If you’re staying in Lisbon for a week or more, we highly recommend you to do a couple of day trips to some of the nearby towns and cities. Portugal has a lot to offer, and if you’re willing to explore it, you can read about the absolute best day trips from Lisbon here!
There is no doubt that Sintra is number one. In fact, many Portuguese travel guides believe that a trip to Sintra is a must when you’re staying in Lisbon.
Sintra is a historical place full of culture. The Pena Palace is the highlight of Sintra, but you should also see Castelo dos Mouros (the Moorish castle) as well as Quinta da Regaleira, the Monserrate park and palace, not to forget the national palace. Sintra has many cultural sights, but it is also impressive when it comes to nature. The city is very green and hilly. We recommend that you take the bus around or get a guided tour of the city – walking can quickly become exhausted!
If you do get tired during your day trip to Sintra, you can visit one of the many popular restaurants and get a bite to eat. But be aware that Sintra is typically full of tourists, so prices are also higher than most other places in Portugal. Speaking about tourism, you will notice a lot of souvenir shops with unique local merchandise.
Cascais is known as the place where the wealthy people live. It’s easy to understand why – located directly west of Lisbon, Cascais is facing the coast and has beautiful beach areas. It used to be a fishing town, but now it has become more of a modern holiday destination.
The architecture is charming. You will notice many majestic buildings, but also cute and narrow streets around the center.
Finally, Cascais has some of the best restaurants in the region, and shopping options are also top-notch.
On the way to Cascais, you can stop by Estoril which is another popular town among locals and tourists. Estoril has a casino as well as many other entertainment facilities.
Cabo da Roca
Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point in Europe. When you’re standing on that cliff, you got a beautiful outlook out over the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a great place to visit, and you can combine it with a trip to either Sintra or Cascais.
From Cascais, there is a bus leaving for Cabo da Roca which you can easily take. In Sintra, you can easily find a tourist guide who can drive you there. It’s worth it!
Not a lot of time is needed in Cabo da Roca. An hour or two should be enough, so it is quite easy to fit it into the schedule.
The old Roman city Évora is located inland, but it is reachable in around an hour and a half from Lisbon.
While Évora does get tourists, it is significantly less crowded than downtown Lisbon and towns such as Sintra and Cascais. But it is every bit as impressive. Évora is a world heritage site the highlights are the main church, the Roman temple, the medieval walls and the charming streets. As mentioned, Évora was founded by the Romans, and it is one of the oldest cities in Portugal.
A day trip is more than enough – you can see all the main sights in the matter of hours. So if you’re up for the trip, we highly recommend you to visit Évora while you’re staying in Lisbon!
Fátima is famous for religious reasons. It was the site of the Marian apparitions, where three shepherd children were shown three different visions. Pilgrims flock to Fátima, there is a large sanctuary, and the town has its famous basilica.
Overall, it’s a town highly worth visiting, and one day is plenty. From a cultural point of view, it is one of Europe’s highlight. As a Christian, it is particularly interesting to visit. There isn’t any train station in Fátima, but there are buses to and from Lisbon, and you have the added option of driving yourself. The trip takes around an hour and a half.
Nazaré is a coastal town in central Portugal, just shy of 100 kilometers north of Lisbon. It is famous for its beach and for its high waves. Therefore, Nazaré is famous among surfers, but all kinds of people visit, and it has become a popular holiday destination.
Aside from being a beach resort town, Nazaré has a long history. The town has a long religious background, even the name is the Portuguese variant of Nazareth. You will notice some interesting churches in Nazaré. It also has museums, so it isn’t only a fun beach town – there are cultural things to experience as well. If you visit in the summer, you can enjoy the beach area, but you might want to consider a visit in September as well. The festival of Our Lady of Nazaré takes place during 10 days and it is the highlight of the year for the locals.
Since Nazaré is closed to Fátima – the town we mentioned a bit earlier – you can consider visiting both on the same day trip, which is definitely possible.
Setubal isn’t that far from Lisbon – and there are direct trains going there.
The city is not touristy at all, yet it is very charming and you will find some nice restaurants. Setúbal has a famous port, some nice architecture and it has been described heavily in literature.
The Monastery of Jesus is the main historical monument. But it has several interesting churches, and there should be enough things to see during a few hours. It’s ideal to go to Setúbal in the middle of the day, explore the city in the afternoon, get a nice dinner and then take the ride back to Lisbon at night.
Sesimbra is just a bit west of Setúbal, so you can easily visit both on the same day. Or you can take more days in the area which also makes sense.
Unlike Setúbal, which is more of a port city, Sesimbra is a beautiful beach area with resorts and bars. It is quite popular among tourists, and it’s a common getaway for locals in Lisbon. Many consider Sesimbra to be one of the best secrets of Portugal. If you need some luxurious days by the coast, go to Sesimbra! It is particularly great in the summer.
Coimbra is a bit far, but not out of reach by any means.
With the Alfa Pendular high-speed train, you can go from Lisbon to Coimbra in the matter of 1 hour and 40 minutes. If you’re driving yourself, the trip will take around 2 hours.
Coimbra definitely deserves more than just a day, but you can see the most important sights in 5-6 hours. Coimbra is perfectly suited for a cultural day trip, and it will be an amazing experience indeed. But be ready to walk a lot – and bring your camera!
For more information about Coimbra, read our article about what to do in the city right here. In case you need to stay longer, read our suggestions on where to stay in Coimbra.
It takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to go from Lisbon to Porto with the train – and approximately 3 hours if you’re driving in your own car. That’s longer than any other destination on this list, but nevertheless it is possible to visit Porto in one day and be back in Lisbon when the day is over.
We do recommend spending more time in Porto. You can easily pass a week here and still have things to do. But ultimately, if you’re staying in Lisbon and simply wish to visit Porto for a day, it is absolutely possible, and highly worth it.
Porto is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Sights such as the Luís I bridge, the Clérigos tower, the interior of the São Bento station, as well as the beautiful Livraria Lello, you have a lot to see and do. When it comes to eating, try the local Francesinha!
Lisbon is a great city to visit if you are into culture, history, art, gastronomy and nice weather. But don’t ignore the many other amazing Portuguese destinations – even if you’re short on time, you can probably plan a day trip or two and get to see just a bit more of this beautiful country.
If we had to recommend only two day trips? Go for Sintra and Cascais – they are near, it costs almost nothing to go there, and they do show you other sides of Portugal. So those should be the top priorities. But if you have more time, visit more places! And eventually, destinations such as Coimbra and Porto deserve more than just a day, but we’re sure you will get to that eventually.