Setúbal is a coastal town, known for its fishing activities, traditions and industrial area. It's the capital of the Setúbal district. You might also want to check out Serra da Arrábida, for the nature part of Setúbal.
The ride from Lisbon airport to the center of Setubal costs around 60 Euros. Watch out for taxi ripp-offs. You can do a booking in advance thru National Taxi Dispatch Service (contacts on the website). This way you can assure you pay just the fair amount.
You can access Setúbal using the Fertagus train, departing from Lisbon's Roma–Areeiro, Entre campos, Sete Rios and Campolide railway stations every hour (off-peak hours) or every half hour (peak hours). The journey lasts around fifty minutes and ends at Setúbal central station.
It shouldn't be a problem to find your way, Setúbal is a major town in the area, so, if you are around, you will have signs to point out your way. Use the A12 or A2 motorways. It's 55 km away from Lisbon Airport. Some of the main national road networks, as IP1 , the IP7, the EN10, the A2 and A12, guarantee quick and convenient connections to the rest of the country, as well as the all the Iberian Peninsula.
There are buses that serve from Lisbon to Setúbal everyday and almost every hour a day, if you're in the capital it won't be a problem. There are also buses that serve the surrounding area towns.
The troia is a peninsula near Setúbal, and that is probably the only way to commercially reach Setúbal by boat. You can reach Setubal (from Troia) by ferryboat or catamaran. You can check schedules here.
Buses serve the whole town and are generally OK on schedules and quality.
The city of Setubal is a modern busy city of 120,000 people with a major port (Portugal's 3rd largest) and a fairly large industrial sector. The main attraction for the tourist is the lack of foreign tourists: the city (and the Tróia peninsula to the South) is attracting more visitors from Lisbon, other parts of Portugal and even Spain. The central Avenida Luísa Todi is a handsome tree-lined boulevard with a pretty fountain in the centre and coffee shops dotted here and there along its length. The covered market halfway along Luisa Todi is a joy: a large, clean and thriving commercial centre with fruit and vegetable, bread and cakes and fish stalls carefully laid-out within. Prices are rock-bottom and quality is high. Off Luisa Todi is the fine Bocage Square, with a splendid statue in its centre celebrating Setubal's renowned poet and a number of cafes and restuarants living the sides. Running off the square in several directions are a labyrinth of small streets with boutiques, shops and small cafes; here and there the streets open up to squares with a small church or monument. Following these old town streets eastwards the visitor climbs towards the high-point overlooking the Troia car ferry and culminating in the excellent Work Museum, celebrating the city's long industrial heritage. At the western end of the old town, west of Bocage Square sits the Jesus Church, a unique architectural structure with superb entwined colums inside holding up a horizontally-aligned sanctuary. To the rear sit the cloisters of the convent and beyond them one of the surprises of the town - a collection of 16th century local art, mostly biblical paintings, some of which formed an altar surround for the church. They are of very high quality and deserve a visit. At night, Setubal's streets fill with the aromas of char-grilled fish. The best restaurants are said to lie on the seafront near the fishing port at the western end of town. Local delicacies include Choco Frito (fried cuttlefish) and grilled Salmonette, a pink river-fish highly prized by the locals. Prices are remarkably low; around 20-30euros per person including wine is normal. There is a lot to admire in the surrounding areas: the Castle of Palmela, the Tróia Peninsula (quite adorable beach and architecture with the new luxury resorts), Serra da Arrábida (combining mountain areas, picnic spaces and the beach), the beautiful beaches and traditional fishing places in Sesimbra, the ancient but modern big cities of Almada and Seixal (closer to Lisbon) overlooking the Tejo (Tagus river), are all quite nice & lovely. Sesimbra has been developed somewhat in recent years and has suffered in the process: large-scale developments have robbed the town of its small-scale feel and the promenade has declined as a result, with ugly tourist shops and a slightly soul-less feel has developed.
Setubal is a pleasant city to wander around in, visit shops and admire the very scenic small old streets in the old part of town. The fishing port is picturesque and colourful. From the bus station, links operate to Sesimbra, Almeda, Lisbon and other local destinations. A roofless bus operates to Figueiras, a pleasant beach some 4-5km west of Sesimbra. The trip takes the traveller through the edges of the National Park and winds round a river and through a cement factory before arriving at Figueiras. Tidal patterns are slightly hazardous off this part of the coast and lifeguards are zealous in applying local rules about where to swim. The other beach options lie to the south, over the Sado estuary on the Tróia peninsula. In the high season a half-hourly catamaran service operates, taking some 10 minutes to ply the route to the newly-completed harbour and marina on the tip of the Troia peninsula. Here, after passing in front of Troia's upmarket flats, restaurants and casino, the visitor is led onto a stilted walkway which winds its way to the beaches facing west onto the Atlantic. The water is therefore bracing rather than welcoming. There are one or two companies offering trips to view the local dolphins; many of these book up quite early, so it is wise to book in advance.
There are several schools in Setúbal, and recently opened a Polytechnic Institute that is becoming nationwide famous for its quality. It offers courses on the most varied areas ranging from Sports to Business Administration, Nursing or Mechanical Engineering.
There are many shops spread around the city, as normal. In the Luisa Todi area you will find many small shops and bigger clothing shops mostly. For bigger commercial areas, there's the Aranguês Mall, which is well, not very big, but has a nice selection of stores. Theres the De Borla/Aqua park, where you can find some big and good appliances and eletronics shops. The biggest shopping mall in the city is called Alegro, with over 100 stores and restaurants. It also has cinemas, health club, etc. It's the main place for shopping and recreation activities.
There are many typical restaurants where you can eat good grilled fish and typical food. There's also a good deal of fast-food shops and pizza places. You can also find Indian and Japanese food.
There's a nice selection of bars in Setúbal downtown.
Taifa Cafe Bar is a new space on Avenida Luisa Todi 558. It offers free wi-fi, a wide range of drinks, snacks and tapas, relaxed atmosphere and good music. []
The most hotels and accommodation you can find are probably downtown (once again, Luisa Tody venue) and there's also an hotel near the Bonfim, which is near the bus station.
In the heart of the Alentejo region, 30 km from Alcácer do Sal and over the Vale do Gaio dam, stands the beautiful Pousada of Torrão, Vale do Gaio.
This nature hotel has a beautiful chapel and it is encircled in a magnificent landscape crossed by a refreshing river, terraced gardens and a swimming pool are located where the former watering reservoir used to be.
São Filipe's historical Pousada is installed in a fort from the late XVII century. This historic luxury hotel has a breathtaking view over the River Sado estuary from its terrace.
This historic luxury hotel is located on top of an imposing hill, and it is one of the best architectural fortresses in Portugal, specially known for its location and the magnificent views that it has to offer.
The Pousada de Alcácer do Sal, D. Afonso II, is a luxury hotel situated in the thousand year old Alcácer castle that overlooks the river Sado, which runs through a vast green valley.
Setúbal is considered a generally safe area but it has some of the major problematic neighbourhoods in the country. There are some parts of the city you might want to avoid, but the shabbiness will warn you of that. By day even in those parts you shouldn't have any problems, however, be cautious. Take the usual precautions, mostly at night in Setúbal downtown, but usually you won't have a problem. Avoid being alone but if you find yourself in that situation just walk in very well lit places and with many people around or call/grab a taxi to take you to your destination.