We were keen to see some small Portuguese towns and some spectacular coastline. A recommendation from a fellow traveller to visit the fishing village of Sesimbra and the nearby wild, coastal Cabo Espichel, was a top tip. What can we say – it was superb!
Sesimbra, an important fishing village, is well-known for its delicious fish restaurants and fine beaches. Being a mere 40 kilometres from Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, it is a popular weekend retreat. Sesimbra coaxes you to slow the pace and soak up the ambience of this quaint, seaside village.
We found free parking overlooking both the town and harbour. This gave us our first glimpse of Sesimbra.
Walking down into the sleepy town took us about ten minutes and the path led us along the promenade right by the beach.
Great examples of wall art depicting various fishing scenes are found by ducking into the little side streets of the village. They really set the mood and are also very apt!
Onwards to the Sesimbra Jetties
Reaching the end of the beach promenade, we continued on the footpath with our sights set on the nearby boat-lined jetties. Along here, we passed more eye-catching wall art. Many of the small, brightly painted, local fishing boats were beached at that time giving a real splash of colour to the scene.
The walk was absolutely worth it with fantastic views back over the water towards Sesimbra.
Although the fisherman had finished their work, the seagulls were doing their part by cleaning up the discarded fish scraps.
One of the birds had what at first looked to be something caught in his throat. However, as it turned out, this greedy fellow had a fish’s tail partway down his throat and couldn’t swallow it all down. It paced about for 15 minutes before regurgitating it only to try again and again. It eventually flew off with the tail still lodged– obviously tired of being laughed at!
Leaving Sesimbra, we drove 15 kilometres west to the wild beauty of Cabo Espichel. Here, a landscape of scrubby trees, ancient buildings, rolling hills, majestic cliffs, pounding seas and gusting winds greeted us. If you love the wildness of nature then this is the place for you. Parking is not a problem with a huge area right by the church and within easy walking distance of other attractions. The buildings have an interesting history and are worth the time to visit.
Santuario de Nossa Senhoa
This ‘Sanctuary of our Lady’, built in the early 1700’s in the name of Our Lady of the Cape, hosted many religious pilgrim journeys. The pilgrims lodged in the long accommodation wings either side of the church.
Ermida da Memória Chapel
Behind the church, on the precipice of the cliff, you will find the ‘Ermida da Memória’ chapel. Built in the 15th century, it marks the site where the image of ‘Our Lady’ (the Virgin Mary), is believed to have been sighted. A traditional azulejo (blue and white) tiled representation of this vision, being the oldest ever known, is found within this Chapel.
Farol do Cabo Espichel (lighthouse)
A mere fifteen minutes walk from the church will have you gazing up at the majestic 32 metre high Cabo Espichel lighthouse. It really is a lone sentinel on this wild coast. The lighthouse entered service in 1790 and is still functional to this day. Albeit, with a few technological upgrades since construction.
Abandoned buildings were close by which housed what seemed to be relics of industrial generators. We also spied a little 20th century wall art on one of the buildings walls!
Dinosaur Footprints and Walks Aplenty
Yes, actual real dinosaur footprints are found on the Cabo Espichel cliffs! They are only a twenty-minute walk from the church. Just follow the signs. You might also want to consider taking one of the many well-trodden walking paths in the area. Whether it be along the cliffs or inland, the landscapes are wonderful. We hiked across quite a few of the paths during our quest to log the many Geocaches found in the area.
All up, we spent two days at Sesimbra and Cabo Espichel. If you have time restraints however, then a couple of hours at both spots would give you a good feel for the area and time to take in the amazing scenery.
Are there other wild coastal get-away places that leave you feeling absolutely awe inspired? We would love to hear about it.
Being an Australian boy brought up in the country, I learnt at an early age to enjoy the freedom and beauty of nature. Leaving Australia at the age of 20, although I didn’t know it then, would be the beginning of a life of adventure. So join me here on our travels and see the world through my eyes.