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Parque Natural da Arrábida
Located next to the sea, between Setúbal and the fishing town of Sesimbra, Arrábida Natural Park has incomparable natural beauty, where the blue of the sea alternates with the white tones of the chalk cliffs and the depths of the green vegetation that covers the mountain range.
One of the main attractions of the Park is the wealth of its indigenous vegetation. One of the rare examples of Mediterranean maquis in Portugal can be found here, and its preservation was one of the reasons which led the Arrábida zone to be considered as a genuine international scientific relic. In order to preserve these vegetation species, it is only possible to visit certain areas when accompanied by an official guide indicated by the Park’s services. There are also various accredited companies that organise radical activities, such as speleology, diving and mountain climbing.
If you want to learn more about the animal and plant life, visit the Oceanographic Museum, installed in the Fort of Nossa Senhora da Arrábida, next to Portinho beach. Almost directly in front, it’s possible to see the Pedra da Anixa, a small island that constitutes a zoological reserve, due to its underwater vegetation.
In addition to the Serra da Arrábida, the Park also includes other mountain ranges such as the Serra do Risco, which contains the highest peak along the Portuguese mainland coast — it is a magnificent cliff measuring 380 m high, that overlooks the sea, from which it is possible to appreciate an unforgettable panoramic view over the Atlantic.
The action of the sea against the mountains has originated a line of beaches characterised by fine sand and transparent waters, that we might otherwise believe could only be found in the Mediterranean, such as Figueirinha, Galapos and the Portinho da Arrábida.
The zone was appreciated by Franciscan friars between the 16th and 19th centuries, who inhabited the convent that still exists in the zone and meditated in the isolated chapels dispersed throughout the mountains. Arrábida has excellent conditions for farming activities and pasture, and has thus originated high-quality products. Examples include the wines that can be discovered by following the Costa Azul wine route, which leads visitors to the friendly town of Azeitão where they can sample some delicious cheeses.