Truthfully, there’s more than enough to do in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon to keep you occupied even on a long trip. But as the capital of the country, Lisbon is the central hub of Portugal’s transportation network. And in this relatively small coastal country, it’s not hard to get almost anywhere from the capital. So if you have the time, it would be a shame not to see at least a little more of the country while you’re in Lisbon.
Luckily, there is no shortage of great places to explore, not far from Lisbon itself. Drop off your unneeded bags at a Lisbon luggage storage, and you can travel light to some of these fabulous destinations. Not only will you have a great time, but you’ll also come away with a much deeper sense of what the country has to offer outside its biggest city.
Spend about an hour on the train, and you’ll arrive in the charming town of Sintra. This is one of the most popular day trips from Lisbon, and it’s easy to see why. Known for its impressive palaces and castles, including the famous Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle, Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a true gem of Portugal. Don’t forget to explore the historic center of Sintra, which is filled with charming streets and traditional shops selling local crafts and delicacies.
Another popular day trip destination from Lisbon is the coastal town of Cascais. Known for its beautiful beaches, a picturesque marina, and charming old town, Cascais is the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. While it’s close to the city, reachable in just an hour by train and bus, it feels a long way away from the crowded streets of Lisbon.
Visitors can also take a leisurely stroll along the seafront promenade or explore the town’s many museums and art galleries. Cascais is also a great place to try traditional Portuguese seafood dishes such as fresh fish, usually caught that same day, and seafood stew.
Looking to take a trip back in time? For a truly unique day trip experience, head to the fortified town of Obidos. Surrounded by ancient walls, this charming town is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, including the impressive Obidos Castle. Visitors can also wander through the town’s narrow streets and explore its many shops, cafes, and restaurants. Obidos is also famous for its local cherry liqueur, Ginja, which can be enjoyed in chocolate cups. Now that’s a treat!
Elvas is a fortified city in the region of Alentejo. Recognized as one of the best-preserved military fortifications in Europe, it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city’s star attraction is the Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça, a 17th-century fortress that offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can also tour the historic center of Elvas and visit the city’s many churches and museums.
Fatima is one of the most important religious sites in Portugal, and it is a popular destination for both Catholics and non-Catholics. The town is home to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima, which is said to be the location where the Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in 1917. While in town, you can also check out the town’s many other religious sites, including the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary and the Chapel of the Apparitions. It’s a fascinating place to do some sightseeing, even if you’re not Catholic, but do remember that this is a holy site for those who are, so try to be respectful while you make your way around.
Cabo da Roca
For a truly breathtaking day trip experience, head to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of continental Europe. This rugged coastal area offers incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding cliffs. The crashing waves and towering cliffs make for a truly dramatic scene that feels like what it was believed to be in ancient times: the end of the world.
This day trip is best combined with a visit to the nearby towns of Cascais and Sintra by taking a scenic drive along the coast. Cabo da Roca is also a great spot for hiking and bird watching, with many trails leading through the natural reserve of the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.
Batalha is a small town located about an hour and a half from Lisbon. It is famous for its magnificent Gothic Monastery of Santa Maria da Vitoria, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Monastery of Batalha is one of the most important examples of Gothic architecture in Portugal, and it is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of the 15th century. While you’re here, make sure to see the intricate Manueline Cloister. There’s a lot more to do here than just the Monastery. You can also head to spots like the Palace of the Dukes of Aveiro and the Gothic church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição.
Arrábida Natural Park
Arrábida Natural Park is a protected natural area located south of Lisbon. It is known for its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, making it a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. You can take a hike through the park’s lush vegetation and see a variety of local wildlife, including eagles and vultures. The park also has lovely views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding landscape.
Located about an hour from Lisbon, Mafra is best known for the magnificent Palace of Mafra, a grand 18th-century palace and basilica that was built by King John V. The palace is a true architectural gem, with a stunning baroque facade and opulent interiors. Exploring the palace can easily eat up most of the day, but this charming town is also worth exploring, and you’ll find plenty of quaint local restaurants where you can try traditional Portuguese cuisine on your day trip.
Thanks to the relatively small size of Portugal and some excellent public transportation links, it’s easy to get around if you use Lisbon as your base. Whether you want to rent a car and drive yourself or take advantage of trains and buses, you won’t find it difficult to explore some of these excellent day trip ideas from the capital. Just remember to leave your luggage behind so you can navigate around unencumbered.