Posted on 04/08/2022

#Cityguide #Portugal

5 Reasons to Fall in Love with Setúbal in Portugal

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With interesting history and culture, and less than an hour away from Lisbon, Setúbal really is the place to be in Portugal. Being part of a wine and a nature region in the country as well, there will be plenty more to enjoy surrounding the city, as well as a creative vibe that is bound to please any art lover out there. So don't just focus on Lisbon, as there is this absolutely gorgeous place just nearby that you should not miss. Plus it will be less packed with tourists and will therefore be much more relaxing if you are looking for a holiday to unwind. Between the famous Praça do Bocage, named after famous poet Manuel Bocage, the purple city hall designed by architect Raul Lino, and the relaxing and peaceful Long Fountain, there is plenty to love in the city.

Forte De São Filipe

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Built in the 16th century to protect from North African ships that were trying to get into the country, Forte De São Filipe is a beautiful fort that overlooks the estuary and will offer wonderful views over the port. There you can wander around and take in the scenery, visit the chapel covered with blue and white tiles tracing back the life of Saint Philip (giving its name to the fort), and have some relaxing time in the cafeteria enjoying some delicious wine and snacks, as well as taking in all the views over the surroundings. In terms of architecture, you will be amazed by the original structure of the fort, which is built like a star in order to adapt to the grounds. 

Mostcatel wine

Mostcatel wine

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You might think of France or Italy first when you think of some delicious wine tastings, but Portugal can be the perfect place for that as well. Of course, there might be less varieties, or less famous ones at least, but you will still find a great selection, and in particular if you like dessert wines. Made from muscat grapes, it matches perfectly with cheeses and charcuterie, and offers notes of honey, raisin, caramel, dried apricot, or even orange. Besides, if you prefer drier wine to enjoy with a meal, there are many great selections as well, and you will be able to get a tour of vineyards to enjoy some great tasting - for instance in the Quinta de Alcube. 

The food scene

The food scene

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Again, it might not come first as the biggest foodie destination, but Portugal is amazing if you want to try some delicious dishes, and Setúbal is no exception to that. Given its great location by the Atlantic Ocean, it is particularly fantastic for seafood lovers, with many restaurants specializing in shellfish and fishes, and offering particularly squid-like cuttlefish, which is a famous preparation from the city, where you cut the fish into strips, coat it in flour and deep fry it. But that's not all - any foodie out there should definitely make a visit to the Mercado Do Livramento. It is the perfect place to get some fresh seafood such as cod, sea bass, sole, sea bream, sardines, oysters, clams, and squid. However, you should know that there are many other great products to get such as meat, fruit, vegetables, bread, pastries, cheese, flowers, and wine, but just make sure to pick the right time for your visit as it is closed on Mondays. 

Dolphin watching

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Not only can you learn a lot about dolphins in the Sado Estuary Bottlenose Interpretive Center, which is a center focusing on the history and anatomy of bottlenose dolphins, but you can also see them for real, which is much more impressive. Indeed, there are about 30 of them living in the Sado River Estuary, so you can try your luck and try to see them on your own, or you can also get on a specialized boat tour, which is very popular in the area. Of course, there is never an absolute certainty that you will see one, but the advantage is that the crews know their habits and lifestyles very well, so they will get you to the best spots in order to give you the most chances. There are for instance Dolphin Bay and SeaBookings that leave from Lisbon and go all the way to Setúbal to try and see some dolphins. Besides, the area is also famous for its flamingoes, and you can take a tour at the Reserva Natural do Estuário do Sado if you want to see them up close. 

Enjoy the art scene

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If you wander through the historical center, you will immediately realize that there is plenty to see if you're interested in art. From street decorations, structures, statues and galeries, the urban art is very much present in Setúbal. You will be able to admire for instance the ceramic sculptures called Pasmadinhos by Maria Pó, or the large lady sculptures from João Duarte. But you should also know that there are often exhibits in the local café Rota Dos Saberes E Sabores, as well as plenty of musical programmations and local art in Casa Da Baía, which is a municipal space offering plenty of space to promote local culture and artists.