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What's It Like to Take a Setúbal Wine Tour from Lisbon?

Find out what it's like to go on a Setúbal wine tour from Lisbon. Try a wine tasting day trip to Setúbal. Explore Peninsula de Setúbal for a day.
Portugal is most well-known internationally for the wines of the Douro Valley and Alentejo. But, did you know that Portugal actually has fourteen distinct wine regions? 

In fact, there are a few Portuguese wine regions within easy day trip distance of Lisbon such as the Setúbal wine region which is located on Peninsula de Setúbal just across the Vasco de Gama Bridge.  

What's it like to take a Setúbal Wine Tour from Lisbon? In this post, I will share all the details of our Setúbal wine tasting experience so that you can decide for yourself whether or not to add this charming region to your Lisbon itinerary.

We were delighted to experience not only great Portuguese wines, but also beautiful scenic views and a bit of Portuguese history.

Quinta de Alcube vineyard in Setúbal

Getting to Setúbal with Portugal by Wine

We embarked on a Portugal by Wine Arrábida Wine Tour for 79 EUR per person at the time of writing. The tour van accommodates a maximum of eight people, but it was just us and a pair of friends from Norway on the day we went.

We met our tour guide outside of Hard Rock Cafe which is located near Monumento dos Restauradores on Av. da Liberdade. The tour was run by Inside Lisbon.

Inside Lisbon van on a Setúbal wine tour

Start the day by crossing Vasco da Gama Bridge, the second longest bridge in Europe, into Setúbal. At 17 km long, the Vasco da Gama Bridge reminded me a lot of the San Mateo Bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Castelo de Palmela

Our first stop was Castelo de Palmela, which was a lovely castle with views over Setúbal and some of the other towns in the region. This hill was fortified in the 8th or 9th century by the Moors. The present-day Gothic keep dates back to the 14th century.

Fortunately, we had a break in the rain that came along with us on our day trip (one of the perils of visiting Lisbon in October) so we were able to enjoy the views. 

Castela de Palmela on a Setúbal Peninsula day tourCastela de Palmela on a Setúbal Peninsula day tour

Much of nearby countryside appeared charred from summer wildfires, but already signs of green and new growth were returning.

Azeitão and Casa-Museu José Maria Da Fonseca

Our next stop was Azeitão.  Pop into Sabores e Encantos de Azeitão, a snack shop centered around the pool where locals used to go to do their laundry by hand. This is a good place to get a bottle of water if you forgot to bring one like we did. 

The main focus of our visit to Azeitão was Casa-Museu José Maria Da Fonseca, home to the oldest winery in Setúbal (founded in 1835). 

José Maria Da Fonseca is most well known for moscatel, a sweet fortified wine that is a little bit akin to port, just not as popular and maybe a bit sweeter. 

Fun fact: this vineyard was the first to bottle table wine as a mark of quality and to show that the wine had not been watered down in the barrel. We got to see some of the 19th century equipment used to bottle the wine. 

Mahogany wine barrels at José Maria Da Fonseca winery in Azeitão

Periquita is the name of that first bottled table wine brand and you can buy bottles of Periquita in Portugal to this day. 

We got to tour José Maria de Fonseca Winery with Rafael. The tour included some fascinating family artifacts and a number of the cellars. 

We even learned a little bit about wine that had actually gone out on a sea voyage and then returned. 

Family heirlooms at Casa-Museu José Maria Da Fonseca in Azeitão

José Maria de Fonseca Winery is famous for doing experiments. In particular, they tested how some of the moscatels aged after embarking on a round trip sea voyage versus a control barrel that was not sent to sea. 

It turns out that the sea voyage significantly accelerates the aging and quality of the fortified wine, adding precious years to the wine in a matter of months. 

Moscatel barrel that went on a sea voyage

We got to tour the gardens of the property which had some colorful impatiens planted for the Fall and the sun came out just as we were walking into the garden. 

Gardens at José Maria de Fonseca Winery in Setúbal

We also got to see the owner's private collection of wine through a little hole in the door. They don't open the door for just anyone, only world leaders and others dignitaries who come to visit. Those VIPs are treated to a tiny taste of moscatel from the year of their birth. 

Owners' private cellar José Maria de Fonseca Winery in Setúbal

The pinnacle of the tour (of course) was the tasting room where we got to taste 2 wines: a dry Periquita Reserva which retails for 9.99 EUR at the winery. We also got to taste a moscatel roxo (purple moscatel). This wine was five years old (a relatively young moscatel) and retails for 12.99 EUR. 

The prices seemed very reasonable so we bought a couple bottles of wine to take home with us. 

We finished off our visit to Azeitão with a selfie in front of a fountain shaped like an enormous bunch of grapes on the town square. 
Grapes fountain in Azeitão

Lunch in Sesimbra

Our wine-focused day trip to Setúbal included a stop in Sesimbra for lunch. The town sits right on the Atlantic Ocean and is known for excellent seafood.

Doors covered in street art in Sesimbra on the Peninsula de Setúbal

We sat down for lunch at O Velho e o Mar (translates to The Old Man and the Sea). We got to try the black swordfish which was brought to Sesimbra by Madeiran fisherman. 

We were immediately reminded of our weekend in Madeira and all the great Madeiran food we got to try on that trip including the very same black scabbardfish.
Black swordfish covered in onions in Sesimbra

The fish was served with a tomato sauce and copious amounts of cooked onions. 

We also tried Polvo à Lagareiro, octopus tentacles served in garlic and olive oil with a little bit of a creamed spinach on the side. 

Polvo à Lagareiro in Sesimbra on the Setúbal Peninsula

Our guide tipped us off that Aceitão cheese is quite famous. We jumped at the chance to start our meal with a couvert of Aceitão cheese and bread. 

The cheese is quite soft but is contained by a hard rind. Don't forget to include a half bottle of wine with lunch. It is a Setúbal wine tour after all!

Azeitão cheese
Another highlight of our visit to Sesimbra included looking out to sea from Forte de Santiago de Sesimbra.  

Views from Forte de Santiago de Sesimbra

We only had about 90 minutes to explore the town including lunch so we needed to be efficient. We grabbed a coffee and a sweet at a stand-up snack bar to fuel the remainder of the day before heading back to the van.

Parque Natural da Arrábida

This Lisbon day trip included a drive through Parque Natural da Arrábida (Arrábida Natural Park). The road through the park runs along a high ridge. On one side, you can look down toward Setúbal and out to sea. From the other, you can look back toward Lisbon. 

Views from Parque Natural da Arrábida

We pulled over by a by a small convent with gorgeous views so that we could take some photos before continuing on to our next winery.

Quinta de Alcube Winery

Our afternoon wine stop was Quinta de Alcube. This was our kind of winery! While the wines of José Maria de Fonseca Winery can be found all over the world, you can only buy Alcube wines at the winery. 

Alcube is a small producer and each bottle is numbered.

Driveway lined with trees at Quinta de Alcube Winery in Setúbal

Instead of the usual protocol of a wine tour before sitting down to taste, we cut right to the chase and sat down at a sunny table on the patio and got right to it.

We tasted two whites, two reds and a late harvest moscatel which was smooth, sweet, and all around lovely. 

Glass of red wine at Quinta de Alcube Winery in Setúbal

We also appreciated the friendly cats on the property including an old grizzled tabby that I dubbed Crusty the Cat. We originally thought that were were two cats, but as we sat around for a while, we realized that there were about five cats roaming around the vineyard. I think they were all part of the same litter. 

Gray tabby cat at Quinta de Alcube Winery in Setúbal

Alcube wines were actually very good. One unique Portuguese varietal was our favorite: the Castelão. The wine was made with 100% Castelão and aged oak. The wine had a sophisticated palate so I was shocked (and pleased) to discover that this wine only cost 5.99 EUR a bottle!

Bottles of wine in the shop at Quinta de Alcube Winery in Setúbal

All the wines at Alcube were very affordably priced. Some of the whites that we tried and liked were just 2.80 EUR for a bottle. 

The sun came out right on cue and we were able to take a few pictures in the beautiful vineyard after the tasting. Quinta de Alcube is really an idyllic spot.

The Finer Points of Harvesting Cork

We also noted some cork trees on the property. Our guide, Riccardo, told us that cork is harvested from an individual tree once every 10 years. After the harvest, the trees look naked from where the branches start on down the trunk. 

Cork tree on the Setúbal Peninsula

When the cork is harvested, they put a single number on the tree to indicate the year. So if the cork was harvested in 2019 there would be a nine. 

If the cork was harvested in 2021 the tree would be labeled with "1". They do this because it takes so long for the the cork to grow back and for the next harvest to commerce. 

If you are in the cork business, you definitely need patience. It takes 25 years before you can even get your first harvest after the cork tree has been planted. 

Monument to Christ the King

After we stopped at Alcube, we drove towards Almada and the monument to Cristo Rei (Christ the King). The big Jesus statue overlooks Ponte 25 de Abril. We arrived just as the Sun was starting to set; perfect timing for some lovely photographs. 

Monument to Christ the King in Almada on the Setúbal Peninsula
You can actually take an elevator up to the top of the statue, but we didn't have time to do that on this day trip. 

We spent about 15 minutes walking around the viewing point and drinking in the views before driving back across the bridge to Lisbon to conclude our memorable day out.

Ponte 25 de Abril viewed from Setúbal

Summing up our Peninsula de Setúbal Wine Tour

As you can see, a day trip from Lisbon to the Setúbal Peninsula is an easy and low stress day out. 

Get a chance to taste some local wines on this Setúbal wine tour. The 2 wine tastings are broken up nicely by visits to historic towns, scenic viewpoints, and beautiful natural areas making for a well-rounded and full day out.

Shop around before booking since prices for similar wine tasting tours can vary widely. We saw one tour that was priced at over 200 EUR per person before setting on this Portugal by Wine experience. 

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: What's It Like to Take a Setúbal Wine Tour from Lisbon?
What's It Like to Take a Setúbal Wine Tour from Lisbon?
Find out what it's like to go on a Setúbal wine tour from Lisbon. Try a wine tasting day trip to Setúbal. Explore Peninsula de Setúbal for a day.
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