If you are on holiday in Comporta, do not hesitate to come to Setúbal for a one-day getaway. This nice destination is 20 minutes by ferry from the Tróia peninsula, and you can board with your car. It is therefore quite possible to plan this visit when you stay in one of our houses in Comporta.
The ferry crossing is an opportunity to admire the natural reserve of the Sado estuary, and if you are lucky you can even see dolphins.
The weather in Setúbal is mild all year round. This port city is home to a charming old quarter, an impressive fort, a lively covered market and the best seafood restaurants in Portugal. It is also very famous in Portugal for its football club, the Vitória Setúbal Futebol Clube.
A breathtaking natural setting
Setúbal is located on the edge of the Sado estuary and its surroundings are of great beauty. The city is surrounded by the magnificent crystal clear beaches of Arrabida, the green hills of Serra da Arrabida and the vineyards of Azeitão.
The old town of Setúbal
The best way to discover the city is to stroll through the streets of its beautiful historic centre. Stroll along Álvaro Castelões Street or along Luisa Todi Main Avenue, which is lined with traditional buildings and old private mansions, as well as on the docks of the fishing port.
A very lively market
Stop at the market, Mercado do Livramento, in the morning when it is most lively. It is often considered the best in Portugal for fish and fresh produce. You will also find local handicrafts and beautiful fruit and vegetable displays. The building is decorated with azulejos tiles that tell the story of Setúbal.
A colourful fishing port
The fishing port of Setúbal is full of colourful small wooden boats. You can admire them by walking along the docks. It is the ideal place to take beautiful photographs at sunset. On the Doca dos Pescadores you will also find delicious restaurants with fresh fish and seafood. The fried cuttlefish, “choco frito de Setúbal”, is a local speciality not to be missed.
The fort of São Filipe
The “Fortaleza de Sao Filipe” was built in the 16th century. This castle, which overlooks Setúbal, was used to defend the estuary from attacks by North African pirates and looters. This imposing star-shaped building was built under the orders of King Dom Filipe I.
From the top of its impregnable ramparts, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the city and the Sado nature reserve. Since the municipality has been the manager, the castle has been restored and has become an essential tourist attraction. The café on the ramparts is probably the best located in Setúbal. It is the ideal place to enjoy a glass of Muscatel from Setúbal.
Today, the fort houses a high-end “pousada” hotel, but the building remains open to the public. Visitors can explore the ramparts, the garden and admire the panoramic views of Setúbal and the Tróia Peninsula. The ideal is to dine at the castle restaurant and enjoy a spectacular sunset.
The convent of Arrábida
The monastery of Arrábida, built in the 16th century, is hidden in the pine covered hills of the Serra da Arrábida. It was originally a Franciscan monastery. It covers 25 hectares and includes several buildings, sanctuaries and woods overlooking the Setúbal peninsula.
Founded in 1542 by a Castilian monk, Brother Martinho de Santa Maria, the convent was built on land belonging to the Duke of Aveiro – D. João de Lencastre. This particular site was chosen because it is where the vision of the Virgin Mary riding a mule on the side of the hill would have taken place.
The ruins of the old monastery are located above the main buildings, on one of the highest points of the Serra da Arrábida. There are also the remains of several small chapels, shrines and hermitage cells scattered in the hills.
The Convento da Arrábida ceased to be a monastery in the 1830s. After many years of neglect, it was purchased by the Palmela family in 1860, but restoration work did not begin until the 1940s. Forty years later, the owner decided to sell it to Fundação Oriente. This cultural foundation now organizes retreats and seminars there. The monastery remains open for guided tours from Wednesday to Sunday.
Serra da Arrábida Natural Park
The Serra da Arrábida Natural Park (Parque Natural da Arrábida) is located in the Setúbal district and covers an area of more than 100 square kilometres. It was granted protected national park status in 1976, in order to preserve its natural beauty and the fauna and flora it supports. The Estrada de Escarpa road, which runs through the natural park, is known to be one of the most beautiful in the country. It overlooks the forest, the bay and the splendid turquoise water beaches.
Visitors can enjoy a magnificent view of the sea from the many hiking trails that criss-cross the park. From there you can also have the chance to see the dolphins of the estuary jumping in the waves.
The beaches of Setúbal
Unlike the Atlantic coast, Setúbal’s beaches are protected from the currents by sandbanks. So there are few waves and that’s good with young children.
The locals come in large numbers at weekends and during the holidays. Parking can then become complicated. It is preferable to use the shuttles from the city or the catamaran from Tróia.
Figueirinha beach is the largest of the Arrábida beaches. Its fine sand and calm sea are ideal for families and for swimming without worrying about the waves.
There is a bar, restaurant, toilet, as well as lifeguards and deckchairs during the summer. The beach is accessible to people with reduced mobility, and a large car park allows you to park your car without any problem.
Portinho da Arrábida Beach
Portinho da Arrábida is famous for being the most beautiful beach in the park. Many people come here for snorkeling and scuba diving around the small island of Anixa, which is just across the street. There is also a bar and a maritime museum south of the beach.
The beaches of Galapos and Galapinhos
The coves “Praia dos Galapinhos” and “Praia dos Galapos” are deserved! Access is indeed more complicated, as they are located at the bottom of a steep staircase running along the cliff. The advantage is that they are much less frequented than the other beaches of Arrabida.
The green woods surround these crescents of sand that plunge into the calm and transparent sea. These spots are perfect for diving enthusiasts.
The Arrábida Nature Park can be discovered in various ways: by hiking, boating, paddling, kayaking or snorkeling… Feel free to plan an activity or excursion upstream of your escapade, for example by booking one of the experiences offered by the Airbnb platform.
A day in Sesimbra
30 minutes from Setúbal, Sesimbra is a charming seaside resort adored by the Portuguese. This city is famous for the beauty of its coastline, an impressive fort and particularly well preserved ramparts. It is the ideal place for a day trip.