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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:
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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