There is so much to do in Lisbon that it’ll keep you busy for days on end. But there are also some highly worthwhile places to visit within day trip distance of the city.
Having lived in Lisbon for over 7 years, I’ve had plenty of time to check out all of the best day trips from Lisbon. Here are my top suggestions:
Sintra is easily the most popular day trip from Lisbon and with good reason. The town itself is cute, with lots of medieval architecture and set amongst green mountains, but the real reasons to visit are the Palacio Nacional da Pena and the medieval Castelo dos Mouros.
Castelo dos Mouros is an old stone castle that has great views of the Atlantic coastline and takes a little on-foot climb to get to.
The 19th-century Palacio Nacional da Pena is unusually colorful. The interiors are fairly interesting but it’s especially the exteriors with the domed towers and eccentric colors that are always highly worth seeing.
Besides these top sights, Sintra has numerous gardens, palaces, and museums to visit. Honestly, there is a lot more here than you can see on a day trip from Lisbon, but it’s still common for people to visit for one day. Make sure you get an early start so you have plenty of time to explore.
Sintra involves a lot of walking as the sights are very spread out, so it’s worth booking a tour to Sintra just to save time and fit everything in. If you take a tour, you’ll have time for more sights, such as the stunning Quinta de Regaleira, an unusual and magical garden that has many cave tunnels, and an ancient well with a staircase.
Before you leave Sintra, grab a travesseiros pastry and queijadas tart at the Casa Piriquita bakery that has been open since 1862.
Day trip to Sintra
By train: catch the direct train to Sintra from Rossio railway station in central Lisbon. It takes about 40 minutes. It’s then about a 20-minute walk to the old town of Sintra from where you can arrange further transportation.
By car: drive to Sintra via the A37. It takes about 50 minutes depending on traffic.
By tour (easiest option): With this full-day tour on GetYourGuide you will visit the 2 biggest highlights: Quinta Regaleira and Pena Palace (as well as the historical town itself). This private day tour on Viator will also take you to the Moorish castle and the coast and includes hotel pickup in Lisbon.
With its many restored buildings with flowers hanging from balconies, Obidos is one of the prettiest towns you can visit in Portugal. It’s a bit further from the capital than Sintra, but it’s still one of the best day trips from Lisbon.
Obidos is an old medieval town that was given to Queen Isabel de Aragon as a wedding gift from her husband King Dinis in the 13th century. It continued to pass between royal families until the 19th century. The town was once enclosed by a stone wall that dates back to the medieval period and you can still walk along what’s left of it today.
Interestingly, the history of Obidos is very tied with literature. In fact, the town is a UNESCO City of Literature, so it has some interesting bookstores. One of the most impressive is the Livraria de Santiago, which is within the 18th-century Sao Tiago church.
Try some ginjinha (a sour cherry liqueur originating in Obidos) or have a cold beer at a plaza. The best way to get to know Obidos is to just wander around and get a bit lost along the cobblestone streets.
Day trip to Obidos
By bus: catch a Rodoviaria do Oeste bus from the Campo Grande bus station (you can see the schedule online and buy your ticket at the station).
By car: Obidos is about 75 minutes from Lisbon in the District of Leiria. You can get there via the A8 if you’re driving
By tour (easiest option): Organized tours starting in Lisbon are also available. These combine Obidos with other places like the religious sanctuary of Fatima and Nazare, the site of the world’s tallest waves and surfing world records. Check this group tour on GetYourGuide or this similar tour on Viator.
Serra da Arrábida and Sesimbra
The Serra da Arrabida is a small mountain range that extends above the bay of Setubal south of Lisbon. There’s a mix of lush coast, green woodland and shrubland making it an interesting place to hike.
There are some public transport links to the towns of Sesimbra or Setubal, but you won’t get to many other places by bus. If you’re just going on a day trip it’s worth hiring a car for a day and going on a mini road trip to make the most of your time.
Some of the most gorgeous beaches near Lisbon can be found here, such as Galapinhos Beach.
There are lots of hiking trails too, which are marked out. If you want to check some routes out beforehand or download a map, I’d recommend using AllTrails.
While in Sesimbra visit the 17th-century Fortaleza de Santiago, and don’t skip the Museo do Mar (Museum of the Sea) within the fort if you want to find out about the town’s history. There’s a Moorish castle above the town too, which dates to the 10th century.
It’s worth having some freshly caught grilled sardines whilst you’re there. The town also has lots of watersport tours on offer, like diving and kayaking expeditions.
The Berlengas Islands are made up of three different islands, but you can only visit one, the Berlenga Grande island. The one drawback of this day trip is that it does require forward planning. As only 350 visitors are allowed on the island each day, you’ll want to grab your ticket in advance (especially if you’re visiting in peak season).
The island is just 1.5km long, so a day trip is enough time to explore. You can hike around the island, visit the old fortress, laze on the beach, or scuba dive in the Natural Reserve of the Berlengas. There’s a lighthouse on the island too, the Berlenga Lighthouse, that is still in use today. The only way to get to Berlenga is by boat, and most embark from Peniche.
It’s worth staying a night in Peniche, so you can explore the coast and jump on a boat early the next morning. The boat ride takes about an hour and if you’re short on time half a day is enough to explore this little island.
Peniche is a small town where most people come here to surf. The waves are much friendlier to amateurs than the gigantic swells that crash on the shores of Nazare. But even if you’re not a surfer, there are plenty of spots for swimming and sunbathing.
Evora is an ideal day trip for foodies and history fans. Some of the best-preserved Roman ruins in Portugal are in Evora. One of the most well-known is the Roman temple, a 1st-century marble temple that’s now a ruin.
Another history hotspot in Evora is the Bone Chapel, a section of the Sao Francisco church. It was constructed in the 17th century and it’s pretty spooky. On the inside of the church, many of the walls were built using human bones. The skulls stick out amongst the cement and give the whole place an eerie feel.
Evora is also known for its wine. Get a bit tipsy at Cafetaria Pateo de Sao Miguel before jumping on the bus back to Lisbon.
You can get to Evora from both the Sete Rios and Oriente bus stations. There are buses quite frequently, and you can check for schedules and up-to-date prices on the Rede Expressos website.
Known for its unusually tall waves, this coastal fishing town was put on the map in 2011 when Garett McNamara, a professional US surfer, conquered a 24-meter wave near the lighthouse off North Beach.
More recently, on the 29th of October 2020, the German surfer Sebastian Steudtner set the Guinness World Record for the largest wave ever surfed. The 26.2-meter wave that broke that day was another of Nazare’s monster waves.
The town itself won’t keep you busy for too long, but it’s great to see the waves crashing onto shore, especially around October and November when they’re often at their strongest. The best spot to watch from is the lighthouse, which has a big platform-like area.
There’s a long stretch of beach along the front of the town, and you can sometimes swim there if the sea is behaving itself that day – but if you’re looking to lounge and snorkel, there are other beach destinations.
You can take the funicular between the two parts of the town, one of which sits high above the coast and has some pretty spectacular views of the beaches below.
Nazare is about 2 hours drive away from Lisbon and between 2 to 3 hours away by bus. There are public transit options from both the Sete Rios and Oriente bus stations, with operators like Rede Expressos and Flix Bus. However, Nazare is best combined with other sites on a day trip by car, or visited as part of a multi-stop tour such as this one.
Cacilhas is a neighborhood on the south bank of Lisbon, giving you great views of the city and the 25th of April Bridge.
Walk along the Tagus River and stop for a lunch of freshly grilled fish at a local restaurant. Near the ferry station, there are mainly fresh seafood restaurants, like Ponto Final.
If you’re looking for variety, one of the best food spots in town is the Rua Candidos dos Reis, a street lined with restaurants and ice cream shops.
There’s a free panoramic lift you can go up to see the city and town from a different perspective. Fancy a good coffee and seeing some art? Then head to Casa da Cerca, it’s just five minutes walk away from the lift and they have contemporary art exhibitions, a cafe, and a cute terrace.
The great thing about Cacilhas is that it’s just a 10-minute ferry ride away from Lisbon. You can easily catch the ferry from Cais do Sodre station. If you’re in a more adventurous mood (or perhaps living in Lisbon and looking for a random place to go), you can also get to other towns by the bay from here, such as Seixal.
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