Lisbon is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Portugal. But it would be a shame to visit this city without seeing the many other attractions located nearby. The region around Lisbon is dotted with charming villages, royal palaces, and more golden sand beaches than you can count. So if you are looking for a fun day trip to see another side of Portugal, make sure to visit one of these fascinating sights outside of Lisbon.
What is the Best Day Trip from Lisbon?
If you only have a day, Sintra is arguably the best day trip to make from Lisbon. However, you can head to Cascais or Costa da Caparica for a beach day. And if you want to explore some cute Portuguese villages, then go to Évora, Óbidos, or Sesimbra.
History buffs will also have a wealth of treasures to explore, especially at the Palácio Nacional de Queluz and Santuário de Fátima.
Ask anyone what the best day trip from Lisbon is, and they’ll inevitably tell you about Sintra. Located just 40 minutes outside the city (with a direct route on the train), Sintra is famous for its colorful palaces, forested parks, and charming town center.
The entire region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also considered one of the best places to live in Portugal for locals and expats.
Highlights include the Palácio Nacional de Sintra, which was once used as the summer residence for the royal family, and the Palácio da Pena, a brightly colored Romanticist castle.
And if you’re up for a little hike, you can trek up to the Castelo dos Mouros, a Moorish castle with breathtaking views over the Serra de Sintra mountain range.
Head out of the city and spend the day soaking up the sun in Cascais. This upscale resort town is just 40 minutes away and offers beachgoers miles of unspoiled coastline.
Hugging the beach are dozens of extravagant villas, which were built when reigning King Luís I moved into the nearby Palácio da Cidadela.
Since then, Cascais has remained one of the most opulent and exclusive resort towns in Portugal, catering to affluent tourists and local Lisboans.
After a day on the beach, you can head into town for shopping or dining. There are also a few other natural landmarks to explore, including the Boca do Inferno sea caves and the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.
Palácio Nacional de Queluz
Considered to be one of the finest examples of Portuguese architecture, the Palácio Nacional de Queluz was the royal residence of Dom Pedro of Braganza and Queen Maria I.
After a destructive fire in the early 1900s, the palace went through extensive restoration and was later opened to the public with much of the same 16th, 17th, and 18th-century decor.
In addition to seeing the stunning palace rooms like the Dressing Room, Don Quixote Room, and Throne Room, you can also walk around the property gardens. All of this and more within 10 miles of downtown Lisbon.
With a history that dates back more than 2,200 years, Évora is a picturesque city with an impressive number of historical landmarks.
It was first ruled by the Romans and then the Moors before becoming a thriving city during Medieval times. As such, Évora has a mish-mash of architectural sites, including a Roman temple, Romanesque cathedral, and Moorish-style squares.
For a more unique attraction, head into the Church of Saint Francis to see the Bone Chapel. The entire building is covered floor-to-ceiling with the skulls and broken skeletons of nearly 5,000 monks.
Reserva Natural do Estuário do Sado
Thirty minutes outside of Lisbon sits the Reserva Natural do Estuário do Sado, a nature reserve where you can see some of Portugal’s wildest creatures. It’s not uncommon to see white storks flying over the rice fields or flamingos frolicking through the shallow waters.
The Reserva Natural do Estuário do Sado is also one of the only places in Europe to see Bottlenose Dolphins. There’s a resident pod that is often spotted in the River Sado.
Santuário de Fátima
The Santuário de Fátima is one of the most religiously significant sites in Catholicism. From May 13 to October 13, over 4 million people visit the shrine as part of a pilgrimage (a tradition that started in 1917 after visions of the Virgin Mary were supposedly seen).
At the center of the shrine is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary as well as the Chapel of the Apparitions (where the visions of the Virgin occurred).
Even if you come outside of the pilgrimage time, you can still enter the sacred basilica as well as a few other notable buildings, including the Paul VI Pastoral Center and the Chapel of the Sacred Lausperene.
There are dozens of little fishing villages along the coast, but none are as cute as Sesimbra. Backed by the forested landscape of Arradiba natural park, Sesimbra has it all – historic fortresses, sun-soaked beaches, and mouthwatering seafood restaurants.
At the heart of the town is the Forte de Santiago de Sesimbra, a 17th-century fortress built to fend off naval enemies. You can also wander through the old town or watch the fishing boats shuffle back and forth to the harbor. Even though it’s just 35 miles from Lisbon, its laid back atmosphere will make you feel as if you’ve been transported to an entirely different world.
Costa da Caparica
If you head south of Lisbon, you’ll find the rugged Costa da Caparica. This 9.3-mile coast is sandwiched between rolling sand dunes and crashing Atlantic Ocean waves.
There are several different beaches to choose from, including Praia de Santo Antonio (great for surfing and bodyboarding), Praia do Paraiso (great for sunbathing), and Fonte da Telha (great for low-key parties). There’s even a nudist beach (Praia 19) if you want to forgo the vacation tanlines.
And because it’s only 20 minutes from the city, Costa da Caparica can be incredibly packed with locals on the weekend. If you want to avoid the crowds, you can come during the off-season. Some of the seaside restaurants might still be open, and the only other people you might see will be the surfers off in the distance.
Óbidos is considered by many to be the most picturesque town in all of Portugal. This medieval village is famous for its yellow and blue painted whitewashed houses, many of which are covered in purple and pink flowers.
It’s one of those cities where you can get lost for hours (in a good way), stopping by charming squares, family-run restaurants, and handicraft shops as you do.
If you’re visiting during July, then you’ll have the chance to see the Óbidos Medieval Market. For two weeks, the entire village recreates a medieval town, complete with costumed merchants, jousting shows, and horse parades.
From beaches and castles to fishing villages and nature reserves, there are many fun and unique day trips to take if you’re staying in Lisbon.
Best of all, many of them can be reached in just under an hour or two by public transportation. Therefore, there’s no excuse not to see the wealth of beautiful sights Portugal has in store for you!