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Setúbal is a city located on the Setúbal Peninsula, at the mouth of the river Sado near the Serra da Arrábida, approximately 50 kilometers from Lisbon. It is a city bathed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Sado River, combining natural beauty, a gastronomy rich in fresh fish and a rich built heritage. Of its heritage, monuments such as the Convent of the Nuns of Jesus, of Manueline style and built in the 15th century, which currently houses the city museum, stand out; the Sé de Setúbal, of Renaissance reconstruction and within which the valuable frescoes and tiles stand out; the São Julião Church, founded in the 13th century; and the Fort of S. Filipe, in a mannerist style, originally from the 16th century. With a fishing and worker culture rooted in the culture of the people, Setúbal offers the encounter with the manifestations of local tradition, through statues and museums, including the Michel Giacometti Labor Museum. Inhabited since antiquity and then known as Cetóbriga, this region was populated by Phoenicians and Romans, cultures that left different traces. It is also the birthplace of important Portuguese personalities, such as the poet Bocage (with a white marble monument in his honor since 1871), the lyric singer Luísa Todi (who names the Municipal Forum and some schools in the municipality) and the Portuguese coach José Mourinho. Setúbal is known for the city of fried cuttlefish, muscat wine, it has been part of the Club of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World since 2002, an association that includes the bay of São Francisco, and the bay of Mindelo in Cape Verde.
What to do in Setúbal
Those who visit Setúbal can go through the Baixa da Cidade Route with the built heritage, the traditional cuisine of fresh fish and taste the traditional fried cuttlefish; discover and taste wines on the Costa Azul Wine Route, explore nature and observe the surroundings through the Serra da Arrábida Route, the Bird Watching and the boat trips to Observation Dolphins; explore the tradition and origin of Setúbal with Roteiro dos Bairros Piscatórios; discover the bohemian life of the city.
Attractions to visit in Setúbal (Top 10)
1. The city of Setúbal
The main attractions of the city of Setúbal are the fishing districts of Fontainhas and Tróino, districts that represent a time when the sea was the main means of subsistence for the people of Setubal. Women worked in fish canning factories and men in deep sea fishing. They are currently inhabited by the elderly and immigrants looking for work in the city. In these typical neighborhoods, we can find some of the best restaurants in Setúbal and an artisanal grill on every corner, roasting sardines or preparing the famous fried cuttlefish. And the downtown area, with local shops and the Jardim do Bonfim, the area of excellent gardens in Setúbal, Avenida 5 de Outubro, Avenida dos Combatentes, and Avenida Luísa Todi with the central square, restaurants, Forum Luisa Todi and Mercado do Livramento. The Praça Bocage, the meeting point of the people of Setubal, a bicycle path, the Michel Giacometti Labor Museum, and the Largo José Afonso. On the coastal promenade next to Avenida Jaime Rebelo we find overlooking the Sado River, the Jardim Engenheiro Luis da Fonseca the ferry pier for Troia, the Clube Naval Setubalense, and the Port of Setúbal fishing.
2. Arrábida Natural Park
Arrábida Natural Park: it is a protected area classified as a Biogenetic Reserve of the Council of Europe, created in 1976 and integrates an approximate area of 11 thousand hectares and 35 km in length. A natural lung that extends from the city of Setúbal to the village of Sesimbra. The Arrábida Natural Park is based on a limestone massif that culminates in Píncaro, a great cliff by the ocean. Due to its location, we can observe the tectonic effects and erosion in its morphological characteristics, especially the cliffs and slopes of the region. The rocky outcrops of white limestone are predominant, along with ocean blue, and green as the park’s dominant color, covered by Mediterranean plant species, including those by dense maquis bushes. The local fauna has more than 200 species. Of great landscape value, the Serra da Arrábida offers several points and viewpoints with panoramic views over the surrounding region and the ocean. From the Viewpoint Portinho da Arrábida and the Viewpoint do Norte located along the N379 road, to the Watchtower of Serra da Arrábida and the top of Pico do Formosinho located at the top of the Serra da Arrábida at an altitude of 501 meters, we can see the entire coast of Troia, Melides, Santo André and Sines. The name “Arrábida” comes from Arabic and means place of prayer. With a unique biodiversity in Europe, we highlight the existence of foxes, rabbits, hares, bats, owls, partridges or swifts. The beaches are one of the main offerings of the Arrábida Natural Park, namely the Albarquel beach, just a few minutes walking from Avenida Luísa Todi, Maria Esguelha beach, Rainha beach, Figueirnha beach, is the most sought after with Blue Flag , Galapos beach, Galapinhos beach, Coelhos beach, Creiro beach, Portinho da Arrábida and Alpertuche beach. The Convent of Santa Maria da Arrábida and the Forte Velho do Outão constitute the main attractions of human heritage built in the Serra da Arrábida.
3. Portinho da Arrábida viewpoint
Portinho da Arrábida viewpoint: it is one of the viewpoints with one of the best combined panoramic views of the sea and nature in Portugal, located in the Serra da Arrábida, a place for contemplating Portinho da Arrábida beach, with a view natural surroundings, where the green of the undergrowth stands out. The ex-libris in this place is a wooden walkway oriented towards the cliff, which allows us to approach the slope and observe the port area and the beach of Portinho da Arrábida, in a natural setting that mixes blue and green, extending through the cutouts the mountains and the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean. It is an important tourist stop, a place considered by some internationally renowned publications as one of the most sought after by social media influencers for their photographs.
4. Livramento Market
The Mercado do Livramento is a traditional market, opened in 1876, rebuilt in the 1930s. Located on one of the main avenues in Setúbal, it is considered one of the best fish markets in the world. The benches, where the exhibition of products such as fish, seafood, fruits, vegetables and wines stand out, create a colorful and vibrant environment. On the building’s walls we find tile panels with more than 5,000 pieces, which depict the commercial life of Setúbal and its agricultural tradition. The market floor is equally rich, creating triangular and bicolour patterns in Portuguese cobblestone. In the Livramento Market there are also four sculptures, which represent the main professions in the market.
The market is open to the public throughout the year, from Tuesday to Sunday, from 7 am to 2 pm.
5. Albarquel Urban Park
Parque Urbano de Albarquel: is a landscape project with 4 hectares of gardens next to the Sado river with several infrastructures, located at the end of Av. José Mourinho, after the Praia da Saúde garden. A popular place for hiking and cycling along the river, access to the beaches, overlooking the river and the Troia Peninsula, an exhibition gallery, a restaurant and a children’s playground. In this park, all buildings are made of wood adapted to the surrounding environment. The presence of countless trees, grassy spaces and the proximity to the river and the Serra da Arrábida create in this park an environment with a strong ludic, familiar and sporting tendency. At the end of Parque Urbano de Albarquel we find the Forte de Albarquel and the Albarquel beach protected to the north by the Serra da Arrábida vegetation, and a restaurant with a terrace facing the beach and the river. Before the park we find the Praia da Saúde, a popular beach in Setúbal and the Forte de São Filipe, located at the top of the Parque Urbano de Albarquel.
6. Fort of São Filipe
Fort of São Filipe: it is an imposing fortification built in stone of military and mannerist architecture from the 14th century, located in the União das Freguesias de Setúbal, on the right bank of the mouth of the River Sado. It is also known as Castelo or Fortaleza de São Filipe. Located on the top of a hill, with a rural environment, it has served throughout history as protection of the Portuguese coast, and as a prison. Its plan is irregular with angular shapes, adapting to the terrain, which give it a unique and particular shape. Upon entering the door of arms, we find the Chapel of São Filipe inside, a small rectangular chapel with a vault, bell tower, with the interior entirely covered in blue and white tiles. In the Fort of São Filipe we also find an inn, built from the existing casemates. Under the structure, there are labyrinthine tunnels, whose access is limited. Currently the Pousada de São Filipe operates here in the fortress, with the terrace of the cafeteria of São Filipe that provides us with a unique view over the bay of Setúbal, the Serra da Arrábida and the peninsula of Troia.
7. Sado Estuary Nature Reserve
Sado Estuary Nature Reserve: created in 1980, the Sado estuary nature reserve occupies a geographical area of almost 24 thousand hectares spread over the municipalities of Alcácer do Sal, Grândola, Palmela and Setúbal. The main points of interest of the estuary are the thirty dolphins bottlenose dolphins that use an estuary as a feeding and breeding area, the Moé de Maré da Mourisca located in Herdade da Mourisca in the heart of the Estuary Nature Reserve do Sado in a landscape of salt marshes and salt flats, is a disabled tidal mill converted into a museum, leaving for two walking routes through the estuary and the montado area. In these routes we can observe more than 200 species of birds, with large hundreds of flamingos; hiking and mountain biking, canoeing and seeing traditional mollusk catching boats, visiting Faralhão beach, Sado beach and Gambia beach, salt flats, oyster ponds and the Roman ruins of Troia , an area of 450m2 excavated in 1956 where they discovered on the left bank of the river Sado an old Roman industrial complex of fish salting **.
8. Setúbal beaches
The beaches of Setúbal: are spaces of summer appeal located on the Portuguese coast, in the district of Setúbal, many of which are integrated in the Serra da Arrábida Natural Park, standing out for its clear sands and the landscapes of mountains and sea. Among these beaches we find the Praia da Comenda, integrated in the mouth of the river Sado and bounded by the abandoned Palácio da Comenda, building dating from the 18th century. Already integrated in the Natural Park of Arrábida, we find Praia do Outão, considered one of the most beautiful at European level and which is delimited by the Fort of Santiago do Outão, still being close to the Ecoparque de Outão. The Praia da Figueirinha is another beach where we can enjoy a green environment, granted by the slopes of Arrábida, one of the most awarded and renowned beaches in the Setúbal region; being accompanied, in fame, by the Praia dos Galapinhos, which already deserved the title of the most beautiful beach in Europe for its natural beauty and for the tranquility and transparency of its waters. At the foot of the Serra da Arrábida we can still find the wild Praia dos Coelhos, the sandy tongue of Praia da Anicha and Praia de Monte Branco, the latter being highly sought after by divers and are just a few meters from the famous Pedra da Anicha, a zoological reserve dedicated to marine fauna and flora. The tourist and family hotel Praia do Creiro is also close to this reserve and the Archaeological Station of Creiro, reminiscent of the Roman occupation and which consists of an industrial complex for the production of fish salting. Noteworthy, in the region of Setúbal we still have the famous Praia do Portinho da Arrábida, classified as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal and offering a natural setting that mixes the clear touch of the waters and sands with the green slopes of the Serra da Arrábida. Finally, it is worth mentioning, for their natural beauty, the small and unexplored Praia dos Pilotos, Praia de Alpertuche and Praia dos Penedos.
Praia de Galápos is the most popular beach in the Arrábida National Park, which stands out for its white sand and extremely clear water. Among its main characteristics of Galápos beach, the green and natural surroundings, the rock formations and the proximity of the cliffs of Serra da Arrábida stand out, which protect it from the winds and promote the tranquility of the sea water. Here we find a restaurant and support infrastructures, as well as a surveillance service during the bathing season.
9. Setúbal Bay House
Casa da Baía de Setúbal: it is a small museum and tourist promotion center, created in a historic building on Avenida Luísa Todi, where we can have small meals or drink a glass of wine. With a traditional blue façade of white windows cut out of natural stone, this building houses decorative details, such as the entrance bank built from a small boat. It is a space with two floors, with an interior patio, an exterior patio, an auditorium and a meeting room. At the core of the Casa da Baía de Setúbal there is an estate that presents the history and culture of the Setúbal region, through different elements and experiences, including handicrafts and gastronomy. With an innovative and bold design, this place is also the stage for events, has temporary exhibitions and a concert agenda, which makes it an important point of local interest.
10. House of Culture of Setúbal
The Casa da Cultura de Setúbal: is a cultural space in the city of Setúbal, known for promoting various social, artistic and cultural activities. This space includes a music school, a documentation center dedicated to the study and promotion of Portuguese popular music, an arts space and a local documentation center. Here we can visit the temporary exhibitions, immerse ourselves in the local culture through specialized reading and attend monthly events. We can also find the Artes Café cafeteria space and a shop, where it is possible to purchase productions from Casa da Cultura and other artistic and cultural products.
11. Praça de Bocage the Church of São Julião
The Praça de Bocage: is one of the main squares in Setúbal, being a large space, where we can find the statue of the poet, the City Hall and the Church of São Julião. This church, originally erected in the 13th century and rebuilt during the reign of King Manuel I, is a remarkable building, in which the two Manueline-style portals stand out. Having undergone numerous changes throughout history, the church of São Julião today has three naves, on which we can observe a panel of 17th century tiles that depicts the life of São Julião. The clock on the tower of this church is also worth mentioning, as it is a Swiss specimen from the 19th century. The façade with an imposing Manueline-style side portico worked in stone, and the chancel with the ceiling paintings, and the 18th century tile ashlar, which tells the story of S. Julião.
12. Church of the Old Monastery of Jesus
The Church of the Old Monastery of Jesus (or Convento de Jesus): it is a 15th century Gothic style church from Setubal, which stands out for being one of the first monuments to integrate the Manueline style. From its religious architecture, several visual aspects stand out, including the columns, arches and windows made in the Arrábida breach, a rock that only exists in this Portuguese region. Of equal prominence are the three domed nave, with spiral ribs, in Manueline style; the 15th and 16th century tiles and the gilt carving that adorns the main altar. When visiting the church, we can also see the Chapter House, with its Mannerist decorations and an old Sacristy. In the square, where a 17th century cross stands, it is possible to observe the facade of the church, of great architectural richness, whose visual highlights are the main door and the decorated big window of the chancel. This monument classified as European Heritage Mark was the place of ratification of the Treaty of Tordesillas.
13. Church of Santa Maria da Graça
The Church of Santa Maria da Graça (or Sé Catedral de Setúbal): is the main church in Setubal, dating from the 13th century and rebuilt in the 16th century, located in the heart of a medieval neighborhood. With Gothic-Roman religious architecture and classified as a Building of Public Interest, this church stands out for its imposing facade, where we can see the bell towers and the Serliano portal. When we enter, the 17th century decorative elements, the columns ornamented with 19th century frescoes, the gilded details of the chancel and the old tiles also stand out. There is also, inside this church, a collection of works and liturgical furniture that refers to the period between the 16th and 18th centuries.
14. Lapa de Santa Margarida
Lapa de Santa Margarida: is a natural cave located at the base of Serra da Arrábida, near Portinho da Arrábida and in the district of Setúbal, which includes an altar in honor of Santa Margarida. Access is via a narrow staircase with more than two hundred steps, leading to the altar of Santa Margarida and its natural and rocky setting, from where we can see the ocean. A Christian place, it still exhibits elements related to other faiths, including pagan and esoteric images. The allocation of the space to Santa Margarida is related to an old image of the saint who was there and that, we can currently visit at the Convento dos Capuchos.
15. Setúbal District Museum of Archeology and Ethnography (MAEDS)
The Museum of Archeology and Ethnography of the Setúbal District (MAEDS): is a public cultural space and a museum center founded in 1974, located on Avenida Luísa Todi, one of the main arteries of Setúbal. After the white and yellow façade, where it displays identification banners, MAEDS presents us with an interesting collection of artefacts related to the material and immaterial heritage of the Setúbal Peninsula. Among the museum’s collections are prehistoric, Roman and post-Roman archeology collections and ethnography collections, which highlight some of the main activities in the region, including fishing, saliculture, livestock, agriculture, handicrafts, art popular and shipbuilding. This museum has free entry and also includes a specialized library and offers guided tours.
Attractions and places to visit in the Setúbal district
Sesimbra: is a Portuguese village in the Setúbal district, known for its great natural beauty and its built heritage. One of the main points of interest corresponds to the Castelo de Sesimbra, a recovered medieval castle, located on the top of a cliff above the sea, a few kilometers from Cape Espichel, and whose original fortress dated from the 9th century. Inside, we find the Igreja de Santa Maria, originally dated from the 12th century and rebuilt in the 18th century, after its destruction with the Lisbon Earthquake, which stands out for the richness of the interior covered in 19th century tiles, with a single screen ceiling that represents the coronation of the Virgin. Although more recent, dating from the 17th century, the Fortaleza de Santiago de Sesimbra is another of the regional landmarks, having been built for defensive purposes in the face of maritime threats, which currently serves as a cultural space with different events. In the vicinity of the fortress, we can see the beauty of urban beaches of Ouro and California classified as blue flag, the first of which, with its sand and clear waters, is limited to the east by the Santiago fortress, and the second most family-oriented, is located east of Sesimbra Bay. A few minutes from these beaches, we can find the Marina of Sesimbra, another emblematic place that is an ex-libris of the locality, which serves for the docking of recreational boats and was born from the commitment of the Clube Naval de Sesimbra, based there. Walking a few minutes from the Marina, you will also find the Fort of São Teodósio da Ponta do Cavalo, a 17th century monument that served defensive purposes and which includes the Lighthouse of Forte do Cavalo, built in the 19th century . The Parque Municipal de Campismo Forte do Cavalo also located near the Marina of Sesimbra and these monuments.
Beaches west of Sesimbra
The beaches of Sesimbra are recognized for their natural beauty and, as we advance westwards, towards Cabo Espichel, we will find a coastline on which there are countless beaches, mostly wild and with challenging access . One of the most emblematic beaches on this path is the Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo, located in the vicinity of Cabo Espichel and which still carries a wild and natural inclination, being the easiest access by boat. Nearby, advancing in the west direction, we find two other beaches that are characterized by the complex accesses and by the natural beauty of the rocky escarpments that surround them: the Praia da Mijona and Praia do Inferno standing out, in the latter, the magnificent natural structures formed in ocean rocks. Continuing towards the west, we will come across Praia de Vale Covo, a small cove of great natural beauty, Praia de Cramesines with its sand at the bottom of a steep slope and a Praia da Baleeira, the first beach integrated in the Cabo Espichel area and where we can see the ruins of Forte de São Domingos da Baralha, a stone fortress, fully integrated into the natural and rocky surroundings, which occupies a prominent position on the Bay of Baleeira, built in the 17th century for the protection of the coastal coast.
Cabo Espichel is the most westerly point on the coast of Sesimbra, in the district of Setúbal and stands out for the natural beauty of the oceanic landscape, and for integrating a high-value historical-religious ensemble, in which it includes the Cabo Espichel Lighthouse, the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora do Cabo Espichel, the Ermida da Memória and the Casa da Água. The Cabo Espichel Lighthouse is one of the oldest lighthouses in Portugal, having been built in the 18th century for coastal protection of the region under the command of the Marquis of Pombal. It stands out from the top of the 32-meter tower, with one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the region. The Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora do Cabo Espichel is a religious monument from the 14th century, perfectly framed in a natural environment, built to keep an image of Our Lady found in the region. Next to this, we find the Ermida da Memória, a small temple located near the escarpment, which stands out for its curved dome and white facade, inside which we find high-value 19th century tiles. The Casa da Água (18th century) also in this place, historically served to supply water to pilgrims. A few minutes, north of Cabo Espichel, we find the Natural Monument of Pedra da Mua (or Natural Monument of Lagosteiros), a place of paleontological interest, framed in a natural cliff and where there are traces of dinosaur footprints. This place limits the natural beach of Lagosteiros, relatively close to the fine sand tongue that constitutes the beach of Areia do Mastro. To the north of these beaches, we can also find the stony Praia do Rebenta Bois, a beach with a sand in the shape of a shell, integrated in a small cove and with rough waters, as well as the Praia da Foz, a beach more collected, much sought after by surfers in the months of greatest sea turmoil.
Castle of Palmela
Castelo de Palmela: it is a castle initially built by the Moors between the 10th and 12th centuries, underwent structural modifications until the 17th century. Its Romanesque, Mannerist and Gothic architectural features reflect a history of conquests and reconquest. In visual terms, the castle has an irregular layout, integrating warlike and religious elements, with emphasis on the Church of Santiago, with valuable tiles and the Manueline vault, and the Convento de Santa Maria da Arrábida, currently transformed into pousada, of which we highlight the central cloister. The main points of the Castle of Palmela include the two quadrangular towers and the Keep. We can visit several spaces of the Municipal Museum in the castle, including the Space for Military Transmissions and the Archaeological Space. Located in one of the highest points of the Serra da Arrábida, between the Tagus River Estuary and the Sado Estuary, from this castle we can have breathtaking views that, in the clearest days, extend to the city of Lisbon.
Visit the attractions of Palmela
Palmela: is a Portuguese village in the district of Setúbal with a vast built, natural and cultural heritage. In the locality, we find the Castelo de Palmela as the main attraction of the village, the Casa Mãe da Rota dos Vinhos where we can depart for the guided tours of the Setúbal Peninsula Wine Route, the Moinhos Vivos de Palmela, located in the Parque Natural da Arrábida, where regional history and culture are told through a natural itinerary, with centenary mills, and with experiences such as workshops, interaction with donkeys or gastronomic tastings of dishes in a wood oven. The local viewpoints are one of the attractions, allowing panoramic observation of the locality and allowing, on a clear day, to see up to Cristo Rei (Almada) or the Pena Palace (Sintra). Among these, we highlight the Miradouro de Palmela, located in the castle, and from where it is possible to get a panoramic view over the village and the Serra da Arrábida. Another prominent viewpoint is the São Sebastião Viewpoint, characterized by its pergola, the privileged view of the sunset and by covering the landscape offered by the riverside, the Serra da Arrábida and the Fort of São Filipe. In addition to seeing the landscape, Palmela also invites us to enter it actively, playing golf. Palmela Golf – an 18-hole course, set in a luxurious complex with natural surroundings and all the necessary infrastructure for well-being – and Montado Hotel & Golf Resort – located on the Costa Azul and known for its 18th hole, located on an island – are examples of places where we can do it. Finally, we can visit the church of Santiago de Palmela, the church of Misericórdia, and for even more intense cultural immersion moments, we can visit the collective of Teatro o Bando, founded in 1974, and which represents one of the oldest cultural cooperatives in Portugal. Palmela is a highly sought-after place due to the high quality of the schools that make up the municipality’s education system, namely the Colégio Aires Real, the International School of Palmela, and the St Peter’s School. Regarding the gastronomy of Palmela, a special reference for the caramel soup, the kid roasted in the oven, the rabbit to the peasant of Palmela, the streaked apple, pear cooked in muscatel of Setúbal and the carolinos.
Almada and the National Sanctuary of Cristo Rei
National Sanctuary of Cristo Rei: it is a religious monument dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, opened on May 17, 1959. The Sanctuary is located in the municipality of Almada and offers one of the most fantastic views over the city of Lisbon. The monument has a height of 110 meters, being at a maximum altitude of 113 meters relative to the Tagus River. At the Cristo Rei Sanctuary we can visit the Chapel of the Confidents, the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Paz, the Sala Beato João XXIII, the Cruz Alta, the Building, the Via Sacra Exterior and the Sala da Misericórdia. The ascent to the top of Cristo Rei is by elevator, to the top floor, however to reach the Chapel of the Confidents of the Sacred Heart of Jesus we need to go up another 59 steps. The terrace from which we have a panoramic view over Lisbon and its surroundings, we find a panel of tiles of 200 m2 painted by hand
National Forest of Machada
Mata Nacional da Machada: it is the main forest area in the municipality of Barreiro. It integrates the archeological field, the Environmental Education Center, the Sapal de Coina, the Pinhal de Vale de Zebro and the Quinta da Machada. With a strong nature environment, this place is marked by the presence of walking trails, where we can get involved with a great diversity of fauna and flora. The main vegetation of the Mata Nacional da Machada are Mediterranean species, such as heather and myrtle, and pine trees. Here it is common to see birds of the blue tit species and the round-winged eagle. In addition to the natural component, in the National Forest of Machada we find fountains and two picnic parks.
Sobreiro Whistler of Águas de Moura
The Sobreiro Whistler of Águas de Moura: it is a centenary cork oak tree classified as a Tree of Public Interest that we find in the locality Águas de Moura, in the village of Palmela, district of Setúbal. In addition to its more than 2 centuries of existence, this cork oak gained prominence in the Guinness Book of Records as “the largest cork oak in the world” and won the European Tree of the Year contest in 2018. This cork oak stands out for its natural beauty and the fact that several birds are heard chirping, this being the characteristic that named it as “whistler”. Tradition and regional legends recognize this tree as a “matchmaking cork oak”, highlighting that, in addition to marking a place where gypsy weddings were held, several courtships and weddings were arranged under its crown.
Peninsula of Troia
The Península de Troia: is a strip of light sand that stretches for 17 kilometers, surrounded by the ocean, in the municipality of Grândola, district of Setúbal. This peninsula stands out for its natural beauty, being famous for its quiet beaches, Roman remains and for including several recreational and recreational spaces. Here we can find the Palafítico Pier of Carrasqueira, a structure of popular architecture that allows fishing vessels to dock and whose characteristics confer a high uniqueness value. Of equal interest in the region are the Roman Ruins of Troia (Cetobriga), an area of archaeological interest classified as a National Monument, known locally as the “Portuguese Pompeii” and which was, at the time of the Roman occupation, an important center fish salting process. Nearby, we find the Troia Golf, an internationally renowned resort, with views over the Serra da Arrábida and with a 6-hectare golf course with 18 holes, and also the Casino Troia, where there are, in a refined and modern environment, hundreds of slot machines and more than 15 gaming tables. The Marina de Troia, located at the northern top of the peninsula, is a marina with capacity for approximately 100 vessels, with an environment of restaurant and hospitality services.
- Grândola: is a town located between the Alentejo plain and the Grândola mountain range. The attractions of the village are the Várzea de Grândola, the Ribeira do Borboletaegão, the Roman Station of Troia, the Igreja Matriz de Grândola, the Old Town Halls, the Jardim Primeiro de Maio, and the 25 de Abril Memorial.
Beaches on the Troia Peninsula
The beaches of the Troia Peninsula: located in Grândola, Setúbal district, are one of the biggest regional attractions and comprise a set of bathing spaces, with different infrastructures for summer practice in the region. The most recognized beach in this region is the accessible Praia Troia Mar, a coastal area with views over the Serra da Arrábida, located next to important tourist developments and which allows the practice of sea and beach sports. The Praia Bico das Lulas also stands out in the region, for its calm sea and the fine sand dunes that surround it, giving a natural environment. Next to it we find magnificent views over the mouth of the River Sado in the extensive Praia da Questa and also the quiet Praia de Tróia Galé, with views over Arrábida. The Praia do Golf, bordering the Tróia Golf Championship Course, and the Praia da Costa da Galé, next to the campsite also stand out, respectively for the dunes and through the fossil cliffs. Other local beaches are also worth mentioning, including the Atlantic Beach, known for occasionally spotting dolphins in its clear and calm waters; the isolated Praia do Malheirão and the Praia da Malha da Costa, an oceanic area integrated in the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve.
Visit the attractions of Comporta
Comporta: is an Alentejo village of Alcácer do Sal, with vast rice fields, golden sand beaches and views over the Sado River. One of the biggest attractions of the region is the Praia da Comporta, an accessible beach, located at the southern end of the Troia Peninsula, where we can practice sea sports and enjoy the natural beauty derived from its integration in the Reserve Natural of the Sado Estuary. This beach is close to Herdade da Comporta, whose history goes back to 1836 and where we can visit the winery and taste the regional wines. In the vicinity of the estate we find the quiet and semi-deserted Praia da Torre and the Lagoa Formosa, a development overlooking the rice fields. Other beaches that deserve to be highlighted in Comporta are the Praia do Carvalhal, a bathing space protected by cliffs and that promotes well-being with all essential infrastructures, the Praia do Pego, known for its extensive beach, the calm sea and tranquility; the “secret” Praia da Raposa, only accessible by the sand and with an almost private tendency; the Praia do Pinheirinho, where we are invited to spend time with nature, and also the Praia Galé de Fontaínhas, where the sand cliffs allow the encounter with a natural and unique scenery. This last beach also stands out for its proximity to the camping site of the same name.
Visit the Alcácer do Sal Heritage
Alcácer do Sal: it is one of the oldest cities in Europe founded in the year 1000 BC by the Phoenicians, a city in the district of Setúbal that stands out for its cultural, archaeological, architectural and religious heritage. Here, we find the Quinta Brejinho da Costa, an oenotourism space dedicated to the transmission of the region’s wine heritage and which assumes the identity of a space for the creation of Atlantic wines. The natural interest of the region is not only in the vineyards of this farm, and the south bank of Alcácer do Sal features places like the park and the Sado promenade. In addition to nature, the locality also offers contact with spaces of archaeological interest, highlighting the Castle Archaeological Crypt, on the lower floor of Pousada D. Afonso II, where we find traces of various historical periods between the 5th century BC and the 17th century. In terms of historical, cultural and architectural interest, the Igreja de Santiago is also a landmark in the locality, constituting an ancient Christian temple whose first historical mention dates from the 17th century and which presents a Baroque and Mannerist aesthetic, translated into a simple facade and rich interior. Inside, the most relevant elements are the paintings, including the equestrian painting of Saint James behind the altar and the panels of 19th century tiles, with scenes about the life of Saint James and the Virgin. Another example of the religious architecture of Alcácer do Sal is the Sanctuary of Senhor dos Mártires, one of the oldest temples in Portugal and whose history dates back to the Iron Age, when it was a public necropolis. The construction of the current sanctuary will have started in the 13th century.
Visit the attractions of Vila de Melides
Vila de Melides: is a coastal village of Grândola, in the district of Setúbal, which brings together natural spaces, cultural heritage and prehistoric remains. The Lagoa de Melides is one of the most prominent points in the region, boasting important habitats on its 26 hectares and being, along with the coastline and its beaches, one of the greatest tourist appeals in the region. On the south shore of the lagoon we find the Bird Observatory of Lagoa de Melides, a few steps from the Camping de Melides. For bathing, in this region, we find several beaches, including the Praia da Aberta Nova, a beach with a wild aspect and limited by dunes; the Praia de Melides, which stands out for being the most famous in the region and for its location between the lagoon and the ocean; and Praia da Sesmaria, with its serene waters and extensive white sand. The natural world of Vila de Melides is also expressed in the mirror of drinking water known as Fonte dos Olhos, an old washhouse modified in 1960 to supply the village, framed in a local picnic park. Finally, in the town of Melides, located in Herdade das Casas Velhas in Vale Figueira, we can still find prehistoric remains such as the Necropolis of Cistas das Casas Velhas, a place classified as a Property of Public Interest , dating from the Bronze Age and constituting an old necropolis with 35 graves. The remains discovered in the local excavations are currently on display at the Museum of Archeology and Ethnography of Setúbal.
Visit the attractions of Vila Nova de Santo André
Vila Nova de Santo André: is a city historically dedicated to agriculture and fishing, located in the coastal Alentejo, in the district of Setúbal and which contains a valuable natural and cultural heritage. One of its main points of interest is the Lagoa de Santo André, a water table integrated in a natural setting that includes clear sand dunes and a diverse avifauna. The protection of this important wetland motivated the creation of the Natural Reserve of Lagoas de Santo André and Sancha, which, as a whole, is an important natural space for the preservation of nature and its habitats. Within the reserve, we find Praia da Costa de Santo André, a beach that receives the waters of the lagoon and the ocean waters simultaneously and that allows us to enjoy a natural landscape, with the possibility of observing birds and water sports. In addition to this beach, the wild Praia da Vacaria and the extensive and clear Praia das Areias Brancas also stand out in the region. Immersion in nature is possible thanks to the trails of the Salgueiral da Galiza trail, with a visit to the willow grove and the water bird observatory. Here we can also take advantage of horseback riding and riding lessons promoted by the Centro Equestre de Santo André. In terms of religious heritage, the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Graça is the most prominent Baroque temple in the city, evidenced by the quadrangular bell tower, the tiles that line its interior and the valuable image of the saint who nominates.
Visit the attractions of Santiago do Cacém
Santiago do Cacém: in Setúbal, it is a city with several points of historical and natural interest. Local attractions are made up of the Castelo de Santiago do Cacém where we find the mother church dating from the 13th century, the municipal museum with an archaeological collection composed of pieces dating from the Paleolithic to the medieval period, the Ruins Of Miróbriga (or Archaeological Site of Miróbriga) containing traces dating from the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age, as well as Roman ruins. In this set, we find traces of an old forum, a temple dedicated to Venus, and Roman baths. A single arch bridge, a rainwater drainage system and an original pavement of limestone slabs are also integrated in this archaeological site, with the Ruins of the Roman Hippodrome of Miróbriga, an old structure used for chariot or chariot races (horse-drawn carriages), are just a kilometer away and stand out as the only Roman racetrack known in Portugal. The great interest of these ruins is only surpassed by the theme park Badoca Safari Park, located in Vila Nova de Santo André, and which extends over 90 hectares between the coast and the plain. This is dedicated to contact with animal life and nature, allowing you to see hundreds of species at large, including giraffes, zebras, kangaroos, exotic birds and many others. The observation of species and the practice of recreational and sports activities make this space inviting for outdoor experiences, with the family.
Sines: is a Portuguese city with a strong importance for the expansion of world trade, due to the positioning of the Port of Sines, which receives for Europe the large container ships with goods from all over the world. The main tourist attractions are the Historic Center of the city, the Castelo de Sines, the Centro de Artes de Sines, the Chapel of Nossa Senhora das Salvas, and the beaches, namely, the Vasco da Gama beach, São Torpes beach, Morgavel beach, Vale-Figueiros-Vieirinha beach, Porto Covo beach. Porto de Recreio de Sines is the only recreational port on the sea coast between Setúbal and the Algarve. Also gastronomy is among the main reasons for visiting the municipality of Sines, with seafood açorda specialties, shellfish feijoada, fried fish migas, snail rice, limpets rice, limpets açorda, beans with seafood, cuttlefish salad , the conch salad, the roe salad, the almond cakes “Vasquinhos” and the cakes “Areias de Sines”.
Aroeira Estate and golf courses
Herdade da Aroeira: is a luxury development and the largest residential golf complex in the Greater Lisbon area, being located 30 minutes from the capital, in the locality of Charneca da Caparica, Setúbal district. This estate is integrated in a protected pine forest in the region, 600 meters from the nearest beach, and has a natural environment that includes numerous pine trees and lakes, and there are also manicured gardens that invite you to stay. The estate’s microclimate allows us to enjoy golf and other recreational activities throughout the year. Part of a luxury condominium, the estate includes a tropical pool, four tennis courts, spaces dedicated to children’s leisure and two golf courses. The Aroeira golf courses were opened in 1973 and 2000 respectively and are considered among the best European golf complexes, both of which have 18 holes and a natural environment. These fields have been the scene of numerous competitions and have been highlighted in international publications on the sport.
Protected Landscape of the Arrábida Fossil of Costa de Caparica
The Protected Landscape of the Arrábida Fossil of Costa de Caparica: it is a protected area, with cliffs of sedimentary rock arranged in strata, and which extends for several kilometers along the coastal strip. It is limited in the Península de Setúbal by the Tagus Estuary and the Sado Estuary, having been classified as a protected landscape in 1984. The fossil cliff and the coastal plain with dozens of kilometers of beaches take us to places like the accessible and equipped Costa da Caparica Beach, the Bela Vista naturist beach or Dezanove (first Portuguese beach to integrate naturist practice), or even the wild and isolated Praia dos Medos de Albufeira , which is accessed by the beach from the Lagoa de Albufeira , another natural space of great interest, with green surroundings and magnificent dunes, where lagoon and sea adorn the landscape. Praia do Meco is another of the beaches integrated in this protected landscape, integrating itself around cliffs and springs, which make it one of the most popular in the region. Moving further south, we find Praia das Bicas , ideal for water sports enthusiasts. Sports fans will also appreciate, in this protected area, the recreational and sporting structures of the village of Verdizela and the Parque Aventura da Charneca de Caparica **, where interaction with nature and radical emotions simultaneously make it possible.
- Costa da Caparica is a Portuguese city located in the municipality of Almada, it is the reference bathing area for the people of Lisbon due to its 30 km of white sand beaches. It is also an international surf destination due to the good conditions of northwest swell protected from the wind by Cabo da Roca, Sintra and Cascais mountains.
Visit the attractions of Azeitão
Azeitão: it is a parish in Setubal where we can find several points of cultural, sporting and traditional interest. Among its monuments, we highlight the Igreja de São Simão, belonging to the Order of Santiago and originally built in the 12th century, with reconstruction dating from the 16th century. This church is evidenced by the paneling with 18th century tile panels, where the life of several saints is represented, highlighting the mural of S. João Baptista. Golf is part of the experiences offered in the region, with emphasis on the Quinta do Peru Golf & Country Club, a diversified complex with natural surroundings and views over the Serra da Arrábida, classified as one of the ten best golf courses nationals and that has already hosted the European Challenge Tour competitions. In the locality, we can immerse ourselves in wine culture in places like the Casa Museu José Maria Da Fonseca Vinhos and the Adega José Maria da Fonseca, open since 1830 with spaces dedicated to wine tourism and where wine tasting from Azeitão and the rich history of seven generations invite us to learn more about the Portuguese wine tradition and the creation of wines and muscatel.
Bacalhôa Wines of Portugal
Bacalhôa Vinhos de Portugal: is one of the largest national wine producers, founded in 1922. Responsible for the introduction of new production techniques, Bacalhôa Vinhos de POrtugal presents several wineries in the country, producing wines from Douro, Dão, Bairrada, Azeitão, Lisbon and Alentejo. Bacalhôa is also known for its heritage, which includes the Palace and Quinta da Bacalhôa, a Renaissance monument from the 14th century, with architectural aesthetics influenced by Portuguese discoveries and located in Vila Nogueira de Azeitão. Of great natural beauty, Quinta da Bacalhôa allows us to see rich 16th and 17th century tiles, and at Casa do Lago we find the first tile dated in Portugal. Among the infrastructures that we can take advantage of at the Palácio and Quinta da Bacalhôa are also the Bacalhôa Museum and its tasting room with a garden of Japanese aesthetics and an exhibition room with three distinct themes, including African art, Portuguese tiles and Art Deco.
Other places of interest in Azeitão
Quinta das Torres Azeitão is a 16th century farmhouse where we find a stately home that currently serves for events. The quadrangular turrets and the fountain located in the outer courtyard, from where we can contemplate the façade, almost entirely covered with ivy, are some of its visual highlights, and the weapons room is the main attraction in the interior. The surroundings of this farm are green and natural, a characteristic that is associated with the mountainous forest area of Serra da Arrábida. Relatively close to this, the Quinta Velha da Queijeira also deserves mention, being the place where we find the Museu do Queijo de Azeitão, a museum space where we can learn about the production techniques of this regional product and taste it . Finally, the Chafariz dos Pasmados, an ancient Baroque fountain, ornamented with decorative elements in marble, where the royal shield of D. Maria I is sculpted is also a highlight in the region. The name of this fountain derives, according to local legends, from the astonishment that its visual magnificence caused in visitors. Azeitão’s gastronomic ex-libris are muscat wine, cheese and Azeitão’s pastry sweets.
Getting to know the Setúbal Peninsula
The Península de Setúbal is a region of natural, heritage, architectural and gastronomic interest, located south of the Tagus River and Lisbon. Integrating the nine municipalities of Alcochete, Almada, Barreiro, Moita, Montijo, Palmela, Seixal, Sesimbra, and Setúbal, this peninsula integrates different places of interest, among which we find the Arrábida Natural Park, the Reserve Natural of the Tagus Estuary and places like Setúbal, Sesimbra or Palmela, where there is a vast built, cultural and natural heritage. In addition to its landscape, granted by places such as Serra da Arrábida, this peninsula also stands out as a wine tourism destination, containing wine landscapes and a local culture anchored in wine production. Traditional and historical, the Península de Setúbal Wine Route offers diverse scenarios that blend in its ocean, mountain range, agricultural land and city landscape, focusing on the explorations of Moscatel and the Castelão grape variety and allowing us to experience visiting moments wine cellars, wine tasting or cultural immersion in wine production processes. Integrated in this itinerary is the Casa Mãe da Rota de Vinhos, a space in which we can take courses on wine or take wine tours on the Sado River.
Tagus Estuary Nature Reserve
Tagus Estuary Nature Reserve: it is a place of great natural and biological value located north of Alcochete. It is located in the largest national wetland, and constitutes one of the ten most important in Europe. The reserve is inserted in a space with more than 14 thousand hectares, which includes salt pans, lezirias and mouchões. Natural, green and consisting of numerous aquiferous spaces, this reserve is particularly known for its marshes and the fauna that inhabit them, among which migratory water birds (including pink flamingos) and marine and migratory fish stand out.
This theme is described in more detail in the Santarém article
Alcochete: is a riverside municipality located in the Natural Reserve of the Tagus Estuary, was populated since the Neolithic period, and lived a period of economic expansion during the Portuguese Discoveries in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was one of the favorite resting places of the Portuguese court. The main attractions of Alcochete are Jardim da Avenida Dom Manuel Primeiro facing the river, the Igreja Matriz de Alcochete (Igreja de São João Batista), a 15th century church classified as National Monument, as Salinas do Samouco, the Tide Mill of Cais de Aldeia Galega, the landscape of the sitio das Hortas, with the traditional boats anchored in the river, the statue in honor of Salineiro, the Passeio do Tejo, a walkway over the Tagus River, the Núcleo de Arte Sacra, the Hermitage of Santo António da Ussa located on a lagoon island in Herdade da Barroca d’Alva , the Igreja do Espírito Santo Matriz do Montijo built in the 17th century where we can see the two panels with “Escape to Egypt” and “Sagrada Família à Pesca”, and the Freeport Fashion Outlet de Alcochete, a shopping center outdoors known by stores of reputable brands with products at lower prices.
Rivers and tributaries of the Setúbal region
The river Sado: is the most important river in the district of Setúbal. It is born in the Serra da Vigia, in the municipality of Ourique at approximately 230 meters of altitude, and empties into the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the city of Setúbal. It is approximately 180 km long, has a hydrographic area of 7692 km2, an estuary of 160 km2 and the following tributaries:
- Rio Xarrama: it rises in the northwest of Évora and flows into the right bank of the river Sado in the town of Torrão. The approximate length of 70 km makes Xarrama the largest tributary of the Sado River. The main highlights are the São Brissos dam and the hydrographic basin of the Trigo de Morais dam reservoir;
- Ribeira das Alcáçovas: it is born west of Évora and flows into Alcácer do Sal. The 734 km2 hydrographic basin and the Pego de Altar dam are the main attractions;
- Rio Arcão: born in the municipality of Grândola and flows into the river Sado, near Alcácer do Sal. It has an approximate length of 18 km and a hydrographic basin of 158 km2;
- Ribeira de Campilhas: born in the Serra do Cercal and flows into the River Sado in the town of Alvalade in the municipality of Santiago do Cacém. The main highlight is the Campilhas dam;
- Ribeira da Comporta: rises in the Grândola mountains and empties on the left bank of the Sado river, in the Comporta of the municipality of Alcácer do Sal;
- Ribeira da Marateca: born in the Monfurado mountain range and empties into the Sado to the north of the Mitrena peninsula;
- Ribeira de Odivelas: born in the Serra do Mendro, has a length of 70 km, and flows into the right bank of the river Sado. The main attractions are the Alvito dam and the Odivelas dam;
- Ribeira do Roxo: born west of the city of Beja and empties on the right bank of the river Sado, in Ermidas in the municipality of Santiago do Cacém. It has an approximate length of 50 km. The main point of interest is the Roxo dam.
Brief History of Setúbal
The city of Setúbal was founded in the 1st century AD by the Romans, attracted by fishing and salting fish. The first denomination of Setúbal was Cetóbriga, an abandoned place until the Christian reconquest of Palmela. Setúbal was repopulated in 1249 by the Order of Santiago and Espada. It lived a period of economic growth during the 15th century due to the Portuguese Discoveries. During the Spanish occupation, the São Filipe Fortress was built in the Serra da Arrábida. Setúbal was badly damaged during the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. In 1860, Setúbal witnessed three important events, the elevation to the category of city, the first rail connection, with connection to Barreiro and public gas lighting. The canning industry was a major stimulator of Setubal’s economy, with a peak of more than 160 factories related to canning fish, the canning industry and Moscatel wine began to develop during the 19th century. During the 20th century, Setúbal witnessed a great industrialization, with emphasis on the fertilizer, cement, paper factories, the naval and heavy metalworking industries. Setúbal experienced a deep crisis during the 1970s and 1980s, with an unemployment rate close to 20%. Since Portugal’s entry into the European Union in 1986, the city has been growing economically, with advances and setbacks. Currently, the sectors of greatest investment in the Setúbal district are tourism, with emphasis on wine tourism and nature tourism, with beaches, Serra da Arrábida, boat trips for dolphin watching, and many more.
The most important festivals and events in Setúbal are:
Festivals of Barrete Verde and Salinas: held annually in August;
Popular Festivals of Samouco: held annually in July;
Medieval Festival of Alvalade which takes place annually in September,
Santa Maria festivities in Ermida-Sado – with the decoration of the streets with paper flowers – which takes place annually in August;
Santiagro – Agricultural and Horse Fair – held annually in May
Setúbal – Costa Azul International Half Marathon: held annually in May
Setúbal Bay International Swimming Marathon: event that counts for the international open water swimming calendar. It takes place annually in June
Festróia: held annually in June
Arrábida World Music Festival: world music festival that takes place annually in July
Feira de Santiago: held annually between 25 July and 9 August
Arrábida and Azeitão Festivals: held annually in July
Festas Bocaginas: held annually on September 15 – municipal holiday
Wines from Setúbal
The wine region of Setúbal has unique and world-renowned wines, namely:
- Liqueur Arrabidine: liqueur produced by the friars of the Convento da Arrábida
- Moscatel de Setúbal
- Piriquita Wines
Wine tourism plays an important role in the region’s economy, with emphasis on the following units:
- Palmela Wine Cellar
- Adega Fernão Pó
- Adega da Comporta
- Xavier Santana Winery
- ASL Tomé
- Assis Lobo
- Horácio Simões Agricultural House
- Atalaia House
- Casa Ermelinda Freitas: company created in 1920. Currently produces several wine varieties, namely Castelão, Fernão Pires, Trincadeira and Touriga Nacional. Visits to wineries and tasting of five wines accompanied by products from the region are the main points of interest in the estate
- Malo Tojo Wines
- Quinta da Bacalhôa: owned by Joe Berardo, includes guided tours of wineries and contemporary art collections. It is one of the best preserved and best known spaces in the region.
- Quinta da Serralheira
- Quinta de Alcube
- Quinta Beijinho da Costa
- Quinta do Piloto
- Rio Frio
- Palmela Wine Society
- Venâncio Costa Lima
Quick Facts about Setúbal
Population: approximately 115 thousand inhabitants
Area: 171.9 km2
Golf courses: 5 (Arrábida Resort & Golf Academy, Clube de Campo da Aroeeira, Montado Hotel & Golf Resort, Quinta do Peru Golf & Country Club and Tróia Golf)
Commercial spaces: Centro Comercial Alegro
Four star hotels: 6 (Esperança Centro Hotel, Hotel do Sado Business & Nature, Novotel Setúbal Hotel, Premium Setubal Hotel & Spa, Montado Hotel & Golf Resort in Palmela and Hotel Rural Clube de Azeitão)
Private Clinics and Hospitals in the Setúbal District 4 (Hospital São Bernardo in Setúbal, Hospital da Luz in Setúbal, Hospital Nossa Senhora do Rosário, Casa de Saúde do Barreiro and Osteomedical- Bone Diseases in Almada)
Marinas: 4 (Port of Recreio de Sines, Dock of Recreio das Fontainhas, Marina of Tróia, Marina of Sesimbra and the Port of Recreio de Sines)