The ancient town of Obidos

5 Best Day Trips from Lisbon

Hey there, adventure-seekers! As a seasoned Lisbon resident, I can vouch for the magic that lies in the heart of Portugal’s capital. But, Lisbon is not the end of the journey – it’s just the beginning! Portugal’s compact geography makes it an excellent base for some truly amazing day trips. Let’s dive into my list of the best day trips from Lisbon that you simply can’t miss.

Best Day Trip from Lisbon #1: The Enchanting World of Sintra

A visit to Portugal is incomplete without a day trip to the fairy-tale town of Sintra. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sintra is just an hour’s train ride from Lisbon, but it feels like stepping into another world. Its picturesque landscape is dotted with pastel-colored palaces, ancient castles, and lush forests. If you’re a fan of fantasy novels like I am, walking around Sintra feels like wandering through a storybook!

A beautiful alley way up the hills of Sintra
A Sintra alley way

Pena Palace: Sintra’s Crown Jewel

Among Sintra’s many highlights, the Pena Palace stands tall. Literally! Located on one of Sintra’s highest peaks, the brightly colored palace offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Yes, it’s perched high on a hill, and no, walking there isn’t your best option – I can tell you from personal experience that it’s more of a workout than a leisurely stroll.

Aerial shot of Pena Palace
Aerial shot of Pena Palace

There’s a handy bus line, 434, that loops around the main sights. It’s convenient and costs around 7 EUR. But here’s a heads-up: during the peak season, this bus can be as packed as a can of sardines, and you might find yourself waiting in a longer line than you bargained for.

For a smoother journey, think about hailing a tuk-tuk. They’re usually around, ready to whisk you up the hill. Yes, it’s pricier, but it’s a time-saver, and when you’re on holiday, every moment counts.

Another great time saver? Buying your tickets online in advance. Not only will you avoid another queue at the entrance, but you’ll also score a 5% discount. If you plan to take in more of Sintra’s spectacular sights, keep an eye out for deals on combined tickets.

Now, a little insider tip from yours truly: when you finally reach the castle, resist that initial urge to start snapping pictures. Instead, head straight to the queue for the interior tour. You can then take your time capturing the stunning exterior on your way out. Enjoy your exploration!

Best Day Trip from Lisbon #2: Bask in the Beauty of Cascais and Estoril

On a sunny day in Lisbon, there’s nothing quite like hopping on a train and finding yourself on the stunning coastline of Cascais and Estoril in under an hour. These seaside towns have their own charm that is an enticing contrast to the hustle and bustle of Lisbon.

My journey usually starts in the morning as I find that’s the best time to beat the crowds and truly enjoy the beauty of the coastline.

Cascais town centre
Cascais town centre

The first thing on my itinerary is usually a leisurely stroll around the Cascais town center. It’s a vibrant place full of cute boutiques, artisanal bakeries, and delightful cafes. I can still remember this delightful pastry shop on Rua Frederico Arouca, where I had one of the best Pastéis de Nata of my life.

After indulging my sweet tooth, I make my way to the Cascais Marina. I absolutely love watching the yachts and sailboats docked there, gently swaying to the rhythm of the waves. The marina is also home to the Museum Condes de Castro, which offers a peek into the history of the region.

Next, it’s time for some beach relaxation. I usually head to Praia da Rainha, a small but beautiful beach that’s a real hidden gem. Here’s a local secret – it’s one of the least crowded beaches in the area, and the water is simply magnificent.

In the afternoon, I like to make my way to Estoril. The Estoril Casino, one of Europe’s largest, is an absolute must-visit. Even if gambling’s not your thing, the vibrant atmosphere and the occasional live shows make it worth the trip. The last time I was there, I ended up joining a Salsa class that was happening in one of the halls. Talk about unexpected fun!

As the day comes to an end, I often find myself at Tamariz Beach, watching the sunset. There’s a seaside restaurant there called Bar do Guincho, where I once had the freshest grilled sardines while watching the sunset – I can’t recommend it enough!

Estoril: The Riviera of Portugal

Known as the Portuguese Riviera, Estoril boasts a glamorous history as a playground for royalty and aristocrats. The grand casino and luxury hotels here hint at this past. Walking down the streets of Estoril, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of that James Bond-style intrigue.

Best Day Trip from Lisbon #3: Journey Through History in Évora

An hour and a half away from Lisbon by train, the ancient city of Évora welcomes you with well-preserved Roman walls that testify to its past. Once inside, the city unfolds a history book of Portugal through its architecture and unique sites.

The Medieval town of Evora

Starting with the Évora Cathedral or Sé de Évora, this structure, featuring a mix of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, is hard to miss. A pro tip for visitors: don’t miss the opportunity to climb up to the rooftop. The view it offers of the cityscape and the surrounding countryside is quite spectacular.

Next on the itinerary should be the Chapel of Bones, or Capela dos Ossos. While it might sound grim, it’s a deeply reflective space. The walls, decorated with human bones and skulls, underscore the message – Memento Mori, remember you must die.

After a day full of historical exploration, unwind with some local gastronomy. Évora’s regional cuisine is rich and satisfying, with Alentejo bread and acorn-fed pork as standout dishes. Pair your meal with a robust local wine to complete the experience.

Don’t Miss: The Roman Temple

A short walk away from the cathedral, the Roman Temple, also known as the Temple of Diana, is another must-visit spot. This edifice, showcasing 14 Corinthian columns, provides a glimpse into the city’s Roman past. If you can, try to catch the sunset here; the sight of the columns against the setting sun is quite something.

Best Day Trip from Lisbon #4: Step Back in Time in Óbidos

Just over an hour north of Lisbon lies the medieval town of Óbidos, brimming with charm and rich history. With its cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings with bright pops of bougainvillea, and an impressive castle, Óbidos is like stepping back in time.

Upon arrival, make your way to the ancient city walls. They offer a wonderful vantage point to map out your day and get a bird’s eye view of the town. Though it’s a bit of a climb, the view is worth it, providing panoramic snapshots of the town’s terracotta rooftops and the surrounding countryside.

Once you’ve taken in the view, descend into the heart of the town and stroll through its main thoroughfare, Rua Direita. It’s lined with traditional shops and quaint houses. You’ll find a range of souvenirs here, from local artisan crafts to bottles of Ginja, the local cherry liqueur.

Next up, make your way to the imposing Óbidos Castle. This well-preserved medieval fortress now serves as a historic hotel but is open for visitors to explore. Walking through its stone corridors and grand rooms is like leafing through a history book.

While in Óbidos, a must-try is the aforementioned Ginja, a cherry liqueur often served in a small edible chocolate cup. It’s a local tradition and a treat not to be missed.

Conclude your day by simply letting yourself get lost in the winding alleyways of the town. Each turn presents charming scenes — from local residents enjoying a chat to intricate details like ancient stone carvings or colorful window sills adorned with pots of flowers.

Remember, Óbidos is a place to wander and appreciate the passage of time, so take it slow and let yourself be captivated by its charm. Enjoy your day trip to this enchanting medieval town!

The ancient city of Obidos
The ancient city of Obidos

Taste the Famous Ginjinha

While in Óbidos, don’t forget to try a shot of ginjinha, a sweet cherry liqueur. Traditionally, it’s served in a small chocolate cup that you can eat afterward – a treat I indulged in more than once during my visit!

Best Day Trip from Lisbon #5: Unleash the Nature Lover within You at Arrábida Natural Park and Sesimbra

If you’re yearning for some natural beauty and want to escape from city life, take a day trip from Lisbon to the Arrábida Natural Park and the seaside town of Sesimbra. Located just a 40-minute drive from Lisbon, this area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and seafood lovers alike.

A stunning hill top view of Arrabida Park
A stunning hill top view of Arrabida Park

Once you arrive at the Arrábida Natural Park, prepare to be awestruck by its beautiful landscapes. Turquoise sea waters, lush green forests, and soaring cliffs create a paradise for nature lovers. The park is riddled with hiking trails that take you through its varied terrains. Take a hike to the top of the Serra da Arrábida for a view that will leave you speechless.

Following your hike, reward yourself with a refreshing dip in the clear blue waters of Praia dos Galapinhos, one of the park’s most beautiful beaches. Remember to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the beach. There’s nothing quite like feasting on local cheese and bread with the sound of the waves as your lunchtime soundtrack.

Once you’ve had your fill of sun and sand, drive over to the charming fishing town of Sesimbra. Here, you can explore the narrow cobbled streets and visit the Sesimbra Castle for another dose of history. The town is also famed for its fresh seafood. Stop by one of the seafront restaurants and indulge in some of the best grilled fish you’ll ever have.

As the day winds down, grab a spot on Sesimbra beach and watch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. The sight of the sky shifting hues over the calm waters is a fitting end to a day of nature-filled adventure.

Explore the Hidden Beaches

There’s a certain charm in discovering hidden beaches – those untouched spots that feel like your very own corner of paradise. In the Arrábida Natural Park, I’ve stumbled upon a few of these gems that I can’t wait to share with you.

Praia dos Coelhos
Praia dos Coelhos

The first one is Praia dos Coelhos. Translating to “Rabbits Beach,” this place won’t exactly have bunnies hopping around, but what it does offer is a small cove nestled between limestone cliffs. The journey to reach it is a bit of a trek, but trust me, the picturesque view awaiting you is worth every step. Just remember, there aren’t any facilities here, so be sure to pack everything you need, especially water and snacks.

The next on the list is Praia da Ribeira do Cavalo, located near the town of Sesimbra. It’s known for its turquoise water and large rocky outcrops that create a dramatic backdrop against the soft, sandy beach. It’s slightly off the beaten path, with a steep trail leading down to the beach, but once you get there, you’ll find it hard to leave. I advise going in the morning to have a good amount of sunlight to guide

 Praia da Ribeira do Cavalo
Praia da Ribeira do Cavalo

you on the path.

Lastly, there’s Praia do Creiro. Although not as hidden as the other two, this beach still retains a sense of tranquility that you can’t find in the busier locales. Located in the heart of the park, Praia do Creiro is surrounded by lush greenery and boasts crystal clear waters. The nearby Roman ruins of Creiro add an element of historical intrigue to your beach day.

Each of these hidden beaches offers something unique, from the quiet intimacy of Praia dos Coelhos, the stunning scenery at Praia da Ribeira do Cavalo, to the historical allure of Praia do Creiro. So, grab your beach gear, embrace the spirit of adventure, and get ready to discover some of the most stunning and secluded beaches that Arrábida has to offer. Just don’t forget to leave these beautiful spots as you found them—pristine and serene.

And there you have it, fellow explorers – my top picks for the best day trips from Lisbon! These places not only offer a break from the city’s hustle and bustle, but also a chance to experience the diverse beauty of Portugal. So whether you’re an adventure enthusiast, a history buff, or a beach lover, you’re sure to find a day trip that suits your taste. And remember, these day trips are not just about the destinations, but also about the journey. So embrace the ride, and as we say in Portuguese, ‘Boa viagem!’ – have a great trip!

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