2 Days Exploring Setúbal District: Part I, Sesimbra

On our recent adventure, we explored Setúbal district of Lisboa region in two days. This also happens to be the district we reside in, specifically in a small town in Sesimbra. Portugal is broken down into regions, districts, villages, and towns. At first, it may be a little confusing for visitors or newcomers, but once you get a handle on it, it’s not so bad.

Day 1


Sesimbra Old Town Center

On today’s post, I cover Sesimbra area. Sesimbra is a typical Portuguese fishing village. The old town center lies next to Praia do Ouro, a white sandy beach with a calm sea. This area is especially popular with Portuguese tourists. Not too many foreigners know about Sesimbra, but those who visit delight in the local cuisine, consisting of fresh-caught fish.

Fish is prominent in this village, and it is evident in the graffiti art all around the center. Just about every artwork has fish or a fisherman in it. And just walking around, the air is redolent of fish. As we passed by people eating outside, every table had at least one kind of fish for their meal.

If you love fish and want to experience an authentic Portuguese fishing village, you may want to visit Sesimbra. The area is quite small, so it does not require too much time visiting. If you have extra time, it makes a good day trip from Lisbon or the city of Setúbal.

Sesimbra Castle

The Moorish castle of Sesimbra outside of the main center sits high above the village and was the last of the forts constructed by the Moors. This castle was one of the first victories by the Christians in the 12th century. In 1930, the fort was renovated and today remains one of Portugal’s national treasures.

The castle’s church

Cabo Espichel

Cabo Espichel is a promontory that lies west of Sesimbra. This area is breathtaking, with magnificent views and lots to explore. The lighthouse there is one of Portugal’s brightest. Overlooking the massive cliffs can make one nervous seeing how far the fall is, but the views of the cliffs and raging seas are spectacular.

Day 2

Cabo Espichel’s “The Land Before Time”

A fascinating thing at Cabo Espichel is the dinosaur footprints from the Jurassic and Cretaceous eras. Without much information to go by, I did not know you had to hike down a bit to see the tracks. With lots of loose rocks, and without proper footwear, I knew we had to return the next day. So, the next day we returned with proper gear and ready to explore. The day was just as hot, but the sun was out and shining over the turquoise water.

The dinosaur footprints from the Jurassic era are set in the flat gray rock of the cliff’s face. We learned the cliff used to be flat back then, but because of many earthquakes, shifting occurred and is the cause of the cliff’s current position. It is hard to see the tracks, but we did make out some of the prints based on the diagram provided at the site.

There are several pathways seen on the cliff’s face. The dinosaur prints run diagonally and horizontally. They look like little indentations on the rock.

Five-hundred meters apart from this cliff, the other dinosaur tracks are more striking and apparent. These prints were from the Cretaceous period, and we observed two different tracks: one from a theropod dinosaur and another from a giant, bipedal herbivorous dinosaur.

A print of a theropod dinosaur.

See the prints? Follow them from left to right, all the way to the green bush on the right to the end of the picture.

A closer look at the print. I’m stepping inside one of them. Just one foot can crush us all into a gory, bloody mess!

We enjoyed exploring Cabo Espichel and seeing the dinosaur tracks were the highlight of our exploration. If you’re fascinated by dinosaurs like we are, this may be an excellent trip to add to your visit.


3 thoughts on “2 Days Exploring Setúbal District: Part I, Sesimbra

  1. Oh, let’s just add this to my bucket list. What stunning scenery. I have never been to a castle, I desperately want to see one. Dinosaur footprints leave so much to my imagination.
    May I become wealthy enough to afford a visit.

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