Top 7 day trips from Lisbon, Portugal

Castelo dos Morros in Sintra - best day trips from Lisbon

Lisbon, the Portuguese buzzing capital, is a fantastic city to visit. But, besides the many things to do and see in Lisbon, there are some great nearby destinations one can easily access on day trips. Central Portugal will amaze you with its historical towns, incredible nature, coastline, wines and unique dishes. If you can stay longer than 2 days in Lisbon, I’d recommend you choose at least one of the close by destinations that appeals to you and go on a day trip. It will give you a glimpse into the countryside and make you want to explore even more.

Here is a list of suggested day trips from Lisbon including amazing palaces, hiking, beaches, towns and UNESCO Heritage Sites. We’ve been to most of these places during our one month stay in Portugal and can vouch for them. I’ll start the list with the destinations that can be easily reached by public transport and continue with the ones for which I’d recommend joining a guided tour or renting a car.

Disclaimer: I didn’t include Douro Valley or Porto on the list and this was intentional. They are wonderful destinations, but any of them is too far away from Lisbon and too complex for an enjoyable day trip. They deserve at least a weekend.

Top 7 day trips from Lisbon

1. Sintra – the most popular of the day trips from Lisbon

Pena Palace in Sintra - day trip from Lisbon

Just 40 minutes away from Lisbon sits Sintra, the wonderland of Portugal, with historic castles and idyllic mansions that one could explore for days. The most known of them all is Pena Palace, set high up on a hill surrounded by exotic trees. If you’ve ever seen a photo of Sintra, it’s probably one of its red and yellow-painted walls. But there are many others.

Next door to Pena Palace spread the ruins of the 8th century Castle of the Moors. Even if very little is left out of the fortress, the views and the walk on the long walls are jaw-droppingly. In the town center, the most famous castle is Sintra Palace, with its twin iconic chimneys. Another quirky palace is Quinta da Regaleira with its mysterious initiation well, underground tunnels and masonic symbols. A little farther away, Montserrate Palace is one of the most beautiful and underrated of the architectural jewels in Sintra. These are just a few of the castles and palaces in Sintra, but I hope more than enough to make you want to pay it a visit.


How to get from Lisbon to Sintra on a day trip: the easiest and cheapest way to travel from Lisbon to Sintra and back is to take the train from Rossio train station. In 40 minutes you’ll be in Sintra. If you prefer to leave the planning to somebody else, there are also guided tours from Lisbon available:

2. Evora

Best thing to do in Evora on a day trip from Lisbon

As it’s close to Lisbon, located in Alentejo wine region and an Unesco World Heritage site, Évora attracts a pretty large number of tourists. Its history dates back more than 2000 years and the town flourished in Roman, Moorish and medieval times.

The main spots to see are the Cathedral of Évora, the largest medieval church in Portugal, the Temple of Diana and the Chapel of Bones. The last one displays exactly what the name says, the bones of over 5000 former monks moved there from the nearby cemeteries and crypts. An unusual and eerie place in Portugal, it was “decorated” by some monks that wanted to remind people the transient nature of life.

But the best of Évora is the atmosphere, given by the white-washed houses, Moorish courtyards, medieval squares and the 16th century aqueduct. Even if it doesn’t meet its initial role anymore, it’s been fully integrated in the life of the modern town, with cozy cafes, attractive restaurants and quirky shops built right under its arches.


How to get from Lisbon to Evora on a day trip: Rede Expressos buses leave toward Evora from Sete Rios bus station several times per day. The train is also a good choice, but there are less choices when it comes to the schedule. It takes about 1 hour and a half to get from one city to the other. Guided tour are also a popular options for those that want to see more of Alentejo wine region:

3. Obidos

City walls

The ancient walled town of Obidos is one of the prettiest towns in Portugal. Centuries ago, Queen Isabel fell in love with it and her husband decided to give it to her as a gift. To understand what enchanted her so much, you must visit it and see for yourself. Encircled by walls, with whitewashed houses and a medieval castle on one side, now turned into a hotel, Obidos transports its visitors directly into the era of ladies and knights. Its labyrinth of cobblestone alleys dotted with cafes and shops are a marvel to explore.

The vineyards around and isolation add even more to the picturesque of the location. The town is also an UNESCO recognized Creative City of Literature. One of the churches was converted into a library, as well as one of the cellars. But many other places have collections of books, to sell or just as decorations. The coolest and most unusual hotel that will transpose one instantly into the local ambiance, is the The Literary Man Óbidos Hotel.


How to get from Lisbon to Obidos on a day trip: you can take one of the express buses operated from Campo Grande. They leave regularly and the journey takes just over an hour. Guided tours are also provided and recommended if you want to see more locations in one day:

4. Coimbra – one of the most beautiful day trips from Lisbon

Coimbra - best day trips from Porto, Portugal

Home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, everything in Coimbra seems to revolve around its temporary residents, the students. The city is far less touristy than Lisbon, but still full of history and charm. I’d dare to say it was my favorite city in Portugal, if I could stop thinking about the beautiful sunsets in Porto and Lisbon.

Coimbra has probably the most beautiful parks we’ve seen during our month in Portugal. Start with Penedo da Saudade, full of poems from former students, and continue with the peaceful oasis Jardim da Sereia and the botanical garden with a real bamboo forest. Many places in town are connected to love stories of former inhabitants, like Pedro and Ines bridge or the mysterious Quinta das Lágrimas.

Other historical gems are Santa Cruz church, part of which was turned into a pretty cafe and Santa Clara-a-Velha Convent. As a city of students, in Coimbra evolved a different and unique form of fado, sang by groups of male students. Some songs were dedicated to girls, while others are about knowledge and life.


How to get from Lisbon to Coimbra on a day trip: A train ride from Oriente train station to Coimbra B. takes a little over two hours.  Keep in mind that Coimbra B is a little out of town and you need to change with a different train for a few more minutes. Another option is Flixbus from Porto Camelias. But the bus station is out of the town center. Join a guided tour if you want to leave the planning to somebody else:

5. Cascais & Cabo da Roca – one of the easiest day trips from Lisbon for beach lovers

Cascais, Portugal

Just one hour west of Lisbon, Cascais is a chic coastal resort with idyllic beaches and a rugged coastline. It gained popularity in the 19th century, when King Louis I of Portugal chose it to be his summer retreat. The elegance of the town is a reminiscence of those golden times. Take a walk to explore the historic center and discover Boca do Inferno, a prelude for what you’d encounter in the Algarve region. The most sought beach is Praia do Tamariz. Another attraction in town is its beautiful marina with luxury yachts that shine in the bright sunlight. Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point in Portugal and Europe, known for its fantastic views over the Atlantic Ocean and the strong winds.

How to get from Lisbon to Cascais and Cabo da Roca on a day trip: Trains leave regularly from Cais do Sodre to Cascais and only cost 1.90 euro with a Viva Viagem card. The journey takes 40 minutes. From Cascais, one can take bus 403 to Cabo da Roca and back.

Most guided tours combine Sintra with Cascais and Cabo da Roca. I think this option doesn’t give you enough time to enjoy either of the locations, but it can be a choice if you’re in a hurry:

6. Nazare, Fatima and Batalha Monastery

Nazare, a paradise for surfers in Portugal

Nazare is a fishing town with rugged costal cliffs and beautiful beaches. But this seaside location has also gained international recognition due to its enormous waves reaching more than 30 meters. These are caused by an undersea canyon and you can find all about it at the small surf museum there.

Although the monster waves only happen during a short period of time every year, Nazare is still one of the best destinations in Portugal year round. With a rich fishing tradition, dating back hundreds of years, it’s also home to fantastic seafood restaurants. Visitors can relax on its golden sands, check out some of the historical churches and chapels or take the funicular from the beach to the top of the cliffs.

How to get from Lisbon to Nazare on a day trip: there are buses that run from Sete Rios train station to Nazare. The journey takes a little under two hours. However, I feel Nazare is better seen as part of a road trip, including Fatima, Batalha and even Obidos, if you can’t visit it on a different day:


7. Peniche & Berlenga Islands – one of the best day trips from Lisbon recommended by locals

Berlenga Islands, Portugal

Peniche is a tiny town set on a peninsula surrounded by the sea. Here’s set the seaside fort where Salazar used to detain political prisoners. This is also the main tourist attraction. However, the walled old town is nice and romantic. It also boasts gorgeous beaches perfect for water sports. Berlengas Islands are just a boat ride away from Peniche. When I asked our guide to Arouca and Paiva Pathways from Porto about his favorite destinations in Portugal, this was the first one he mentioned.

The Berlengas Islands are not quite as famous as the Azores or Madeira. But they are close to the mainland and one of the most beloved destinations by the locals of Portugal. These rocky islands, dramatic and barren, are considered a natural reserve. Here’s also the highlight of the islands, the St. John the Baptist fort sitting on a small rocky outcrop. A day trip might be best. During the day, be prepared to go hiking, snorkeling, birdwatching or swimming  in picturesque caves and grottos.

How to get from Lisbon to Peniche and Berlenga Islands on a day trip: one can take the bus from Sete Rios to Peniche, visit the town and then embark on a boat to the islands. But it would be more comfortable to leave the planning to a guide and go on a guided day trip:

Final thoughts on the best day trips from Lisbon

The number one day trip from Lisbon is to the Sintra palaces and castles and there is a reason for it. If there’s only one day you can allocate for day trips, this should be it. Even if you can’t afford a guided tour, you can just take the train and get there in less than an hour. My second favorite would be Coimbra. But, depending on your interests, it might not be the ideal option for you, especially because of the distance. Evora, Obidos, Cascais, Nazare and Berlenga Islands are all wonderful if you have time to spare. And remember, Berlenga Islands were recommended by a local guide from Porto during a friendly discussion, with no interest of us buying any tour as he wasn’t even providing it.

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