The delightful seaside resort and the fishing village of Sesimbra lies a mere 40 km (25 miles) south of Lisbon. Over the last few years, Sesimbra has become increasingly popular with visitors both national and international. MADSABOTPORTO.COM is your guide to the top attractions, on the best restaurants and most suitable accommodation. Learn how to get there and how to get around.
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.
Fortaleza de Santiago
The Eastern end of the seafront is dominated by the mighty Sesimbra Hotel & Spa and spans a mile along the golden sands of the bay. Beyond which one finds the marina. Along the route, there are numerous smaller hotels, a plethora of fish restaurants and several shops. The beach is divided in two by the Fortaleza de Santiago fort with Praia da Califórnia on the western side and Praia do Ouro on the eastern side.
During Portugal's golden age of discovery, Sesimbra became an important port and needed to be protected from raiders. The fort was constructed in 1648 as part of a larger coastal defence strategy. It was built in a polygonal layout with bastions in each corner. Housed within are the governor's residence, barracks, a cistern, storeroom and a chapel. During its lifetime, its use has changed. Once, it served as a royal summer retreat, the seat of the regional military government, headquarters of the local coastguard, a customs office. Since being decreed a Monument of Public Interest in 1977, it's a tourist attraction and houses the Maritime Museum. | Daily: 08h00 - 16h00
This small but informative oceanographical museum is housed within the grounds of the Fortaleza de Santiago fort. It celebrates the connection of Sesimbra's relationship to the sea and its maritime and fishing heritage. The exhibits feature saltwater aquariums containing marine life found around the Sesimbra coastline, preserved species and artefacts which span 5000 years of human maritime activity. Impressive lighting and interactive displays are employed to enhance the visitor's 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 | email@example.com | Website
Adult: €3.00, Concessionary: €1.50, Family: €6.00
Sesimbra Sea Front
Capela do Espírito Santo dos Mareantes chapel
Away from the coast, the town ascends steeply through a network of narrow streets. It's in these lanes you'll find the best value restaurants. One curious building you'll encounter when meandering the back lanes is the Capela do Espírito Santo dos Mareantes chapel. Originally constructed in the 15th century to house Sesimbra Seamen's Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit, the building contained both a hospital and a place of worship. The building was mostly destroyed during the great earthquake of 1755. Only the chapel was re-built. After a period of restoration, it has housed Sesimbra's Municipal Museum. The first floor corresponds to the old chapel. It exhibits an excellent collection of Sacred Art, notably the Nossa Senhora da Misericórdia panel, by Gregório Lopes, which dates from the first half of the 16th century. The ground floor houses a medieval hospital, where visitors can see parietal drawings of boats used from the 16th to the 18th century.
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 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Website
The castle was constructed during the Moorish occupation of the area and was the last built by them to defend Sesimbra against Christian forces. It fell to the crusader army in 1165. Its damaged walls were hastily rebuilt and strengthened. Its commanding position to the north of the city and overlooking the coast gave protection to Sesimbra and its townsfolk from North African pirates. The broad vista makes the 230m trek to the top a rewarding experience. The view from here over the town, the Sado estuary, the Tróia peninsula and Arrábida mountain is breathtaking.
Housed within one of the towers is a small museum that explains Sesimbra's historic role on the world stage and explains the evolution of Portuguese castle design. Also inside the castle complex, there's a small church, the Igreja de Santa Maria. Its somewhat stark exterior hides a richly decorated interior. There's also a café at hand for your refreshment. Visitors are welcome and entrance is free of charge. The gates at the Porta do Sol close at night.
High Season Daily: 07h00 – 20h00
Low Season Daily: 07h00 – 19h00
38º 27" 10.8' N | 09º 06" 24.8' W
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.
To the west of Setúbal, where the Arrábida Natural park meets the sea, are 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:-
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
Approached via a staircase, the sheltered cove of the Galápos beach has crystal clear waters which 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.
Praia de Galápos
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. Small and quiet, it has a bar that can be accessed via Galapos beach or by boat.
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 that is on the turn off after the road leading to the village of the same name. The warm and crystal clear water here makes it a great spot both for divers and bathers. Closer to the village there's a 17th-century fort, which is now an oceanic museum (Museo Oceanografico) that 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.
José Maria Fonseca gardens
The main feature within Vila Nogueira de Azeitão is this magnificent nineteenth-century manor house. It is the traditional home to the Soares Franco family, owners of the José Maria Fonseca, who still produce Portugal's oldest wine brand. Lovingly restored in 1923 by the Swiss architect Ernesto Korrodi it served as a family home until 1974. Now it's a living museum that pays tribute to the family's long winemaking heritage. The house itself is a place of beauty with its imposing façade and elegant gardens. As visitors arrive, the tour starts with a brief explanation of the company's history, where traditions and values have been passed down eight generations and are kept alive while allowing the company to project itself into the 21st century.
The tour continues through the gardens to the cellars, where iconic table wines such as the Periquita, is aged. José Maria Fonseca is also credited for making Muscatel de Sétubal wines, fortified sweet wines made from the Muscatel (Muscat) grape which is then aged in oak barrels. Within the darkest and most cobwebbed regions of the winery lie true relics, over 100 years old. The company has expanded into other wine regions applying the same values and dedication to produce wines that excel. The tour ends in the wine shop, where, as part of the tour, you will sample three wines and are able to sample wines from their whole range, complementing the wine with regional gourmet products.
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 | email@example.com | Website | Facebook
A mile and a half east of Vila Nogueira de Azeitão on the road to Setúbal is the magnificent 15th-century Paláçio da Bacalhoa and its beautiful gardens. The estate is considered to be one of the loveliest country houses in Portugal. Built by order of King Manuel I as a summer palace for his mother. The design is thought to be the work of the Tuscan sculptor and architect Sansovino. Amongst the building's most notable features are its Moorish melon domed towers and Italianate loggias. It was first restored in the 16th century and more recently in 1937 by the American Orlena Scoville. Inside there are antiques associated with Catherine of Braganza, who was the wife of King Charles II and Queen of England during the 17th century.
The gardens are part of the tour and are some of the most outstanding in Portugal. Renaissance in style, they feature the oldest azulejo tile panel in the country depicting the story of Susannah and the Elders. Newly established vineyards spread out beneath the well-ordered French parterres, here too are rose bushes that flourish year-round. An asymmetrical garden pool that placidly mirrors the genteel Renaissance geometry of an exquisitely tiled l6th Century pavilion. The tour around the Palace and grounds takes about 60 minutes and includes a wine tasting session of the fine Bacalhôa wines. Tours can be combined with visits to the museum and winery in Vila Nogueira de Azeitão. 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 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Website
Paláçio da Bacalhôa
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
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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: