52 Minutes (46,5 kilometers)! That’s all you need to go from Lisbon to a Magical place: Portinho da Arrábida!
PORTINHO DA ARRÁBIDA
It belongs to the Setubal district and its beach (the Portinho da Arrábida beach), is the major tourist attraction of this small town. It is a small sandy beach next to the small settlement (village) of Portinho da Arrábida. It is at the foot of the Sierra between other beaches (Creiro and Alpertuche) in the region. As in this whole area, the waters are calm, clear, cold and perfect for those who like to dive. The beach is rocky and has some beach support facilities (restaurants). In 2010, it won a distinction for being considered “one of the 7 natural wonders of Portugal” – beach categories.
WHERE IS PORTINHO DA ARRÁBIDA?
It is located in the Arrábida Mountains, 13 kilometers from the city of Setúbal and 21 from Sesimbra. If you are departing from Lisbon, you can count on a journey of 53 minutes (46 kilometers).
HOW TO GET TO PORTINHO DA ARRÁBIDA?
Getting to the Portinho da Arrábida region is not particularly easy… But it is well worth the effort! The following indications have as starting point the city center of Lisbon.
BY BUS – There are several buses that make the transport between Lisbon and Setúbal. The ticket costs 4.30 euros and the schedules and departure points can be found on the website of Transportes Sul do Tejo. Once you arrive in Setúbal, you can take the 723-A bus to Figueirinha beach. Then get ready for a nice walk! It is approximately 2 kilometers along the road until you reach Galapinhos beach and 5.2 kilometers until you reach Portinho da Arrábida.
BY CAR – If you choose to drive from Lisbon to Portinho da Arrábida, then be aware that you have to be patient. The first difficulty is crossing the bridge. The Vasco da Gama bridge usually has less traffic but it will mean an additional distance of 20 kilometers – taking as reference the departure from the center of Lisbon). The road there is beautiful, enjoy it but don’t get distracted driving. Some parts of the route (mountainous area) are winding. One last note about parking your car, it is not easy… In this area don’t risk it and don’t leave your car badly parked. The police are a constant presence and fine hunting is a very popular sport in this area. Park in paid parking lots (3€) because it will undoubtedly be the cheapest solution.
WHAT TO VISIT AT PORTINHO DA ARRÁBIDA?
Before we list the beaches, here are some other attractions and a map to get your bearings!
SERRA DA ARRÁBIDA NATURAL PARK
The natural park of Serra da Arrábida gained this designation in 1976. It has an area of 10,000 hectares and an altitude of 500 meters. The beauty of the natural park is not limited to its beaches and breathtaking landscapes. There you can also find rare animal and plant species and thousand-year-old caves.
PORTINHO DA ARRÁBIDA VIEWPOINTS
The viewpoints are not properly marked in all the extension of the Arrábida Natural Park. So, you will have to use your instinct and common sense to find the places from where you can admire the beautiful landscapes that the area has to offer. Look for this viewpoint! From here you will have a privileged view of the Arrábida mountains, the cliffs, the beaches, the villages and the immense blue and green crystalline waters.
The convent of Our Lady of Arrábida is located in the southern part of the Serra, facing the Atlantic Ocean. It is a 16th century construction (1538-1539) and was in the past a Franciscan convent. Today it is part of the Arrábida Natural Park. The convent of Arrábida includes the old convent, the new convent, the garden and the sanctuary of the Good Jesus. Before the construction of this religious monument, there was the Ermida da Memória (in the place where today we find the old convent). In the Ermida the first 4 Arrábidos friars lived in dugout cells. In 1834, as a consequence of the dissolution of the religious orders, the whole complex (convent, cells and chapels) suffered damage and plundering as a consequence of abandonment. In 1990, The Oriente Foundation acquired the convent and its surrounding area.
BEACHES AT PORTINHO DA ARRÁBIDA
The beaches belonging to the Serra da Arrábida Natural Park are many and all magnificent! In fact, they are the great attraction of the region and for this reason we will now talk about (almost) all of them! Not all of the region’s beaches have easy access. The most accessible are Figueirinha beach and Creiro beach, where you will find parking lots. During the summer months, as a consequence of the high number of visitors, the road between Portinho da Arrábida and Figueirinha beach is closed to car traffic. If you decide to go on foot, be aware that you will have to walk approximately 3 km to enjoy the beaches of Galapos and Creiro. You can also take the bus if you are not a fan of walking. But let’s get to the point, the description of the beaches of Portinho da Arrábida and the map of their location!
A hymn to beauty! It has a short sandy beach which can limit the tranquility of those looking for a place to relax while sunbathing. There are two restaurants nearby that can complement the experience. The water is crystal clear and cold.
One of the most famous in the region! The distance between Portinho da Arrábida and Galapinhos beach is only 3.2 kilometers (only 4 kilometers by car). In 2017, Galapinhos beach was nominated by the European Best Destinations website, as the best beach of the European continent. This distinction has transformed this beautiful white sandy beach with clear, greenish waters into a place of greater visibility and frequency. The sand is relatively small, a strip of 550 meters long by 60 meters deep (to the water’s edge). Viewed from the top, the beach reminds us of an idyllic setting, perfect for a couple on a romantic weekend. The trees surrounding the beach combine perfectly with the green of the water, creating the perfect frame of a dream beach. It is also a great place for those who enjoy diving (the sea has no waves). Important to note that the water, although crystal clear, is… quite cold. Be prepared for temperatures that normally range between 16 and 18 degrees.
A magnificent beach with an authentic natural pool of crystal clear water, without waves and… cold. It has several beach facilities that come in very handy: public bathrooms, a restaurant with several gastronomic options and the possibility of renting a beach hat. It is a very quiet beach because cars are not allowed near the beach.
Comenda beach offers a magnificent view over Troia and the Sado estuary. The beach can only be reached when the tide is out.
Figueirinha beach has a beautiful sandy beach! It is very popular and busy in the peak of summer. If the beach is crowded, try to find some space at the ends of the sand. The surrounding landscape is of great beauty. The rocks and their reflection on the crystal clear water are an extra. As always in this area, get ready for some magnificent and… icy dives!
It is a beach that tends to be less frequented than the other beaches in the region because of its difficult access. But be aware that, even so, it is far from being a deserted beach… Very calm sea, transparent water in greenish tones and a white sandy beach with very fine sand. An idyllic setting “embraced” by the green of the mountains!
MONTE BRANCO BEACH
Beach with many rocks that lend it a particular beauty. Calm, crystal clear and tranquil waters with a greenish tone. A stunning setting complemented by the green of the mountains and the white sandy beach. Perfect for a swim in a sea with few bathers!
Another beach of breathtaking beauty. During low tide it is possible to walk along the beach until the next beach, praia do coelho. At the entrance to the sand you will find a site with Roman archaeological remains. The Creiro beach has parking areas (paid, 4 euros per day) and beach support (restaurants and nautical activities schools).
PORTINHO DA ARRÁBIDA BEACH
The perfect combination: sea and mountains in a paradisiacal place! Cold crystal clear water and on the horizon a magnificent landscape to the Arrábida and the island of Troia. Less positive points: stones at the entrance to the sea and the difficulty in parking which is a bit far from the beach. Get ready for a good walk that will be largely rewarded in the end.
RIBEIRA DO CAVALO BEACH
One of the most beautiful beaches in the country! To get there… is not easy at all. Get ready for a walk of about 25 minutes through “goat paths”. Despite the difficulty of access, it is a very busy place in the peak of summer.
The endless beauty of the beach justifies the persistence and endurance of those who overcome the ordeal of getting there.
A beach for adventure “professionals”. To get there you have to have a jeep, or a mountain bike, or else a physical condition worthy of a “professional” hiker. To get down to the small sandy beach there are narrow trails and a… rope! A real adventure!
Another wild beach reserved for fearless people. Difficult trail and with some dangers. Not advisable for people with vertigo or any difficulty in locomotion. The final descent is also made with a rope… If you overcome all obstacles you will be amply rewarded!
Another beach for the brave! Difficult and dangerous access, little sand and many pebbles. Deserted beach with a beautiful view. In this place were found footprints of dinosaurs that walked on the beach of lagosteiros about 150 million years ago. A small thing…
Praia da foz beach is a very quiet place. It is protected from the north wind that is too often felt around here. The waves are usually strong, which can make it difficult to go in the water. There are no beach supports, a factor that contributes to the quietness of the place.
WHEN TO VISIT THE BEACHES NEAR PORTINHO DA ARRÁBIDA?
If you like to go to the beach and enjoy the sun, naturally the summer months (July, August and September) are ideal for making your visit. If you love deserted beaches, go during the week. From Monday to Friday you will have the beach almost exclusively to yourself! On weekends, as you can imagine, the beach is quite busy.
PORTINHO DA ARRÁBIDA HISTORY
The presence of man in this place dates back to the Lower Paleolithic (between 200,000 and 400,000 years ago). The occupation took place mainly in the mountains, where natural shelters (caves) can still be found today. There is a cave in Arrábida, called the Figueira-brava cave, where traces of Neanderthal man have been discovered (this species appeared 400 thousand years ago and disappeared 28 thousand years ago). These vestiges date back to the time of the last glaciation (from 110,000 to 10,000 years ago). In the mountains, there are traces of human presence 4000 years old. Man has been present in this area since records (and memory) exist. The Roman occupation left its mark in the region especially along the Sado river. Muslim traces can also be found although in smaller numbers (compared to the Romans). The windmills (located on top of mountains and hills) are probably the most evident trace of the Arab legacy left in the region (they will have been introduced in the seventh century).
PORTINHO DA ARRÁBIDA – HOTEL
Among the various accommodation options in the area, we decided to recommend Casa da Adoa as the one with the best price/quality ratio (according to our online research and to their guests’ reviews).
CASA DA ADOA
Relaxed hotel with over 300 reviews on Booking and an overall rating of 9.2 (out of 10). The most positive comments refer to a cozy atmosphere, the friendliness of the staff, the cleanliness of the rooms, and the nature walks that can be taken nearby. The only negative point that was mentioned is related to some difficulty in parking.
WHAT TO VISIT NEAR THE PORTINHO DA ARRÁBIDA?
There is a lot to see and enjoy at Portinho da Arrábida. But you will also be glad to know that just 20 minutes away you will find two other iconic places in Portugal: Sesimbra and Setúbal!
21 minutes by car separate Portinho da Arrábida and the city of Setúbal. A city that is not exhausted in the fried cuttlefish and that deserves a close visit!
From Portinho da Arrábida to Sesimbra is a 31-minute drive. 17 kilometers that will take you to another magnificent place with a choice beach.