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From Cape to Castle

A journey through Portugal's Arrábida Natural Park
 
There’s great variety on this self-guided hotel-to-hotel walking holiday: while your luggage is transferred, you follow coastal, valley and ridge-top paths as you journey inland to a characterful pousada set within a medieval castle. Along the way, savour the region’s acclaimed seafood, cheese and wines.
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Holiday information

 

A walking holiday in the Arrábida Natural Park

The Douro Valley has its vines, Sintra has its castles and the Algarve has its coastline but in the dramatic Arrábida Natural Park on the Setúbal Peninsula, just a stone's throw from Lisbon, you'll find all that, along with an abundant harvest from both sea and land, and as yet, it's virtually undiscovered.

In the fifteenth century so many pilgrims travelled to the Cape of Espichel that a small village comprising lodgings, shops and even an opera house were constructed to serve their needs. Known as the Shining Cape, the tip of the Setúbal Peninsula looks out over the Atlantic Ocean while along its southern shore lies one of Portugal's most stunning coastlines where the mountains of the Arrábida Natural Park melt into the sea behind sheltered coves of soft, white sand. 
In the valleys between the ridges, vines braid the landscape producing some of the country's finest wines, including its famous Moscatel dessert wine; while in the coastal villages of Sesimbra and Portinho an abundance of fish and seafood dominate menus and the irresistible aromas of the region's trademark grilled sardines and tender choco frito (fried cuttlefish) permeate the warm evening air.

From dinosaur footprints ascending the cliffs of Espichel, to a Pousada set within a medieval castle on a hill, a journey through this generous land provides a taste of traditional Portugal and some of its finest walking. Come and enjoy it before the secret's out of the bag.
 
Gallery
 

Itinerary

The key to Inntravel holidays is flexibility. You can start on the day of your choice, and are free to add extra nights.
  • The average maximum daytime temperatures and monthly rainfall relate to the nearest weather station and are intended as a guide only.

     
    Average temperatures and rainfall
      Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    °C 16 17 19 21 24 28 32 32 29 24 19 16
    mm 51 45 40 37 27 6 2 2 18 57 65 71
  • Arrival in Sesimbra
    Night 1: at SANA Sesimbra Hotel (the first of two nights here).
    As your first night’s accommodation is on the day of travel, Day 1 is your first day of walking.
  • Choice of walks around Sesimbra: 6.5km or 8.5km
    Famed for its fresh fish and seafood, Sesimbra's air is filled with the scent of sardines crisping on charcoal-fired barbecues in the restaurants that line the promenade and the narrow streets behind, far below the battlements of its impressively preserved, 12th-century Moorish castle. We provide notes for two walks that can be accessed from the town:

    Circular route around Cabo do Espichel: 8.5km, 3.5hrs; ascent/descent 165m
    A short bus ride brings you the edge of Espichel Cape, from where you follow a panoramic coastal path to visit the ruins of a 17th-century fort. Continue along the clifftops to reach the once-celebrated Santuário de Nossa Senhora do Cabo Espichel. Now deserted, this sanctuary was visited by so many pilgrims that shops, lodgings and even an opera house were built to serve their needs. There's the option to extend the walk to take in a viewing platform from where you can see 133-million-year-old dinosaur footprints.

    Circular route around Sesimbra Castle and town: 6.5km, 2.5hrs; ascent/descent 270m
    Alternatively, opt to stroll through the town and up along a hillside path to the medieval castle that overlooks the town. Take time to soak in the far-reaching views before returning to Sesimbra via a pleasant woodland path. 
    Circular route around Cabo do Espichel: 8.5km
    Santuário de Nossa Senhora do Cabo Espichel
    Circular route around Sesimbra Castle and town: 6.5km
    Sesimbra Castle
  • Sesimbra to Azeitão: 16km, 5.5hrs; ascent 250m/descent 275m
    A short taxi transfer takes you inland so that you can begin your journey through the unspoiled beauty of the Arrábida Natural Park. Your route winds through woodland and farms and alongside orderly vineyards to reach the string of rural hamlets that lie at the heart of the park, and the picture-postcard village of Nogueira do Azeitão, home to Setúbal's celebrated wine producers, exquisite Azulejos tiles and one of Portugal's best-loved cheeses. Your base for the next two nights is the Club d'Azeitão.
    Sesimbra to Azeitão: 16km
    Cork forest on the route from Sesimbra to Azeitao
  • Choice of activities around Azeitão
    We provide a menu of options for your full day here:

    Azeitão to Portinho (return by taxi): 16km, 6hrs; ascent 510m/descent 610m
    Follow a winding route that passes initially through smallholdings and family vineyards belonging to local villagers before morphing into red-earthed tracks through stone pine woodland. Following the contours of the mountain ranges with views over the coast, your path emerges alongside the scattered buildings and cave chapels of the stunning 16th-century Convento da Arrábida, before descending to the charming coastal village of Portinho, nestling in its picturesque bay alongside one of Arrábida's best beaches. Visit the maritime museum, housed in a small fort at the edge of the hamlet; enjoy a traditional choco frito (fried cuttlefish) lunch in one of the restaurants whose dining rooms expand out over the ocean on stilts; and relax on the idyllic beach before returning to Azeitão by taxi (pay locally).

    Wine tasting in Azeitão
    Azeitão is home to two award-winning wineries, each offering tours and tastings. Set in the heart of the village, the Azulejos-tiled frontage of José Maria Fonseca has been producing wine for almost two centuries, including the region's famed Moscatel, some of whose root stock dates back more than a century. On the outskirts of the village, the extensive grounds and vineyards of the Bacalhôa winery are landmarked by a woad-blue terracotta army and Japanese gardens. 

    Other places of interest in Azeitão
    You can also visit the fascinating 15th-century Bacalhôa Palace. Complete with beautiful gardens, it began life as a royal residence and is now considered one of Portugal's finest estates. Admirers of Azulejos tiles will enjoy calling in at the small factory across the road from your hotel – it’s possible to watch the tiles being made by hand, and to pick up souvenirs direct from the workshop.
    Azeitão to Portinho (return by taxi): 16km
    Wine tasting at Adega Alcube
  • Azeitão to Palmela: 11.5km, 4.5hrs; ascent 310m/descent 185m
    Today you step out from the hotel door to follow a superb route, ascending gently though flower-filled meadows to reach the ridge of Serra de São Francisco – from where views open up across vineyards and the River Tagus to Lisbon in the north, and over the Serra de São Luís in the east. Crossing to another sierra, where views become even more expansive, you follow a ridge-top trail of sentinel windmills leading to the historic hill town of Palmela, ascending through terraced gardens to the medieval castle, within whose walls lies the splendid Pousada Castelo de Palmela.
    Azeitão to Palmela: 11.5km
    A windmill near Palmela Castle
  • Choice of activities around Palmela

    Circular route via Vale de Berris: 13km, 5hrs; ascent/descent 380m
    Following a small route through Palmela's old quarter with its historic churches and praças, you leave the town along a wide, flat track that contours the flank of the Serra do Louro above the vines of Quinta do Anjo with far-reaching views across the Tagus to Lisbon. Ascending briefly to cross the Serra do Louro ridge, you then descend steeply into the fertile Vale de Barris and cross the valley floor to ascend the Serra de São Luis ridge from where views open up over the Sado Estuary to the dreamy sand flats and beaches of the Tróia Peninsula.

    A day in Setúbal
    Catch the bus or take a taxi (pay locally in both cases) to neighbouring Setúbal, the city by the bay, to explore its bustling market considered by USA Today to be one of the best markets in the world (closed Mon); its waterfront fish and seafood restaurants and its traditional old quarter with its lively cafés and independent shops. You might even catch the local passenger ferry (pay locally) over to the white-sand peninsula of Tróia for a day on the beach or to go dolphin-spotting in the bay (pay locally).
    Circular route via Vale de Berris: 13km
    Palmela Castle and Vale de Barris
 

Accommodation

Your accommodation is as delightfully diverse as the landscape itself.

Occasionally, due to availability, we may offer an alternative hotel, as shown below. You will be informed of any change to the usual hotel (along with any price implication) prior to us confirming your holiday to you.
 

Extend your stay

 
Prices & travel options
All prices are in £ sterling (GBP). If you'd like to see what they equate to in your currency, use the converter. For general information on pricing, see the 'your holiday price explained' page.
Currency converter

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  • 6 nights: 01 April 2020 - 30 June 2020 & 01 September 2020 - 31 October 2020

    Start any day | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    1 - 29 Apr 2020 # £695 £360
    30 Apr - 21 May 2020 £735 £395
    22 - 30 May 2020 £760 £405
    31 May - 18 Jun 2020 £785 £430
    19 - 24 Jun 2020 £845 £495
    1 - 12 Sep 2020 £845 £495
    13 - 30 Sep 2020 £785 £430
    1 - 25 Oct 2020 £760 £405
    3rd & 4th person discount -£20
    Single traveller supplement £20

    Includes accommodation, meals and services integral to the holiday as described, plus walking notes and maps, but no travel from the UK, nor any connecting travel from the airport unless stated below.

    #ADD £30pp/n (£60pn in a single room) if staying in Sesimbra 9-11 Apr 2020

    Book your flights through us and we'll find the best route and times to suit you. Please contact us to find out more about our flight booking service. We can also book connecting travel - see below.

  • Room upgrades (£ per person per night)

    Hotel Club d'Azeitão, Azeitão
    Superior: 01 Apr - 30 Jun 2020 £10
    Superior: 01 Sep - 31 Oct 2020 £10
    Pousada Castelo de Palmela, Palmela
    Suite: 01 Apr - 08 Apr 2020 £42
    Suite: 09 Apr - 11 Apr 2020 £58
    Suite: 12 Apr - 30 Jun 2020 £42
    Suite: 01 Sep - 12 Sep 2020 £58
    Suite: 13 Sep - 31 Oct 2020 £42
    Superior: 01 Apr - 08 Apr 2020 £26
    Superior: 09 Apr - 11 Apr 2020 £32
    Superior: 12 Apr - 30 Jun 2020 £26
    Superior: 01 Sep - 12 Sep 2020 £32
    Superior: 13 Sep - 31 Oct 2020 £26

    Extra nights (£ per person per night) in a double or single room

    SANA Sesimbra Hotel, Sesimbra (B&B) Double room Single room
    01 Apr - 30 Apr 2020 # £64 £116
    01 May - 31 May 2020 £78 £145
    01 Jun - 19 Jun 2020 £90 £168
    20 Jun - 30 Jun 2020 £116 £221
    01 Sep - 12 Sep 2020 £116 £221
    13 Sep - 30 Sep 2020 £90 £168
    01 Oct - 31 Oct 2020 £78 £145
    #ADD £30pp/n (£60pn in a single room) if staying in Sesimbra 9-11 Apr 2020
    Pousada Castelo de Palmela, Palmela (B&B) Double room Single room
    01 Apr - 30 Jun 2020 £76 £150
    01 Sep - 31 Oct 2020 £76 £150
  • RECOMMENDED AIRPORT(S):
    Lisbon

    Travelling from the UK

    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend flying via Lisbon. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    Outward route Airline
    Aberdeen - Lisbon (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Outward route Airline
    Birmingham - Lisbon jet2 
    Outward route Airline
    Bristol - Lisbon easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Edinburgh - Lisbon easyJet,  Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Glasgow - Lisbon Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Liverpool - Lisbon easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    London City - Lisbon TAP Air Portugal 
    Outward route Airline
    Gatwick - Lisbon Air Europa,  Azores Airlines (SATA),  easyJet,  TAP Air Portugal 
    Outward route Airline
    Heathrow - Lisbon Azores Airlines (SATA),  British Airways,  TAP Air Portugal 
    Outward route Airline
    Luton - Lisbon easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Stansted - Lisbon Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Manchester - Lisbon easyJet,  jet2,  Ryanair,  TAP Air Portugal 
    Manchester - Lisbon (via Frankfurt) Lufthansa 
    Outward route Airline
    Newcastle - Lisbon (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Outward route Airline
    Norwich - Lisbon (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend flying via Lisbon. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    This list of flight options should be used as a guide only, and you should check each airline’s website for current routes, frequency and schedules. Not all flights operate daily, and may not run for the entire season. You should also heed the latest flight arrival time and earliest flight departure time stated in the connecting travel section, as it may not be possible to arrange connecting travel outside these times. Please do not book your flights until we have confirmed your accommodation to you. Alternatively, our expert reservations team will be happy to offer advice and to make flight bookings for you. We charge £35 per person for our flight booking service (£60 for India and Nepal). Your flights are then covered by our package-booking conditions, which give you greater protection in the event of delay or cancellation, as well as providing ATOL cover.

  • Prices below are based on 2 people travelling together. If you are travelling solo or as a party of 3 or more and our arrangements include a taxi, please contact us for prices; additional passengers often pay less.

    Unless otherwise stated, connecting travel by rail or bus tends to be from the city centre station, rather than from its airport, and connections between the two should be paid for locally.

    Connecting travel options - flying via Lisbon

    Outward route Price per person Latest flight
    arrival time
    direct taxi Lisbon airport to hotel (1h) £32 flexible
    bus Lisbon Praça de Espanha to Sesimbra (1h15) pay locally 1845 (1415 Sat-Sun)
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest flight
    departure time
    taxi hotel to Pinhal Novo (0h15), rail Pinhal Novo to Lisbon Oriente (0h45) £26 1230
    bus Palmela to Lisbon Oriente (0h40) pay locally 1100
    direct taxi hotel to Lisbon airport (0h45) £30 flexible
What is included
  • 6 nights
  • 2 dinners
    2 picnics
    6 breakfasts
  • luggage transported
  • route notes and maps
  • transfer on Day 2
 
Reviews

If you've experienced this holiday first hand, why not write a review?

We are keen for as many customers as possible to review their holiday. To make it easier to do so, we include a specific review section on our post-holiday questionnaire, and this is what we publish here, unedited. Read our full review policy >

 

FAQs

If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help. You might also find our General FAQs section helpful.
  • We’ll send you route notes and maps 2-3 weeks before your holiday. The route notes not only contain directions to get from hotel to hotel, but also include practical information about places of interest and eateries along each route, plus cultural information about the area. If/when you are moving between hotels, you leave your luggage in reception as you leave, and it will be transferred ahead to your next accommodation, meaning that all you need to take with you are a camera, sun cream, drinks, food and waterproofs.

    For more detailed information, see our walking holidays in Europe page.
  • We can book a wide range of airlines and routes from the UK. As well as being more convenient for you to book all elements of your holiday together, it also means that we’ll accept liability for your travel arrangements, so if things go wrong, such as the airline going bust, we’ll make suitable alternative arrangements for you. For Europe and Morocco, there’s a £35 booking fee per person (£15 for children aged 2-11). For India and Nepal, the booking fee is £60 per person. More information on flights >
  • We can’t book flights that originate outside the UK, but if you wanted book your own flights to London (or elsewhere in the UK), we can make all onward travel arrangements (including flights) from there. Alternatively, if you are booking your own flights to an airport in continental Europe that’s appropriate for your holiday, we can book onward rail travel and/or taxis. More information about how we can tailor holidays for customers outside the UK >
  • Since our holidays are self-guided, we recommend calling us for a chat about your plans before making a booking, especially if it’s the first time you’ve booked with us.
    The price panel shows the supplement for a single room and also the single traveller charge (this covers (luggage) transfers and other costs which are usually shared between two people).
  • Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.

    More information about the booking process >
    Information about accommodation, general practicalities and more >
    Booking conditions >
  • Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

    You don’t have to buy our travel insurance policy (if you live outside Europe you’ll definitely need to make your own arrangements, as the policy is only for UK and EU residents), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.

    We'll ask you for the details of your alternative policy (insurer, policy number and medical emergency phone number) so that we can help out if the worst happens while you are on holiday. It's up to you, though, to check that your policy covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs; we don't check alternative policies.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. If you’re a UK citizen, you need a full British passport to travel to Portugal, Madeira and the Azores, but not a visa. If you are a citizen of another country, you’ll need to check requirements with the national embassy or your own consulate.

    Current information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice for UK citizens can be found through www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/before-you-travel and the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC). You must make sure you have adequate insurance cover for illness, accidents and repatriation (see the insurance question). UK citizens should also obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) by applying at a Post Office or at www.ehic.org.uk. The EHIC allows reciprocal health care but should not be seen as a substitute for travel insurance.
  • The official language is Portuguese. The currency is the Euro. Portuguese time is the same as GMT/UTC. It uses Daylight Saving Time, so in summer is on the same time as BST.
  • At Inntravel we work in close partnership with our hoteliers, taxi drivers and other local suppliers to provide our self-guided holidays directly to you. We are entirely confident that you will continue to receive the usual warm welcome from them when the UK withdraws from the European Union (EU).

    It currently seems highly likely the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will take place on 31 January 2020, at which point the UK will enter a minimum 11-month transition period through to the end of December 2020. During this transition period there will be absolutely no changes to current arrangements for UK citizens travelling to an EU destination, so you can book your 2020 holiday certain that there will be no disruptions or complications caused by Brexit.
  • The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides up-to-date, country-by-country travel advice, as well as information on security, local laws, passports and visas for UK citizens.
    If you live outside the UK, see our essential travel information page for a list of relevant websites.
  • You are the best judge of your child’s/children’s capabilities. We are happy to take bookings for families of older children/teenagers if they walk regularly, love the outdoors and are comfortable with the distances and ascent/descent involved. Please note that the bedrooms at most of the accommodation we use will normally only sleep a maximum of 3 people, and sometimes only 2.
Last fetch time is : 4/6/2020 5:28:19 AM