Santa Margarida cave

A cave in Setubal, Portugal has amazing views and an unlikely chapel.

Santa Margarida cave (photo: Brent Petersen)

Santa Margarida Cave

Setubal, Portugal is situated on the south end of a large peninsula about 45 minutes from Lisbon. The working class town is adjacent to one of the magnificent natural wonders of Portugal, Parque Natural da Arrabida.

In Arrabida is an amazing cave named after Saint Margaret, the Lapa de Santa Margarida.

After finding the path and walking down the uneven stairs you find yourself at the entrance of the cave. Once inside there is a small shrine, too small to be called a chapel, to Saint Margaret. I can’t imagine getting the materials to build the shrine down the stairs; they must’ve brought them by water.

From there, the cave opens up to the Sado River, giving a beautiful view of the water.

I was told that a colony of bats live in the cave, but I never saw any.

After visiting the cave

When your done admiring the cave and its views, it’s time to climb back up. And, that’s much harder than going down!

Now, you’ll be in the mood for a cool drink.

Luckily, just down the road (1-2 minutes by car, 5 minutes on foot) is a tiny seaside town; Portinho.

And when I say tiny, I mean tiny. There’s nothing here but some seaside apartments for rent and a couple restaurants/bars. The delight of this town is sitting over the water and enjoying a cocktail.

Or, walk a couple of minutes to the nearby beach, Praia do Portinho da Arrábida.

Getting to the Santa Margarida cave

The Lapa de Santa Margarida is definitely off the beaten path. There’s no physical address, so some folks have difficulty finding it.

The best way to get there is to park on the street across from Lar de férias da casa do Gaiato. From there you’ll take a path to set of narrow stairs down to the cave. Know that the stairs are uneven and steep in places and the brush grow into the footpath. Exercise caution.

Also, while the trek down isn’t strenuous, you will have to climb back up again. Be prepared for that.

The road to the cave is closed during the summer to all but local traffic and buses.

Finally, the tide does bring water into the cave. Be aware of your surroundings, especially if you plan to go swimming as there are jagged rocks in the water, some visible, others not.

About the Author

Brent Petersen is the Editor-in-Chief of Destination Eat Drink. He currently resides in Setubal, Portugal. Brent has written the novel “Truffle Hunt” (Eckhartz Press) and the short story collection “That Bird.” He’s also written dozens of foodie travel guides to cities around the world on Destination Eat Drink, including in-depth eating and drinking guides to Lisbon, PortoSintraMonsaraz, and Evora in Portugal. Brent’s podcast, also called Destination Eat Drink, is available on all major podcasting platforms and is distributed by the Radio Misfits Podcast Network.

Author: Brent