There are lots of things to do in Lisbon, but why not get out of the city for a while?
If you’re visiting Lisbon, you must visit Sintra. While one of the most interesting day trips, it’s extremely popular with visitors.
There are other ideas depending on the kind of day trip you’re interested in, including day trips suited for nature-trippers, beachgoers, and culture lovers.
Porto, Portugal’s second city, is not included here, as it deserves at least one night’s stay.
All six of these day trips can be undertaken by public transport, but you can gain time and see more by hiring a car in Lisbon. Find out which day trip suits you best.
1. A Day in Sintra
Sintra boasts extraordinary palaces and gardens, a Moorish castle, and scenic views. Its beauty even enchanted the famous poet, Lord Byron, who wrote about it in a personal letter and in the poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage describing Sintra as a paradise. It’s best to visit on midweek mornings to avoid the crowds.
Getting There: How to Get from Lisbon to Sintra
Sintra, Cabo da Roca, Guincho & Cascais
While you can easily spend a whole day in Sintra, some visitors then head to the coast to see Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in mainland Europe following this Sintra, Cabo da Roca, Guincho & Cascais itinerary.
Sintra & Queluz
On your way to Sintra, you might want to squeeze in a visit to Queluz Palace, once a hunting lodge, converted to a royal summer residence by the end of the 18th century.
Often compared to Versailles, the palace is actually unique in its own way. It is surrounded by nicely kept formal, French-style gardens featuring several statues. Inside, the decoration is as expected – rich and beautiful, especially the Throne Room and King Pedro IV’s bedroom.
If you want to spend the night in royal setting, there is a beautiful hotel, Pousada Palácio de Queluz, on the former Royal Guard of the Court building, featuring impressive high-ceilings.
2. A Day on River Tejo’s South Bank
Just across the River Tejo is Cacilhas, the suburb where lies Cristo Rei, the statue of Christ that you can see from Lisbon. Besides the statue and views, but there are a few cervejarias, restaurants by the river serving fresh seafood and refreshing brews.
Getting There: How to Visit Cristo Rei, the Statue of Christ
Cacilhas & Costa da Caparica
You’ll probably have time to take bus #135 from Cacilhas to Costa da Caparica (a 40-minute trip). Costa da Caparica is a popular seaside resort town where locals go on weekends to sunbathe, surf, and swim. Very close to the town, there are urban beaches separated by stone piers, along a seaside promenade. And further away, there are different kinds of beaches for families, surfing, windsurfing, and even a nudist beach.
Cacilhas & Sesimbra
Another option is to visit Sesimbra, a fishing village and seaside resort town a bit further south (if you’re using public transport, bus #203 from Cacilhas to Sesimbra takes about an hour). Why should you visit Sesimbra? For its white sand beaches and medieval castle, in ruins but offering panoramic views of the bay. But also for its fresh fish and seafood restaurants. Choose your fish from the catch of the day – grilled swordfish and black scabbardfish are two of Sesimbra’s specialties.
Travel Tip: Of course, you can also get to Costa da Caparica or Sesimbra without going through Cacilhas.
From Lisbon to Costa da Caparica, you’ll have to take bus #153 from Praça de Espanha or bus #161 from Areeiro. From Lisbon to Sesimbra, take bus #207 from Praça de Espanha or bus #260 from Areeiro. Both Praça de Espanha and Areeiro have metro stations. Note that you have to search for “Lisboa- Pça de Espanha” or “Lisboa – Areeiro” on TST’s website.
3. A Day Trip from Lisbon to Nazaré
Ever since Garrett McNamara set a surf world record on Praia do Norte, Nazaré went from a little known surfing spot to a world famous location. This made it an increasingly popular destination among surfers and tourists from around the world.
To make the most of your day trip, make a few stops on your way to Nazaré and visit the beautiful coastal towns of Peniche, Foz do Arelho and São Martinho do Porto. These are also great places for a family holiday, usually not too hot during the summer thanks to sea breezes.
Travel Guide: Planning a Day Trip to Nazaré
4. Évora: A Wine Day Trip from Lisbon
With its Roman ruins, university, and beautiful buildings dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries, Évora is one of the best day trips from Lisbon.
The town deserved a selection as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. But visiting Évora also gives you the chance to discover the Alentejo, a rural region of unending plains of olive and cork trees, and vineyards. And this can be an opportunity to learn about Portugal’s wine culture.
If you want to venture further afield, there are some interesting villages to explore. Estremoz, Vila Viçosa and Monsaraz with their medieval castles, narrow streets and white-washed houses, are worth a visit too.
Travel Guide: Évora Tourist Guide
5. Mafra & Ericeira: Combining Culture, Nature and Beach
Mafra is renowned for its convent and palace, regarded as the most important Baroque building in Portugal, and one landmark of enormous proportions built with the Brazilian gold. What is known as Mafra Palace actually comprises a church, a convent, and a palace. Nearby, Tapada de Mafra was the palace’s recreational hunting ground. Now, you can walk in the park and enjoy a diverse landscape of woods, grasslands, and water courses, home to wild boars, red deer, foxes, badgers and eagles.
Ericeira is a fishing village and seaside resort. With an 8-kilometre (5-mile) coastline, dominated by rocky cliffs, it offers beaches on small bays. Two of them, Ribeira d’Ilhas and Coxos, are iconic among surfers and probably the reason why Ericeira is considered a world-class surf zone, and was Europe’s first World Surfing Reserve. The best surf season is from October to May. During the summer months, Ericeira is a popular beach destination for families, also known for its seafood restaurants.
Travel Guide: Planning a Day Trip to Mafra and Ericeira
6. A Day in Tomar’s Convent of Christ
Tomar is dominated to its west by the monumental complex known as the Convent of Christ, sitting atop a hill. But the Convent of Christ is not just one monument. Instead, it comprises the Castle, the Convent, the national wood Mata dos Sete Montes, the hermitage Ermida de Nossa Senhora da Conceição, and the aqueduct of Pegões, so you can easily spend a few hours exploring.
Travel Guide: Planning a Day Trip to the Convent of Christ in Tomar