Every European city has its own unique history and culture, and the Portuguese capital Lisbon is no exception. This colorful city is an amazing combination of modern and medieval life, and the surrounding countryside complements this perfectly.
The city itself is full of sightseeing and touring possibilities, including specialty shops, zoos, bars, restaurants, and many beautiful sites.
Should you decide to stay in the city of Lisbon itself (or if weather forces a change of plans), try checking out some of the best museums in Lisbon. The capital is home to many museums, ranging from the Air Museum, exploring the history of Portuguese aviation, to the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, an interesting display of the origins of the colorful tiles that make up the roofs for many of the homes in the city. Lisbon is also home to the Monastery of the Hieronymites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One great advantage to taking Lisbon day trips to a nearby city or coastal town is the fact that you only have to worry about hotels and storage once. After arriving in Lisbon, just drop off any extra luggage at your local Bounce luggage locker and go partake in the native lifestyle.
How to Get Out of Lisbon
Portugal’s public transportation is quite efficient when traveling from one large city to another, so you don’t have to worry about renting a car for a day trip if you don’t want to. You can choose buses, trains, trams, and taxi services to get around Lisbon and beyond. Portugal also has many airports for longer distances and a train station near the city center.
One thing to keep in mind is that it never hurts to book something ahead of time. Whether it’s a reservation at a restaurant, a guided tour at a museum, or a simple train ticket, a lot of wait time and frustration can be avoided if you put in just a bit of effort ahead of your excursion.
From Lisbon to Cascais
The historic vacation town of Cascais is the perfect getaway for any beach lovers visiting Lisbon. You can surf off the Serra de Sintra coast to the north, surrounded by the beautifully rugged cliff faces, or explore the historic center by wandering down the cobblestone streets.
Originally built as a fishing village, Cascais was soon recognized for its potential and became a popular holiday destination for the ritzy crowds. Now, it is swarmed yearly with tourists who have caught on to the charm of the place, making it an ideal place for day trips from Lisbon. You can explore the ancient architecture, enjoy the unique food, and hit the crystal waves before returning to Lisbon.
Cascais is also home to many bars, restaurants, museums, and shopping centers. So even on a rainy day, it is a great place for a Lisbon day trip. As you will find in many Portuguese towns, fresh seafood is a staple on most menus, and Cascais is no exception. It won’t be hard to find a lovely restaurant with a great menu on the seashore or near the city's historic center.
How to get to Cascais
Taking the 19001 train line may be your best option for public transport from a Lisbon train station to Cascais, which will take you about 40 minutes. There are bus routes connecting the cities as well, but they aren’t nearly as efficient and will take you twice as long to arrive.
From Lisbon to the Tagus Estuary Birdwatching and Conservation Area
If you want to escape the city on a day trip and surround yourself with the natural beauty of Portugal, try visiting the Tagus Estuary Birdwatching and Conservation Area. Located 30 minutes slightly north-east of Lisbon, it is a large park focused on birdwatching and a stark contrast to the busyness of Lisbon. Boasting many observatories and blinds for nature watching, as well as guided tours, it makes for a very enjoyable and educational day trip.
The recommended times of year for visiting are autumn and winter, but the park is open year-round. Whatever time of year you visit, be sure to bring a pair of binoculars!
You can wander along the paths yourself or book a guided tour ahead of time for a more in-depth learning experience.
How to get to the Tagus Estuary and Conservation Area
Your best bet for transportation on a day trip to the estuary would probably be driving your own vehicle or hiring a taxi or rideshare service, as these options would provide a more direct route than any public transport.
From Lisbon to Sintra and Sintra Natural Park
Sintra is a picturesque and historically rich community, nestled in a pine forest and full of classic palaces and castles. The cooler climate of the mountain town encouraged many of the wealthy higher-class citizens of Portugal and Europe to build summer residences there. The architectural preference for these summer homes was of the Romanticism style, with bold shapes and colors, so it's no surprise that the town has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995.
Because of all the beautiful palaces sprinkled through the mountainside, you will no doubt find yourself touring a few. If this is the case, don't forget to check out Pena National Palace. One of Portugal’s most famous castles, Pena National Palace, or Palacio Nacional da Pena as it is known in Portuguese, is a stunning example of Romantic architecture that contrasts and complements the extensive gardens outside.
The nearby ruins of Castelo dos Mouros are another great site to visit. Built on an outcropping to overlook the medieval town, the ruins offer a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside. It has a calmer and more peaceful quality than the other tourist attractions in the area, which can be a nice change of pace from the normal bustle of tourism.
With all of these fabulous things to do, you might consider turning your day trip into an overnight one!
How to get to Sintra
There is a regular train from Lisbon to Sintra, which should take about 30 minutes. There aren’t any bus routes from Lisbon to Sintra, but there is a bus route from Cascais to Sintra, which could take around an hour of travel time.
While driving to Sintra by car is certainly possible, it is not recommended, as driving during rush hour can be a nightmare, and parking in the summer is very limited.
Over the years, Sintra (and Pena Palace in particular) has gained popularity as a tourist destination, making lines for tickets and admittance longer. You should consider buying tickets in advance for any tours or attractions you plan to visit, especially during the summer months.
From Lisbon to Fatima
Originally just a small village in the mountains, Fatima gained recognition after three shepherd children had miraculous visions about the Virgin Mary. Now the town is visited yearly by both tourists and religious pilgrims.
Two years after the children reported their visions, a simple church was constructed. It is a stark contrast to the more highly decorated and much larger Santuário de Nossa Senhora de Fátima that stands close by. As you will soon see, most of the churches in Fatima are dedicated to the Virgin Mary
The many basilicas, sanctuaries, and temples are the main attractions in Fatima, but the natural beauty shouldn’t be overlooked. Check out the amazing cave system that was discovered by accident in 1971. Averaging at a comfortable 65°F (18°C), ducking in here to explore the fossil layers could provide some relief from the heat while on your day trip.
How to get to Fatima
Your best option for transportation from Lisbon to Fatima would be by car, whether it's a rented car or taxi service. While there is a bus service connecting the cities, this route will take a bit longer, clocking in at closer to an hour and a half to arrive, versus the hour-long trip by car.
From Lisbon to Porto Covo
Porto Covo started as a small fishing village but eventually grew to be known as a mini Lisbon, mostly due to the strong tourism that now drives the economy of the coastal town. And while this day trip requires a bit more travel time, you will find that it is definitely worth it as you walk through the picturesque city square and enjoy the beautiful beaches.
To those looking for an escape from the normal cityscapes, Porto Covo provides many options. You can go hiking on the Fishermen’s trail along the Atlantic coast or stick to the city's cobblestone streets and explore the historic buildings. The most popular attraction in the city is certainly the beaches. The magnificent sandy beaches around the town are used by natives and visitors alike for fishing, boating, surfing, and swimming. The towering cliffs and crystalline waters make for great photo opportunities, as does most of the Portuguese countryside.
How to get to Porto Covo
Driving is the most direct way to get to Porto Covo, but it will take almost two hours. You can take the train; just keep in mind that it isn’t a direct route, and you’ll have to switch trains at some point.
From Lisbon to Óbidos
Yet another romantic medieval town guarded by a castle on a hill and surrounded by the city walls, Obidos has a unique title as a UNESCO Creative City of Literature. A well-earned designation, no doubt, since you are apt to find books for sale in the most random places, such as converted wine cellars and in the local post office.
A small town with only a few thousand residents, Obidos is a charming village to spend a quiet day touring the book shops and eateries. There is even a castle that has been converted into a hotel that you can book a room in, and many beaches too, making it one of the best day trips from Lisbon.
Obidos also hosts many festivals through the year, such as the Obidos International Chocolate Festival in the spring, a medieval market and fair in the summer, the Literary festival in the fall, and a Christmas celebration come winter. Keep in mind that most festivals will charge for admittance, and tickets can often be bought ahead of time.
How to get to Óbidos
The most convenient way to get to Obidos would be by bus. There are frequent bus departures from Lisbon, so you shouldn’t have any difficulty there. Any way you decide to travel, it will take you around an hour and a half to get from Lisbon to Obidos.
Cars are also a viable choice, as you can simply merge onto the highway and drive straight to Obidos. Remember that cars are not allowed within the city, but there is plenty of parking space right outside the city.
Portugal is a beautiful and culturally rich country, so it would be impossible to experience all of it in a single day or city. And that’s what makes day trips from Lisbon so great. The surrounding cities have activities that range from hiking the Sintra Mountains to watching (or participating in) world-class surfing in the Atlantic ocean. You can go to a wine tasting at a local vineyard or take a guided tour around a small medieval town. The possibilities are truly endless in such an amazing country with fascinating history and culture. Don't wait; start booking your day trips from Lisbon today!