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Portugal may well be a much smaller country than some of it’s European counterparts, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t pack a mighty punch. And boy, it certainly does just that!
Being compact, has the added advantage of allowing you to explore the length and breadth of this beautiful and surprisingly diverse country, without having to travel thousands of miles to do so. Even if you plan on being based in one of the major cities, there is still so much on offer by way of day trips you can take to explore Portugal.
In this post I have decided to share with you my favourite trips that you can very easily enjoy, as day trips from Lisbon.
Gorgeous villas, stately manor houses, golden beaches that stretch endlessly along the coast, royalty escaping the war, spies and James Bond. Ah, the beautiful Portuguese Riviera!
The spies and the royals may be long gone, but what remains is a gorgeous and intriguing stretch of coastline snaking it’s way all along the ocean from Lisbon to Cascais. This is by far one of my favourite coastlines in Portugal!
Whether you are looking to wander through the seaside town of Cascais, savour deliciously fresh seafood or just enjoy some fun in the sun at one of the beaches scattered along this coastal stretch, you will not be left disappointed!
From Lisbon, catch the train from the Cais do Sodré train station. The train stops all along the coastline until terminating at Cascais train station. Total train journey time is only 40 minutes.
From here, you can simply cross the street and walk straight into the historic town centre. It’s an easy trip out for the day with very little effort required, just how we like it!
Trains run every 20 minutes (or even less during peak rush hour) and costs only around €2.25 one-way. You can also use the Viva Viagem card if you have a Zapping amount loaded on.
Top tip: Don’t wait till you get to the station to buy a ticket. Especially during the peak summer season, queues at the ticketing machines are endlessly long. So get yourself the Viva Viagem and pre-load Zapping amounts before you even head to the station.
Top tip: The Portuguese never do anything early. So if you are planning to head on over to the beaches, why not get there early (09:00 – 10:00 am) and I assure you, you will get the best spot on the beach!
As far as day trips from Lisbon go, Sintra is one that has to be at the very top of your list. With it’s palaces, castles, gardens, forests and noble estates, this town and it’s surroundings is pure magic! It’s seemingly plucked straight out of a children’s fairy tale and is a must visit when staying in Lisbon.
In fact, you may even want to consider doing an overnight trip to Sintra as there is just so much to see and do. But if you are pressed for time, a day trip will work too.
Check out my essential Sintra day trip guide, to get all the detailed information that’ll help you plan the perfect trip to this enchanted place!
Sintra is a mere 40 – 44 mins by train out of Lisbon. Trains run regularly from Lisbon’s Rossio train station and also costs only €2.25 one-way. For more detailed info, check out my guide (linked above).
If you are planning an overnight stay in Sintra then I can recommend you look at the following suggestions. You can click on the name to book:
Undoubtedly one of my favourite Portuguese towns (I feel like I’m saying this a lot!), has to be Óbidos. This walled medieval village is just incredible and so very pretty. It has a long history dating back as far a 1148 when the King of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, seized control of the area from the Moors.
It has always had a colourful and interesting history and most notably was when King Dinis gave the town as a wedding gift to his bride, Queen Isabel. From that point on several Queens to follow were to own the town, bringing about riches and abundance that helped preserve and enhance it, and the surrounding region.
When visiting you can wander through the main street (Rua Direita) to shop for souvenirs, take a shot of ginjinha (cherry liqueur), visit one of the many churches and sights or simply escape the rush of tourists by taking a stroll through, and getting lost in the narrow alleyways and cobbled streets.
At only an hour by bus from the city, it is a great day trip from Lisbon. Be sure to also lookout for several festivals and events hosted throughout the year, including the Chocolate, Medieval and Christmas fairs and markets that all take place here.
The bus, operated by the Rodotejo company on the Rápida Verde service, departs from Campo Grande (which also happens to be on the Lisbon metro line). It takes an hour by bus to reach the town and there is only 1 quick stop en-route.
The only tricky part is finding the bus departure point in Lisbon. It does not depart from the bus stops found right in front of the metro station entrance. In fact, you have to rather search for “Rodoviária do Oeste” in Google maps to find it right next door to the station on the street – Rua Actor António Silva.
Tickets are purchased on-board the bus and costs €7.95 one-way. To view more info on the schedule and prices, click here.
The next day trip suggestion is a combo trip, visiting two towns not far from each other. Mafra famous for the Palace of Mafra as well as the seaside town of Ericeira.
Mafra itself is a small town but the star attraction is without a doubt the humongous Palacio de Mafra which is one of Europe’s largest palaces, yet interestingly enough never served as an official royal residence, although Portuguese royalty did visit the palace from time to time.
The palace really is huge and features a Basilica, a convent and the library, which for me was the highlight. The library houses over 36,000 books. But what makes it particularly interesting is the fact that they have, for hundreds of years, used colonies of bats as a pest control measure to ensure the books are kept in a preserved state and not ruined by insects such as silverfish (that the bats feed off). How intriguing is that!
I would suggest spending the morning exploring the Palace and then head 25 mins by bus to Ericeira to have lunch and enjoy the remainder of your afternoon strolling and exploring this quaint, white washed fisherman’s village.
Another reason why this combo day trip from Lisbon is such a good idea, is because you actually catch the same bus service which connects Lisbon with both Mafra and Ericeira.
You can take the Mafrense bus service from the Campo Grande station and purchase your ticket on-board.
From Lisbon’s Campo Grande station to Mafra is about a 1 hour journey time and the bus conveniently stops right outside Mafra Palace!
From Mafra you can then catch the bus to Ericeira which is another 25 mins journey.
Note that the bus service is also a public transport route, so there’ll be lots of stops along the way. They do also operated faster express buses that don’t make as many stops and gets there quicker, but these vary and it’s best to look at the schedule to confirm.
When a friend decided to spontaneously rent a car and plan a day trip, we couldn’t quite decide whether we wanted to visit Tomar or the Moinhos Velhos Caves. So after chucking the names in a hat, Tomar won the draw. So off we went to explore the town that used to be the seat of the Order of the Knights of Templar.
The town itself is really pretty and pleasantly not overcrowded by throngs of tourists which makes this a little hidden gem to explore. Right on the main square, Praça da República, you’ll find the São João Baptista church. On the opposite end of the square, be on the lookout for the medieval looking restaurant called, Taverna Antiqua, and go and eat there!! We had the most amazing lunch meal that must have lasted well over 2 hours. We just didn’t want to leave. Tip: do phone ahead and pre-book as it’s a very popular restaurant.
The jewel in Tomar’s crown though, is the imposing Convento de Cristo which is set up top a hill overlooking the town. It used to serve as a Templar stronghold in the 12th century and is a truly fascinating convent to visit. From the ornate architecture, to the monastery dormitory through to the church, there is so much to ogle at, that you can no doubt spend a couple of hours here admiring and appreciating it’s historic value.
The easiest and quickest way to get to Tomar is probably by car, driving on the A1 motorway. It should take around 1 hour 30 mins.
In saying that, you can also take the train from Lisbon’s Santa Apolonia train station to Tomar which lasts around 2 hours on the regional train service (although there are quicker inter-regional services, which do not run as frequently).
You can easily book the tickets directly on the Comboios de Portugal’s (national rail service) website or app. For more info on travelling around and some tips on how to save whilst travelling in Portugal – go read my article – Top money saving tips for travel in Portugal.
An hour southbound out of Lisbon you will find another seafront / fisherman’s town to visit, Setúbal. In fact, this region has so much to offer that I would recommend travelling here by car.
You can explore the town centre, cross with the ferry to the Troía peninsula & beaches, visit the Palmela castle (Pousada Castelo Palmela) or head for the Arrábida Nature Reserve with its gorgeous untouched beaches.
Calling all wine lovers! Go try out the Moscatel wines that this area is known for, in the wine region of Azeitão, only a short 20 min drive out of town.
Top tip: Plan a trip to the Palmela Castle and go eat at the Taverna o Bobo da Corte. It is one of the best meals we’ve had in Portugal. But be warned, they are incredibly popular, and I can understand why! So pre-book, or risk being turned away.
As I already mentioned, it would be advisable to book a car rental in order to fully appreciate the town and it’s surroundings. But you are also able to take the train from Lisbon to Setúbal. Again – this is bookable through the Comboios de Portugal website and takes around an hour by train from Lisbon.
Situated not far from Setúbal and on the other end of the Arrábida Nature Reserve is the sleepy seaside town of Sesimbra. With it’s gorgeous ocean side promenade and it’s golden beaches, this is another gem worth exploring from Lisbon.
Go check out the impressive Castelo de Sesimbra, enjoy some seafood and cocktails by the waterfront, meander through the old town or enjoy the sunshine and spend a day at any of the two beaches, California beach or Ouro Beach.
Unfortunately, Sesimbra is not connected to Lisbon by train, but you can catch a bus (The TST Sul do Tejo service) which should take around an hour, depending on traffic.
There are two buses you can catch, either the 207 or the 260 with both departing from the Praça de Espanha bus station. Tickets can be bought from the driver on-board the bus.
There is a metro stop (also named Praça de Espanha) right outside the bus departure point or you can search for “TST Bus Station, Praça de Espanha” on Google maps to get accurate directions to the station.
Looking to extend your stay and spend a night or two in Sesimbra? Why not book at either the SANA Sesimbra Hotel or at the Casa da Praça Guest House. Both of these are located centrally and right by the seafront promenade.
Fátima is probably the most important Catholic religious site in all of Portugal and sees pilgrims flock here throughout the year and from all corners of the world.
It was made famous by the apparitions of the Virgin Mary, witnessed by three shepherd children in 1917, which has since been recognised by the Catholic Church. This has galvanised Fátima’s position as an important global religious site for Catholic worshippers.
During the month of May, and especially May 13th, Fátima experiences a big rise in visitor numbers. This is due to the fact that the first apparition happened on this day. But you can visit the town and the various religious sites throughout the year too.
You can catch the Rede Expressos bus service from the Sete Rios bus terminal and the trip takes 1 hour 30 mins to 2 hours depending on the bus you catch.
You may also want to catch a train with several services running daily from Lisbon’s Santa Apolonia train station. The Intercidade trains are the quickest and take around 1 hour 13 mins.
There is so much to explore and experience, not only in Lisbon but also in it’s surrounding areas and towns. So if you are spending a decent amount of time in sunny Lisboa, then why not plan some day trips from Lisbon to the above mentioned places!
As always, I’d love to hear your feedback. Did you find this useful or do you have any other suggestions or tips that I can add on to help other travellers travel better throughout Portugal? Let me know in the comments field below!
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