• Lisbon,  Portugal,  Setúbal

    Setúbal & Tróia – The perfect weekend getaway from Lisbon


    *Article contains affiliate links


    Setúbal & Tróia together are the perfect weekend destination from Lisbon. Setúbal is a cozy fishing town about an hour’s train ride away from Lisbon, and the Setúbal area includes both the Arrábida Natural Park and the idyllic fishing village of Sesimbra, with its cozy surrounding attractions. Setúbal has lots of unspoilt nature, incredibly beautiful beaches, a variety of water activities and stunning hiking sceneries, making it the perfect place to spend a weekend and relax from the hustle and bustle of Lisbon.

    The Troía Península is located opposite the port of Setúbal and is most easily reached by a water taxi, or by a regular ferry. The ferry costs about 7 euros and the water taxi about 5 euros and both can be found in the port. One of my beautiful summer days with a friend I headed across the Sado River from Setúbal to Tróia, just by water taxi, as the ferry had left right in front of our noses and it would have taken an hour for the next one to arrive. A water taxi is a fun and fast way and you can get to just the place you want on the peninsula, but if you don’t like the fast pace and splashing water, I recommend choosing a ferry.


    SETÚBAL – VIBES OF SOUTHERN PORTUGAL

    Setúbal offers a southern Portuguese atmosphere right next to Lisbon. When asked for recommendations for wonderful day trips and weekend getaways from Lisbon, as well as the best beach favorites, I always answer Setúbal. Here I myself have spent numerous successful beach days and entire weekends in the middle of a hectic city life and enjoyed everytime to the fullest. Setúbal is a compact and cozy fishing town with a beautiful old town with its cafés, boutiques and restaurants, as well as a port area and easy access from one place to another. Setúbal is great for walking and public transport, as the train from Lisbon comes right on the edge of the old town, there is a local bus near the beaches and you can always order Uber or a cheaper, local Bolt for other needs.

    In Setúbal, the best thing is to aimlessly stroll through the beautiful streets of the old town and admire their decorations, which can sometimes even surprise you. The streets are full of small boutiques and good cafes for every taste, as well as excellent restaurants, the best of which are worth booking in advance or at least on weekends you should be prepared to queue up if there is no booking. As a local food tip, you should definitely try choco frito, a deep-fried cuttlefish that is a popular treat in Setúbal. Unfortunately, there is no choco frito for vegans and the supply in this fishing town may not be very huge for vegans anyway, but there are some good alternatives and us vegans we don’t have to go hungry either. The HappyCow app is a great guide for vegans around the world looking for restaurants!

    The city’s history is strongly linked to fishing and the sea, as well as the canning industry, and you can learn more about this history at the Museu do Trabalho Michel Giacometti, built in the old canning factory. Outside the museum is also Setúbal’s beautiful observation deck Miradouro de São Domingos, which is somewhat the same style as the Lisbon’s Miradouro de Santa Luzia, but unfortunately the views are not as spectacular as in the Lisbon version.


    TRÓIA PENINSÚLA – WONDERFUL BEACHSIDE AND LUXURY ACCOMMODATION

    The Tróia Peninsula is beautiful and is surrounded by a 13km long white sandy beach coastline. Surrounded by pine trees in Tróia, those looking for peace and luxury are offered affordable accommodation and holiday homes, as well as, of course, a few restaurants from fine dining to bars and basic cafés. You can also shop a bit in Tróia, where you can find, for example, Lacoste and a few other more expensive boutiques for clothing lovers. In addition to accommodation and boutiques, the Port of Tróia also has a Casino, which is certainly not for playing only with a small amount of money. I myself wasn’t terribly interested in this side of luxury and I think all the holiday homes were even quite ugly (at least on the outside) and soulless, and I don’t understand why such a beautiful place has had to be filled with such, but we all like different things of course. Maybe I just don’t really understand “that something” here, heh. 😀

    Tróia’s reputation as a luxury destination dates back to the 1980s, when Tróia Golf Resort was created. This golf course is considered one of the most spectacular ones in Portugal.

    The best thing about the peninsula, in my opinion, is its beautiful coastline, which offers a magnificent seascape as far as the eye can see, as well as views of the Arrábida mountains. On the bay side, the water is calmer and maybe a little warmer (so at least it is claimed, I personally did not agree), and here again there is a more quiet shoreline. So I definitely recommend taking the time and going beyond the peninsula, as here you can also find your own little spot on the beach, without other people nearby.

    Tróia also has the ancient Roman ruins of Cetobriga, located right next to the coastline. These have once served as fish processing facilities, spas and burial sites.


    THE SADO DOLPHINS

    The Sado River runs between Setúbal and the Tróia Peninsula and is home to a flock of bottlenose dolphins. This flock is the only flock of dolphins in Portugal to inhabit locally in a similar bay, and is therefore very interesting and rare. It is known that there are only three similar flocks in Europe. There are an estimated three dozen individuals of these dolphins that are closely monitored and boaters in the area are aware of dolphins and the appropriate way to approach them, at least local people and the professional dolphin tour providers do.

    From both Tróia and Setúbal it is possible to go on a dolphin trip to see these lovely dolphins and there are many ways ranging from catamaran rides to smaller boats and speedboats. Everyone has their side and the difficulty of choice can strike here too, but the main thing is the dolphins, not the boat itself. Personally, I have spent a very comfortable catamaran sailing cruise along the river and searching for dolphins, sunbathing and swimming in the bay, but no dolphins were to be seen on this trip. However, the trip itself was a relaxing and fun experience, so it was nice anyway. I once went on a dolphin-watching trip specifically focused on dolphins, in the middle of heavy rain in a dinghy without a roof, and I didn’t see a single dolphin at the time. This time there wasn’t even a “nice experience” left in my hand and I was already sure these dolphins aren’t even here. 🙂 The third time is the charm though, because, when we finally got to admire the dolphins on the third attempt, the sun was shining and both the dolphins and the experience itself were great.


    ARRÁBIDA NATURAL PARK

    Arrábida is the greatest pride and attraction of Setúbal, with its natural scenery and greenery, as well as its lovely clear natural beaches. These are my own favorite beaches and they are also a little calmer compared to the many natural beaches on the Algarve coast, for example (at least in my opinion).

    READ MORE ABOUT ARRÁBIDA:


    CHECK OUT SOME OTHER AMAZING ACTIVITIES AND SIGHTS AROUND SETÚBAL AREA:


    SAVE AND PIN FOR LATER ON PINTEREST!


    LISBON CARD IS THE BEST CHOICE FOR TRAVELLERS

    Those traveling to Lisbon should also check out the Lisbon Card *, which provides easy access to all forms of public transport, such as metro, bus and tram, as well as trains to Cascais or Sintra. The card also gives you free admission to all the best attractions and museums, as well as discounts on restaurants and cafés. Check it out and get yours here! *


    HAVE YOU BEEN TO SETÚBAL OR TRÓIA? SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES ON THE COMMENTS BELOW! 🙂

    <3: Tiina Johanna

    Remember to follow me on social media too!
    Instagram:@tiinajohannaaa
    Facebook:Kookospalmun alla
    Blogit.fi:Kookospalmun alla

  • Portugal,  Sesimbra,  Setúbal

    Sesimbra & Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo – Portugal’s long-hidden gem


    *Article contains affiliate links

    Sesimbra – That sweetest little fishing village in Portugal charms its visitors time and time again, and I don’t wonder why. Located in the Setúbal district, just over half an hour by train from the center of Lisbon, this old and idyllic gem hides inside it the atmosphere of the old town, the cozy hustle and bustle of the seafront promenade, history, nature and stunning beaches. Be enchanted by the spectacular views from Sesimbra Castle, treat yourself to local food and set out on an adventure to one of the most beautiful beaches in Arrábida Natural Park – Or take on the challenge and hike to the clear sea views of Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo’s secret beach cove!


    WHAT TO DO IN SESIMBRA?

    The center of Sesimbra is full of the atmosphere of the old town and the fishing village, with winding little streets, boutiques and colorful buildings, cozy little restaurants and cafes, as well as interesting details for photography enthusiasts. The center descends to the sunny wide Praia do California beach and its relaxed promenade, with a great variety of restaurants, cafes and bars to suit all tastes and needs.


    SESIMBRA CASTLE

    Next to the town center rises a high mountainside up to the gray Moorish castle of Sesimbra, Castelo dos Mouros. The castle was classified as the National Monument of Portugal in 1910 and the panoramic views of this strategically well placed castle are well worth a visit. There is no entrance fee to the castle and inside its walls you will also find the old cemetery and the church of Santa Maria do Castelo, whose interior walls are decorated with beautiful blue and white azulejos.

    In addition to the Moorish castle, it is also worth visiting the beachfront fortress of Sesimbra, the Fort of Santiago, which now also serves as a maritime museum and to which local fishermen have also donated old artifacts.


    PADDLE BOARDING AT LAGOA DA ALBUFEIRA

    Are you interested in paddle boarding, but the waves of the Atlantic scare you?

    For the first time, we went to experiment paddle boarding with Johanna M., one of the writers of the blog Muu maa Mandariini, in the lagoon of Albufeira, where you can paddle board in peace without too much waves. The lagoon is a good spot for testing your own skills in various water activities, such as windsurfing and sup, as the lagoon has good equipment rentals and guides. This bluishly beautiful lagoon is wonderful to land on the sandbanks in the middle of it to watch crabs, but you should watch your toes, as the crabs may appear surprisingly close!

    At the end of the activities, you can relax on the beach either on the shore of the lagoon, or head to the seaside to jump in the waves and enjoy the views of the Atlantic Ocean.


    HISTORIC CABO ESPICHEL

    The famous Cabo Espichel is located on the westernmost tip of the Setúbal district, about a 15km drive from the center of Sesimbra. Here, the steep rock walls meet the swarming waves and the magnificent coastal landscape still stays in the mind long after the visit.

    The Santuario de Nossa Senhora do Cabo Espichel, in English the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Cape Espichel, has been a popular destination among both pilgrims and scientists. The story goes that this 17th-century site has attracted pilgrims because the Virgin Mary has been seen riding a giant mule along the cliffs in the area. A short distance from the church also rises the lighthouse of Cabo Espichel, which is still in operation and also receives visitors.

    Behind the church is the white chapel of Ermida da Memória, created to mark the place where, according to the story of the Virgin Mary, she appeared. According to the story, the Virgin Mary has ridden this giant mule along a steep rock wall and disappeared just after reaching up, leaving only the large footprints of the mule. Scientists and paleontologists, on the other hand, say the traces are traces of dinosaurs.


    PEDRA DA MUA AND THE DINOSAUR TRACKS

    Pedra da Mua is right next to the church area of Cabo Espichel and if you are interested in prehistoric dinosaurs, this is a must see place. Pedra da Mua is famous for its cliffs where dinosaur footprints have been found. Some of these depressions are very easy to detect, some require slightly more accurate zooming. The traces are believed to be from the late Jurassic period and about 145-200 million years old. The rocks have been covered with water until later emerged and traces revealed from them have been found. I myself am fascinated by these traces of dinosaurs and it was really fun to get to see these, and totally for free.

    READ MORE ABOUT CABO ESPICHEL AND THE DINOSAUR TRACKS OF PEDRA DA MUA:


    PRAIA DO RIBEIRO DO CAVALO

    Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo is definitely one of my own favorite beaches near Lisbon. The beach has remained as fairly secret until the very few years and for a long time only the locals knew about this magnificent natural beach and the hiking trail leading there. However, with the help of social media and bush radio, the word about this beautiful beach cove slowly began to spread more widely and today the place is also known to many tourists, backpackers and locals alike. This beach is truly a bucket list destination for tourists in the Lisbon region, as long as you remember to respect its naturalness and also take with you everything you bring.

    The route to the beach is quite challenging and already requires some good condition, as the trail is really steep to climb in places and at this point the four limbs are not too much at all. Good footwear is an absolute must, flip flops are not even worth bothering. There are no services on the beach, as it is a natural beach bathed in its own beauty, so your own lunch and water are recommended. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have wanted to go the route alone, especially because of my fear of hights, but luckily I managed to do the hike down untouched and the beach below really rewards you at the end. Luckily I had Johanna with me as a guide and a laughing buddy!

    Praia do Ribeiro do Cavalo on Google Maps

    OTHER SIGHTS AND ACTIVITIES IN SESIMBRA AREA:


    SAVE AND PIN ON PINTEREST!


    CHECK OUT THE AMAZING BEACHES AROUND THE ARRÁBIDA NATURAL PARK:


    HAVE YOU BEEN TO SESIMBRA AND PRAIA DO RIBEIRO DO CAVALO? SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES BELOW IN THE COMMENTS! 🙂

    <3: Tiina Johanna

    Follow me on social media!
    Instagram:@tiinajohannaaa
    Facebook:Kookospalmun alla
    Blogit.fi:Kookospalmun alla