This curving, turquoise bay just 40km south of Lisbon is home to a long, sandy beach that splits in two at high tide to form a strand each side of an intriguing waterfront fort.
Jetskis and ketches play off-shore while droves of Lisbon residents flock to taste the marine delights on offer at scores of beachfront restaurants, each with its own charcoal grill.
The town of Sesimbra, nestling in the foothills of the Serra da Arrabida, with its natural harbour and mountains to protect it from the bitter north wind, was for a long time one of Portugal’s more important fishing centres. It was also the home of an important coastal defence, the 17th century Fortaleza de Santiago, which became the seaside retreat of the monarchs in the eighteenth century, heralding a shift to tourism that has proved inexorable. The old town centre is now overlooked by burgeoning apartment buildings and hotels.
However, a short walk along the seafront and the original fishing port, Porto de Abrigo, reveals itself to be a charming place, still cluttered with brightly-painted boats, daily fish auctions and stalls selling a wide variety of shellfish. A variety of boat trips are also on offer, from a glass-bottomed 'semi-submarine' to a trip in a traditional sailing boat.
Buses run regularly from Lisbon and Setubal, depositing their passengers just five minutes from the beach.