With coves of golden sand and bright blue water hidden among pine-covered hills and vineyards, Arrábida Natural Park (Parque Natural da Arrábida) in Portugal is a hidden gem for nature lovers. The beaches are the main draw, but the park also attracts hikers and photographers, who come to explore the landscape and enjoy the panoramic views.
About 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon, Arrábida Natural Park stretches along the Atlantic coast from the town of Sesimbra in the west to Setúbal in the east. The landscape is dotted with villages, vineyards, monasteries, and forts, as well as a number of unspoiled beaches. One of the most popular is Portinho da Arrábida, with its couple of beachside restaurants and calm waters ideal for swimming or paddleboarding.
A little harder to get to—it’s only accessible on foot—is pristine, uncrowded Galapinhos Beach, which means “little Galapagos” in Portuguese. For keen hikers, the town of Pamela is a popular setting out point for walks in the area. Many all-day tours from Lisbon combine a visit to Arrábida beaches with local wine tasting, and some include time on a boat or private yacht.
Things to Know Before You Go
Several of the beaches in Arrábida Natural Park are only accessible on foot.
There is no entrance fee to access the park.
Parking can be limited on summer weekends and holidays.
Hikes in the region are best suited to active travelers.
How to Get There
Arrábida Natural Park is located south of Lisbon on Portugal’s Atlantic Coast. Given the lack of public transit in the area, access to the park is by car, taxi, or as part of a guided tour with transport provided. There is parking at several of the beaches including Portinho da Arrábida and Figueirinha, and also in the town of Pamela, where several trailheads are located. Some beaches are only accessible by foot or boat, so check before you travel.
When to Get There
Arrábida Natural Park is open to visitors all year round. For hiking, the best times to visit are spring and fall, as the weather can get very hot in summer, while the beaches draw the most visitors in June, July, and August.
The Town of Sesimbra
A sleepy fishing village on the western edge of the park, Sesimbra transforms into a bustling resort in the summer months, welcoming visitors from all across Europe. With beachfront restaurants and cafés, and calm (but cold!) waters suited to both swimming and water sports such as paddleboarding and kayaking, it’s a popular destination, and can be combined with a trip to Lisbon.