Surrounding Lisbon you’ll find a wealth of day trip options, from beautiful beaches and medieval castle towns to an array of historic sights. The region surrounding the capital city is home to traditional fishing villages and small town charms with cobbled alleyways and picturesque natural splendors waiting to be discovered. From ornate palaces in Sintra to preserved architectural gems in Evora, here are the best day trips from Lisbon.
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A fairytale city with a rich history, Sintra is a popular day trip from Lisbon. You’ll find a picturesque landscape nestled on the foothills of the Sintra mountains, where steep cliffs drop down to the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll find an array of castles and palaces to explore, including the grand Pena National Palace and its colorful architecture and unique blend of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Islamic styles. Since the Moorish occupation, Portuguese royalty have recognized Sintra’s charm, and it’s a great place to explore major palaces tucked amongst the lush vegetation.
A beautiful coastal resort town, Cascais is an easy day trip from the capital. You’ll be lured in by the city’s charming old town, filled with patterned pavements, quaint boutiques and mix of architectural features. The beach area is a great escape in summertime, where you’ll find a lively coast full of sunseekers. It has been a busy fishing port since medieval times when King Luis I moved his summer activities to the Palacio da Cidadela, the town’s 17th century waterfront fortress. Spend a day at Praia do Guincho watching the windsurfers, then take a break in the leafy Parque do Marechal.
Take a step back in time in Evora, as it is one of Portugal’s most perfectly preserved architectural gems. It is a small town nestled in the Alentejo plains region of southern Portugal, where its history dates back over 2,000 years. While it once flourished under Roman rule, its best known today for its well-preserved Old Town with 4,000 historic structures. Make sure to see the 13th century Cathedral of Evora, which is considered one of the country’s most important Gothic structures. Explore the town’s winding lanes and bustling streets to discover white-washed houses and expansive groves of trees.
A seaside fishing town with a beautiful castle, Sesimbra sits at the base of a natural park. Explore its busy harbor, then browse through the 17th-century Fortaleza de Santiago and Museu do Mar to discover exhibitions on medieval life and architecture as well as history of the area. Meander through the charming old town center and the city’s collection of narrow streets and winding alleys to enjoy traditional Portuguese cuisine in quaint restaurants serving up grilled sardines.
Explore the coastal town of Peniche on a day trip from Lisbon, as it’s only an hours drive north. It was an island until the 16th century and a busy fishing port since ancient times, while the walled part of town is dominated by an impressive fortress that has now been turned into a museum with fascinating artifacts. Known for its world-class beaches and waves, it is considered a hotspot for surfers with a peninsula that juts out in the Atlantic Ocean. Watch them catch waves at Praia dos Supertubos or head to the Peniche Port to watch the local fishermen bring in the catch of the day.
One of Portugal’s most romantic villages, Obidos charms visitors with its colorful houses filled with bright flora and fauna, Gothic passageways and cobblestone streets. White-washed houses surround its imposing 12th-century castle, where you can walk along its old fortified wall then meander down to the historic center of the city to discover a maze of streets that lure you in with its busy squares, inviting cafes and quaint shops. The city is so pretty that one of Portugal’s kings gave this village to his bride to be.
A popular excursion from Peniche, Berlenga Islands are just six miles from the mainland. Home to the Arquipélago das Berlengas nature reserve, it is possible to visit the largest of the islands, Berlenga Grande. You’ll be taken aback by the surrounding natural beauty, where you can spend your day exploring the caves by boat, snorkeling, diving or walking to the fortress. Its crystal-clear waters are teeming with sea life and there are birdwatching opportunities along the scenic hiking trails that lead to hills with panoramic views of the island.
Nestled on the north bank of the River Sado, Setubal is dotted with beautiful churches, seafood restaurants and a castle high above the harbor. Those who want to spot wildlife are in luck in this area, as curious dolphins and various bird species can be found at the estuary and protected nature reserve. Explore Castelo de Sao Filipe to take in stunning views of Setubal or visit Museu de Arqueologia e Etnografia to see artifacts from the Paleolithic period. From Setubal, Arrabida Natural Park is nearby and offers a variety of picturesque, white sandy beaches.
Perfect for those looking for a day of culture and history, make the short trip to Batalha to marvel at its famous landmark, Mosteiro da Batalha. A UNESCO World Heritage Site attraction, it offers visitors a chance to marvel at its Portuguese Gothic architecture with honey-hued limestone and intricate details with religious motifs and statues of apostles. Explore the historic complex to see the Royal Cloister and the unfinished chapels, while the Founder’s Chapel houses a royal pantheon.
Fatima is considered one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the Catholic world. Here you’ll find the Sanctuary of Fatima, a devotional shrine that attracts devotees from around the world. Nestled in the Estremadura region, this small farming village boasts an annual pilgrimage on the 12th and 13th of May and October. Even if you’re not a believer, you can admire its beautiful Neo-Baroque Basilica de Nossa Senhora do Rosario de Fatima and its esplanade that is twice the size of St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
Located across the Tagus Estuary in Lisbon is Almada, a former industrial quarter that boasts a picturesque string of beaches on the Atlantic coast. It’s home to the mighty Cristo Rei statue, which is modeled after Christ the Redeemer in Rio. You can take the ferry from Cais do Sodre across to Cacilhas to the statue and admire the views at the top, while the ferry port in Almada features a restored 19th-century Portuguese warship.