The Arrábida Natural Park extends over an area of about 16,500 ha, covering not only the Arrabida mountais, but also the entire surrounding area between the city of Setúbal , Palmela, the sea and Cape Espichel, as well as a sea area of about 5,700 ha, which focuses much of the biodiversity of ocean waters washing these shores.
The Arrábida presents under the botanical aspect, an exceptional scientific interest, as there in this region several nuclei of natural vegetation constituting a single relic in the world of a primitive mediterranean forest, well-recognized not only nationally but also internationally.
Of greater relevance is also the heritage associated with some traditional economic activities (wine, cheese, etc.), and also the importance of the built heritage existing in the Park, namely the religious and the military, which reflects its historical importance region in the context of recent centuries.
The village of Palmela, with about 17 000 habitants, dominated by its noble moorish castle is located on a spur of the Arrábida mountain, the top of which you can see in 360º, the whole multitude of the surrounding space.
During the Muslim period, which ended in 1217, Palmela with Alcácer do Sal and Sesimbra, was part of a line of military defense that allowed control, south of the Tagus, a vast land, sea and inland territory from the Atlantic Ocean to the interior of the Alentejo plains.
This county is dominated by agricultural activities, of which highlights viticulture (and wine production), which occupies about 70% of the total vineyard area of municipalities of the wine region of Setubal.
The grazing and cheese production are also very important activities, taking into account the quality, prestige and strong deployment of the Azeitão cheese in the market.
Azeitão is a village located in the Natural Park of Arrábida with a strong aristocratic tradition and dominated by very large farms and rich stately houses.
The vineyard and wine production are one of its most important economic activities, highlighting the existence of large wineries where they produced some of the best wines in the country.
Dominated by the great palace of the Dukes of Aveiro, Azeitão is also well known for its cheese and its regional desserts, including the famous “Tortas de Azeitão” and “Esses”.
Portinho d’Arrábida is one of the most emblematic places of the Natural Park of Arrábida and the entire region, constituting mandatory stopping point for anyone who walks through the spectacular coastline Arrábida.
Its white sand beach seated in a small bay between the mountains and the sea, is one of the most beautiful corners of the Portuguese coast, and was considered the most beautiful natural beach in Portugal.
Besides the natural beauty and pageantry of its beach, this site also has an interesting historical and cultural heritage, namely the Roman ruins of Creiro, the Oceanographic Museum installed in the Fortress of St Maria of Arrábida, a former military fortification of the XVII century, and the caves of St ª Margarida, a small copy of the karstic structure of the Arrábida mountain.
Sesimbra is a preferred tourist destination, with high environmental and landscape patterns, where the port and fishing boats, their beaches, are some of the most characteristic features of this important tourist center, where the cuisine is closely linked to their fishing tradition.
Sesimbra, whose landscape is dominated by its imposing castle of Arab origin, was finally taken from the Moors in 1200 by King Sancho I.
Together with the castles of Palmela and Alcacer do Sal, Sesimbra Castle was part of a line of military defense that allowed control, south of the Tagus, a vast land, sea and inland territory from the Atlantic ocean to the interior ofl the Alentejo plains.
The village of Sesimbra, with about 24,000 inhabitants, is now completely surrounded by the Natural Park of Arrábida, either by land or by sea, being one of the most characteristic fishing villages of Portugal.
The Cape Espichel is one of the most notable Portuguese coasts, setting the end of the terrestrial zone and the beginning of the immensity of the sea.
The landscape is dominated by the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora do Cabo and the maritime lighthouse, being a crossing point of thousands of migratory birds in the late summer and early autumn, as well as the occurrence of species from far reaches.
Due to its very high cliffs, presents itself as a good nesting habitat for some bird species, including the Peregrine Falcon.
Emphasis is still in Cabo Espichel its geological component, where it’s possible to find several sets of dinosaur footprints.
The lagoon of Albufeira situated by the sea, north of Cape Espichel, is a place of rare beauty where the green of the pine trees and white sandy beaches contrasting with the blue of the sea and the lagoon itself.
It is a place of great importance with regard to birds, especially in its inner lagoon, the Little Lagoon, considered an “Important Bird Area” (IBA).
It is a nesting site for several species of waterfowl, and is also used by many passerines during autumn migratory passage.
Resident species: Eurasian coot, Purple swamphen, Mallard, Purple heron, Great tit, kingfisher, nightingales.