A pretty town on Portugal's west coast, Setúbal is a location that attracts visitors because of its historical, architectural and cultural heritage.
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Setúbal is an ancient and picturesque town along the southwestern coast of Portugal. Bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, the town’s strategic location has made it since Roman times an important trading port and a location famous for harvesting salt and storing food in salting barrels. Now Setúbal not only boasts the country’s third-largest port, after those of Lisbon and Porto, but is also an important tourist center characterized by distinctive neighborhoods and sites of great interest.

The city sits on the Setúbal Peninsula in a scenic bay at the mouth of the Sado River at the foot of the protected area known as Serra de Arrabida, which is a popular area for hikers and bikers. This area of the city’s territory, in fact, is included in the Parque Natural da Arràbida, a protected park that turns out to be the perfect destination for a day trip filled with nature and relaxation.

What to see in Setúbal

From being an old fishing village, Setúbal has now transformed itself into a pretty town on the Portuguese coast that welcomes visitors with its cobblestone streets surrounded by colorful buildings and old churches.

Dominating the town from above is St. Philip’s Castle built in the 16th century, while the waterfront area is perfect for enjoying excellent local cuisine such as grilled fish and the famous choco frito, or breaded fresh squid.

Don’t miss a stroll down the main pedestrian street, Avenida Luisa Todi, where you will also find Setúbal’s municipal market, which is a unique place to admire glimpses of the inhabitants’ daily lives.

San Felipe Castle

1Estr. do Castelo de São Filipe, 2900-300 Setúbal, Portogallo

San Felipe Castle is a fortress commissioned in the late 16th century by Philip II of Spain, who commissioned the Italian engineer Filippo Terzi to design it. Construction work, however, was later completed by architect Leonardo Torriana. Even today it is still possible to admire this complex, which has a star shape and a double wall for defense. The stronghold was used to defend against attacks by English invaders and pirates, and during the years of Portuguese rule the walls were strengthened and an underground stone tunnel was built for possible escapes.

Inside, the fortress has managed to retain some buildings from its glorious past such as the former governor’s residence and a small chapel. The chapel still holds decorations with 18th-century azulejos depicting scenes from the life of St. Philip. From the castle, it is also possible to admire a beautiful view from above not only of Setúbal but also of the distant Tróia peninsula. Inside the fortress there is currently a luxury inn (pousada) with restaurant where it is possible to stay overnight.

Setúbal Cathedral

2R. Dr. António Joaquim Granjo no 31, 2900-475 Setúbal, Portogallo

The city cathedral also known as the Church of St. Mary of Grace is located in the heart of the medieval village of Setúbal. Its origins seem to date back to the 13th century, and it was around the church that the city later developed. The building we can now admire, however, is a reconstruction that took place in the Renaissance period between 1565 and 1570. On the outside we can admire a Mannerist facade, while inside there are white and blue azulejos made in the 19th century depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin.

Ethnographic and Archaeological Museum

3Av. Luísa Todi 162, 2900-451 Setúbal, Portogallo

The Ethnographic and Archaeological Museum of Setúbal is a site of great interest that has two different sections: the archaeological and the ethnographic.

The archaeological section includes materials found in the area ranging from the Paleolithic to the time of the ancient Romans. In particular, coins, amphorae and numerous other objects from the Roman era can be admired. In theethnographic area, on the other hand, the site features materials related to fishing, salt production, agriculture, and local crafts.

Palácio da Bacalhôa

4Estrada Nacional 10, 2925-901 Azeitão, Portogallo

The gardens of Quinta da Bacalhôa are a beautiful example of an Italian Renaissance garden created in Portugal. The gardens were built in the 16th century by Bràs de Albuquerque a great sailor who after visiting Italy had fallen in love with the Renaissance villas and beautiful gardens of the Italian peninsula. So Bràs wanted to replicate the same style in Portugal and therefore commissioned the construction of a villa and garden on a peninsula south of Lisbon.

Inspired by Italian gardens those at Quinta da Bacalhôa are a true masterpiece with green plants, fountains and statues. Since the mid-20th century the property has also housed a productive winery, so it is possible not only to take a tour to discover the gardens and the villa but also the wine estate. Here in addition to discovering the museum you can have tastings of local wines.

Parque Natural da Arrábida


The Arrabida Natural Park is an oasis surrounded by greenery that makes it possible to spend relaxing days in nature. The deep green of the park here joins with the blue of the Atlantic Ocean creating landscapes of wonderful colors. The park can be discovered by walking or biking trails and is characterized by the presence of cork forests, pines, eucalyptus and meadows covered with aromatic shrubs.

Areas of greenery combine with sheer cliffs where caves and coves can be found. There is also no shortage of beaches (such as Praia de Albarquel) that are the ideal place not only for sunbathers and relaxers but also for divers, snorkelers, and water sports enthusiasts.

Igreja do Convento de Jesus

6R. Acácio Barradas 2, 2900-197 Setúbal, Portogallo

This church was erected in the late 15th century in the Gothic-Manueline style, the Portuguese variant of late Gothic that became widespread in the 16th century during the reign of Manuel I. Designed by architect Diogo Boitac in 1494, when visiting the church one can see the tendency to use maritime motifs in the architecture, such as the intertwined colonnettes that resemble twisted naval ropes. Adjacent to the church is a convent that has been converted into a museum, inside which you can see the collection of Portuguese and Flemish paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries.


In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article

Where to stay in Setúbal

The center of Setúbal is small and intimate but still boasts a fair number of facilities in which to stay. Prices are lower than in other Portuguese cities because the city is not yet included in the main tourist itineraries to discover the country. For a nature vacation, you can book an accommodation that is located within the Arrabida Natural Park.

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How to get to Setúbal

Setúbal can be easily reached from Lisbon by car, train or bus. The city is about 50 km from Lisbon and can be reached by car along the A2. Those who want to travel by bus can use the lines of the Transportes Sul do Tejo company, which make it possible to reach Setúbal from Lisbon in less than an hour. The train is also an excellent option since it takes about 50 minutes to reach the city from Lisbon without the need for a change. The nearest airport is Lisbon.

Setúbal Weather

What's the weather at Setúbal? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Setúbal for the next few days.

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Where is located Setúbal

Setúbal is located in the Lisbon region, along the west coast of Portugal, in the south-central area. The city is 50 km from Lisbon and 76 km from Sintra.

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