An exceptional pousada (Fort de São Filipe) and the promise of an inexpensive seafood feast make this a logical place to spend the night before driving on to the Algarve. But there’s more to Setúbal than boast-worthy beds and its famous choco frito (fried cuttlefish).
At the mouth of the Rio Sado, Setúbal is the country's third-largest port and one of its oldest cities. A significant industrial town in Roman times, it became one again during Portugal's Age of Discovery and took off during the 19th century. Its center remains an attractive blend of medieval and modern. So you could profitably spend a day here, strolling cobbled pedestrian streets that open onto pretty café-lined squares and lingering in sites like the handsome Igreja de Jesus. Start at the tourist office, which is built atop Roman ruins discovered during a construction project; inside, you'll be standing above and peering down through the glass floor into a 5th-century fish-processing room. Near the port, an agreeable clutter of boats and warehouses is fronted by gardens, where you can stock up for a picnic at a huge indoor fish-and-produce market (open Tuesday–Sunday 7–2).