Lisbon has a ton to offer. And no matter how long your stay, no doubt you can fill your days in the myriad of museums, rooftop bars, and cobblestone streets. But if you fancy a little time outside the hustle and bustle of the city, consider these amazing day trips.
Who knows? You may even be inspired to move to Portugal.
Most trips are within an hour and a half’s drive, give or take, and some can even be reached by public transportation.
An easy and beautiful 40-minute train ride from Cais do Sodre on the Lisbon waterfront will take you along the coast and drop you smack in the middle of the posh and popular fishing village of Cascais. The small but adorable historic downtown offers shopping, bars and restaurants overlooking the bay, several kid-friendly sandy beaches, and intricately tiled pedestrian areas.
In addition to exploring the center, consider going further afield to see more of the town.
What to do in Cascais:
- Walk along the sea front
- From Praia da Conceição in Cascais to Praia da Azarujinha in São João do Estoril you can walk on a pedestrian promenade (Paredão) while taking in non-stop views of the ocean
- Explore the Citadel Art District and bookstore
- This fortified part of the city is filled with galleries, studios spaces where artists can display their works
- There is also a used bookstore, Deja Lu, with one of the largest selections of English language books in the area
- Visit the Cascais Town Museum
- There’s no better way to learn about the history of Cascais
- Paddleboard or play foot volley on the beach
- Rent a paddleboard from the surf shop at Praia da Conceição or join a game of foot volley at Praia da Ribeira, the beach featured in Cascais Bay
- Feast on seafood and Portuguese delicacies at a bayfront or oceanfront restaurant
- Several restaurants are situated along the Paredão, Cascais Bay, and the Guincho Coast
- Wander through Marechal Carmona Park
- Chase chickens and roosters, watch the turtles sunbathing in the pond, explore the ruins, or simply enjoy the vast greenery
- Search for the tide at Boca do Inferno
- If you plan your visit right, you may be able to see the waves crashing into and up the walls of Boca do Inferno
- Stroll through the Marina and check out Santa Marta Lighthouse
- During low tide, you can even hike down to the streambed for a photo op
2. Azenhas do Mar/Praia da Adraga/Cabo da Roca
Ever wanted to get as close to the sunset as possible? You can! Do yourself a favor and drive to the most western point of continental Europe—Cabo da Roca. Not only are the cliffside views magnificent, but nearby you’ll find the prettiest cliffside town ripe for a photo op and one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal—and that’s saying a lot!
From there, continue on to Praia da Adraga, a secluded beach tucked behind a local village far off the beaten path. Set up a blanket beside the unique rock cave formations to bask in the sun for a few hours and walk along the beach winding between the cliffs and rocks that jut out into the sea.
End your day by heading to the picturesque cliffside village of Azenhas do Mar. Reminiscent of Greece, find whitewashed houses with red roof tiles built into the side of the cliff at this Instagram-worthy spot. And you can take in the sunset at the oceanfront seafood restaurant looking out over the Atlantic directly from your table.
This trip can also be done in reverse by starting at Azenhas do Mar for a photo op and a bit of exploration, continuing to Praia da Adraga where you can have lunch at the excellent local seafood restaurant at the beach entrance, and watching the sunset at Cabo da Roca.
Sintra’s combination of magnificence and history is unparalleled in Portugal. You simply cannot visit Portugal without taking a day trip to Sintra and visiting at least one of the myriad of glorious palaces, castles, and/or manicured gardens.
With more palaces, castles, and beautiful homes than you can count on two hands, it’s impossible to see it all in one day. But, if you plan your day right, you can check off a handful. So, strap on your best walking (climbing) shoes, and prepare to be in awe.
Take in a few historic sites, the historic old town, and pop into the shops for chocolate cups filled with Ginja (sour cherry liqueur), local sweets like the queijada, and souvenirs made from one of the country’s main exports—cork.
Top 5 Palaces and Castles to visit in Sintra
- Pena Palace | Palácio da Pena
- The Moorish Castle | Castelo dos Mouros
- Quinta da Regaleira
- National Palace of Sintra
- Monserrate Palace | Palácio da Monserrate
Eighty kilometers north of Lisbon, lies the majestic medieval walled castle town of Óbidos. The Disney-esque town is full of bougainvillea-covered whitewashed houses and offers vast views over the countryside just inland of the sought-after Silver Coast.
The castle was originally gifted to the 13th-century Queen Isabel of Aragon by her husband, King Dinis, and was historically passed down to princes and princesses. After an extensive restoration, the primary residence was converted into a hotel.
Enter the walled city for free, through the Porta da Vila, an Azulejo-tiled arched entrance. Then follow the cobblestone streets straight back to the castle. Wind your way through the streets as you find one of several staircases that take you to the top of the castle walls.
You can explore the whole of this tiny walled town in as little as an hour. But if you fancy spending a little more time here, there are myriad Portuguese craft shops to peruse, traditional restaurants to enjoy a few petiscos (Portuguese small plates), and many walk-up windows to down local Ginjinha—sour cherry liqueur traditionally served in a chocolate cup. And don’t forget to explore the castle itself.
Reached by car, bus, train (slow and inconvenient), or multi-stop guided tour. The express bus from Lisbon’s Campo Grande terminal is a popular public option and costs 8€, payable directly to the driver.
About 130km east of Lisbon, deep in the Alentejo region of Portugal, you’ll find the perfectly preserved historic town of Èvora. Reachable by car, bus, or train, this Alentejo gem should not be missed! Discover the stunning architecture of the second oldest university in Portugal—Èvora University, the Roman Temple, and Èvora Cathedral.
Dating back to the Roman era, and spared by the earthquake of 1755, this historic town offers a peak into the Portugal of old. Now a UNESCO Heritage Site, there are many fascinating turns to take.
Best enjoyed on foot, take a stroll through the historic center and discover the walled section of the city. And if you’re into slightly more creepy history/architecture, make sure to check out Praça do Giraldo; Capela dos Ossos, a chapel built using over 2,000 monks’ bones and skulls.
Whether you take a day trip here or pass through on your way to/from the north, Tomar is worth a visit. Situated on an aqueduct, the beautiful bridges and narrow cobblestone streets will wow you.
Located about an hour and a half north of Lisbon, Tomar offers fascinating history. An original stronghold of the Knights Templar, you can still visit today the UNESCO World Heritage Site convent—Convent of Christ (Convento de Cristo)—famed for its round church. It sits atop a hill just opposite Tomar Castle (Castelo do Tomar) and looks down at the historic center of Tomar.
Take in the perfectly planned city, by starting in the town square, Praça da República, and working your way through the gridded streets. Don’t miss the special sweet, Fatias de Tomar (Tomar Slices), made only with sugar and egg yolks, cooked in a special pan, sliced, and served with cinnamon and lemon—only sold in this town.
There is also a children’s playground in the park with a snack bar serving ice cream, coffee, and snacks that overlooks one of the beautiful bridges crossing the Nabão River that runs through town.
COMING SOON: High-Speed Train to Porto
Currently, if you’re hoping to visit Porto from Lisbon, whether by car, bus, or train, it is going to take you 3+ hours. But not forever!
Recently the Prime Minister of Portugal announced plans to begin construction on a new high-speed rail line between Lisbon and Porto, cutting the travel time between the two down to only one hour and fifteen minutes.
While construction is not slated to begin until 2024—and is not anticipated to be completed for several years—this is a step in the direction of offering faster connection times from Portugal to the rest of the world. Exciting times!
Beaches, Architecture, History, and More
Whether you’re looking for beaches, architecture, history, or something unique, there are many, many options when planning a day trip from Lisbon. No doubt, there are many other day trips to ponder, as this is a short list. But fret not, Portugal’s beauty and interest is vast, so no matter which day trip you choose, you really can’t go wrong. Which day trip from Lisbon will you take?
Allison Baxley is the creator of Renovating Life, a blog with everything you need to know about moving to and living in Portugal. She moved from Brooklyn, New York to Cascais in 2021 with her husband and two children. When she’s not writing for her blog she enjoys discovering new corners of Portugal and planning her next European getaway.