Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach

Tourist Guide and How to Get There

View over Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach, Sesimbra

The view over Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach, from the top of the cliff.

No one had ever heard of this wild beach until recently, when social media, bloggers, and travel websites began showing photos of its stunning scenery. It wasn’t even marked on any map, and only a few locals knew that there was a trail leading down to one of Portugal’s most beautiful beaches. They kept it a well-guarded secret, but it’s now quite popular, including with tourists.

The calm water of Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo, Sesimbra

The beautiful, wild landscape of Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach.

However, only the young, fit and adventurous make it here, as it involves going down an unmarked path down a cliff. Occasionally, you do see children at this beach, but the hike is not recommended for anyone below the age of 12 or 13. Older adults may also want to avoid it. For everyone else, you just have to follow the trail created by the many footsteps over the years. Just make sure you’re wearing sneakers and not flip flops!

Swimming in Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo

Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach has calm, clean, and crystal-clear waters.

Unlike the surfing beaches to the west of Lisbon, this one (to the south) has calm waters. And they’re quite crystal-clear and shallow, perfect for swimming.

Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach

Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach is largely considered one of Portugal's most beautiful.

The surrounding landscape, made up of greenery, rocks and sea stacks, makes it look like a beach somewhere in Thailand and not in Europe, so you’ll see many people constantly taking selfies.

Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach, Sesimbra

Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach is mostly frequented by young Lisbonites and tourists.

There are no lifeguards or facilities of any kind, so bring plenty of food and water and remember to take all the trash with you. Also note that the beach’s name is Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo, and not Praia da Ribeira do Cavalo, as it’s sometimes wrongly said.

Ribeiro do Cavalo, Sesimbra

This is a wild beach -- keep it clean!

Beach for: Swimming, Couples, Instagram
Lifeguards: No
Bathrooms: No
Showers: No
Rentals: No
Bar or Restaurant: No
Accessible: No
Parking: Yes
What to Take: Sneakers instead of flip-flops, light backpack, water, food, bags to take all the trash with you, towel, umbrella if you prefer shade, sunscreen, fully-charged phone or camera for photos.

How to Get to Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach

Road leading to Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach

Where the paved and the gravel roads meet, above Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach.

From Sesimbra: Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach is about a 10-minute drive from Sesimbra, a town located 40km (25 miles) south of Lisbon. Don’t mind walking? -- the trail down the cliff starts after about a 30-minute walk from the center of town, heading west, following Avenida dos Náufragos and the coastal road. You can also take an Uber, which should cost less than 5 euros.

Trail to Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach

The trail leading down to Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach

From Lisbon: Take a bus to Sesimbra and then Uber or follow the walking instructions above. The bus is number 207 of the TST company, which departs from the Sete Rios terminal (it makes several stops along the way, so it takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach Sesimbra).

Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach

The final descent to the beach

If you’re driving, it takes about 1 hour to go from the capital to Sesimbra and this beach. Park where the paved road ends, walk down the gravel road to the clifftop, and follow the trail down. If you don’t get lost, you’ll have your feet in the sand in about 20 minutes.

Trail to Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach, Sesimbra

Map showing the road and trail to Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach

Hotels by Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach

Hotel do Mar

Hotel do Mar

There are no hotels in the immediate surroundings of Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach, but this 4-star hotel is a 30-to-40-minute walk or 10-minute drive away. Built on a hillside overlooking the ocean, all rooms have sea views and a private terrace. There are also indoor and outdoor pools, and a restaurant facing the Atlantic.

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Sesimbra Hotel and Spa

Sesimbra Hotel and Spa

The best hotel in Sesimbra is right in the center of town, facing the ocean. It's not exactly walking distance from Ribeiro do Cavalo Beach, but it's great if you're staying a few days in Sesimbra and want to explore all of its beaches. It offers spacious rooms and suites with balconies with sea views. Best of all is the infinity pool, perfect after the hike down to and back up from Ribeiro do Cavalo.

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Senhora do Cabo Meco Homy Holidays

Senhora do Cabo Meco Homy Holidays

This highly-rated and well-designed guesthouse is in a quiet location, right to the north of Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo. It features an outdoor pool which remains open outside the summer. The rooms of different sizes are meant for couples and there’s also a 1-bedroom villa with a private pool.

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Beaches by Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo

The beaches closest to Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo are Praia do Ouro (10 minutes by car) and Praia da Califórnia (12 minutes), in the center of Sesimbra. These two beaches are among the best for swimming in the Lisbon region, due to their calm waters. That also makes them child-friendly, so they’re usually crowded in the summer, especially on weekends. Behind them is a number of popular restaurants, mostly specializing in seafood.
If you prefer a wilder and quieter atmosphere like at Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo, head to Meco. It’s about 15 minutes to the north and is an official nude beach. Its restaurant is a popular weekend destination for the people of Lisbon. Heading east instead, you can be at the magnificent beaches of the Arrábida Natural Park in about 35 minutes. The most recommended here are Praia do Creiro and Praia dos Galapinhos.

Tourist Attractions by Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo

Since you’re in the Sesimbra region, take some time to explore the town’s tourist attractions. Head up to its castle, from where you have a wonderful panoramic view, or visit the mystical Cabo Espichel. The windswept cape is home to an 18th-century sanctuary that’s now abandoned, and was where Madonna filmed her “Dark Ballet” video. From the sanctuary, it’s possible to walk to the top of a cliff, where you can see dinosaur footprints from 135 million years ago (it’s signposted “Pegadas da Pedra da Mua”).

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