5 of the Best Day Trips from Lisbon, Portugal

There’s plenty to see and do in Lisbon, but if you’re looking to escape the city for a day, traveling to nearby Portuguese towns and villages is all too easy. With convenient and cheap transport, you can discover a completely different side of Portugal just an hour or two out of the capital.


Photo © iStock/gustavofrazao

Here are five of the top tempting excursions that’ll give you a good excuse to stray from the city.

1. Sintra

Take the train from Lisbon’s central Rossio station to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Sintra. Home to dramatic palaces and castles, the town of Sintra is nothing short of a Portuguese fairy-tale.

Sintra’s biggest attraction is undoubtedly Pena Palace. One of the finest examples of romanticism in architecture, the castles exterior is painted in canary yellow, rich red and deep purple.

With an equally fascinating interior, the décor has been restored to show how it was in 1910 when the Palace was home to Portuguese royalty. With the bedrooms, bathrooms and dining rooms all on display, wander inside for a glimpse into how royalty lived during that era.

Pena Palace. Photo credit: iStock

After strolling around the Palace grounds, head to the Castle of the Moors, Quinta de Regaleira or Monserrate Park and Palace (to name a few) to see some of Portugal’s most impressive man-made masterpieces.

For a fast way to get around between Sintra’s attractions (which are all quite far apart) consider a tuk-tuk tour. Your guide will give you with interesting facts along the way, and save you a lot of time and blisters. Take the tour at your own pace, asking your guide to stop whenever you like and organizing pick up times to suit your schedule.

The underground passage in Quinta de Regaleira. Photo Credit: iStock

2. Sesimbra

The lazy holiday resort town of Sesimbra is an ideal escape if you’re searching for some sand and sea. No wonder it’s adored by the Portuguese, this town really does have delicious seafood and a coastline of beaches worth exploring.  

If you’d prefer some adventure, Sesimbra also provides activities to get your adrenaline fix, including hiking and biking, surfing, some of the best diving in Portugal, and kayaking along the coast.

With no direct train, the bus is your best option when traveling to the town from Lisbon – which takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on traffic.

Crowded beach in Sesimbra. Photo Credit: iStock

3. Belem

Reached by train from Cais do Sodre Station, and the first major stop after Lisbon, Belem is littered with museums and historical monuments. Try to snag a window seat on the left-hand side of the train for scenic views of the Lisbon coastline. Alternatively, take tram 15 for a slightly longer ride.

Belem is home to – arguably – the best Portuguese tarts around. Many travelers make the trip solely to visit Pasteis de Belem, where you can savor the warm custard tarts in their crunchy casing.

Don’t let the long line deter you, these baked goods are well worth the wait. Although the café has indoor seating, take your tarts outside to enjoy in a nearby park.

While in Belem, be sure to check out Jeronimos Monastery, one of Portugal’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. After, head to Belem Tower where you can climb a narrow spiral staircase to see the city and river Tagus from above.

Torre de Belem, Lisbon, Portugal. Photo Credit: iStock

4. Cascais

As soon as summer rolls around (June–August), the fishing village of Cascais takes on a completely different vibe. Attracting sun-seeking locals and tourists alike, this town is only 40 minutes outside of Lisbon but feels worlds apart, thanks to its laid-back atmosphere.

Cascais is well-known for its buzzing nightlife and delicious seafood, so be ready to discover a lively selection of bars and restaurants. Replacing Lisbon’s grand avenues with narrow lanes, it’ll be hard to choose between all the trendy boutiques and eateries.

Depending on your priorities, take your pick from a number of beaches. Head to Praia da Conceição or Praia da Duquesa for a number of different water activities including paddle boarding and windsurfing, or take a scenic stroll to the end of the beach promenade to Praia do Tamariz for a slightly more relaxing feel.

Easily reached by train, depart Lisbon from the Cais do Sodre train station and end up in the central of Cascais some 30 minutes later.

Cascais beach, Portugal. Photo Credit: iStock

5. Obidos

Visiting Obidos will feel like traveling back to the medieval-era. The small city is built within castle walls, and has been dubbed Portugal’s most picturesque town. With white-washed houses contrasted by vibrant colored doorways, it’s easy to see why Obidos got the title.

If you’re feeling brave, you can walk along the city walls for an aerial view of the town and countryside. Proceed with caution: Some parts of the wall are steep and narrow, with a few trip hazards thrown into the mix.

Afterwards, don’t miss having a drink of ginjinha. The sweet, alcoholic drink is served in an edible chocolate cup and is famous in the region.

Easily reached by bus on a one-hour journey, Obidos is an ideal day trip if you feel like stepping back in time and seeing unique side of Portugal.

Fortified village of Obidos. Photo Credit: iStock

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