Setubal, Evora and Santarem. All three cities were new destinations for us while spending a month in Portugal. Each offered its own historic charm and hospitality. Our first stop was Setubal. We rented an apartment and spent four easy carefree days relaxing before adventuring further.

The Red-eye Flight

We landed in Lisbon after a red-eye flight from Washington, DC. I still debate the whole red-eye versus day flights conundrum. Although, on this occasion the red-eye worked out quite well. Abi and I each had an aisle seat across from each other and an empty middle seat next to us. Room to stretch out a bit lent itself to a few hours of sleep. Are you on team red-eye, or team day flight?


We didn’t know what to expect, but we loved Setubal. It’s a lovely little city (population approx. 121,000) that is also an industrial port city. Industrial doesn’t exactly conjure up the description of lovely, but there you go. Anytime we can walk along an ocean-front promenade, we’re blissfully happy. Seemingly, Setubal has not yet been found by hoards of foreign tourists, which definitely lends itself to a relaxing lovely experience.

We thoroughly explored all that Setubal had to offer, including a hike up a mountain road to visit an historic fort. The views alone are well-worth the hike (even on a hot day) and the small tiled chapel inside the fort is amazing. Four nights was just the right amount of time for visiting this charming little city.

A Walkable City

Setubal is a walkable city. We don’t drive while in Portugal, or anywhere in Europe actually, so walkability is a big deal for us. When walking isn’t an option, we make good use of public transportation. Speaking of public transit, it’s an easy one hour train ride from Lisbon to Setubal. But, I digress.

Shops & Eateries

The city square beckons tourists and locals alike to sit back at one of the many outdoor cafes. There is such a relaxing vibe, we loved it and spent a few lovely afternoons watching the world pass by. As with so many historic cities the streets of Setubal are lined with shops and eateries, most of which lead back to the city center. We ate really well.

A New Experience

How did we find such a sweet spot? Originally, we planned to stay in Lisbon and had rented an apartment. We did so mainly because we had an appointment in Lisbon. We enjoy Lisbon, but we’ve been there many times, and we were looking for a new experience. The apartment we found in Setubal was twice as large for half the cost of what we booked in Lisbon. And, with Setubal just 30 miles south of Lisbon, it was a no brainer.

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If You Go:
  • Park View Setubal Apartment –
  • Dom Peppone Pizzaria – 5*
  • Fort of São Filipe: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., closed Monday, free admission, restrooms, cafe
  • Train from Lisbon to Setubal – Senior 5.80€ per ticket
  • Mercado do Livramento: Tuesday – Sunday 7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

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