All the features that make Portugal such a wonderful place to visit are distilled into a drive on this gem of a coastal road: unspoilt beaches, the glistening of the Atlantic ocean, historic buildings that tell stories of the past, deliciously charming restaurants and the beauty of untouched nature. It's this delightful mix of impressions that make this road so unique.
Located roughly 50 minutes or 47 km south from the centre of Lisbon, the N379-1 begins to push into the Serra da Arrábida from the small harbour city of Setúbal in the east or from the coastal village of Sesimbra in the west. Unfortunately, the journey towards this road is slightly less exciting, passing a never-ending row of car dealerships and industrial facilities, but ultimately, it will be worth the effort.
It doesn't matter from which side you approach, as it's actually a great idea to turn around at the end and experience the road all over again from the opposite direction.
The road rises gently to about 500 meters above sea level, offering incredible views across the coast. Viewpoints tempt you all along the way to stop and drink in the scenery. The "Miradouro do Portinho da Arrábida" viewpoint is the highest and busiest outlook. Sometimes it gets a bit chaotic with bikes, motorbikes, cars and campervans all looking for a place to stop.
The "Convento de Nossa Senhora da Arrábida" emerges perched on the steep hillside at the most dramatic part of the N379-1. Various white buildings and chapels peak through the thick vegetation teasing your interest as you navigate the many bends. This 16th-century convent was designed to offer complete seclusion from the outside world, and you can see how this would have been the case in those days.
At some point, you will come past a brown sign pointing towards the small village of Portinho. This route will take you off the N379-1, but it's definitely worth the detour as this road is even better and takes you to this charming little cluster of houses on the water's edge and the beach "Praia do Portinho da Arrábida". Note that access to Portinho is limited in summer and reaching the beach means walking quite far. When you get there, you will understand why: It's tiny and has not enough space to accommodate too many cars. It consists of about five houses, and three of those are restaurants. But who needs a beach when you have a road like this one.
The Serra da Arrábida attracts all sorts of visitors throughout the year. In summer, people flock to the various beaches, and in winter, cyclists push their bodies to the limit climbing up the step bends of the N379-1. But always the views are stunning. The changing seasons and dramatic weather conditions make this coastal road worth returning to over and over again.
Have lunch in the Restaurant "O Farol" (which means "the light tower") in the small village of Portinho. They serve excellent fish and fresh Portuguese dishes.
The combination of its perfect location, exciting elevation changes, twists and turns and breathtaking views over the Atlantic ocean make this one of the most beautiful roads in Portugal and a must for anybody that likes driving.