Oct 2019

What to do in Setúbal, Portugal?

comporta

If you are on holiday in Comporta, Portugal, do not hesitate to go to Setúbal for a day trip. This city 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 nature reserve of the Sado estuary, and if you are lucky you may even see dolphins.

The weather in Setúbal is mild all year round. This port city is a destination that is only 45 minutes from Lisbon. It has a charming old quarter, an impressive fort, the beautiful church of Jesus (Convento de Jesus), 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.

What to do in Setúbal, Portugal

Setúbal Old Town

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 the main Luisa Todi avenue, which is lined with traditional buildings and old mansions or museums, as well as the docks of the fishing port.

A lively market

Stop at the beautiful «Mercado do Livramento» market in the morning, at the busiest hours. It is often considered the best in Portugal for fish and fresh produce. You’ll also find other things, such as local handicrafts and beautiful displays of fruit and vegetables. 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 small colourful wooden boats. You can admire them while strolling along the docks. It is the ideal place to take beautiful photographs at sunset. On the Doca dos Pescadores you will also find excellent fish restaurants, especially sardines and fresh seafood. The fried cuttlefish, «choco frito», is a local specialty 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 Sado estuary from attacks by pirates and North African looters. This important star-shaped building was built under the orders of King Dom Filipe I.

From the top of its impregnable ramparts, one can enjoy a breathtaking view of the city and the Sado nature reserve. The café on the ramparts is probably the best placed in all of Setúbal. It is the ideal place to enjoy a glass of Setúbal Moscatel while admiring the Tróia Peninsula.

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 extends over 25 hectares and includes several buildings, sanctuaries and woods overlooking the Setúbal Peninsula.

Founded in 1542 by a Castilian monk, Friar 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 this is where the vision of the Virgin Mary riding a mule on the hillside 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, sanctuaries and hermitage cells scattered over the hills.

The Convento da Arrábida ceased to be a monastery in the 1830s. After many years of neglect, it was bought 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 the Fundação Oriente. This cultural foundation now organizes retreats and seminars there. The monument remains open for guided tours from Wednesday to Sunday.

Where to stay in Setúbal, Portugal?

Alma de Comporta

At 1h from Lisbon, Alma da Comporta offers rentals of typical Comporta huts and villas. Located in front of the rice fields and close to the beaches, it is the ideal place to spend holidays with family or friends. The architecture of the houses follows the codes of the fishermen’s huts of the region and the decoration is simple and warm. The rooms are pleasant, bathed in sunshine and open to the surrounding nature. The swimming pools overlook the wild meadows of Comporta. The services and attentions of the hosts will finish to make your stay unforgettable. Discover here our holiday rentals in Comporta.

The best restaurants of Setúbal in Portugal

Xtória

The Chef of this restaurant pays particular attention to local products and seasonality. «So we have created an original menu with traditional products but reinterpreted,» explains Rute. The menu changes every three months to keep up with seasonality. The dishes are fresh and exquisite.

Rua Guilherme Gomes Fernandes, 17 – Setúbal

Casa Santiago

It was this establishment that created Choco Frito in 1974. This dish has since become very famous in Portugal. It is served here in thin strips fried with pork bacon. We advise you to enjoy them on bread.

Avenida Luísa Todi 92 – Setúbal

Tasca do Zé Maria

A restaurant «in its juice», but its shells are delicious. The menu is written on a board on the wall. You can usually find clams, crab, fried or boiled shellfish and their specialty: fried cuttlefish eggs.

The beaches of Setúbal in Portugal

Unlike the Atlantic coast, the beaches of Setúbal are protected from currents by sandbanks. This means that there are few waves and this is appreciated with young children.

The locals come here in great 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

Figueirinha beach is the largest of the beaches in Arrábida. Its fine sand and calm sea are ideal for families and for swimming without worrying about the waves.

There is a bar, restaurant, toilets, as well as lifeguards and sun loungers 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 reputed to be the most beautiful beach in the park. Many people come here for snorkeling, birdwatching and scuba diving around the small island of Anixa, which is just opposite. There is also a bar and a maritime museum south of the beach.

The beaches of Galapos and Galapinhos

The superb creeks «Praia dos Galapinhos» and «Praia dos Galapos» deserve it! Access is indeed more complicated, as they are at the bottom of a steep staircase that runs along the cliff. The advantage is that they are much less frequented than the other beaches of Arrabida.

Green woods surround these crescents of sand that plunge into the calm and transparent sea. These spots are perfect for diving enthusiasts.

There are various activities to discover the Arrábida Natural Park: hiking, boating, paddling, kayaking or snorkelling along the coast. Don’t hesitate to plan an excursion upstream of your trip, for example by booking one of the experiences offered by the Airbnb platform.

If you have time… A short visit to Sesimbra

At 30 minutes from Setúbal, Sesimbra is a pleasant tourist resort adored by the Portuguese. This city is famous for the beauty of its coastline, an impressive fort and its particularly well-preserved ramparts. It is the ideal place for a day trip.

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