Discover the Blue Coast
Oceans of Sea, Oceans of Land. Definitely a place to discover, a wealth of natural and cultural attractions, with strong ocean influence that you’ll enjoy to meet.
The Blue Coast has a wide natural diversity of landscapes and environments, favored by the sea presence and is a wonderful region to discover. Along the Atlantic Coast there are cliffs of wild beauty, sprinkled by picturesque villages, immense sandy strands or intimate small scale beaches. It has a huge wealth of natural and cultural attractions fueled by Lisbon proximity.
The Blue Coast also extends into the interior, thus comprising a region with unforgettable beaches, two estuaries, mountains, quiet inland plains. A mixture of colors that radiate a unique light and always with a special charm. A balsam for our eyes…
Enogastronomy in the Blue Coast
This wine region is the birth place of excellent wine producers that face this art as their way of living. A visit to their estates is always a good excuse for learning about the local heritage, the arts and crafts, the architecture, the traditions and of course the inseparable gastronomy.
As far as the gastronomy goes, both the coastal areas and the inland agree. Fish and the shellfish bring the sea onto the table and the spices from the planes invade the different dishes and favor one´s taste. Coastline and inland two different traditions and two different worlds, to unveil, which in the dish, blend together in the craftsman know how. This richness has no owner. It was invented by all, ageless testimonies passing from generation to generation.
There are two types of landscape in the Península de Setúbal. One is characterized by vines planted on clay-limestone soils, between 100 and 500 meters. The Arrábida mountain protects the vines from the influence of the Atlantic. The other area (the sandy soils) represents, about, 80% of the region, includes flat land or gently undulating land, rarely exceeding 150 m in height, land consisting of sandy soil that is rather poor, ideally suited to high quality grape production.
The Setúbal Peninsula is a pioneering region in the production of well-made wines, as is the case of the fortified wine, Moscatel de Setúbal. Though the region has only been demarcated for the production of Moscatel since 1907, the production of the wine in this area dates far back before.
Aromatic herbs –coriander, pennyroyal, water mint, rosemary, laurel or bay, savory, oregano, to name only the best known. They are crushed, chopped or placed in sauces according to the dish they are going to flavor. When the products are genuine and of high quality, as happens in the Alentejo, the seasonings exist not to hide but to enhance the flavor as much as possible.
Heritage in the Blue Coast
The Blue coast is a mosaic of possibilities: from the art of Portuguese tiles to the dancing Dolphins in the Sado estuary, from the baroque churches of Setúbal (the main urban center) to the unique flora of Arrábida Mountain, culture and nature are integrated in a brave new world that awaits you. Welcome to the authentic nature of the Blue Coast.
A true landmark of this region and in the heart of Arrábida Natural Park on a secluded hillside, is the Convento da Arrábida, originally founded by Arrabidino Franciscan friars who built cells, a church and other outbuildings in 1542. It is a fascinating collection of buildings resembling a small village and with magnificent sea views.
On the other hand if one wants to know and understand the maritime life in this region it´s mandatory to pay a visit to the 17th century Forte da Arrábida. Its original mission was to defend the coast but today, it houses the Oceanographic Museum from Arrábida Natural Park.
For the ones who love to visit castles the Blue Coast is the place to be: 3 main castles defended Lisbon from the south, from the West (Atlantic side) and the East (inland). Nowadays we can walk inside its walls and wonder how it was possible for such a small population to live and thrive in between Arab, Spanish and pirate attacks.
No tour to Setúbal heritage will be completed until you have stopped by Espichel Cape (the end of Setúbal Peninsula), where Our Lady of the Cape is located; a cult with a historical record that dates back to 1366. On this tremendous and beautiful place, we must take a closer look to the religious heritage, built in conditions of great difficulty, watch this cosmic scenario in front of our eyes and try to imagine the dinosaurs that left their tracks on the local rugged cliffs and the mythical, popular cults who flock here from the fifteenth century onwards in worship of Our Lady of the Cape.
Nature in the Blue Coast
One Step from Paradise
Along the Blue Coast there are places where life´s frantic pace is quickly forgotten and where nature is revealed in all its plenitude. A long coastline of gentle beaches, safe harbours and inviting sands call for the pleasures of sunny holidays.
Moreover this region collects many awards: one and only Portuguese maritime park, Club member of The Most Beautiful Bays in the World and Arrábida Natural Park candidate for world heritage site. Impressive isn´t it?
Beaches can often be a decisive factor in a holiday and this region offers a wide range of different beaches. What are we talking about? Well, how about a 25 kms coastline strip where one can find Lagoa de Albufeira, a coastal lagoon (separated from the sea by a line of dunes), both a fresh water lagoon and a lagoonal area of brackish water, suitable for windsurf and other water sports. Next to it lies Meco, a well known naturist beach and a little further south is Portinho da Arrábida, offering more intimate contact with the sea. This calm bay is good for diving and to enjoy the diverse marine life. At Sesimbra discover its beaches and enjoy some of the most exciting food in Portugal, based on the very best fish and shellfish. Impossible? Come and see for yourself…
Further south, the Sado Estuary has another important Nature Reserve. This vast estuary communicates with the Atlantic Ocean. The notably diverse landscape of the 25,000 hectare Reserve includes dunes with rare vegetation cover, sandbanks, vast marshes, reed beds and thickets. But the main attraction of the reserve is the dozens of dolphins that live in the estuary and delight both adults and children. They are unique in Portugal and very easily observed. Other endangered species in the zone include the Barbastelle bat and the Otter.