The town was founded by the ancient Phoenicians in the sixth century BC. Under Roman rule, it was called Salacia and was a significant trading port. Goods such as wheat, olive oil and wine left Alcácer do Sal and exported throughout the Roman world. Alcácer grew into one of the most important cities in Iberia and celebrated for salt production, curing and the manufacture of fish sauce. The Moorish occupation started in the 8th century. Alcácer became the regional capital of the Al Qaşr province (meaning "Castle"). The Moors rebuilt the Roman walls and built the first incarnation of the town's castle.
For today's travellers, Alcácer do Sal is becoming recognised as a vital stop when en-route to the inner Alentejo or the silver coast. Yet there's plenty here and around to make the town an ideal place to base yourself for a few days at least. The town boasts several fine old buildings which are testament to the town's former prosperity, especially along the attractive riverfront.
Just off the riverfront is the palm tree-lined Largo Pedro Nunes square where you'll find the imposing façade of the town hall. Standing in the centre of the square is the statue of the famous mathematician, cosmographer and professor Pedro Nunes who was born here in 1502. It was his calculations in the study of navigation and the invention of the 'Nunios' or 'Vernier scale' which were vital for Portugal's age of discovery.
High atop the 62-metre hill overlooking the town is the age-old castle built over Roman foundations by the moors for whom Alcaçer do Sal was an important outpost. Under the rule of Abd al-Rahman III, Alcácer do Sal became a district capital and naval shipyard, making the most of its close proximity to the Atlantic. The Moorish pair of walls once proudly sported 20 towers over 25 metres tall. The edifice took on a peaceful role as a monastery when in 1186 King Sancho I "the Populator" donated the castle to the Order of Santiago. By the 16th Century, Alcácer's military importance was a distant memory. The castle became a convent and many of the defensive walls were torn down to reuse the stone. Today the opulent Pousada Dom Afonso II hotel occupies the grounds and offers amazing views over the town, River Sado and the lush green paddy fields beyond.
Within the castle walls is the quaint Romanesque church of Santa Maria which present structure dates back to the 13th century. It was built following the Christian reconquest of Alcácer in 1217. Constructed over the remains of a Pagan temple and a Mosque, the church sports three naves and several interesting features, such as the 18th-century pulpit, supported by an angel, the sumptuous gilded 16th-century chapels and magnificent tiles from the early 17th century. A stone sculpture stands over the façade features the symbols of the Order of Santiago, the crossed-sword, scallop shells, the hat and garb of a pilgrim.
April to October Monday: CLOSED, Tuesday - Sunday: 10h00 - 13h0015h00 - 19h00
Rua do Castelo, Santa Maria do Castelo, Alcacer do Sal 7580, Portugal.
38° 22' 21" N | 08° 30' 47" W
+351 265 622 213
The opposite bank of the Sado estuary lies the long narrow sand bar of Tróia. 19 miles (30km) of unbroken beach, dunes and woodland are a great attraction for sunbathers and walkers. The flat topography makes it also ideal for cycling. The northern tip is where you'll find most development. Here too there is an exceptional 18-hole golf course. Halfway down are the remains of a Roman town, Cetobriga, destroyed by a tidal wave in 412 AD was an important fishing and trading post.
The peninsular is well serviced by two regular ferries from terminals around Doca do Comércio in Setúbal.
Atlantic Ferries - Tráfego Local, Fluvial e Marítimo, S.A. Doca do Comércio 2900, Setúbal, Portugal.
38° 31' 18.1" N | 08° 53' 07.2" W
Timetable & Fares
The source of the River Sado is in the Serra da Vigia, near Beja, it meanders its way across the plains of the Alentejo, travelling 112 miles northward until emptying into the sea near Setúbal. The river's estuary opens up just outside Alcácer do Sal, creating a highly fertile floodplain characterised by rice fields and nests of white storks, perched on top of church steeples or electricity pylons. This elegant bird always chooses the highest places to build its nest and is just one of 200 bird species that inhabit the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve. The Sado estuary is also one of the few places in Europe where you'll find wild free-swimming dolphins and it's these friendly yet cheeky creatures who have become the symbol of the nature reserve.
The estuary also creates resources for man to extract. The fertile soil is ideal for cork oak groves from which cork is extracted, pine groves, whose pinenuts used in local cuisine and salt pans that brought so much wealth to the area in centuries past.
Just 20 miles west of Alcácer do Sal is the gem of a coastline that forms the northern end of the Alentejan coastline.
Located on the southern tip of the Tróia Peninsula, a little west of Comporta village, the two-mile stretch of Comporta Beach is a popular choice for local people. It forms part of the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve and its dune system has been well preserved. The waves are lively enough for surfing and boards can be hired on site. It has good means of access and plenty of parking space. 38° 22' 51.4" N | 08° 48' 12.6" W
Access is achieved via a well-surfaced road through paddy fields that give way to pine trees. The mile-long stretch of sand is surrounded by dunes and bathed by calm waters. The beach and dunes are traversed on wooden boardwalks. There are ample car parking facilities and the village of Carvalhal is close at hand.
38° 18' 20.0" N | 08° 46' 49.8" W
The beaches amenities and easy reach of the Estrada Regional 2611 have caused Praia do Pêgo to be increasingly popular over the last few years. It has a three-mile expanse of sands backed up by lush green vegetation on the dunes easily traversed on wooden walkways. The swell is slight and the water clear.
38° 17' 34.7" N | 08° 46' 39.7" W
Alcácer do Sal which overlooks this pretty town and affords amazing views. The result is a hotel bursting with character and great interior design, with the "modern" tastefully incorporated into the old. Rooms and bathrooms are spacious, clean and comfortable. The staff are friendly and welcoming.
Castelo de Alcácer do Sal, 7580-197, Alcácer do Sal, Portugal.
38º 22" 22.5' N | 08º 30" 50.1' W
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This small cosy hotel is ideally located close to the riverfront amongst a street of restaurants. Friendly and welcoming staff are always keen to help. The continental breakfast is served in the upstairs bar with great views out over the river.
Rua Rui Coelho 47, Alcacer do Sal, 7580-168, Portugal.
38º 22" 21.3' N | 08º 30" 39.9' W
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Boasting pool views, Casa Alfazema features accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool and a patio, around two kilometres from Comporta Beach. This holiday home features a private pool, a garden, barbecue facilities, free WiFi and free private parking.
The holiday home has 4 bedrooms, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, an equipped kitchenette with a dishwasher and a microwave, a washing machine, and three bathrooms with a shower.
9 Rua da Azinhaga, loteamento, lote5 Carvalhal, 7570-784 Grândola, Portugal.
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This former primary school is well worth the trip out of Alcaçer or to pop in if passing. The decor is a little quirky which includes poetry about schooldays on the walls. The waiting staff are friendly and welcoming and the food is reasonably priced considering the excellent quality. Look out for their house speciality; rabbit pie!
Monday: CLOSED, Tuesday - Sunday: 15h30/19h15 - 22h30
Estrada Nacional 253, Cachopos, Alcácer do Sal 7580-308, Portugal.
38º 23" 48.7' N | 08º 39" 20.1' W | +351 265 612 816 | firstname.lastname@example.org
A good honest establishment serving good honest nosh from the Setúbal and Alentejo districts in typical belly busting portions. Wonderful views is sat on the outside seating over looking the river. A good selection of local wines available to accompany your meals, all at reasonable prices.
Monday: CLOSED, Tuesday - Sunday: 11h30 - 23h30
Avenida Joao Soares Branco 15-16, Alcacer do Sal 7580-166, Portugal.
38º 22" 17.3' N | 08º 30" 31.5' W | +351 265 612 244 | email@example.com
Traditional Portuguese cuisine with an individual twist, specialising in seafood notably Razor clams (Lingueirão) with rice, it pays to ask about the catch of the day as it may be off menu. Great views over looking the river
Monday: 12h00 - 15h00, Tuesday - Saturday: 12h00 - 15h00/19h00 - 20h00, Sunday: CLOSED
Rua Cândido dos Reis, 14 (Av. João Soares Branco), 7580-132 Alcácer do Sal, Portugal.
38º 42" 22.8' N | 08º 55" 23.4' W | +351 265 613 233 | firstname.lastname@example.org
90.2km (56.1 miles) south east of Lisbon Portela Airport
GET A GREAT DEAL ON FLIGHTS:
From Lisbon cross the Ponte Vasco da Gama bridge over the Tejo, take the A12 south untill the N6 turn off, take eastward route. Latitude - 38º 22' 21.1" | Longitude - 08º 30' 46.9"
GET A GREAT DEAL ON CAR HIRE:
Sadly trains no longer run to Alcácer do Sal
Rodoviária do Alentejo run coach services all over the Alentejo and beyond, linking the region to major cities within Central and Southern Portugal: Website