Setúbal is a city in the Lisbon Region of Portugal, in the Setubal Peninsula subregion. It's part of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club and it's very known for it's paradisiac nature (mountain, sea and beaches).
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.
Starting from the art of Portuguese tiles to the dance of the dolphins, Baroque Style Churches from the Sado Natural Reserve , the Bocage Heritage to the unique flora of Arrabida, nature and culture are part of a brave new world, waiting for you.
Just off the busy and bustling city we get the unreal, peaceful scenery of Arrabida. In its mysteries and its silences, on its beaches and its absorbing scenarios, in its convents and fortresses, in the flora and fauna, lives much of the the fascination that makes the Setúbal Peninsula a very unique region in the World.
City facing the sea
The fishermen and their boats, the river and the sea are inseparable from the identity of Setúbal. The colouring of the hundreds of boats anchored along the riverfront contrasts with the bronze tanned skin of men of toil. People of the sea, accustomed to overcome all challenges, with peculiar wisdom and humour, able to paint pictures with words that make anyone mesmerized.
Commerce with tradition
It is in the downtown area that one can find much of the traditional trading. Stores for every taste, with representations of some of the most recognized global brands, mingle with others from older times, where one can discover some rarities and less conventional products. But the downtown does not live solely of commerce. culture peeks around every turn, some buildings are living testimonies of a city that grew, which is modernized, all without forgetting its historical centre. Practically all the downtown streets converge to Praça do Bocage, one of the key meeting points of the people of Setúbal and those visiting the city. The esplanades of the square - dedicated to one of the greatest figures of Portuguese poetry - invites you to take a break. While enjoying a refreshing drink, let yourself be surprised by the street artists that animate the town's noble area. The statue of the poet Bocage, with his eyes fixed on the sea, is the landmark of the busiest square in the City. Almost no one can resist taking a picture with the monument that honours "Elmano Sadino". Right up ahead, we highlight the main avenue of the city, dedicated to Luísa Todi, born in Setúbal in 1753 and recognized as one of the greatest names ever in lyric singing . It is also in the Praça do Bocage that lays the building of the Town Hall, where the City Council operates.
Arrábida Natural Park
Considered one of the most beautiful mountains due to is location near the sea and the richness of its biodiversity, Arrábida, shows peculiar features in terms of climate and vegetation, particularly Mediterranean characteristics . The Mountain, stand out unique species and is endowed with moderate temperatures, the name comes from Arabic and means "place of prayer". From 1976, Arrábida Natural Park ensures the protection of some 11 thousand hectares of area, most of them facing the sea and from which you can admire stunning views. A superb scenery of a mountain with little more 500 feet tall but impressive to look into an clear water ocean. go through the mountain in a undulating road , invites you to slow down the pace, you can find the most idyllic places, from beaches to charming valleys. Stand out from areas where vegetation retains features closest to the originals as "Mata do Solitário", "Mata do Vidal" and "Mata Coberta", classified as nature reserves. wild cat ( Felis silvestris), European mink (Mustela), weasel (Mustela nivalis), fox (vulpes vulpes), hare ( Lepus capensis), Bonelli's eagle (Aquila fasciata) and rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are among the more than two hundred registered species . But the land isn't the only thing that is protected. The richness of the underwater Arrabida region is such that this is the only existing marine park throughout the all continental Portugal.
Human mark in Arrabida Mountain
Besides the unique natural heritage, Arrabida is rich in heritage building. The Fortress of "S.. Filipe", The Fort of "Santa Maria", and the Arrabida Convent are examples of a secular harmonious coexistence between human work and nature. Situated on the southern slope of the mountain, Arrabida Convent , was founded in 1542 by Franciscan friars, has an architecture that , due to its characteristics and volumes modesty , seems more like a work of nature than of man. Occupied by monks until 1834, is currently used for cultural purposes by Fundação Oriente. Another pearl of Arrábida, a mandatory visit, is the fortress of " S.. Filipe". Transformed into an inn in the twentieth century, the panorama from the sixteenth century fortification is superb. The views over the town, the Setubal Bay , Troia Peninsula, the Sado river and the ocean are indescribable. Located in Portinho Arrábida, overlooking the sea, The "Santa Maria" Fort, built in 1670, by order of King . Pedro II, order to protect the coastal zone, Also worth a visit. Nowadays , converted into the Oceanographic Museum and a center for marine biology, property of the Arrabida Natural Park.
Although with special features, the beaches of Setubal share a feature which makes them unique: are all inserted in the Arrabida Natural Park . The Portinho Arrabida, chosen as one 7 Portugal's Seven Natural Wonders, has a inlet that serves as a mirror of the green of the mountain, which lies over sand. Propitious to scuba diving, be captivated by the unique flora and fauna existing into the clear waters of Portinho. The calm sea and the beauty of the surrounding countryside makes the beaches famous all over the country and world. In 2017, Galapinhos beach was elected best beach in Europe by European Best Destinations (https://www.europeanbestdestinations.com/best-beaches-in-europe-2017/).
Lisbon International Airport
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. Uber is also now available in Setúbal as of 2018.
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.
You can reach Setubal (from Tróia) by ferryboat or catamaran. You can check schedules here.
Getting around won't be a problem in Setúbal. The whole central part of the city is not that huge and you can just walk to everywhere. Buses (Transportes Sul do Tejo) serve the whole town and are generally OK on schedules and quality. Taxis and Ubers also serve the city with good coverage.
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.
Vitória FC (Vitória de Setúbal), the city famous team plays in the Portuguese 1st division football league. The club is one of the biggest in Portugal and has rich history. A visit to the good old Estádio do Bonfim (Bonfim Stadium) to watch a football match is recommended so you can connect more with the locals.
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 other cuisines like Indian, Chinese, Italian or 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.
Tourism Casa da Baía – Tourism Promotion Center Avenida Luísa Todi, n. º 468 2900-000 Setubal Portugal
Phone.:+351 265 545 010 Email: [email protected]
GNR – Guarda Nacional Republicana Avenida Jaime Cortesão 2910 Setubal Phone.:+351 265 522 018 Fax: +351 265 522 028
PSP – Polícia de Segurança Pública Avenida 22 de Dezembro, n. º 2 - 2. º 2900 Setubal Phone.:+351 265 522 022 Fax: +351 265 228 913 Transport
CP – Comboios de Portugal Estação dos Caminhos de Ferro – Estrada dos Ciprestes 2900 Setubal Phone.:+351 265 238 802 www.cp.pt
Fertagus Estação do Pragal, Porta 23 2800 Almada Phone.:+351 211 066 300 Customer Support: 707 127 127 Fax: 212 949 799 www.fertagus.pt
Transado – Transportes Fluviais do Sado, SA Doca do Comércio 2900 Setubal Phone.:+351 265 235 101 Fax:+351 265 534 962 atlanticferries.pt
Buses Transportes Sul do Tejo Avenida 5 de Outubro 2900-308 Setubal Phone.:+351 265 538 440 Fax:+351 265 524 458 www.tsuldotejo.pt
Hospital de S. Bernardo Rua Camilo Castelo Branco 2900-446 Setubal Phone.:+351 265 549 000 Fax:+351 265 238 066
Hospital da Luz Estrada Nacional, 10 – Km 37 2904-540 Setubal Phone.:+351 265 509 200 Fax:+351 265 509 399
Public Health Line - Saúde 24 24h costumer care line Counseling and referral to health problems Phone.: 808 242 424
Municipal Civil Protection Quartel dos Bombeiros Sapadores – Estrada de Algeruz 2910 Setubal Phone.:+351 265 739 330 |+351 265 739 335 Fax:+351 265 772 054 Usefull Numbers
SEF - Foreigners and Borders Service Avenida do Casal de Cabanas Urbanização Cabanas Golf, n. º 1 2734-506 Barcarena Contact Centre Phone.:+351 808 202 653 (fixed network) |+351 808 962 690 (mobile network) Fax:+351 214 236 640
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.