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With Lisbon’s beautiful “miradouro”—or viewpoints—lurking around every corner, it’s easy for travelers to slip into the rhythm of the city without ever exploring the incredible beaches and UNESCO sites that are just minutes away. Be sure to save a day or two in your itinerary for fabulous day trips from Lisbon!
Here’s some inspiration to get you started…
- 1. Sintra for Palaces
- 2. Porto Covo for Sandy Beaches
- 3. Batalha and Alcobaça for Monasteries
- 4. Parque Natural Da Arrabida for a Hike
- 5. Marvilla for Craft Beer
- 6. Cabo Da Roca for Sunset
- 7. Berlenga Island for White Sand Beaches
- 8. Óbidos for Literature Lovers
- 9. Guincho for Dramatic Scenery
- 10. Cascais for Sun and Surf
- Can you day trip from Lisbon to Porto?
- Best Lisbon Tours
1. Sintra for Palaces
Fabled Sintra is just a 30-minute drive from the bustle of city life, making it one of the most popular and convenient day trips from Lisbon. (The distance from Lisbon to Porto is just 28.7 km.)
Sintra is perhaps best known for the dramatic and colorful Pena National Palace, which stands sentry high on a mountain top above the city.
Pena Palace—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—dates from the Middle Ages when it began as a revered monastery dressed up in a mix of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Islamic, and Neo-Renaissance architecture that was popular at the time.
Unfortunately, the Great Earthquake of 1755 decimated Pena Palace when it wiped out most of Lisbon, but was later restored after King Ferdinand acquired it.
Unfortunately, Pena Palace today can be clogged with tourists. I recommend visiting early or late in the day there for fewer crowds. (And that can make the narrow road to get there rather clogged with cars.) Instead, spend your day taking in the many other worthy sites here, such as the Castle of the Moors, the Moorish Monserrate Palace, and Palace of Sintra.
Quinta de la Regaleira (pictured below) is another must-see UNESCO World Heritage site in Sintra. You’ll find a romantic palace and chapel nestled within luxurious and ornate gardens here. Don’t miss the opportunity to descend into one of the mysterious Masonic initiation wells while you’re here.
You’ll wind your way down a spiral staircase nine levels to find a Knights of Templar cross at the bottom. Little is known about how the wells were actually used, but a good guide can share quite a bit about the unique symbolism you’ll find here.
2. Porto Covo for Sandy Beaches
Porto Covo, a small beach town 170 km south of Lisbon, is a great place to come for a day from the capital. The best and the easiest way of getting to Porto Covo to explore the sand dunes and the nearby beaches is by car. Alternatively, you can check out prices for a private day tour to Porto Covo here.
However, it’s also possible to get here by bus from Sete Rios bus station. The bus ride takes about two hours. The price is 15 Euros one way.
The town is very nice and cozy; it includes a small square with a church and a couple of restaurants that serve delicious local dishes, plus cobblestone streets, colorful houses, souvenir shops with traditional handicrafts, and great views of the coast.
There is a small sandy beach right at the town center where visitors can go for a quick refreshing swim. It’s also possible to rent a kayak in Porto Covo and paddle along the coast.
For hiking lovers, there is a great route, the Rota Vicentina, that starts in Porto Covo and follows the coast all the way to Cabo de S.Vicente. It takes hikers past long, unspoiled sandy beaches that are perfect spots for swimming, relaxing on the beach, and even surfing.
A day trip from Lisbon to Porto Covo is ideal for those who like the beach and the sea, outdoor activities, a relaxed vibe, and fresh seafood.
Campbell and Alya | Stingy Nomads
3. Batalha and Alcobaça for Monasteries
The monastery of Alcobaça lies 121 km north of Lisbon, approximately one and a half hours from the city. The Monastery of Batalha is 25 minutes, or 24km, further north and both are UNESCO World Heritage sites that would make a great day trip from Lisbon.
These two monasteries form part of a trilogy of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in this part of Portugal, along with the monastery at Tomar, which lies an hour east of Alcobaça.
Both are stunning monasteries to visit and the main church nave is free to visit in both. But it is worth paying for entry into the cloisters as this is where their beauty lies. Alcobaça was established in the 12th century and was the first Gothic building in Portugal, while Batalha was erected in the 14th century and is an example of late Gothic architecture.
The easiest way to reach the monasteries is by car. There are two main highways from Lisbon north, and both have tolls, so be aware of these.
Alternatively, you could take a bus from Sete Rios station in Lisbon to Alcobaça. It takes approximately two hours by bus to reach Alcobaça. (There is no direct route between Batalha and Alcobaça; you need to go via Leiria.)
Another option is to choose a tour that combines both sites. There are day trips from Lisbon which will include visits to both of these monasteries alongside Fatima, another important religious site in this part of Portugal, and the amazing medieval walled town of Obidos. You can check out prices for a full-day tour of Fatima, Obidos, Batalha and Alcobaca here.
If you don’t have a car, this is the option I would recommend as public transport in Portugal can be unreliable at times and practically non-existent at the weekend or on bank holidays.
Cath | Passports and Adventures
4. Parque Natural Da Arrabida for a Hike
When I arrived in Lisbon, I had done zero research of what there was to do, but my one Portuguese friend told me I had to rent a car and drive out to the Parque Natural Da Arrabida!
While I was hesitant at first, after a google search of the park I quickly decided that this was one of the best Lisbon day trips out there! So I gathered up some friends, rented a fancy Audi for the day, and made the 60+ minute drive outside of Lisbon to the coastline.
The main highlight of visiting is truly the drive because the entire time you’re rewarded with stunning views of pristine beaches and picturesque cafes. You can spend all day exploring each of the different little beaches, enjoy a dip in the ocean, and relax on the sand.
If you’re in the area, I’d also recommend a quick pit stop at the Riberia Do Cavolo Beach! It does require about a twenty-minute hike down to the bottom, but it’s well worth it! I, unfortunately, visited on a rainy day, but I’d highly recommend it to anyone visiting Portugal during the summer!
If you’re without a car, you can still visit on a guided day tour to Arrabida. Check out prices and availability here.
Dave | Jones around the World
5. Marvilla for Craft Beer
For decades, Portugal has been most associated with its wines from the Douro Valley, Alentejo, and Vinho Verde from the north. But, beer is the second most popular drink in Portugal, after water.
Most of the beer that’s being drunk is from the biggest brewers in Portugal, including Sagres and Super Bock. However, in the last few years, there’s been a renaissance in craft beer in Lisbon, and a lot of it is centered around Marvilla, a small parish just to the north of Lisbon.
Marvilla is a quick and easy twenty minute bus ride from the main tourist areas in Lisbon. Marvilla offers craft beer lovers the opportunity to taste what’s brewing with several local breweries to test out, most notably, Dois Corvos Cervejeira and Cerveja Musa.
From stouts to sours, these two craft brew houses serve up some of Lisbon’s best craft beers. More than craft breweries, they often host musical performances and other events to create a little community in this tiny neighborhood of Lisbon.
Located just north of the main tourist areas, they showcase another side of one of Europe’s iconic cities. If you travel for craft beer, Marvilla is the perfect little day trip from Lisbon.
Amber | With Husband In Tow
6. Cabo Da Roca for Sunset
Portugal was once a maritime giant with a rich history in conquering the world during colonial times.
If you look at the map of Europe, the Iberian peninsula is like the head of a man glazing toward the Atlantic Ocean: Spain is the hair that was blown backward by the wind, Portugal is the face, and Cabo da Roca is the tip of the nose, also known as the westernmost point of continental Europe.
Cabo da Roca is in the municipality of Sintra and is close to Lisbon. If you have time after visiting the Pena National Palace and the Castle of the Moors, hop on a bus and head west. I recommend a visit at sunset because it is probably the best place to enjoy one in Europe.
At the tip of the cape, you’ll find a lighthouse and monument with an inscription that says “Aqui, onde a terra se acaba e o mar começa…” (“Where the land ends and the sea begins.”)
You can also visit Cabo da Roca as part of a guided day trip to this stunning region. Check prices and availability here.
Kenny | Knycx Journeying
7. Berlenga Island for White Sand Beaches
Portugal is known for its historical cities and old-world charm, but it’s also a haven for nature lovers. Besides the beautiful beaches in Lisbon, there’s also an archipelago made of three beautiful and magical islands just an hour away from the capital.
The Berlengas archipelago is a protected area since the 15th century, and once you visit you’ll fully understand why. In the archipelago, you can easily visit the biggest island, Berlenga.
It’s filled with activities perfect for a day trip: easy hikes to show you around the island, the stunning Fort of São João Baptista, and a white sand beach.
There are also boat excursions around the island to explore its most famous caves and even the possibility of snorkeling in the Atlantic Ocean.
To get there, you first need to find your way to Peniche’s harbor where you can catch a boat to the Berlenga Island. Although there are some public transportation options, if you’re planning to visit as a day trip from Lisbon, your best bet is to rent a car.
It will take you around an hour to get Peniche, and then approximately 30 minutes on the boat. Peniche and its surrounding area are known as Portugal’s Silver Coast, which is also worth exploring if you find the time.
You can also see the Berlengas archipelago on a guided day trip from Lisbon. Check prices and availability on a day tour here.
Maria and Rui | Two Find A Way
8. Óbidos for Literature Lovers
Óbidos is a small medieval town located just one hour away from Lisbon by bus. It’s the perfect place to while away an afternoon and feel like you’ve been transported back in time.
The town dates back over 700 years and, to be honest, it hasn’t been greatly modernized. You’ll find the old castle walls running around the entire city, from which you can get glorious views of Óbidos and the surrounding countryside.
As you enter through the gates of the city, you’ll pass under an arch that is covered in traditional white and blue Portuguese tiles, which is stunning.
Curiously, the town has also become a haven for book lovers over the years. The town was named a UNESCO city of literature and in late 2015, the Literary Man Hotel opened. This is the largest literary hotel in the world with over a whopping 36,000 books!
There are also over 13 bookshops in this tiny town and you’ll find them in the most curious places. There’s a market turned bookshop, a church turned bookshop, a convent turned bookshop, and even a wine cellar turned bookshop. You get the picture!
All in all, this is a pretty unique town to visit in Portugal and very doable in one long afternoon. Don’t forget to try a shot of Ginja de Óbidos while you’re there too. This is a shot of cherry liqueur that is famous in Portugal and it comes in a small chocolate cup!
Laura | What’s Hot? Blog
9. Guincho for Dramatic Scenery
About five kilometers from Cascais is a beautiful beach called Guincho. What you’ll find here is an 800-meter stretch of golden sand that directly faces the ocean, backed by sand dunes. The surrounding cliffs make a beautiful backdrop as they jut into the ocean and get pounded by the waves.
In fact, the opening scene of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the 1969 James Bond movie, was filmed here, and it’s easy to see why the dramatic scenery was chosen as a filming location.
Guincho’s other claim to fame is its huge waves, which make it popular with surfers. Surfboards can be rented on the beach, along with kiteboards and bodyboards.
However, many overseas visitors don’t realize how cold the Atlantic Ocean is. If you’re planning to surf, it’s a good idea to wear a wetsuit, even in summer. (These can also be rented on the beach.) Expect powerful wind currents on this beach!
There are no food or beverage facilities here, though, so eat at one of Lisbon’s many fine restaurants before you go.
Wendy | The Nomadic Vegan
10. Cascais for Sun and Surf
Only 30 km west of Lisbon, Cascais is the perfect getaway for a day trip in the region. Sandy beaches, beautiful town center, picturesque views and cozy restaurants with delicious food…What more can you ask?
Despite its size, this little town surprises and delights. If you’re feeling lazy, just spend a few hours soaking up the sun rays and swimming at the beach. Looking for something more adventurous? Guincho beach is an absolute surfing paradise.
Getting to Cascais is easy and it can be done in a couple of ways: either by train or by car/scooter. If you decide to take the first option, you’d have to take the suburban train from Cais do Sodré train station and get off at the last stop, Cascais Station.
However, driving there is a very pleasant experience, as the road follows the coastline and the views are incredible. During my trip, I rented a scooter and managed to get to Cascais from Lisbon in about 40 minutes.
You can also visit Cascais as part of a guided day trip to this beautiful area. Check prices and availability here.
Cascais itself is so pretty that wandering around and admiring the views would be enough of a wonderful experience. The place also offers great hiking and cycling possibilities.
In very close proximity, you can also find the Boca do Inferno cliff formation. Watching the waves striking and crashing against the rocks with all their power… This experience is what made my Cascais visit an unforgettable experience.
Lyubomira | Bulgarian on the Go
Can you day trip from Lisbon to Porto?
Is it doable? The short answer: Yes, but I don’t recommend it.
The longer answer: Porto was my favorite spot in Portugal. It’s a gorgeous little traditional Portuguese fishing town, set right on the Douro River with six bridges that cross it. (The Dom Luis and Maria Pia bridges were designed by Gustave Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame in Paris. In fact, the double-neck metal arches look very similar to the Eiffel Tower construction.)
On the other side of the river is Vila Nova de Gaia, home to most of the port wine cellars for tasting port.
Because of Porto’s smaller size, the city is very walkable, unlike larger Lisbon. And yet, there’s plenty to do there with an excellent restaurant and bar scene.
A day wine tasting in the nearby Douro Valley makes an incredible day trip adventure on its own from Porto. If you decide to stay overnight for wine tasting, check availability for day tours of the Douro Valley here.
I can personally attest to this tour offering a phenomenal day out, complete with lunch (and wine pairings!) in the personal diving room of a prominent local family.
So Porto definitely deserves a few days in your Portugal itinerary. Personally, I’d make three days in Porto my top sightseeing priority in Portugal. But sometimes it’s just not possible with limited time and flights to and from Lisbon, right?
If that’s the case and you’re determined to see it as a day trip, you should know that getting there and back is going to steal a large chunk of your day. How long is the train from Porto to Lisbon? it’s nearly a three-hour train ride each way.
The good news is that are dozens of daily trains on this route so if you’d like to leave as early as 6 am and head back close to midnight you probably can. You can check train schedules here.
To maximize your time, you could also consider a private full-day tour of Porto from Lisbon. Check availability here.
Best Lisbon Tours
As soon as you arrive in Lisbon, be sure to get a Lisbon card! This pass gives you loads of discounted and free admissions to top city attractions—like The Belem Tower, Santa Justa elevator, and Tile Museum—and most importantly, free access to public transport. The pass is inexpensive and can be purchased for 24, 48, or 72 hours. You can get one here.
When it comes to guided tours to experience the best of Lisbon, the sky’s the limit! From historical walking tours and river cruises to hop-on-hop-off bus tours and fado shows, Lisbon is at your fingertips! Check out tours in Lisbon here.
Interested in Portugal off the beaten track? Consider a road trip from Lisbon through Alentejo.
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