11 Best Day Trips from Lisbon

Martina Rosado
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Map of day trips from Lisbon

Tomar

Getting to Tomar

Tomar is sited on the edge of the Minho River Valley and has been an important religious and political centre through centuries, based on its position on the border between the region of Douro and part of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro.

The town’s most significant building is Tomar Castle, a huge fortified Renaissance fortress which was the seat of the Portuguese royal family until 1910, when the monarchy lost its power.

The castle has a vast subterranean complex, which was believed to be a place of refuge for the Portuguese princes in 990, and indeed, on the night of the birth of Dom Pedro, it is said the castle’s large cellar served as a refuge for the newborn prince and his mother.

The original chapel of the castle is in the Jesuit style from the early 16th century, but it is surrounded by a large complex built in the 16th and 17th centuries by the House of Braganza.

There is a 12-sided tower whose 13th side (not visible from the outside) is the one that gives the tower its “Maltese” look.

Alcobaca

Just an hour and a half outside of Lisbon, Alcobaca is a popular spot for people to make day trips to. It also happens to be a very popular place for Portuguese people to visit all year round.

Top Attractions:

  • · Ribeira Valley
  • (Iron Witch Waterfall)

The Ribeira Valley is located in Alcobaca and it is a must for anyone looking to escape Lisbon. It’s a scenic drive along Lake S. João, and you can stop at the Iron Witch Waterfall for a beautiful view of the mountain range and the pristine lake that cascades into it.

· Castelo Branco

(Castle of Branco)

Castelo Branco is a popular destination for people interested in day trips from Lisbon. It’s also a very popular place for people to visit while on vacation, or for those who are interested in culture.

Back in the 12th century, the University of Coimbra built a castle on top of a hill. Located just a short walk from Castelo Branco, the bridge connects two domains. This bridge is a favorite for many people interested in taking the interesting day trip from Lisbon.

· Elvas

(Cidade de Elvas)

Getting to Alcobaca

one of the most widely visited beaches of Portugal.

Alecobaca is situated on the north costal strip of Portugal and is a region of the Ericeira Municipality in the Setubal District. Don’t be fooled by its small size, the natural beauty and the variety of activities it has to offer are enough to make your mind up.

The beach of Alcobaca is separated from the sea by a range that is called the “Penedo㸥 in the local language. The Penedo㸥 is an important barrier made of steep cliffs with caves, cascades and waterfalls. The dramatic landscape of this area is a perfect setting for relaxation and discovery and even includes some villages dating back to the Middle Ages.

Resorts, hotels and private accommodation facilities are located in the villages of Alcobaca and Assomada. Many restaurants also serve delicious dishes created with the freshest local products.

The town of Alcobaca has beaches that run for 11 kilometres, a natural lagoon and a relaxing atmosphere.

Being set among such a scenic area, the beach of Alcobaca is the perfect place for relaxation, recreation and nature.

Fatima

The small village of Fatima lies along a road that provides stunning views of the two largest mountains surrounding the town. A car park can be found just outside of the hamlet, from where you can climb up steep limestone paths to a viewpoint that overlooks much of the town. From the sun-friendly viewpoint, climb further to reach the Cova da Iria cave where several apparitions of Mary were reported. Allow at least an hour to visit this sacred spot.

Getting to Fatima

Sesimbra

Sesimbra is a small coastal town that is located on the south coast of Portugal.

Sesimbra used to be a major point of departure for those heading to the Far East. The town was developed as a port city because it was located close to the Strait of Gibraltar. Today, the city is a beach town known for the picturesque and beautiful coastline, the red stones and the cliff areas, and it also attracts visitors for the daily market that takes place between the old houses.

It is a wonderful spot for walking, a breath taking view of the cliffs, and the cliff walk starts from the beach. Explore the coastline with its amazing sea vistas, visit the nearby caves, explore the old town and the archaeological sites with the fortresses, museums, churches and carvings within the city walls. Another good day trip opportunity is to go to visit the beaches, the wildlife marine reserve of Peneda-Gerês, Cabo da Roca, Caldeirão and stroll around by the majority of beaches located in the entire region.

It is a great alternative to the city of Lisbon and the beaches are also known for the surfers that visit the area. There are several small surfing camps located here throughout the year.

Getting to Sesimbra

Sesimbra is surrounded by cliffs rising straight up from the ocean and is located at the northern tip of peninsular Portugal.

Travel through Lisbon’s historic center to reach the Sesimbra train station.

The distinctive white houses of town center of Sesimbra are a tip of the local architecture.

A narrow, medieval-era bridge spans the estuary to the rocky cliffs of the fishing village. The best views of the town reward you should you climb and explore the cliffs.

You can easily spend the whole day in Sesimbra and explore the town, the cliffs, the beaches, and the hiking trail along the cliffs.

You can catch a bus from Sesimbra train station. Get off at Calheta, the seaside village to reach some of the beaches. Also, you can catch a bus at the same station to head over to Figueira, another southern coastal village.

A larger dock offers fishing facilities, and there are a few dock restaurants in the area.

If you are not interested in doing the walking options that are available, you can choose to take the tour bus around Sesimbra and its surroundings for about £7. Due to the small size (smaller than even Sesimbra town itself), consider the bus an option for a quick visit rather than a day trip from Lisbon.

Queluz National Palace

And Park․The Palace of ‘Os Maias‥ is a small but beautiful palace on the Portuguese hillside, nestled on the outskirts of the town of Sintra, known as Queluz since 1837. It has been built on the foundations of the Royal Palace of Queluz, created by King Philip II of Portugal.

It is the summer residence of the Portuguese Royal Family, consisting of the president of Portugal and his family. It is currently under restoration, which is expected to be completed in late 2010.

Queluz National Palace and Park is a modern National park that extends over part of the site of the palace, whose grounds are open to the public. It was opened to the public in 1883. The building is being restored, and will open its doors to the public again on March 8, 2009, in time for a new exhibition on the Portuguese Royal Family, which exhibits items used by the Royal Household over the past year.

A highlight of the exhibition will be a new figure of our Lord Christ, who is no longer sculpted as an infant, but as a tall adult. The child Jesus will now be called the Holy Christ of Queluz, and no longer the Christ of Queluz as in the past.

Getting to Queluz National Palace

Queens of Queluz built between 1685 and 1704, the Real Queluz Palace, located around 10 miles south of Lisbon, is a huge royal residence, with more than 200 rooms and over 300,000 square feet of floor space. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

As a sign of maturity, when the young prince Dom Pedro began to establish a household, he had to wait for his father, the King of Portugal, the Infante D. Miguel, and his wife, Queen Mary I. That process took more than two years, after which the King and Queen selected Queluz as a suitable home for their children.

Once Dom Pedro became King of Portugal, he wanted to be closer to the court and had the house remodeled and expanded into a 17th century Royal Palace. It was also a symbol of his authority over the country. The majestic Royal Palace, which was built in the neoclassical style, with distinctive elements borrowed from the Italian and the French style, is the showiest of all the 18th century Portuguese Royal residences.

Queluz also has its own castle, where the Queen of Portugal and the young princes were educated and resided. There are also several monuments worth visiting in the area, such as the Sao Cristovao Church, the Church of Santa Anna, the Monastery of Santa Clara and the Parish Church of Our Lady of the Furnace.

Estoril

Algarve (0 – 2 hr drive).

Estoril enjoys a pristine location on the southern stretch of the Lisbon coast, midway between the international airport and the capital. Surrounded by beautiful scenery set against the backdrop of blue skies and the Angel’s Mountains, the town boasts a number of noteworthy monuments. From the Estoril Casino to the Belem Tower, the area also provides a number of restaurants, gardens, and other places of interest.

Getting to Estoril

The first and most common way of getting to Estoril is to take the train. Est’s one of the most important railway stations in Lisbon. If you take the train, you can get on the bus to the beach. The bus is cheap and convenient.

The train itelf destination is too be found in the station’s website.

Evora

This beautiful city lies on a plateau with half a dozen distinctive hilltops marked by the castles perched on top. Tombs and monuments spice up the landscape, and the town itself is laid out on a grid plan.

The historical center is surrounded by the parks in the old walls, which were constructed in the 14th century following the reconquest against the Moors. On any of the main causeways, you’ll see horses and carts happily pulling around the vendors and their wares.

Evora is a great place to visit when you want to enjoy a relaxing and unhurried city. You’ll feel like you’re in another world away from the freneticism of Lisbon, but it’s only an hour’s bus ride away.

Getting to Evora

If you’re going to be coming to enjoy the area, you’ll first want to get to Evora. You can do this by taking a train from Lisbon, but it’s also possible to rent a car. If you choose to rent a car, you’ll want to leave Lisbon by 5 or 6 am to make sure you get to the rental car company before they stop taking rentals.

You’ll want to bring your passport with you when renting a car as your identity will be checked. If you don’t get your passport to the rental car company within a few minutes of arrival, they will not rent the car to you. Just to be on the safe side, bring the following:

A credit card

An extra form of ID (e.g. passport)

Cabo Da Roca

Getting to Cabo Da Roca

  • Take the coastal route of Sintra, Sesimbra or Cascais. This route will take you 88 km (55 miles) to the Cabo da Roca area.
  • Take the inland route from the inland areas of Lisbon, to the north. This route will take you 480 km (300 miles) to the Cabo da Roca area.

For those able-bodied, who want to do some climbing, the Cabo da Roca is at the easternmost tip of Europe. This is the westernmost point of the European continent, and is where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea meet.

There is a cable car that connects Cabo da Roca with the town of Meleiras, 10.5 km (6 miles) east of the cape. With views of the gulf of Oporto, the views are spectacular. The Cabo da Roca is at an elevation of 500 meters (1660 feet) and is accessible all year round, except during high winds.

For those looking for a delightful day trip from Lisbon with a bit of coastal walking included, the road to Cabo de Roca is full of stunning country scenery. In addition, you can see many ancient monuments, such as the Visigothic chapel … and of course, the Cabo da Roca.

Obidos

Approx. 2 hrs

On a rainy day, there’s nothing better than taking a scenic train ride to Obidos. This charming medieval town is the perfect alternative to Lisbon and a great must-see for parents with young children.

The train ride is fully covered by the Inter-Portugal Train network and takes about an hour each way. If you want to save some time, you can purchase a train pass for Portugal instead.

Start your journey at one of the train stations in Lisbon, Putao, and Sintra. The train has stops in several major cities, including Estoril, Cascais, and Obidos.

Cruise from Obidos until you arrive in Alcobaí, a pretty seaside village. The train ticket from Obidos to Alcobaí costs €2.40. After the train arrives, you can catch a bus or cab to your hostel.

If you want to explore more of Portugal, you can catch a bus to Fatima. Bus tickets from Obidos to Fatima cost €2.85.

Obidos is known for its amazing flower park, which is free to visit. There are several beautiful vistrails starting there.

Obidos is the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle. This medieval town is on a hill surrounded by fields.

Getting to Obidos

Obidos is an impressive town to visit, and thanks to train travel, it’s easy enough to get to and from all of the attractions in surrounding towns.

There are several cities near Obidos, most notably Santa Comba D’Oria (featured above) and Batalha. These two towns are about 22 miles from Obidos, so by choice or by necessity, you will need a car to get between the two.

Train Cascais to Obidos costs only 1.60 euros, and it leaves every hour at :20, :40, :50, 1:10, 1:30, 1:50, and finally 2:20.

Cascais

If you have a lot of time and you don’t want to set foot outside of Lisbon, you may want to consider renting a car.

Peppered on the road between Lisbon and its neighbor, Cascais is the perfect “day trip” from the capital.

The small town is teeming with beautiful white beaches and a distinct coastal atmosphere which is easily found in its many shops, restaurants, hotels and natural beauty spots.

Take in the Baroque-style churches and turrets overlooking the ocean from atop the hillside. Explore the red rooftops and cobblestone streets that give the town a relaxing, laid-back vibe.

Plenty of beaches are in the vicinity, and water sports are abundant here as Cascais is surrounded by several distinct beaches, making it a popular area for parasailing, water skiing, jet skiing, and kite-surfing.

Aside from the beach, you can also explore its gardens, some of which are protected by biophilic walls.

The town is a wonderful escape from the busy city, and it will take you away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Getting to Cascais

Don’t confuse Cascais with Cascais on the California coast. If you’re visiting Portugal, the easiest way to get to Cascais is by changing trains in Madrid. A quick Google search will show you a bus or train from the airport to Lisbon to Madrid. Once in Madrid, take the train to Cascais towards the south.

After you leave the train station in Cascais, you’ll be able to find the town easily. From there, you can walk down to the cliffs below and spend the day there. The beaches that you will find there are some of the most beautiful that you will ever see. People often come here just to take in the view of the sun setting as it makes its way over the horizon.

But, at the same time, you can eat some amazing food and enjoy some of the best drinks that Portugal has to offer. Also, there are many shops in Cascais that offer a wide variety of items, including traditional Portuguese foods.

You can head back to Lisbon, return to Madrid on the same train (in the other direction) and take a taxi to the airport (about 15 minutes) or fly directly to Lisbon Airport. It is also easy to get back from Madrid if you are coming from Barcelona, Seville or Malaga.

Those of you in Barcelona can take a train to Cascais.

Sintra

Sintra is an area in the Lisbon Region of Portugal, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. With its forested hills and castles, Sintra is truly a magical place to visit. The village is famous for its many beautiful palaces.

Exploring Sintra is perfect for those that want to go off the map and get away. The village is packed with castles and palaces to explore.

There are several ways to explore these wonderful castles. You could definitely walk the area and survey the landscape. However, if time is a serious consideration for your trip, you may want to go with a combination of a Sintra tour and a bicycle tour.

A Sintra tour is a history lesson mixed with a lot of hiking. You’ll probably set out from a hotel district early in the morning to get the most out of your visit.

The tour takes you through some canals and up a forested hillside. These sites will give you the best mix of exploring and learning your history.

You could also do a bicycle tour that closely follows the tour. The tour guides will take you past many of the sights of Sintra and give you the history behind them.

Bike tours also provide you with an awesome cardio workout. If you’re still feeling energized after the tour, you can take the bicycle back to the hotel.

Getting to Lisbon

By plane: LIS (Lisbon) is well connected to most major European cities and is served by all the major carriers. Amsterdam, Paris, and London are the preferred gateway cities, but other European cities with good connections are also fairly close and are good options.

By car: Getting to Lisbon from other cities in Portugal can be done on a 2-3 hour drive. From the north, on R. N101, you can drive via Viseu and Braga, crossing the Tagus River at the famous Bracari Bridge. If you’re coming from the south, take R.14 (Transmontano) through Porto (Portwine), Aveiro, and Ponte de Lima, for a very scenic drive. Another option is to go east on the Douro River from Porto, by crossing the 2521 bridge, until you reach the village of Remoinhos, and then following the main road into Lisbon.

There are several inexpensive ferry services operating from Spain and the rest of Portugal as well. There is also an air terminal conveniently located in Lisbon.