13 Best Things to Do & See in Setubal

Sadly overlooked by many visitors, Setúbal has an impressive location and delightful old town ambience. Within easy reach of Lisbon, it sits just opposite the sandy beaches of the Troia Peninsula.

It was the sardine industry which led to the creation of the many attractive pedestrianised streets, shady green spaces and splashing fountains which can be enjoyed today. Understandably, the oldest sections of the town wrap around its harbour, the third largest in Portugal. Used as moorings since ancient Roman times, it has more recently acted as a gateway to the Reserva Natural do Estuário do Sado (Sado Estuary Nature Reserve). Its waters are home of a pod of dolphins, while the vineyards of the muscatel wine region are also close by.

Showing 1 - 13 of 13

  • Quinta da Bacalhôa
    Quinta da Bacalhôa
    Theo França | BY-SA

    The gardens at Quinta da Bacalhôa in Setúbal were first laid out in the sixteenth-century during the Renaissance period. Fully-restored to their former glory in the 1930s, today the gardens continue to demonstrate the fashionable styles of the period. These are typified by neat knot-gardens of box wood and shaped topiary bushes rather than the free-form naturalistic design that became common in later centuries.

    Evoking the grand gardens of Italy in form, it is also dotted with stone fountains, statues and pavilions that draw the eye. The gardens are open from 10am – 5pm, Monday to...

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    Setúbal
    Gardens Palaces and Historic Houses
  • Convento da Nossa Senhora da Arrábida
    Convento da Nossa Senhora da Arrábida
    Diogoworld | BY-SA

    Set among the pine covered hills of the Serra da Arrabida this complex of 16th century building was originally a Franciscan monastery. The site covers around 25 hectares and contains a number of buildings, shrines and woodland.

    Founded in 1542 by a Castilian monk, Friar Martinho de Santa Maria, the convent was built on land owned by the Duke of Aveiro - D. João de Lencastre. This particular site was chosen not only for its lovely views over the Arrabida Hills but because it was where a vision of the Virgin Mary riding a...

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    Sesimbra Setúbal
    Churches
  • Cristo Rei - Lisbon
    Cristo Rei

    Standing at over 110 metres tall on the opposite bank of the Tejo to Lisbon is Cristo Rei. Built between 1949-59 the statue was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.

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    Lisbon
    Monuments
  • Arrabida Natural Park
    Arrabida Natural Park
    Senyrah | BY-SA

    The Serra da Arrábida Natural Park (Parque Natural da Arrábida) covers an area of over 100 square kilometres and is only about a 30 minute drive south from the capital city of Lisbon. It was given protected status as a national park in 1976 to preserve its natural beauty. Whilst the park and its beaches are popular with day trippers from the city, few tourists are aware of its existence. The landscape was once used as a backdrop to the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service during the scene when Bond’s newlywed wife is killed in a drive-by shooting. The...

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    Sesimbra Setúbal
    Natural
  • Castelo de Palmela
    Castelo de Palmela
    Roman Danylych | BY-SA

    Palmela Castle stands at an altitude of 1,200 metres and provides panoramic views of the Serra da Arrabida, the vineyards below and the Tagus and Sado Rivers.  In good weather it is even possible to see Lisbon around 40km to the north.

    It is thought that the Romans had a settlement here and then the Moors who later occupied this region built a fortress here around the 8th century.  By the 12th century the Islamic forces had been driven out and from then until 15th century the castle served as an important Portuguese military stronghold.  It was later...

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    Palmela Setúbal
    Castles
  • Sesimbra Castle
    Sesimbra Castle
    bernswaelz

    The North African Moors, mainly originating from Morocco, occupied southern and central Portugal from 8th until 12th/13th centuries.  It was they who first built a fortress above the picturesque fishing village of Sesimbra in the 10th century. 

    In 1165 troops believed to have been led by King Afonso Henriques, with the help of Frankish Crusaders captured the castle, which was later re-built and underwent significant works of restoration in the early 20th century. 

    Today visitors can reach the castle via an exhilarating hike ascending 230 metres from...

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    Sesimbra
    Castles
  • Fortaleza de São Filipe
    Fortaleza de São Filipe
    Filipe Rocha | BY-SA

    The Fortaleza de São Filipe (Fort of St Philip) dominates the skyline above Setubal.  It can be reached from the town below by an exhilarating 30-minute hike or by road. 

    Today the fort is home to an upmarket 16-room Pousada hotel, but because this means the building is open to the public, casual visitors are free to explore the ramparts, grounds and battlements to take in the panoramic views of Setubal, the shimmering Atlantic and the Troia Peninsula. Why not book an evening meal in the hotel's restaurant...

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    Setúbal
    Castles
  • Casa da Baía - Setubal
    Casa da Baía
    Patrick Nouhailler | BY-SA

    With its dark blue plasterwork and contrasting pale stonework windows, it's not hard to spot Setúbal's Casa da Baía, or House of the Bay. Only a short walk from the town's main square, the Praça de Bocage, it was built in the aftermath of the devastating Lisbon earthquake of 1755 as a home for orphans and widows. Many were buried in the cloister grounds after their deaths.

    The ambience that surrounds the Casa da Baía is a much happier one today. The building serves as an exhibition space for people to learn about the natural environment (with information in both Portuguese and...

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    Setúbal
    Museums and Galleries Palaces and Historic Houses
  • Monastery of Jesus - Setúbal
    Monastery of Jesus - Setúbal
    Georges Jansoone | BY-SA

    Setubal's Monastery of Jesus was built in the 1490s as a convent for Poor Clare nuns, a Franciscan order. The building represents some important moments in Portuguese architecture being one of the earliest examples of the Manueline School of Architecture.

    The outside of the Arrabida Stone church has no spire and features a rectangular nave leading to the polygonal apse at one end and a bell tower at the other. Inside of the church the nave is unusually narrow and features attractive twisted columns carved from pale...

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    Setúbal
    Churches
  • Mercado do Livramento - Setubal
    Mercado do Livramento

    Foodies with adore Setúbal's indoor Mercado do Livramento. It's an incredible place to head to sample those typical Portuguese flavours from bacalhau (salt-dried cod) to pasteis de nata (custard tarts). The array of fresh produce on sale here is simply mesmerising, with around 300 independent vendors all housed under the one roof. The fact that the market remains an integral part of Setúbal life and culture makes the market all the more impressive to behold.

    Wander this vast warehouse-like space to soak up the atmosphere, or make your way among the stalls to pick and choose the very...

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    Setúbal
    Industrial Unusual
  • Museu de Arqueologia e Etnografia, Setubal
    Museu de Arqueologia e Etnografia

    A short wander north from the harbour, Setúbal's Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography (Museu de Arqueologia e Etnografia) is located on the busy Avenida Luisa Todi thoroughfare.

    The museums archaeological displays are focussed around the Roman origins of the city 1500 years ago. Its impressive ethnographic collection instead helps to unravel the local customs and culture of the region, from farming to spinning and other handicrafts.

    The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday (with a gap for lunch around midday). Admission is free.

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    Setúbal
    Museums and Galleries
  • Casa do Corpo Santo - Setubal
    Casa do Corpo Santo
    Viet-hoian1 | BY-SA

    The Casa do Corpo Santo (House of the Holy Body) is also known as the Museum of the Baroque. Situated close to one of the remaining sections of city wall that have protected Setúbal from attack for centuries, its own exterior perimeter wall and simple marble name plate give little away about what you might find inside.

    This includes several relics from when the Casa do Corpo Santo was first built in the early 1700s, alongside beautiful blue and white tiling decoration added roughly 150 years later which lines many of the rooms from the floors to chest height.

    The selection of...

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    Setúbal
    Museums and Galleries Palaces and Historic Houses
  • Troia Roman Ruins
    Troia Roman Ruins
    RitaBatalha94 | BY-SA

    The Roman Ruins of Troia (Troia Ruinas Romanas), span 500 years of history starting back at the beginning of the first millennium. The lives of the ancient Roman occupants of the city during this time can be explored and understood through what they left behind – cemeteries, heated bathhouses, and even stone tanks for pickling and otherwise preserving fish for shipment right around the empire.

    Located opposite Setúbal on the north-western side of the Troia Peninsula, the complex includes almost 200 different fish-processing tanks, demonstrating the vast scales that were being used...

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    Setúbal
    Unusual
Setúbal

Setúbal travel guide »

Setubal and its surrounding area are awash with history dating back to before the Roman period, indeed it is said that the town was founded by a relative of Noah. Its relationship with the sea is also remarkably long-lived...