Serra da Arrábida Natural Park is a protected area with 16.521 hectares located in the central part of the country and by the sea. It extends from Sesimbra to Palmela, already in Setúbal, and the whole southern stretch is bathed by the Atlantic Ocean.
June is a terrific time to explore this part of the country because the weather is nice, it's not as crowded as it is during July and August, and the natural scenery is a stunner.
Below we’ve highlighted some of the main reasons to visit this natural reserve.
Incredible Natural Landscapes and Biodiversity
This territory, which also includes a marine area, is a natural reserve because it comprises an incredible biodiversity: about 1400 species of marine animals, 220 species of animals that inhabit inland and various types of flora.
The green vegetation, the lush blue ocean and the light coloured sandy beaches create an idyllic colour scheme for nature enthusiasts.
The geological heritage, with a wide array of different types of rock and even fossils, is also quite valuable and the park comprises 4 mountain ranges. Serra da Arrábida, which is the main one, explains the park's name.
Valuable Historical and Cultural Heritage
Human occupation in this part of the country dates back to pre-historic times. Some ancient elements that were found in the area prove the territory was occupied during the Bronze Age and the old fortifications on top of the hill date back to the Iron Age.
In the roman period the main activity was directly related to the sea, particularly salting fish and storing it in amphorae. Later on, during the moorish occupation new fortified walls were built in the cities and agriculture flourished. The olive groves around Azeitão are considered the oldest ones in the country.
When the Christians conquered back this territory, they built convents and churches, some of which can still be visited. Also, many manor houses and palaces can be found across the park, and most of them belonged to noble families who chose Serra da Arrábida as their holiday retreat.
Tiny beaches with light sand and crystal clear waters, sheltered by stunning cliffs, are the most common landscapes on the southern area of the natural park. The rugged coastline forms small bays which are a delight to explore without rushing.
The most famous ones are Portinho da Arrábida and Galápos, but they're also the most crowded ones. To access some of the wild beaches you have to venture through the vegetation and carefully walk down the cliffs all the way to the sandy area. As you proceed you'll be rewarded with incredible views.
Cool Sporty Activities
This park is a paradise destination for those seeking some active holidays.
The cracks and gaps in the rocks, the roads with gorgeous views and off the beaten track trails, attract visitors from all over. In land the most common activities are mountaneering, hiking and cycling.
For water sports enthusiasts then kayaking, snorkeling and diving are the top ones. The clear waters ensure great visibility for those excited to explore what lies underwater and the irregular shore creates grottoes and caves which are fantastic to explore whilst paddling along the waters.
For those unsure between land and sea there's also coasteering, a really cool sport that combines both hiking along the cliffs, repelling, jumping in the water and swimming.
Delicious Local Gastronomy
Naturally, what comes from the sea is king around here. Fresh fish, octopus, squids and other seafood never disappoint and they're as fresh as they can get. Chargrilled on the barbecue, cooked in broth, prepared with a rich tomato sauce... all typical recipes are delicious.
Another treat worth trying is the cheese from Azeitão, a creamy and strong cheese made from raw sheep milk and produced around this area. It pairs beautifully with the locally sourced honey and the typical sweet taste of the moscatel wine produced in the Setúbal Península.
As the days in June seem to stretch, it's a great month to do a bit of everything and really explore this natural park: go for some road trips, visit the most iconic sights, go for a dip in the crystal clear waters, try some sporty activities and taste the most typical dishes and local wine.
Get in touch if you need help planning an unforgettable weekend break or if you'd like to include this natural park in your holiday plan!
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