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Sesimbra, A Portuguese Gem

Rohan Vasa, Writer

Sesimbra Beach Club

It’s more than just a sport that you like to find hidden gems around the world; you’re in it for the love of the game. So, before word gets out, there’s a destination in Portugal for you. It’s where the beaches are sublime and the views from the coastal hikes are stunning. And for the heck of it, they threw in a Moorish castle for good measure.

Portugal is one of the most popular destinations to visit in 2023. In recent years the country’s tourism has skyrocketed, creating an influx of new restaurants, hotels, shops, and with that, a vibrant scene. Most people fly into Lisbon and then venture out into the rest of the country from there, whether it’s up to Porto or down to the Algarve. However, just an hour away from Lisbon is a place that has breathtaking views, stunning beaches, and mouthwatering seafood. It’s not Cascais or Comporta, it’s a charming little fishing town called Sesimbra.

Natural Beauty by the Sea

Sesimbra is tucked away in a cove next to the Parque Natural da Arrábida. This gives its beaches calm waves, something rare for Portugal. Its proximity to the national park makes it easy to experience some of the trails and hikes overlooking the sea. Additionally, because Sesimbra is on one side of a peninsula there are plenty of beaches to go around. Although there are two beaches in the town of Sesimbra itself, the more breathtaking ones are a short drive in either direction. Some stretch on for miles and have convenient parking, while others require a short hike to reach and are more secluded. Another popular destination in the area is Cabo Espichel, a historic lighthouse overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Looking out over these cliffs stirs the imagination of what it would be like to be leaving or approaching this scenic landscape.

A Charming Fishing Town

The town of Sesimbra itself is set on the slope of a hill which gives you dramatic views of the surrounding cliffs in the distance. From most parts of the town you can look up and see the Castelo de Sesimbra perched above, magnificently lit up during the night. In turn, views from the castle look down on Sesimbra and stretch out across the ocean. But, the thing that Sesimbra is most known for, what brings people down from the city of Lisbon, is its seafood. Within the winding cobblestone streets is a labyrinth of restaurants. Some are fancy and serve elevated Portuguese seafood, while others are casual and are known for their specialties. The most popular and by turn authentic way to eat seafood here is to have it grilled right on the street in front of you.

Places to Stay

For hotels, there are four main options. Although none of them are on the level of a Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental, they do come with scenic views, comfortable rooms, and a pool. Hotel do Mar and Sana Sesimbra Hotel are steps away from the beach and are immersed in the town itself. Whereas the Four Points by Sheraton and Sesimbra Hotel and Spa are more secluded and expansive. Another option is to book a more luxurious villa or Airbnb in the surrounding area to both have your own space and take advantage of the surroundings.

The Best Beaches

Beaches in the town of Sesimbra

  • Praia do Ouro
  • Praia do California

Beaches close to Sesimbra

  • Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo (a steep hike down but worth it for the views)
  • Praia das Bicas (beautiful cliffs with an easy staircase down)
  • Praia do Meco (crystal clear waters and a long stretch of beach to spread out)
  • Praia do Rio da Prata (nude beach)
  • Praia de Galapinhos (short hike down to a beautiful secluded beach)

Restaurants for Seafood

  • Tasca do Isaías (always packed, with fresh fish grilled right outside)
  • O Velho e o Mar (expensive but well-loved, right across the beach)
  • O Batel (upscale restaurant with elevated dishes)
  • O Zagaia (beautiful presentation and unique take on traditional dishes)

Book a trip to Sesimbra, Portugal through Galavante

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