How do I get from the airport to the Costa Azul?

Those interested in visiting the Costa Azul will be entering Portugal via air at Lisbon`s Humberto Delgado Airport (called Portela Airport by locals, IATA code LIS). Lisbon`s airport is located approximately 25 miles northwest of Setubal. Lisbon`s Portela Airport is a hub for flag carrier TAP Air Portugal.

TripMasters recommends that you reserve a rental car during the vacation booking process. Upon arrival in Portugal, consult your reservation information and keep in mind the name of the company from which you have rented. The rental car companies are based in Terminal T1, in and around the P3 parking lot.

Driving directions from Lisbon Portela Airport: Turn left on Avenida Cidade do Porto/the E1 motorway from Avenida Berlim. In 0.4 miles, take the ramp to A1 Norte/A8 Oeste/A12 Sul. Follow signs for A12 Sul. After nearly 22 miles, keep right at the fork to stay on the A12 and follow signs for A2/E90/Setubal/Lisboa/Almada. Keep in mind that if you take the A12 to Setubal, you will reach the exit for Palmela first (A12 Sul Exit 1). Take the right on the roundabout and get on Avenida Antero de Quental/the N10 motorway. This road turns into the Via Rapida Brancenes-Cascalheira but continues to be labeled as the N10. After a little over a mile, take the second exit on the first roundabout, which will deposit you onto Avenida Independencia das Colonias, which empties you into downtown Setubal. To get to Sesimbra, take the N10 past Setubal and continue on the road as it becomes the N379 motorway. Before and after the change from N10 to N379, the road will carry the name Avenida 25 de Abril. In the town of Santana, take the M585 road half a mile south to Sesimbra.

How do I get around using public transportation on the Costa Azul?

Bus service on the Costa Azul is run by Transportes Sul do Tejo (nicknamed TST,, website in Portuguese and English). There are 48 bus routes which run as part of the Setubal suburban system. The bus routes that will be of most interest to tourists will be Bus Route 230 (Sesimbra - Setubal), Bus Route 562 (Lisbon - Setubal), Bus Route 565 (Lisbon - Palmela), and Bus Route 605 (Setubal - Varzinha/Palmela).

Bus Route 230 leaves 11 times every weekday, with the first bus leaving Setubal at 7:20 a.m. and the last leaving at 8 p.m. There are also four buses that leave every Saturday, Sunday and holiday. Buses on Route 562 leave Setubal for Lisbon`s Gare do Oriente 24 times every weekday; 14 times every Saturday and 12 times every Sunday and holiday. Buses on Route 565 leave Palmela for Lisbon 18 times every weekday, seven times every Saturday and six times every Sunday and holiday. Buses on Route 605 leave every weekday from Setubal at 6:35 a.m.; 7:15 a.m.; 8:40 a.m.; 11 a.m.; 12:15 p.m.; 1:15 p.m.; 4 p.m.; 5:50 p.m.; and 7:20 p.m. For more in-depth timetables and bus schedules, visit

Viva Viagem cards, which are also used in the Lisbon metro area (under the name Lisboa Viva), on the Estoril Coast, and in Sintra, work on the Transportes Sul do Tejo system as well. You can buy your Viva Viagem card for €1 and load increments of €5 up to €20 for bus rides. You can also travel on TST buses per ride and you can pay for your ticket directly from the bus driver when you board.

How do I call/hail a taxi?

Taxis in Setubal, Palmela and Sesimbra will present with livery similar to taxis in Lisbon. They will either be cream-colored or black with green trim on the roof. Expect to pay about €4 for the first 0.6 miles of travel and €1 for every extra 0.6 miles of travel. Rates rise by at least 20% between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., on weekends, and during public holidays. Each piece of luggage handled by the taxi driver will cost about €2 extra. You should be able to get from Setubal to Sesimbra between €20-€30; prices can go as high as €50 depending on traffic). Setubal to Palmela will cost about €10-€20 (possibly up to €40 in high traffic), and Setubal to Lisbon Portela Airport (and vice versa) will put you in the range of €25-€35.

There are a number of taxi companies that you can call for a cab, although it isn`t unheard of to hail one from the street. There are nine taxi companies in and around Setubal, five around Palmela, and one near Sesimbra (actually located a half-mile north in Santana). There are also taxi ranks set up near bus stations and train stations in the region. Keep in mind that taxis in this region are regulated and metered.

How easy is it to explore the sights on the Costa Azul?

Seeing sights on the Costa Azul will have some trade-offs. Setubal is much flatter than Palmela or Sesimbra, but it is also the largest city in area, with a rough circumference of about a mile from west to east and a mile from north to south. Palmela and Sesimbra are much more compact, with Palmela being about a quarter of the size and Sesimbra not being much larger. The trade-off with these towns is that they are built on the foothills of the Arrabida Mountains, so there are more hills for visitors to encounter when walking the streets of these towns. For those who like to walk or jog for exercise, Setubal may be easier for novices, but Palmela will be the most challenging for those who are advanced. Some sort of transportation, whether it is your own hired car or a bus or taxi, is recommended to see sights beyond Setubal (in particular Sesimbra, which is tucked away on the coast about 40 minutes from Setubal).

How safe is the Costa Azul?

Portugal has a low crime rate, but Setubal is home to some of the more dangerous neighborhoods in the country. As tourists, you will not be walking through these neighborhoods, but make a note of this should you choose to plan walking excursions away from the main sights. Tourists are warned to only travel downtown during the day alone; at night, pickpockets and muggers may try to rob travelers who walk about alone. You are asked to use your common sense when you are in Setubal. Remember to keep your wits about you, and always look like you know where you are going, even when you may not. Be sure to keep your valuables on your person at all times, and never keep all of your money in one place; split up your cash into various pockets in your clothes. Finally, take only well-lit and well-populated routes, and if the sun is setting and you are in doubt about the area around you, head back to your accommodations as soon as you can do so.

With that said, the chances of you getting into any sort of incident in Setubal is still quite low, as even though crime is higher here than in Lisbon, it is still much lower than in many urban areas in the United States. Palmela and Sesimbra are very safe and do not present any warnings that have been told to TripMasters.

What is shopping like on the Costa Azul?

If you are looking for souvenirs to bring back home from Portugal, you`re in luck, because the Costa Azul has many places to snatch up some cute items. Look in Setubal in the area between Avenida 5 de Outubro to the north and Avenida Luisa Todi to the south, in particular Travessa da Portuguesa. If you`re looking for wine, look no further than Casa Mae Rota dos Vinhos, which is a large superstore dedicated to wine and wine accessories located across from the movie theater on Largo Sao Joao Baptista in Palmela. Sesimbra is well-known for being a beach destination so a lot of the souvenirs from Sesimbra revolve around beach and surfing. You will find a number of stores along Rua da Fortaleza, Avenida 25 de Abril, and Rua Candido dos Reis.

Are there any Michelin-starred restaurants on the Costa Azul? Do fancy restaurants require reservations in advance?

While the Costa Azul has no Michelin-starred restaurants based on the company`s 2017 and 2018 honors, there are three restaurants located in the Michelin Guide for this area: Ostradomus in Setubal (Avenida Luisa Todi 414, +351 265 220 996); Poco das Fontainhas in Setubal (Rua Fontainhas 98, +351 265 534 8070; and Marisqueria Ribamar in Sesimbra (Avenida dos Naufragos 29, +351 212 234 853). Most restaurants on the Costa Azul would most likely not need reservations, but if there is a restaurant similar to the ones aforementioned that particularly pique your interest, it couldn`t hurt to call ahead and see if reservations are taken. The restaurants listed do take reservations.

Can I pay/tip in U.S. dollars?

The currency of Portugal is the Euro (€) and U.S. dollars are not accepted for payment. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks and ATMs can be found at the airport and at many locations throughout the region.

I do not speak Portuguese. Do many people speak English?

It is more common to find English speakers in Portugal than it is in other southern European countries, such as Spain. A recent European Union language survey found that 32% of Portuguese people over the age of 18 can speak English on a conversational level or better.

With that said, you may encounter some difficulty finding an English speaker away from tourist areas such as hotels, museums, the airport, or the bus or train station. It is recommended to brush up on basic Portuguese phrases before arriving, like basic pleasantries and numbers from 1 to 10. To ask someone if they speak English, say `Fala ingles?`

Note: Do not speak in Spanish to a Portuguese person, thinking they will understand you when you do so. Responses will range from stunned silence to outright hostility; the Portuguese people are proud of their culture and heritage, and such an act will cause nearly everyone to take personal offense. On another note, the vocabulary and pronunciation in Portuguese differs from Spanish more than you may realize.

What are the drinking laws in Portugal?

The legal drinking age in Portugal is 18, whether you find yourself in a pub or a nightclub. Asking for proof of age upon ordering an alcoholic beverage or entering a nightclub is becoming more commonplace, especially if you appear younger. Keep your passport with you as it doubles as proof of age and identification.

If you are renting a car, do not drive after consuming alcohol. A blood alcohol content level of 0.05 is considered the legal limit; penalties can range from fines to a jail sentence of up to one year. Save yourself the potential trouble and heartache.