Portugal is a beautiful country which truly stole our heart. We loved it so much, we visited several times and even lived there for a while. During our second trip, we took several day trips from Lisbon as we wanted to explore the lesser known locations in the country. We couldn't believe how amazing some of these places were. You might have already planned for some of the popular day trips from Lisbon, like Sintra and Cascais. In this guide, we are going to tell you a few secret locations, alternative and lesser known day trips from Lisbon you can take by using either a rental or public transport where possible.
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Popular day trips from Lisbon
There is so much to see and do in Lisbon. The city's colours, charm and delicious dishes continue to attract countless tourists from all around the world. Lisbon keeps gaining rank when it comes to top destination lists and it's one of the most loved locations for digital nomads. But beyond this fabulous city, there are many attractions which await to be discovered. Just a few short day trips from Lisbon will unravel spectacular beaches, rugged cliffs and fairy-like castles. Here are the most popular day trips from Lisbon we recommend for first-time visitors.
Oh Sintra, you beautiful town full of castles, palaces and dramatic coastal viewpoints. Sintra is a resort town located at the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains. Sintra can be easily reached by train which makes it the perfect (and the most popular) day trip from Lisbon.
Whilst in Sintra, we recommend visiting the Pena Palace, perhaps one of the most beautiful and colourful castles we've ever seen. We noticed that many tourists take the shuttle from the town centre to the top of the hill, where the Pena Palace is located. If you can, hike your way up as you will be rewarded with some fantastic views along the way.
Castle of the Moors
Visit the Castle of the Moors, a Moorish fortress with sea views. There are quite a few stairs to climb so be prepared. We recommend going either first thing in the morning when the castle opens or late in the evening to avoid potential queues. We visited in April and only had to wait for around 10 minutes to enter.
Quinta da Regaleira
One of my favourite points of interests was the pretty Quinta da Regaleira, an estate with lovely gardens part of UNESCO. This is one of the most incredible places for photos.
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Cabo da Roca
This makes a day trip from Lisbon on its own, it's so beautiful. Cabo da Roca is a cape which forms the westernmost extent of mainland Portugal, continental Europe and the Eurasian landmass. The viewpoints are incredible and the whole landscape looks dramatic. It's part of a national park so if you love outdoor activities, this is the perfect place for you.
The highest point is near Sintra and the range itself covers around 16 km from the town of Sintra all the way to Cabo da Roca, at the Atlantic Ocean. There are paths which will take you through ancient forests. This place was once known as the Moon Hill or "Lunae Mons".
Cascais is a coastal town located West of Lisbon. Known for its beautiful sandy beaches, it makes a fantastic day trip from Lisbon for any travellers who wish to escape the city's agitation. One of the best places to visit here is the Sintra-Cascais National Park. As we are outdoors enthusiasts, that's where we spent the majority of our day.
Sintra-Cascais National Park
Sintra-Cascais National Park is one of the 13 National Parks of Portugals. It is a protected place and it just makes for a relaxing day trip from Lisbon, where couples can walk, talk and reconnect. The views are excellent so make sure to bring your camera. There are parts which reminded us of New Zealand's South Island.
Boca do Inferno
Boca do Inferno is a chasm located not far from Cascais. You can admire scenic cliffs which form an archway and cave created by powerful ocean waves. It looks especially dramatic on an overcast day.
A lovely stretch of beach with bars and restaurants. It can be nice for just a walk on the shore, or, if you the weather is lovely, you can sunbathe and jump in. This is also great for surfing.
Óbidos is a medieval town with around 3000 inhabitants and has its roots from a Roman settlement near the foothills. Óbidos is especially known for its beautiful medieval castle and the yearly Óbidos Medieval Market, which takes places in July.
Castle of Óbidos
Castle of Óbidos is a well preserved medieval castle where you can climb the castle walls for beautiful views. There are various restaurants nearby which sell traditional dishes. It's unique and quite off the beaten path as well.
If you happen to be as Asia-obsessed as we are, then you will truly love the Buddha Eden. It's an Asian peace garden with sculptures, pagodas and terracotta soldiers. We recommend the Buddha Eden simply because it's so unusual for Portugal. Most Portuguese places are traditional and quaint and true to their culture but the Buddha Eden is just so multicultural and different.
Mafra Palace is located less than 30 km away from Lisbon which makes it a quick and easy day trip from the city. This palace is a Baroque palace - monastery completed in 1755. It's well preserved and the gardens are a real treat.
Cristo Rei statue and Cacilhas
Looking for a quick and easy day trip from Lisbon? This might be it. Cristo Rei statue is located in Almada, on the other side of the Ponte 25 de Abril. You can take the public transport or drive to the other side of the bridge. This huge catholic statue was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ and was inspired by the well-known statue of Christ the Redeemer, located in Rio.
Although Porto requires several days of exploring, it's a city which can be easily reached by train from Lisbon. We visited Porto for a day trip from Lisbon, fell in love with the city and returned to spend several days exploring it. Porto is colourful and has myriad restaurants which serve some of the best food we've ever had in Europe.
Lesser known day trips from Lisbon
Love off the beaten path locations? We put together some beautiful and lesser known day trips from Lisbon. Although some of the locations we propose can be reached by public transport, we recommend renting a car for easier access.
Serra da Arrábida Natural Park
The Nature Park of Arrábida is a gorgeous outdoors spectacle covering an area of 108 square kilometres (42 sq mi). The highest peak in the park is 499 metres and it is covered in Mediterranean-like flora.
There are a few beaches in the park, mostly popular with locals and some Lisbon inhabitants.
Setubal is a city known for its estuaries, beaches and vineyards. Don't miss the Galapinhos Beach, known for its blue waters. It's one of the most beautiful beaches on the Western side of Portugal.
Love surfing? Then head to Ericeira, a civil parish and seaside community on the Western coast of Portugal. It's located just 35 km NW of Lisbon. Visit the bustling Beach of Ribeira d'Ilhas known for surfing, the Fishermen's Beach, Foz do Lizandro or Praia do Sul. You'll find an array of beaches in Ericeira, which makes it wonderful for ocean lovers.
Vineyards of Azeitão
Azeitão is a pretty little town with vineyards, olive and cork trees. Azeitão makes a great day trips from Lisbon for those interested in local wines. Azeitão is also known for its tiles. There are various tours you could book for wine tasting or the custom making of Portugues tiles. There is no mass production of tiles here, just beautiful tiles made by artisans.