Arrábida's Blog

With over a decade of training and acquiring experience in the area of Sports Nature and Active Tourism, and fruit of friendship between lovers of nature, in particular with Serra da Arrábida, thus comes this project!
Our main goal is to share with all those who, like us, feel at home in nature, a little (of so much) that this Natural Park has to offer us – a diamond in the rough – thus creating an Arrábida for all!
Here, we will share with you some tips and curiosities about Arrábida as well as some of the varied activities that are practised.
Welcome to Arrábida Experiences Blog! Come discover the world of Arrábida with us!

5 reasons to visit Arrábida

The Arrábida Natural Park, located in the Setúbal Peninsula, is a biogenetic reserve, with an area of approximately 10800 hectares.

Discover the top 5 reasons to visit this place.


1. History

The first signs of human presence in this region date back to between 200,000 and 400,000 years ago, with Neanderthal remains having already been found in a cave now known as Gruta da Figueira-brava.

The coastal areas also contribute to building the history of this place, with archaeological remains having been found dating back 4000 years, dating back to the passage of civilisations from the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

In turn, the Roman, Muslim and Arab peoples have also left various testimonies in the mountains, the latter having introduced, in the 7th century, windmills on the tops of some small hills, which are still standing today.

From the Middle Ages and Renaissance there are chapels, convents and forts. One of these examples is Lapa de Santa Margarida, which is located near Portinho da Arrábida, in a small recess. There is a chapel inside this cave where every year a religious ceremony in honour of Saint Margaret (Santa Margarida) takes place, hence its name.

Continuing along Portinho da Arrábida, you can see the Fort of Nossa Senhora da Arrábida, built in 1670 by D.Pedro II. It once served as a protective bastion of the coast against Moorish corsairs but nowadays houses the Oceanographic Museum and a Marine Biology Centre, which develop an active work in the dissemination of environmental education.

Although part of the history of this region has already been unravelled, there is still a mystery surrounding it, making Arrábida an exciting place for visitors.


2. Culture

The cultural manifestations associated with the Arrábida region constitute a heritage and give meaning to a long cultural heritage.

Here is preserved a significant set of centenary traditions that the community itself keeps alive to the present day. Among them is the festival of Nossa Senhora da Arrábida, celebrated by fishermen in honour of their patron saint. In the past, the festivities lasted four days and included the presence of bands and a boat trip to the convent that culminated in religious celebrations, with the return home in a maritime procession. The time spent in the convent was one of constant joy, with snacks, singing and dancing all night long.

Another local tradition is the art of “chincha”, an ancient fishing technique in which the net, fixed to a cable on the beach, is taken out to sea by a boat that, through a circular motion, stretches several dozen metres from the coast, returning to the beach with another cable.

The regional gastronomy is also an important parameter in cultural terms. Dishes such as fried cuttlefish, fish stews and cuttlefish bean stew characterise the Arrábida area, and to sweeten the mouth at the end, there are also traditional sweets such as olive oil tarts and toasted flour.

A world-famous oenological element of the region is Moscatel de Setúbal, which is characterised by being a sweet wine, excellent as an appetizer.


3. Landscapes

Between its valleys and mountains, the horizon displays one of the most enchanting portuguese landscapes, with the Arrábida mountain range being a barrier between the crystalline waters of the coastline and the inland, where luxuriant vegetation predominates. The highest point of this mountain range, called “Formosinho”, is 501 metres high, giving a panoramic view of the whole region.

Within its green trails, Serra da Arrábida is a local treasure from a geological, speleological and palaeontological point of view, presenting countless karstic cavities of which Frade Cave (Gruta do Frade) stands out, characterised by its uniqueness and beauty. There are also several fossil deposits of dinosaurs which have been declared Cultural and Intangible Heritage of Cabo Espichel.

Arrábida has huge cliffs by the sea that lie on a calm and crystalline sea, characteristic of the region. One of these, called “Risco”, is proclaimed as the highest limestone coastal escarpment in Europe.

The coast hides examples of the most charming beaches in the country, some of them unknown to many, such as Galapinhos beach, which only after being considered by the European Best Destinations as the most beautiful beach in Europe, started to receive more recognition by the portuguese population and foreign tourists.


4. Activities

The whole atmosphere surrounding Arrábida promises to provide unforgettable moments and stimulates the adventurous spirit that exists in everyone, all in a panorama of extreme beauty.

There is a wide variety of activities practised in the region and they encompass the three elements: air, land and water.

In terms of land, the various trails of the Serra create the ideal conditions for a simple walk or bicycle ride. Throughout the Arrábida gap (Fenda da Arrábida) there are also countless climbing walls, of the most varied levels of difficulty, which provide an excellent opportunity both for veterans of the sport and for curious beginners.

The blue sky of Arrábida and its winds make it a renowned site for paragliding. This is an activity that arouses a feeling of adrenaline and that will allow the participant to see the whole landscape that surrounds the mountains from a superior point of view.

The Arrábida coastal area, due to its south-facing location, is protected from northerly winds, resulting in serene and clear waters. These characteristics make this region a place where water sports are not only frequent but also recommended. Among the most practised are diving and snorkelling, which allow participants to enjoy the various reefs that Arrábida offers and all the marine life that shelters in them.

Apart from the activities already mentioned, there are others such as caving, SUP, coasteering and canoeing.

With so much choice, visiting Arrábida will never get boring, all you have to do is indulge in one of these adventures.


5. Biodiversity

The soil and mild climate characteristic of the Arrábida Mountains have allowed the growth of an overbearing vegetation, which covers it with an infinite green and serves as shelter to an innumerable animal biodiversity. Among the vast exuberant vegetation, which takes on various shapes and heights, two species that only exist in Arrábida stand out: the Corriola do Espichel (Comvolvulus fernandesii) and the Trovisco do Espichel (Euphorbia pedroi).

In the Arrábida area there are about 260 species of all types of animal life, from amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

Its coastal areas, where the cliffs are in profile, are perfect habitats for birds of prey such as the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) , the ibex (Falco subbuteo) and the Bonelli’s eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus). Besides these three specimens, Serra da Arrábida is home to about 197 species of birds, some of them being the only cliff-nesting site in Europe.

Throughout its length there are about 34 species of land mammals, including the european wild boar (Sus scrofa scrofa), the hare (Lepus capensis), the mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon) and even the famous foxes (Vulpes vulpes) that so inspired the creation of Arrábida Experiences.

Regarding the marine ecosystems that surround Serra da Arrábida, these are inhabited by over 1300 species, including rays, sharks, octopuses, a wide range of fish, from charrocos to ruivos, and even a population of bottlenose dolphins, which delight local boat trips and divers in the region.


Ricardo Hipólito, 15 April 2021