Our first stop in Portugal was Sesimbra– a beautiful coastal town famous for its fishing, seafood, and stunning beaches, just a short drive from Lisbon. Sesimbra lies at the foothills of the Serra de Arrabida, a mountain range extending between Setubal and Sesimbra. Sesimbra is best known for its fishing, particularly its swordfish fishing, and is abundant with small traditional seafood restaurants. Visitors can enjoy stunning views of the Gold Beach Coast Line, and visit the ruins a Moorish castle on a nearby mountaintop.
After a long flight to Lisbon, Sesimbra seemed like the perfect destination to rest and recoup. We enjoyed a short 30 minute drive through dry countryside, reminiscent of parts of California. We were met with a pristine view of coastline, adorned with white buildings, stacked on a hillside like blocks, contrasting beautifully with the jewel tones of the ocean.
Sesimbra is a resort town and there was no shortage of tourists, but it didn’t feel nearly as crowded as some other coastal towns in Europe. There are many small shops and cafes to enjoy by the water. After a nap on the beach we sat down at a cafe to enjoy our first meal. I can thank my husband and his adventuresome palette for this choice. We had eyed many locals eating small plates stacked high with caracouis- snails, still in the shell, cooked in a sauce with oregano, garlic, thyme, onion, and olive oil. The locals were popping these snails back like popcorn, either by sucking the snail straight out of the shell or digging them out with toothpicks. Not my favorite appetizer, but I did love the sangria.
After our snack we walked deeper into the town, and were met with cobblestone streets, charming traditional architecture, and quirky street art. We enjoyed the traditional tile work and many nautical-themed murals. Away from the beaches, the town seemed a little sleepy during the day, and we found that some of the side alleys were full of restaurants but were completely empty.
In the late evening, the town came alive. The alleys were packed with people waiting for tables at the local restaurants. Around every corner you could smell fresh fish, seafood, and hear chattering Portuguese and wine glasses being toasted. Each restaurant window displayed fresh catches of the day. We chose a place grilling fish outside that let us pick out a large red snapper for dinner. We enjoyed an appetizer of gambas al ajillo, a spicy traditional Portuguese and Spanish dish of shrimp sautéed and simmered in butter, garlic, and other spices. It became one of our most requested dishes.
Sesimbra was the perfect start to our trip. I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Portugal or doing a layover in Portugal on their way to Spain. What added to our trip was staying at the Sesimbra Hotel and Spa. It is a magnificent panoramic hotel where every room includes a seaside view. The views are superb, and the hotel has an infinity pool, restaurant, and a quick walk to the beach. It may actually be my favorite of the hotels I have stayed at in Europe.
Details: The earrings I am wearing are the Chelsie Earrings from ABLE and are handmade in Nashville, TN. The bracelet I’m wearing is the Warrior Cuff which is made in India and you can find in my Trades of Hope shop. My bag is the Luna bag from Boho Bags. My husband is wearing a cactus print shirt from Prana, made from 100% organic cotton, and is also currently sold at REI. All items are ethically made.