Must see attractions in Setúbal Peninsula

  • Sights in Setúbal

    Convento de Jesus

    Setúbal’s man-made wonder is this sand-coloured stunner, the first known example of Manueline architecture, adorned with gargoyles and twirling turrets. Around the altar, 18th-century blue-and-white geometric azulejos contrast strikingly with the curling arches of the roof. Constructed in 1490, the church was designed by Diogo de Boitaca, better known for his later work on Belém’s fantastical Mosteiro dos Jerónimos.

  • Sights in Setúbal Peninsula

    Cristo Rei

    Visible from almost anywhere in Lisbon, the 110m Cristo Rei is a statue of Christ with outstretched arms. The slightly more baroque version of Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer was erected in 1959 to thank God for sparing Portugal from the horrors of WWII. A lift zooms you up to a platform, from where Lisbon spreads magnificently before you.

  • Sights in Setúbal

    Casa da Cultura

    This newish art space has a packed cultural calendar. Wander through changing exhibitions on the main floor, or stop in for an evening concert of jazz trios, classical quartets and world music. The cinema upstairs has a mix of European art-house fare, children's animated films and documentaries.

  • Sights in Setúbal

    Reserva Natural do Estuário do Sado

    This natural reserve protects the Sado Estuary, a biologically rich area of wetlands extending east and south of Setúbal. With more than 250 avian species, this is a prime spot for birdwatching. The little-visited Moinho de Maré da Mouriscas, 8km east of Setúbal, has short walking trails and a bird observatory across the mudflats.

  • Sights in Sesimbra

    Castelo de Sesimbra

    For sweeping views over dale and coast, roam the snaking ramparts of the Moorish castle, rising 200m above Sesimbra. It was taken by Dom Afonso Henriques in the 12th century, retaken by the Moors, then snatched back by Christians under Dom Sancho I.

  • Sights in Setúbal

    Moinho de Maré da Mouriscas

    This former tide mill built in 1601, which also houses a gallery and cafe, is a worthwhile nature-tourism interpretive centre amid prime birdwatching territory at Reserva Natural do Estuário do Sado. Visitors can take two interpretive walks (610m and 870m) and it's a great place to relax in general. To get here without a car, catch bus 780 to the village of Faralhão, from where it is a 15-minute or so walk from the last stop.

  • Sights in Setúbal

    Castelo de São Filipe

    Worth the 500m schlep uphill to the west, the castle was built by Filipe I in 1590 to fend off an English attack on the invincible Armada. Converted into a pousada in the 1960s, its hulking ramparts afford precipitous views, and its chapel is festooned in blue-and-white 18th-century azulejos. It reopened in 2017 after stabilisation renovations.

  • Sights in Parque Natural da Arrábida

    Convento da Arrábida

    Local honey is delicious, especially that produced in the gardens of the whitewashed, red-roofed Convento da Arrábida, a 16th-century former monastery burrowed into the hillside overlooking the sea just north of Portinho (call ahead to schedule a visit).

  • Sights in Setúbal

    Museu do Trabalho Michel Giacometti

    How does the sardine get in the tin and 1001 other fishy mysteries are solved at this quirky, rarely visited museum, set in a former sardine-canning factory. There’s also an entire 1920s grocery store, transported from Lisbon wholesale.

  • Sights in Sesimbra

    Fortaleza de Santiago

    In the town centre, the grandest castle on the sand is 17th-century Fortaleza de Santiago, once part of Portugal’s coastal defences and the summertime retreat of Portuguese kings. It was reopened to much fanfare in 2014 and now includes the stunning Tap House, a small maritime museum (€3), tourist information and the renovated governor's quarters.

  • Sights in Setúbal

    Praça do Bocage

    All streets in the pedestrianised old town seem to lead to this mosaic-cobbled square, presided over by the arcaded bright-purple town hall. It’s a sunny spot for a wander amid the palms and fountains, or for coffee and people-watching on one of the pavement terraces.

  • Sights in Setúbal

    Museu de Arqueologia e Etnografia

    This small, rambling museum showcases prehistoric, proto-historic and Roman collections as well as traditional artefacts of fishing, gathering and salt exploitation, among other popular art and handicrafts.