The best independent guide to Sesimbra
The best independent guide to Sesimbra
Sesimbra is a popular holiday destination that is situated on a coastline of beautiful and varied beaches. Within walking distance of the town are glorious sandy beaches, that are lapped by turquoise sea waters.
Surround Sesimbra is a region of stunning natural beauty, including the picturesque beaches of the Serra da Arrabida and the wild surfing beaches of the Costa da Caparica coastline.
Each of these regions offer unique beaches, perfectly suited for different types of tourists, and this guide will provide an introduction to the beaches of Sesimbra.
Related articles: Sesimbra introduction - Costa da Caparica
The Praia da Califórnia in Sesimbra
The Serra da Arrabida coastline
Best beach within walking distance of Sesimbra - Praia da Califórnia
Best beach for families - The Lagoa de Albufeira or Praia da Califórnia
Most beautiful beach - Praia do Creiro and Praia dos Galapinhos
Best surfing beach - The central and north Costa da Caparica
Where to escape summer time crowds - Praia das Bicas
For a touch of paradise - Tróia Peninsula
The map below shows the location of the best beaches within the Sesimbra region, the yellow line marks the Costa da Caparica coastline
The beaches from north to south 1) Fonte da Telha 2) Lagoa de Albufeira 3) Praia do Meco 4) Praia das Bicas 5) Praia do Ouro 6) Praia da Califórnia 7) Praia do Creiro 8) Praia de Galápos 9) Praia da Figueirinha 10) Praia de Albarquel 11) Praia Tróia Mar 12) Praia da Questa 13) Praia Atlântica
In the summer the beaches of the Sesimbra region can get very crowded, with a combination of tourists and Portuguese day trippers from Lisbon.
If you are on holiday in Sesimbra the town’s beaches, Califórnia (5) and Ouro (6), are beautiful and a good choice for a beach day.
The beaches of the Serra da Arrabida (also known as the Portinho da Arrábida) are picturesque but have very limited car parking, and are completely full by 9:30. Also, the coastline road near the Praia de Galápos (8) is closed to non-residents between 8am and 6pm May to October, and the detour is very long following the N379 as it meanders through the mountains.
For some where quieter consider the Lagoa de Albufeira (2), a seawater lagoon with two beaches, one on the coastline and one overlooking the calm lagoon. This is a pristine natural setting and good alternative to the overly popular Portinho da Arrábida.
The Praia do Meco (3) is another good choice in the summer but if there are any sea breezes it will be strong here. Fonte da Telha (1) is a traditional seaside village but is again popular with Portuguese day trippers from Lisbon. The Tróia peninsula (11) is stunning but generally too far for a day trip from Sesimbra.
Our recommendations: If you are holiday in Sesimbra head to the Praia da Califórnia, if you have a car visit the Lagoa de Albufeira or Praia do Meco. If you are visiting outside of the busy summer season head to the Praia do Creiro (7) or Praia dos Galapinhos (8).
The Praia do Creiro
The weather is suitable for spending time on the beach from May until the end of September, with July and August the busiest months. The sea waters are always cold as they are fed by the Atlantic Ocean, only reaching a chilly 20C in the height of the summer (when it could be +35C on the beach).
On the surfing beaches there can be strong tides and currents, only surf where it is safe to. Parasols become and essential in the summer and can be hired for €15 per day.
The beaches of Sesimbra can be grouped into three areas:
• The town beaches which are within walking distance of Sesimbra
• The beaches of the Serra da Arrabida (often referred to as the Portinho da Arrabida)
• The beaches of the Costa da Caparica (which includes the Lagoa de Albufeira)
The beaches closest to the town are the most accessible but tend to be the busiest during the summer months. The bay of Sesimbra is divided into two beaches with the Praia do Ouro closer to the fishing harbour and the Praia da Califórnia to the east. Both beaches are very similar and have calm sea waters which are suitable for families.
The Praia do Ouro overlooks the fishing harboura
The beaches of the Portinho da Arrabida are considered as some of Portugal’s finest beaches. They are in a stunning location, backed by the green hills or steep cliffs of the national park, while the calm waters of blues and turquoises overlook the Sado Estaury.
These beaches can get busy during the summer and need a rental car to visit. The Portinho da Arrabida includes four different beaches and the largest is the Praia da Figueirinha
The Costa da Caparica is the 17km long beach that stretches the western side of the Setubal Peninsula. This coastline is very different from the other two as it is exposed to the powerful Atlantic Ocean and is the place to head to for surfing or kite surfing. The southern edge of the Costa da Caparica is significantly quieter than the northern side and the area has a wild and rugged atmosphere.
The Lagoa de Albufeira is a series of sandy lagoons that offer sheltered waters on the southern side of the Costa da Caparica. The lagoon’s beaches are surrounded by pine forests and it is hard to believe that this tranquil setting is less than a 30 minute drive from central Lisbon.
The Serra da Arrabida coastline is absolutely stunning, offering soft golden sand beaches, turquoise calm sea waters and is surrounded by pine forested mountains. The problem with the beaches of the Arrabida region is travelling to them. There is very limited car parking, and the main coastal road near the Praia de Galápos is closed to non-residents during the summer.
Related articles: Serra da Arrabida guide
The Serra da Arrabida coastline
Praia dos Galapos and Praia dos Galapinhos
The Praia dos Galapos and Praia dos Galapinhos are often considered as one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal. There are crystal-clear waters for snorkelling, soft sands and wonderous scenery.
Galápos is the larger beach and has two restaurants (O João and Ondagalapos) along with parasols and sun loungers. Galapinhos to the east is smaller and where you will want to take your paradise photos.
The two beaches are separated by a headland which can be walked around at low tide.
The Praia dos Galapinhos
Praia do Creiro
The Praia do Creiro is as equally beautiful as the Galapinhos but there is a car park and is easier to reach when the coastal road is shut.
Creiro is a wonderous beach; steep forested hills descend down to white sands, and the sheltered bay leads round to the tiny village of Portinho da Arrábida. The inviting sea waters are calm and tranquil, being a blend of deep blues and greens, and beneath the waters is an abundance of sea life. The Praia do Creiro is a fantastic beach destination, just expect it to be busy at the height of the summer.
Between the car park and the beach are the Roman ruins of Creiro, which was the site of a fish salting factory.
The Praia do Creiro beach
Praia dos Coelhos
The Praia dos Coelhos is a tiny cove beach which has been completely untouched by tourism. If you seek an untouched paradise beach, this is where to head to.
Be warned, it’s a rough 400m path down to the beach and there are no facilities on the beach at all, but that’s the price for an empty, pristine paradise. The only car parking is on the main road and is shared with Praia dos Galapinhos. For most tourists the Praia do Creiro, next along the coast, is the better choice for a beach for a day trip.
Praia da Figueirinha
The Praia da Figueirinha is considered as the best beach for a day trip in the Serra da Arrabida, and is very popular with Portuguese families. Figueirinha is one of the region’s larger beaches and there are good facilities (cafes and restaurants).
The actual beach is beautiful (as with the whole region), soft light-coloured sands and backed by the craggy cliffs of the Serra da Arrabida. The waters are clean and calm, and as the waters are fed by the ocean, are clean enough to swim in. The Praia da Figueirinha gets very busy in the summer as it is the best beach close to the city of Setubal.
The Praia do Meco
The Praia do Meco is a gorgeous sandy beach at the southern end of the Costa da Caparica coastline. The beach is infamous throughout Portugal as it was the first nudist beach in the country, but today there is a clear designation between the family-friendly sections and the nudist beach (which is further to the south of the coastline). Meco is a huge beach, and there is ample car parking, which makes it a good choice of beach when the Serra da Arrabida is too crowded in the summer.
Related articles: Praia do Meco
The Praia do Meco
The Lagoa de Albufeira
The Lagoa de Albufeira is a pristine lagoon which opens out on the Costa da Caparica coastline. This setting provides two very different beaches; the side facing the might of the Atlantic Ocean and the sheltered side overlooking the lagoon. The Atlantic side is great for surfing and kite surfing, while the sheltered lagoon waters are popular with Portuguese families. Inland the pristine forests that surround the lagoon offer deserted footpaths and tranquil countryside.
Related articles: Lagoa de Albufeira
The calm waters of the Lagoa de Albufeira are a popular location to learn to wind surf
Our most popular guides to the Sesimbra region