Lisbon is one of Europe’s most exciting and vibrant cities and is well worth a visit, but limiting your trip to Portugal to just the capital would be a shame. There are lots of day trips to take in the region surrounding the Portuguese capital. Visit the stunning local beaches, wander down ancient cobbled streets, take in impressive architecture or go more in-depth with the country’s art and history.
Check out some of the ideas for day trips from Lisbon on this list.
Day trips from Lisbon
As Portugal is a small country, many other cities are accessible from Lisbon in a few hours. This list is for day trips from Lisbon no more than one hour away from the capital city.
Most of the day trips are accessible by public transport, but you’ll need a car for some of the more remote areas.
If you choose just one day trip from Lisbon, make it the beautiful, historic town of Sintra. Located in the hills of Serra de Sintra, it’s only 29km from Lisbon. What’s more, getting there by public transport is easy. Direct trains run to Sintra from the central Rossio train station every 15 minutes.
What is there to see in Sintra? It’s a charming, old town which is the home to many impressive palaces and the ruins of a Moorish castle.
Sintra isn’t just for architecture and building lovers, the natural beauty of the hilly area will also take your breath away.
The must see attraction in the Sintra area is the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Palácio Nacional da Pena or Pena National Palace.
The majestic, Romanticist style, colorful Pena Palace stands on top of Sinatra hill and on a clear day you have spectacular views of it from Lisbon. The castle is in the Sintra natural park, which is a vast forested area that you should also take some time to explore.
Several architectural styles influence the castle, which dates back to the middle ages. A blend of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic and Neo-Renaissance styles make the yellow and red castle extremely unique. The Pena Palace is one of the seven wonders of Portugal and is used for state occasions.
If you have a car and want to explore more in the Sintra region, visit the Monserrate Park and Palace. This palace was traditionally the summer retreat for the Portuguese court and has a garden with an impressive range of plants from around the world. My personal favorite, however, is the Quinta da Regaleira with its garden full or literary references.
2. Cabo da Roca
The westernmost point of the Sintra mountain range forms a cape known as Cabo da Roca which is the westernmost point of mainland Europe. For a long time, it was believed to be the end of the world.
A visit to Cabo da Roca makes for a fun day trip, you can admire the stunning coastline and tackle some of the hiking trails in the Sintra mountains.
You can visit the Cabo da Roca lighthouse and marvel at the neverending mass of water in front of you.
Another option when you visit Cabo da Roca is to find a beautiful beach to spend the day chilling out. There are a few hidden beaches such as Praia do Louriçal and Praia da Ursa which you can access by foot from Cabo da Roca.
3. Cascais and Estoril
In the past, both Cascais and Estoril were retreat towns for royalty and are part of the Portuguese Riviera. If you want to spend some time in a picturesque town close to pristine beaches, it is worth
the 25 minute day trip outside the city center. You can take a scenic train ride to reach them and spend the day exploring.
Alternatively, get the train or an Uber to either Cascais or Estoril and walk the short 2 km distance between the two along the coastline.
Cascais has four beaches within walking distance but there are plenty of sights to see in the town itself to keep you busy for the day. Why not visit one of the excellent pasteis de nata shops to try these delicious Portuguese specialties? If you don’t have time to grab one in Cascais, check out one of the famous Lisbon pasteis shops when you get back to the city from your day trip!
Other sites to see in the historic center of Cascais include the Cascais fort, Parque Marechal Carmona and, Guimaraes Museum and Condes de Castro.
If chilling at the beach sounds a bit boring and you’re looking for some more adrenaline, check out the surf spot Praia do Guincho just north of Cascais.
Estoril is more focused on entertainment and nightlife – the casino is one of the main attractions. One of Europe’s largest casinos allegedly inspired Ian Fleming to create James Bond. There are plenty of bars and restaurants in Estoril to keep you entertained.
A 45-minute drive from the city center of Lisbon, you may get the chance to cross the famous Vasco da Gama Bridge if you travel to Sesimbra. If you come from the western side of Lisbon, you'll cross the Ponte 25 de Abril.
The small fishing town is known for its excellent seafood restaurants. The narrow streets and rustic charm of the town make for a chilled-out day trip. Lounge at the beach or gorge on fresh seafood at one of the restaurants along the seafront.
If you’re looking to explore a little more, head up the hill to check out the Sesimbra castle. The castle was built to defend the Atlantic coast between 1642 and 1648. Inside the fortress, you’ll find the Sesimbra Maritime Museum which documents the history of the local fisher community.
This small coastal town lies on Portugal’s silver coast. The town of 3,100 inhabitants is well worth the day trip from the capital city. It’s about an hour's drive from the city, and a visit here feels like stepping back in time.
Óbidos boasts a rich history stretching back to medieval times. The small medieval town was a gift from the Portuguese king to his queen on their wedding day in 1282. The whitewashed houses and cobblestone streets make it a picturesque place to wander around.
On top of the hill, beyond the city walls, there’s a traditional Moorish castle which is now a hotel. The castle is another of the seven wonders of Portugal and you can walk along the stone walls to look down to the buildings below.
6. Costa da Caparica and Fonte da Telha
If you want a swim in the Atlantic Ocean and to relax at white sand beaches, head for a day trip to the Costa da Caparica. A small suburban train called the Transpraia runs along the coastline and drops visitors off at different stops. There are 21 stops in total with Fonte de Telha at the end of the line.
Costa da Caparica lies on the tourist trail so get there early if you are visiting in summer. The stunning beach of Fonte da Telha, however, sits on the edge of a protected area of geological importance – the Arriba Fossil.
The natural reserve includes coastal plains and fossil cliffs which are around 10 million years old. They are one of the most important examples of this type of fossil in Western Europe. The cliffs have different color gradients which are magical to see at sunset when they adopt a golden glow. Many birds of prey nest along the tops of these cliffs.
In the natural reserve, you will also find rich woodland with many great hiking trails.
7. Parque Natural da Arrabida
A protected area that covers 172 km of land in the south of the Setubal peninsula, the Arrabida Park should be on your bucket list of day trips from Lisbon.
The park is a paradise for nature lovers and the perfect place to escape the city. You can bike, hike and run amongst the shepherd trails in the craggy mountains of the park. The birdwatching opportunities in the park are also excellent.
If nature is not so much your thing, visit one of the historic wineries in the park and indulge in some wine tasting.
Arrabida is also home to some of the best, most beautiful beaches in continental Europe such as Praia dos Galapinhos. If you want to spend the day chilling out at a white sand beach, head to Arrabida.
Another great way to see the park is by kayak, there is a network of river systems within the park that boast crystal clear blue water and stunning views.
In the same region as Arrabida, you’ll find the town of Setubal which is still a little off the beaten track for holidaymakers and Lisbon day trips. The large town has a small city feel and is perfectly manageable to explore on foot.
The Avenida Luisa Todi is a long avenue with stunning architecture, parks, fountains, and restaurants. There's also ample opportunity to spot the famous blue and white Portuguese tiles. For more beautiful tiles visit the town’s Livramento Market which dates back to 1876 and is voted one of the best markets in Europe.
Head down to the port where you can catch a boat to go and see the schools of bottlenose dolphins that live in Troia Peninsula.
You can also catch a boat over to the Troia Peninsula to visit Coporta beach which is another of Portugal’s most beautiful beaches. It has a long stretch of golden sand and calm clear water perfect for swimming.
This small, charming village about an hour north of Lisbon is a surfers paradise. Whatever your surfing level, there will be waves for you. There are dozens of surf schools in Ericeira where you can rent surfboards and wetsuits or sign up for surf lessons.
If surfing sounds too adventurous to you, treat yourself to a beach day and enjoy watching the surfers catch some waves. Do note that the better beaches for sunbathing lie just north and south of Ericeira. The beaches by the center aren't that great in my opinion.
Ericeira is quite charming. Cobbled streets lined with white and blue houses, interspersed with monuments make the tranquil fishing village a photogenic place to have a stroll.
10. Belém and Jeronimos Monestary
One of the most important historic monuments to visit when you’re planning your day trips from Lison is the Jeronimos Monastery. The UNESCO world heritage site, built during the Portuguese age of exploration, also has a monument to the explorer and poet Luís de Camões.
The location of the monastery is no coincidence. It was a place for explorers to ask for spiritual protection before they set out to sea. With so much history and stories to tell, it’s worth taking a walking tour or a guided tour of the Belém area to learn more about these incredible buildings.
The Belém tower looks as if it rises out from the water and is a symbol of strength and defiance. What was once a defense to attack invaders, is now a great photographic opportunity for tourists. Stay for sunset to watch as the sun goes down behind the tower.
11. Torres Vedras
History lovers need to take a trip about an hour north of Lisbon to check out the medieval town of Torres Vedras.
In the 18th Century, a network of fortresses was built to defend Lisbon from Napoleon’s army. The fortresses had a fascinating communication system which you can learn more about at the Torres Vedras Museum.
Take a visit to the impressive Castelo de Torres Vedras in the north of the city. The fortress has been on top of the hill for the last 2,000 years. Inside the castle's outer walls is the Portuguese monument Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo which is a well preserved blue and white church.
The region around Torres Vedras also has some of Portugal’s most productive wineries. Be sure to check them out if you’re a wine lover.
One of the more unique day trips from Lisbon is to the small town of Mafra. The town is home to another of Portugal’s UNESCO world heritage sites worth a visit – the National Palace of Mafra, also known as the Mafra convent. Built in the 18th Century funded by Brazilian gold, Mafra Palace was the former royal residence.
Visiting the impressive baroque and neoclassical place can take a whole day; there are 1200 rooms inside the palace! You won’t see all the rooms on a guided tour but you will pass by the most important rooms such as the throne room. Make sure to also visit the impressive interior of the basilica in the center of the palace.
The Jardim do Cerco behind the palace is also well worth visiting. A well-kept baroque garden that covers 8 hectares boasts an impressive range of plants and herbs. The garden also has a beautiful aqueduct that brings water from the hills down to the garden.
Other things to do in Mafra include checking out the local cafes and delicacies from the bakeries such as the delicious local bread.
If you’re in the Mafra area and interested in wildlife, visit the Iberian Wolf Recovery Center to learn more about the Iberian Wolf.
13. Palacio Nacional de Quelz
Just 15 minutes outside the city is another popular place for day trips from Lisbon – the Quelz palace. The palace was one of the last rococo buildings designed in Europe.
The eighteenth-century palace is often nicknamed the Versaille of Portgual due to its impressive architecture, ornate rooms and gardens filled with statues and fountains.
Take a guided tour to learn more about the intricate details of the palace and the royal inhabitants who lived there throughout the centuries.
14. Alacer do Sal
Ninety kilometers south of Lisbon, you’ll find another historic town that is worth a day trip. The town of Alcer do Sal sits on the left bank of the river Sado where a pod of dolphins resides.
The old town has a long history and a magnificent medieval castle. If you would like to learn more about the town’s history, visit the museum inside. Beneath the castle, you’ll find subterranean galleries which preserve centuries of history.
Start your day trip with a stroll through the old town along the waterfront. You’ll be impressed by the architecture and you can have some refreshments at the cafes and restaurants facing the water.
In the summer, there’s an option to take a river cruise down the Sado, taking you down to one of the beautiful beaches in the Troia Peninsula.
The town also has a fascinating agricultural history and is Europe’s top pine nut producer. Pine nuts and honey are part of the local confectionary. The estuary town also has a long tradition of rice growing which you can learn about in the old rice husking factory – the Museo do Arroz. There’s also a restaurant there where you can taste some local delicacies.
15. Caldas da Rainha
For those going on day trips from Lisbon a little further afield, check out the inland spa town Caldas da Rainha. It will take you around an hour by car to reach. Public transport will take much longer.
Explore the beautiful parks, pretty town center and large daily market that sells fresh, regional produce.
Museum-lovers will enjoy Caldas da Rainha and there is something for everyone to explore. In an old hospital, there’s a museum about the natural springs that first drew people to the town in the 15th Century. You’ll also find exhibits on medical history here.
If art is more your thing, visit the Muse Jose Malhoa, who was a famous Portuguese painter, or the Museu de Cerâmica. In an old townhouse, you’ll find a free cycling museum, the Museu do Ciclismo, which displays the history of cycling in Portugal.
Where to stay in Lisbon
Looking for a place to sleep hotel in the Portuguese capital? Check out these accommodation options in the city center:
Flora Chiado Apartments: centrally located and well equipped.
Lisbon Woods House: great if you’re on a budget.
Palacio do Visconde: in the Arroios district this stylish, bright hotel has a roof terrace with views over the city.
The Felix 10 is a four-star hotel with lots of outdoor space to enjoy and within walking distance to the main sights of the city.
Want some refreshment after a day of exploring? We've put together this list of hotels in Lisbon city center with pools.
Need some more help with planning your trip to Portugal? Check out my ultimate trip guide to Portugal.
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