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Experience the best of Arrábida and the Setúbal Peninsula

A mere 35 kilometres south of Lisbon, Portugal’s Arrábida region spans the municipalities of Palmela, Sesimbra and Setúbal and offers the perfect blend of natural beauty, rich culture and culinary delights. “Serra”, as it known by locals, ticks the box for those seeking both adventure and relaxation.

And at the heart of this enchanting region lies Once Upon a Day, a premium Destination Management Company that provides bespoke travel experiences to luxury travellers from all over the globe. Here’s how you can immerse yourself in their services and with that the very best that Arrábida and the Setúbal Peninsula has to offer.

Nature and adventure

Composed of stunning landscapes, the Arrábida Natural Park – with its mountains, valleys and dense forests – forms a pristine section of Portugal’s Atlantic coastline. It’s the perfect setting for hiking, wildlife spotting and breathtaking panoramic views – and an opportunity for visitors to connect deeply with nature.

Enthusiasts for the sea won’t want to miss the Professor Luiz Saldanha Marine Park. This marine biodiversity sanctuary boasts crystal-clear waters teeming with rich marine life – a vibrant underwater ecosystem that is perfect for snorkelling or diving.

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Similarly, the Sado Estuary Natural Reserve, where the Sado River meets the Atlantic, is home to diverse coastal flora and fauna. Those seeking a little adventure can kayak through the estuary or take a dolphin-watching tour.


By visiting the Setúbal Peninsula, you’re in a region renowned for its Moscatel de Setúbal wine, produced in around 40 boutique wineries. You can visit these for tours and tastings but, better still, immerse yourself by participating in the grape harvest. The lush vineyards provide the perfect opportunity to learn about the intricate wine-making process and taste some of the finest wines in Portugal.

But for an exceptional gastronomic experience, don’t miss one of the best food markets in the world – the Mercado do Livramento. Savour the region’s freshest produce, talk to farmers and hear stories from local fishermen whilst tasting oysters. This vibrant hub of activity represents the essence of Portuguese culinary traditions.

The Arrábida region is also famed for its artisanal cheese, particularly the delicious Queijo de Azeitão PDO (a semi-soft cheese made from raw sheep’s milk). There’s the opportunity to attend workshops, learn about regional delicacies, and gain a deeper understand of Portuguese culinary heritage, through a variety of interactive experiences.

Art and culture

Arrábida and the Setúbal Peninsula is dotted with historical monuments and museums, and perhaps most notable for its traditional crafts. Small tile factories invite visitors to explore the history of Portuguese tiles, from its Muslim origins to the modern-day acclaim it now holds. Take the opportunity to create your own piece in a traditional workshop, gaining hands-on experience in this ancient art form.

In the historical city of Setúbal, itself shaped by Romans, Visigoths, Muslims and more, you can’t help but notice the architecture and customs. Each corner of the city tells a story, from majestic churches to bustling squares. Take a moment to meet local artisans and participate in traditional parties or workshops to gain a more intimate connection with the region’s heritage. This is an opportunity for travellers to truly immerse themselves in the local way of life.

Body and soul

Arrábida offers the perfect backgrop for some rejuvenation. Practicing yoga or pilates amidst the tranquillity of the natural park or along the serene coastline will leave you feeling at one with the environment, whether it be through the gentle sounds of lapping waves and or the rustling of leaves in the forest. An exclusive programme of massages and detox programs provide the perfect ingredients for mindfulness and inner peace. These unique sensory experiences can be combined with physical exerice, such as healthy walks through nature, to achieve holistic well-being and a balance between body and mind.

Why choose Once Upon a Day?

Born and raised in the region, the team at Once Upon a Day has an intimate knowledge of Arrábida’s tourist attractions and local culture. Partners are selected based on their service excellence and sustainable practices, whilst experiences are tailored to each visitor’s needs, ensuring more personalised and memorable adventures. This expertise ensures a high standard of tourism that respects and preserves the region’s natural and cultural heritage. And the team’s own dedication to excellence means that every moment of your time in Arrábida and the Setúbal Peninsula is meticulously planned and executed.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Once Upon a Day.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Telegraph.

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  1. For what to be honest is a relatively unknown region, this area has got an impressive range of habitats and biodiversity.

  2. A couple of years ago we stopped for a couple of days to explore the Setubal peninsula and we only scratched the surface. Loads to do there.

  3. To use the travel writers’ cliche, the peninsula is a real hidden gem. There’s an amazing amount to see and taste.

    We haven’t been to Portugal for decades. When we do visit it’ll be tempting to get away from the usual crowded haunts of the Algarve etc etc.

  4. Having done a cheese workshop in the UK it would be fascinating to do a soft cheese workshop in Portugal to see the contrasts.

  5. It’s always good to have a reliable recommendation for activities and excursions.

    Talking from experience I can say that there are a lot of cowboys out there who over promise, over charge and under deliver when it comes to trips.

  6. This is a very inspiring post on a destination that’s flying under the radar. Please could we have some more posts on lesser known areas of outstanding beauty?

  7. In terms of the distances we travel nowadays, 35 km is nothing.

    Lisbon plus the peninsula is tempting. City first and then a blast of fresh air afterwards.

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