Portugal City Travel Guide: Setúbal
Setúbal (pronounced shtoo-bal) is located around 50km south of Lisbon and is today a major port and industrial center - without an overly industrial feel.
Setúbal's most famous site is the amazing Igreja de Jesus (open 9am-1pm; 2-5pm; Tues-Sun). Designed by Diogo de Boitaca (whose other work includes the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos in Belém) this incredible church was completed in 1491 and is known as the first Manueline building in Portugal. The high altar is surrounded by blue and white azulejos tiles. The nearby Galeria da Pintura Quinhentista (admission free) displays many of the treasures of the Igreja de Jesus.
The Castelo São Felipe was built to protect the coast in the late sixteenth century and parts of the castle have been converted into a luxury Pousada (guesthouse) complete with a Baroque chapel lined with azulejos celebrating the life of King Philip. The bar, excellent restaurant (known for its local seafood cuisine and muscatel wine) and rampants are open to non-guests, which have great views of the Sado estuary and Tróia peninsula.
Setúbal's other attractions include the pedestrianized parts of the old town especially the streets around Rua A. Castelões, the Museu do Trabalho Michel Giacometti (admission free) which contains traditional agricultural implements collected from around Portugal and even a complete 1920s Lisbon grocery, and the Museu de Arquelogica e Etnografia (admission free) houses a mishmash of exhibits including Roman mosaics and local crafts.
Other things to do around Setúbal include a visit to the local beaches on the Tróia peninsula which can be reached by car ferry from the town, or head farther west to the far-less touristy beaches of the Parque Natural da Arrábida, including Galapos, Figueirinha and Praia de Albarquel. The park is famous for its varied wildlife and the granite ridge Serra da Arrábida which provided the stone for the Igreja de Jesus. Parque Natural da Arrábida can be reached by bus from either Setúbal or Sesimbra - a pleasant seaside town popular as an escape from Lisbon.
Boat trips are a popular excusion with trips up the River Sado in traditional vessels used to transport salt or watching the bottle-nosed dolpins in the river.
There are also numerous organized tours for wine-sampling, cycling or walking in the area with full details on all local activities available from the tourist office.
Igreja de Jesus, Setubal, Portugal
Mist on the estuary, Setubal, Portugal
Municipal turismo Praça do Quebedo (tel. 265 534 402) located near the train station.
Regional turismo Travessa Frei Gaspar (tel. 265 539 120) located off Avenida Luísa Todi; interestingly the turismo has a glass floor revealing a Roman fish condiment factory below.
There are daily trains to Setúbal from Lisbon. You first need to catch a ferry from Terreiro do Paço to Barreiro across the Tejo: the bus is quicker.
Setúbal easily connects with Lisbon via the A12/IP1 and A1 motorways and to Faro and the Algarve via IC1 or E1/IP1.
From the Airport
The nearest airport to Setubal is in Lisbon.
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Setúbal has excellent seafood restaurants - try the western end of Avenida Luísa Todi.
Setúbal is known for its local muscatel. The late night bar scene is also centered on Avenida Luísa Todi.
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The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.