São Martinho do Porto

Key Facts

Population: 2868

Area Size: 14.64 sq km

Sao Martinho do Porto

The village of São Martinho do Porto, has two main areas: one has grown around it’s beautiful shell shaped bay, and the other is situated around the main Catholic church with more traditional buildings.

The bay is protected from the Atlantic Ocean by rocky cliffs, offering only a few hundred metres entrance, where the ocean flows into it. This provides calm waters by the long sandy beach front, making it ideal for families of all ages.

There is a campsite ‘Baía Azul Campsite’, situated approx 50 metres from the beach. There are also plenty of restaurants (many specialising in local sea food), bars, shops and cafes throughout the village.

São Martinho do Porto is located within the council (freguesia ) of the Alcobaça Municipality, in Oeste Subregion of Portugal, and is centrally positioned along the coastal side of the Silver Coast. Using the motorway (A8), it takes just over an hour from Lisbon Airport to drive there. There is also a bus service from Lisboa Sete Rios (approx ½ hour bus ride from Lisbon Airport) to Sao Martinho do Porto which takes around 1 ½ hours.

In the summer of 2014, São Martinho attracted many curious people due to the bay being visited by a seal.  The seal very likely came from France, England or Iceland. The animal became known affectionately as “Martinha” and was for the summer of 2014, the “mascot” of the village.  To the amusement of locals and visitors alike, Martinha liked to sunbathe on the large inflatable childrens play area that is placed in the Bay for children to enjoy during the hot summer months.

History

In geological times the region was a single island made up by the Serra da Pescaria and by the Bouro Mountain. When it divided it created the bay of Sao Martinho do Porto, which is now famous the world over.

The village was first mentioned in a letter passed, in 1257, by Friar Estevão Martins who was the 12th Abbot of the Monastery of Alcobaca as the bay was, at that point in history the sea port of Alcobaca. Activities which were related to shipbuilding and fishing were developed at the sea port. In 1801 there were 932 inhabitants, then when the parishes of Alfeizerao, Salir do Porto and Serra do Bouro were annexed it grew to 3,596 inhabitants.

In the 19th Century the town of Sao Martinho was a seaside resort that was largely frequented by the nobility.

The town has a lower and upper area. The lower area is closer to the beach and the numerous and varied shops, cafes and restaurants that cater to tourist activity. The upper past is where you will find the more traditional buildings and homes and where the Mother Church will be found.

Amenities & Attractions

The main attractions focus around the bay, where you’ll find floating displays at various festas (festivals), opportunities to swim, sail and canoe or of course, just relaxing on the beach.

There are a varied and interesting variety of shops that stretch along the promenade at Sao Martinho, along with many dining opportunities, serving a variety of traditional Portuguese cuisine and global dishes, catering to all tastes.

If you can tear yourself away from the stunning beaches, you can wander up to the old (upper) part of the town, either via steps or a convenient elevator, which is located conveniently next to the tourist office.  In this area you will see the old world Sao Martinho, with narrow calcada lined streets, and beautiful old buildings, many of which have been restored.  There are some lovely little shops selling some traditional artisan items at very reasonable prices.

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If you wander along the quay to the far end of the bay, right at the end is a tunnel.  The tunnel is about 60 metres long and is under the Morro de Santo António.  If you go through, it brings you out on the other side of the rocks and closer to the rougher side of the ocean.  Take care and be ready to move quickly – many visitors are splashed by the spray.

And of course don’t forget to come and visit Spencer Becks at our office on the Bay.  We are located between two lovely cafes, The Cafe Palmeira and the Esplanada da Fonte Caffé