a myriad of microhabitats.
Perched gracefully on the hillside overlooking the azure sea, stands a pristine 16th-century Franciscan monastery, its whitewashed façade a beacon of serenity. Adjacent to this sanctuary lie five circular chapels, once retreats for solitary meditation.
Where the park converges with the sea awaits the crystalline waters of the Costa Azul, renowned for their clarity and warmth, enticing both divers and beachgoers alike. Notably, this coastal stretch gained cinematic fame as the setting for the dramatic finale of the 1969 James Bond film "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," where Tracy Bond met her tragic demise in a drive-by shooting orchestrated by Irma Bunt.
Snuggled between Sesimbra and Setúbal, where the enchanting Arrábida Natural Park embraces the coastline, lies a string of beaches, many proudly boasting Blue Flag status. Revered as "Portugal's Dream Coast" or "Costa Azul," this breathtaking stretch offers pristine white sands, inviting warm waters, and panoramic vistas that captivate the soul. To embark on this coastal adventure, simply follow the scenic M585 coastal road east of Sesimbra, or hop on a convenient bus from central Setúbal to access these coastal gems:
Set against the majestic backdrop of the Arrábida Hills, Figueirinha Beach unveils a vast expanse of soft sand, with a sandbank revealed during low tide. Its convenient accessibility, close proximity to Setúbal (just five miles west), tranquil waters, ample amenities, and Blue Flag status make it a favoured destination, particularly among families seeking a serene seaside retreat.
Cradled within a sheltered cove, Galápos Beach beckons with its crystalline waters, attracting both divers and sunseekers alike. Accessible via a picturesque staircase, this idyllic haven boasts a gentle swell ideal for children and a hotspot for windsurfing enthusiasts. Ample parking, a restaurant offering marquee rental services and serving delectable coffee, and the presence of a vigilant lifeguard ensure a safe and enjoyable beach experience. With evidence of marine richness dating back to Neolithic times, Galápos Beach stands as a testament to the enduring allure of this coastal paradise.
Adjacent to Praia de Galápos, separated only by a few rocks, lies the serene haven of Praia Dos Galapinhos, offering a secluded retreat for visitors seeking tranquillity. Continuing along this captivating coastline, you'll discover Praia dos Coelhos (Arrábida), nestled in a small cove ensconced by a forest at the base of the Arrábida Natural Park. With its soft white sands and serene, clear waters, Coelho's Beach exudes an aura of serenity, complemented by its diminutive size and peaceful ambience. Accessible either via Galapos Beach or by boat, this hidden gem features a charming bar, adding to its allure.
Located fourteen miles east of Sesimbra, amidst the scenic route towards the Convento da Arrábida, lies the tranquil Praia Portinho da Arrábida. Accessed via a meandering road branching off after the turnoff to the eponymous village, this idyllic beach boasts warm, crystal-clear waters, making it a favoured destination for divers and sunbathers alike. Close to the village, visitors can explore a 17th-century fort, now transformed into the Museo Oceanográfico, housing a captivating collection of live and preserved local marine specimens. Enhancing the beach experience, a quaint restaurant awaits on the shoreline, with further dining options available in the charming Portinho da Arrábida village along the coast.
At the heart of Vila Nogueira de Azeitão stands an exquisite nineteenth-century manor house, steeped in history and heritage. Once the cherished abode of the Soares Franco family, proprietors of José Maria Fonseca, Portugal's oldest wine brand, this majestic estate has been meticulously preserved since its restoration in 1923 by the esteemed Swiss architect Ernesto Korrodi. Transitioning from a family residence to a living museum in 1974, the manor house now stands as a testament to the family's enduring winemaking legacy.
Adorned with an imposing façade and picturesque gardens, the manor house exudes timeless beauty, welcoming visitors into a journey through the annals of winemaking history. Embark on a guided tour that begins with an illuminating exploration of the company's rich heritage, spanning eight generations of tradition and values, seamlessly melding the past with the present.
Stroll through the manicured gardens to discover the cellars, where iconic wines like Periquita are meticulously aged. Renowned for its Muscatel de Sétubal wines, José Maria Fonseca's fortified sweet nectar, crafted from the Muscat grape and aged in oak barrels, awaits exploration. Delve into the depths of the winery's oldest cellars, where time-honoured vintages, aged over a century, lay hidden amidst cobwebs and shadows.
As the tour draws to a close, savour the opportunity to indulge in a tasting experience at the wine shop, sampling three hand-selected wines from the estate's extensive range. Elevate your tasting journey with regional gourmet delights, perfectly complementing the exquisite flavours of José Maria Fonseca's distinguished wines.
April to October 10h00 – 12h00/14h00pm - 17h30 | November to March 10h00 – 12h00/14h30pm - 16h30
Rua José Augusto Coelho 11/13, Vila Nogueira de Azeitão, Portugal. | 38° 31' 05.2" N | 09° 00' 55.5" W
+351 212 198 940 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Website | Facebook
Located two kilometres east of Vila Nogueira de Azeitão, along the scenic road to Setúbal, lies the captivating 15th-century Palácio da Bacalhoa, accompanied by its enchanting gardens. Esteemed as one of Portugal's most picturesque country estates, this grand residence was commissioned by King Manuel I as a summer retreat for his mother, boasting architectural marvels attributed to the renowned Tuscan sculptor and architect, Sansovino.
Distinguished by its Moorish-inspired melon domed towers and elegant Italianate loggias, the Palácio da Bacalhoa has undergone restoration efforts throughout the centuries, including a notable renovation in 1937 by the American Orlena Scoville. Within its hallowed halls, antique treasures associated with Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England during the 17th century, add to the allure of its storied past.
Step into the meticulously manicured gardens, a true Renaissance masterpiece, adorned with the country's oldest azulejo tile panel, narrating the tale of Susannah and the Elders. Amidst well-ordered French parterres, newly established vineyards sprawl, while fragrant rose bushes bloom year-round. Discover the serenity of an asymmetrical garden pool, reflecting the genteel Renaissance geometry of a lustrous 16th-century pavilion adorned with exquisite tile-work.
Embark on a comprehensive 60-minute tour of the palace and grounds, culminating in a delightful wine-tasting session featuring the esteemed Bacalhôa wines. For those seeking further exploration, tours can be seamlessly combined with visits to the museum and winery in Vila Nogueira de Azeitão, offering a comprehensive immersion into the region's rich cultural and oenological heritage. Note: All visits start at the Bacalhôa Winery in Vila Nogueira de Azeitão.
Monday - Saturday: 10h00 – 19h00, Sunday: CLOSED | Guided Tours 10h30, 11h30, 14h30, 15h30, 16h30
Bacalhôa Palace/Quinta: €4.00, Bacalhôa Museum & Palace/Quinta (inc. wine tasting): €6.00
Estrada Nacional 10, 2925-483, São Simão, Azeitão, Portugal. | 38° 31' 09.8" N | 09° 00' 49.7" W
+351 212 198 060 | email@example.com | Website
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
This excellent accommodation is barely 200 metres from Sesimbra's renowned beach area. Each bright and modern apartment is equipped with a satellite TV, sofa, 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 to 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"
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. All rooms of Sesimbra Hotel & Spa have stylish 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
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 and certainly, no extra charge is added for the fantastic sea views, especially at sunset. As is common in the area fish is grilled on a Brasa (over charcoal) along with a selection of house specialities including several 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
Website | Facebook
It is 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
firstname.lastname@example.org | Website | Facebook
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 however you should 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 amazing.
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
46km (32 miles) south of Lisbon Portela Airport. Website
GET A GREAT DEAL ON FLIGHTS:
From Lisbon take the A2 South over the Ponte do 25 Abril bridge and take up the N378 after ten kilometres (7 miles) into Sesimbra.
Latitude - 38º 31' 33.1" | Longitude - 08º 53' 43.1"
GET A GREAT DEAL ON CAR HIRE:
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
Sul do Tejo buses service Sesimbra and the surrounding area: