Lisbon dates back to the second century, making it one of the oldest cities in Europe. The Portuguese capital delights visitors from around the world with its rich history, easygoing pace, and delicious seafood. Once you get your fill of the city, explore the nearby beautiful Portuguese coastline and bucolic landscapes, where there's no shortage of sites ranging from lavish palaces and historic monuments, to idyllic beaches, vineyards, charming fishing villages, and dramatic cliffs. These are the best day trips from Lisbon:
An excursion to Sintra is undoubtedly the most popular day trip from Lisbon. The city is like something out of a fairytale, with pine-covered hills dotted with elegant palaces set against the Sintra mountains. Join our Sintra Day Tour to see the fourteenth century Palácio Nacional, which was the summer retreat of Portugese royalty, and the enchanting gardens of Quinta da Regaleira, filled with fountains, mysterious symbols, and a mythical well that connects to a network of underground tunnels. Other attractions include the magnificent Palácio da Pena, built around a former Hieronymite monastery; the stunning Palácio de Monserrate, with botanical gardens that are home to plant species from around the world; and the ruins of the Castelo dos Mouros (The Moors Castle) at the top of the Sintra mountains. On your way back to Lisbon, stop at the opulent Rococo Palace of Queluz, a former royal residence that is called the “Versailles of Portugal.”
Distance from Lisbon: 18 miles, 1 hour by train; additional 20 mins from Sintra to Queluz
How to get there: Take the train from Rossio station in Lisbon to Sintra. The ride is around one hour. To get to the Palace of Queluz, take the train back towards Lisbon and get off at the Queluz-Belas station, about a 20 minute ride from Sintra. The palace is a 15 minute walk from the train station.
Beach lovers will love Cascais, a beautiful seaside resort town along the Portuguese Riviera. Originally a small fishing village, Cascais became a favorite summer retreat for the Portuguese aristocracy starting in the late nineteenth century. Two of the best beaches are the Praia da Conceição and the Praia de Duquesa. A bit farther down the coast, the Praia do Guincho offers great surfing. Other attractions include a 15th century fortress called the Cidadela de Cascais, museums, and the Mercado da Vila, the municipal market where you can buy fresh local produce. While you're there, rent a free city bike and ride to Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell), a cliff formation sculpted by the repeated impact of the waves. From Cascais, take the bus to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost part of mainland Europe that was once thought to be the end of the world. The rugged coastline cliffs, topped by a monument and a lighthouse, offer sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Distance from Lisbon: 20 miles, 40 mins by train; additional 30 mins from Cascais to Cabo da Roca
How to get there: Take the train from Cais do Sodré station in Lisbon to Cascais station. Trains leave every 20-30 minutes, and the ride is about 40 minutes long. To get to Cabo da Roca, ride 30 minutes on the Bus 403 from the main station in Cascais.
Évora, the capital of the Alentejo region, is one of our favorite day trips from Lisbon. Go back in time by exploring the ruins of a first century Roman temple in the town’s historic center, the Sé de Évora—Portugal’s largest medieval cathedral, and the sixteenth century Agua de Prata Aqueduct, which connected Évora to the Ribeira do Divor to provide the town with a steady supply of fresh water. Don’t miss the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of the Bones) in the Church of St Francis, covered with real human bones and skulls exhumed from the city’s overcrowded graveyards in the sixteenth century. The Museu de Évora is home to an impressive collection of 20,000 paintings, sculptures, statues, and archaeological artifacts. After visiting the town’s landmarks, enjoy a tour and tasting at the Dona Dorinda organic winery and vineyard.
Distance from Lisbon: 83 miles, 1 1/2 hours by train
How to get there: Take the train from Lisbon's Oriente station or take the bus from Sete Rios. The ride is around 1.5 hours.
Discover Portugal’s scenic countryside on a day trip to Fátima, Nazaré and Óbidos. Start the day in Fátima, one of the most important Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. The city’s Chapel of the Apparition marks the spot where, according to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared to three young shepherd children in 1917. Those shepherds are buried at the nearby Basílica de Nossa Senhora do Rosário, a stunning Baroque style church. Then, visit the majestic fourteenth century Batalha Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and continue on to the tranquil fishing village of Nazaré, beloved by surfers for its impressive waves. Enjoy a fresh seafood lunch then make your way to the Nazaré cliffs to admire splendid views of the Atlantic Ocean. Next, head to Óbidos, a romantic medieval town known for its ancient walls, narrow cobblestone streets, whitewashed houses, and terracotta rooftops. Visit the Castelo de Óbidos, a medieval castle that is one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Be sure to taste Ginja, a sour cherry liqueur served in a chocolate cup. Outside the town, the Óbidos lagoon is a great place for water activities including surfing, canoeing, and kitesurfing.
Distance from Lisbon: 80 miles, 1 1/2 hours by car
How to get there: We recommend renting a car to explore these sites. Fátima is a 1.5-hour drive from the city.
Located between the hills of the Serra da Arrábida and the massive Cabo Espichel cliffs, Sesimbra is a picturesque resort town known for its pristine beaches and marisqueiras, delicious seafood restaurants. Walk through the Old Town and visit Nossa Senhora do Castelo, a tenth century Moorish castle, and the Fortaleza de Santiago, home to the Museu do Mar (Museum of the Sea). Spend some time in nature by hiking or biking through the Serra da Arrábida park, which offers spectacular views of the coastline. You can also venture out to the Cabo Espichel headland, where you can explore a church that was once a famous pilgrimage site, a lighthouse, and the Pedra da Mua and the Lagosteiros, two sets of dinosaur footprints embedded in the cliffs.
Distance from Lisbon: 25 miles, 1 hour by car
How to get there: There are no trains to Sesimbra, so we recommend renting a car. You can also take the bus from Lisbon’s Praça de Espanha to the Sesimbra bus station, which will take about one hour. To get to Cabo Espichel, take the bus from Sesimbra to the village of Azoia and then walk 1.5 miles.
The fishing town of Setúbal makes for a relaxing day trip from Lisbon. The Mercado do Livramento has one of the world’s best fish markets. Enjoy local specialties like choco frito, fried cuttlefish. Explore the Fortaleza de São Filipe, a sixteenth century fortress that offers incredible views of the whole region. Visitors can relax on the beautiful Albarquel beach, and spot the bottlenose dolphins in the Sado River Estuary. After visiting Setúbal’s sites, head to the town of Azeitão, famous for its crafts, wine, sheep’s cheese, olive trees, and egg-based pie, the Torta de Azeitão. Take a tour of José Maria da Fonseca cellars, which produce the renowned Moscatel wine.
Distance from Lisbon: 30 miles, 1 hour by train or bus
How to get there: Take the train from Lisbon’s Sete-Rios station or the bus from either Praça de Espanha bus station or Gare do Oriente. Setúbal is 30 miles from Lisbon and the trip takes around an hour.
Mafra is a beautiful town best known for the Mosteiro Pálacio Nacional de Mafra, an extravagant eighteenth century Baroque palace that is one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Financed by Brazilian gold and built by up to 50,000 workers, the monumental complex has numerous attractions including a magnificent library, a domed basilica, a sumptuous convent, a garden, and the Tapada de Mafra, the royal hunting grounds. After exploring Mafra, head seven miles west to Ericeira, a quaint fishing town and seaside resort that has become a popular vacation destination in recent years. Walk through the town’s cobblestone streets and enjoy some fresh caught fish and seafood. Ericeira also attracts a surfing community from around the world due to its massive waves.
Distance from Lisbon: 25 miles, 1 hour by bus
How to get there: Take the bus from Lisbon’s Campo Grande bus station to Marfa. The bus from Marfa to Ericeira runs on the same line.
Explore the historical landmarks of the Order of the Knights Templar on a day trip to Almourol, Constância and Tomar. Start with a boat ride to Almourol Castle, built on an island in the middle of the Tagus river. The castle, a symbol of the Christian reconquest, was placed under the protection of the Templar Knights in 1129. In the picturesque village of Constância, home to sixteenth century poet Luis de Camões, try the traditional pastry queijinhos do céu, which is filled with egg yolk cream. Then, make your way to the historical town of Tomar, which gained prominence in the thirteenth century as the religious seat of theTemplar Knights. The castle and convent complex Convento de Cristo, founded in 1162 by Gualdim Paes, the Grand Master of the Templars, is one of Portugal’s most important national monuments. Walk through the Praça da República, which features Gothic architecture. If you have time, visit the sixteenth and seventeenth century Pegoes Aqueducts just outside Tomar.
Distance from Lisbon: 83 miles, 1.5 hours by car
How to get there: We recommend renting a car to visit these sites. Almourol is 83 miles from Lisbon, and the drive is around 1.5 hours. Boats to Almourol Castle leave from the harbor every ten minutes or so.
Ilhavo, a maritime city famous for cod fishing, is a fun day trip from Lisbon that gives you a feel for authentic Portuguese culture. The city’s attractions includes the Ílhavo Maritime Museum, which pays homage to the city’s strong fishing culture, and features a life-size cod-fishing boat. Check out the Santo André Ship-Museum, moored at a tributary of the Ria de Aveiro lagoon. Built in 1948, it was part of Portugal’s cod fleet. Soak up some sun at Ilhavo’s glorious beaches, including Costa Nova, which has a lovely promenade, and Barra, home to Portugal’s tallest lighthouse. Head to one of the city’s many seaside restaurants and enjoy the traditional bacalhau (salted cod), followed by an egg custard pastry. Visit the famous Vista Alegre hand-painted porcelain factory and learn about the manufacturing process.
Distance from Lisbon: 160 miles, 2.5 hours by car
How to get there: The best way to get to Ilhavo is to rent a car. Ilhavo is 160 miles from Lisbon and the drive is about 2.5 hours each way.
Located on Portugal’s silver coast just off the fishing town of Peniche, the secluded Berlengas Archipelago makes for a memorable day trip from Lisbon. The ferry ride from the Peniche harbor offers great views of the cliffs of the headland. Visitors are only allowed on Berlenga Grande, the main island. Walk the narrow arched stone bridges and stop by the Farol Duque de Bragança lighthouse and other viewpoints on the way to the iconic São João Baptista fortress, which held an important defensive position on the Portuguese coast. You can take a dip in the Praia do Carreiro do Mosteiro, a beach with crystal clear waters nestled between imposing cliffs. Then, book a ride with one of the glass-bottomed boats that allow you to see the abundant sea life while taking you to explore the caves and rock formations along the coastline. The area is great for water activities like snorkelling, kayaking, and paddling.
Distance from Lisbon: 52 miles, 1.5 hours by car or bus; 45 mins additional on the ferry
How to get there: Rent a car or take the bus from Lisbon’s Sete Rios bus terminal to Peniche. The 52 mile drive takes around 1.5 hours. From Peniche, take the ferry to the Berlengas Archipelago. The ferry ride takes around 45 minutes.
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