A sea as blue as the sky
This region embraces one of the most beautiful parts of Portuguese mainland coastline, located between the estuary of Tagus River and the sands of São Torpes, south from Sines. It includes not only crowded beaches in the surroundings of the capital, such as Caparica or Comporta (this one is closer to Setúbal and Alcácer do Sal), but also naturism beaches like Meco. Parts of low sand areas contrast with rocky cliffs, as in Cape Espichel. The estuary of the Sado River helps drawing the long Tróia peninsula, along with the bucolic lagoons of Santo André or Melides. It covers the coastline of Setúbal district and the Alentejo councils of Grândola, Alcácer do Sal and Sines.
Immediately south from Lisbon in the left bank of Tagus River, Setúbal district includes the mountain range that stretch from Palmela to Cape Espichel. Here rises Arrábida Mountain, integrated in the natural park. This is an environmentally interesting zone, but there is more. In the whole of Setúbal region, there are must-visit spots all around the year, such as fine-grained beaches with crystal-clear blue waters, like Figueirinha, Galapos, Coelhos and Portinho da Arrábida, where you can practice nautical sports. Located south from Tróia peninsula, you will find the sand areas of Comporta, Carvalhal and Pego, offering pleasant bars and terraces that attract a growing number of tourists in summer.
Shared by the councils of Setúbal (the city where 17th century Portuguese poet Bocage was born), Sesimbra and Palmela, the beauty of Arrábida Mountain is complemented by the Natural Reserve of Tagus Estuary, one of the most important humid zones of the country with far-reaching fen areas and significant wild life diversity. Characterised by a landscape of creeks, channels and mud, this region is the habitat of otter, badger, white stork and common dolphin. Autumn and winter time is ideal for the observation of birds flying from North Europe.
The Costa Azul (blue coast) includes the fishing villages of Sesimbra (with a colourful port, good fish and seafood restaurans) and Sines (the land of Vasco da Gama, who discovered the maritime route to India) drawn by cliffs and rocks, as well as Porto Covo and the neighbour Pessegueiro island.
One of the greatest highlights of the region is its cuisine inspired by the Atlantic. Seafood specialities, stuffed stone bass, fish stews, whelk bean stew or fried eels are the most famous specialities. Azeitão cheese, Setúbal moscatel wine and table wines made of Periquita wine variety, as well as sweet specialities: Alfarim cakes, "vasquinhos" (cakes made of cheese), "pinhoada de Alcácer" made of pine nut and honey, tarts, sweet cheeses and "esses de Azeitão" (S-shaped biscuits).
Among the many feasts that happen everywhere in the district of Setúbal, it is worth highlighting the Harvest Feast, held in September in Palmela town. Festróia, Tróia International Film Festival, is one of the most important regional cultural events.