Day trips from Lisbon that we locals also enjoy
There’s virtually a never ending array of things to see and do in Lisbon. Yet when you visit the Portuguese capital, just like when you travel to any country, it’s always a good idea to venture out of the big city and explore a little more of what the country has to offer.
Your days in Lisbon may be limited and, even though Portugal is considerably small, you may not have the time or means to explore all around. We get it! But we still hope you can do some day trips near Lisbon that will help you deepen your knowledge about our country and, above all, enjoy different places and experiences.
When you research day trips from Lisbon, places like Sintra, Cascais or Óbidos are the most likely names to come up. After all, Sintra and Óbidos are historic towns that could inspire any fairy tale, with lush forests, outstanding medieval walls and palaces. While Cascais is just a forty minute train ride from Lisbon and it feels like a sunny, beachy, holiday-like world away. All these destinations are very worth exploring, of course, and us locals often visit Sintra to enjoy travesseiro pastries, head to Óbidos to sip ginjinha liqueur in its own birthplace, or head to the beaches near Cascais for vitamin D supplies.
If you’re planning a day trip around Lisbon, it’s important you do so based on what you like, and not what’s popular. Forget about FOMO and seek experiences that speak to your heart and interests!
We have compiled some travel ideas of places that are within easy reach from Lisbon in one day. These are day trips that aren’t particularly touristic, but that us local inhabitants take on weekends or holidays, when we want to venture out of the city and see, do and taste something different!
For seafood lovers
Peniche is a seaside municipality north of Lisbon, where you can experience a slower side of life as compared to the capital. Popular for surfers and lovers of the sea in general, Peniche is one of the greatest places where you can enjoy Portuguese seafood at lower prices than you would in the city. Traditionally a fishermen’s town, you bet the fish and crustaceous that you can taste in Peniche are the freshest! Apart from straightforward preparations of steamed and grilled seafood, the most typical dish in Peniche is caldeirada, a loaded fish and seafood stew that will comfort your mouth and soul with rich flavors from the sea. Seafood delights aside, there’s more than food in Peniche! Here you can take a digestive stroll enjoying the views out to sea, visit the port to take a peek into the local fishing industry, head to some of the nearby beaches like Areia do Sal or Baleal for sunbathing or surfing, or even visit the Berlengas islands kayaking about 10 km from the shore.
🚗 1h15 by the A8 highway or 1h40 if you prefer the scenic root and no tolls.
🚌 1h30 departing from Campo Grande in Lisbon, using bus company Rodoviária do Oeste.
Arrábida Natural Park
For hiking aficionados
Serra da Arrábida Natural Park is a wonderland lovers of the great outdoors. Here lush and gorgeous green nature is side by side with turquoise water beaches. The views are breathtaking when you hike up some of the higher points in the park and the descent is rewarding as you reach the beach and get to freshen up in translucent blue waters that are also a little deceiving – they look tropical, but the truth is that it’s still the Atlantic, and that means the temperature is on the colder side. Either way, spending time in Arrábida can be very rewarding whether you’re into contemplating nature (dolphin watching around here can be great) or, what’s most likely around here, dare to get moving. Popular activities in Arrábida include hiking, canoeing, diving and coasteering, which consists in a mix of hiking, swimming, sliding and more.
🚗 It’s incredible how this natural heaven is only 40 minutes by car from Lisbon!
🚌 Take the train by Fertagus from Campolide train station in Lisbon and all the way to Setúbal. From here to Arrábida by public transportation, things get a little tricky. So you can either start hiking from Setúbal itself or, during the summer, take advantage of the free bus that connects the main beaches, and which operates at no cost pricesily to avoid people bringing way too many cars to the area.
Ericeira and Nazaré
For surf freaks
It’s no secret that Portugal is one of the world’s leading destinations for surfing, and it just so happens that some of the best places to practice this sport are within a day trip away from Lisbon. In Ericeira, the traditional world of fishermen with a blue and white houses’ background mixes these days with the hipster vibe of surfers who flock to this town to catch some of the best waves Portugal has to offer. If you’re new to this sport, Ericeira’s surfing schools offer plenty of opportunities for you to get initiated, even if a day if all you have available. If you’re a surfing pro and dare to literally face some of the biggest waves in the world, continue your journey north all the way to Nazaré. Praia do Norte beach in this coastal town made the news when back in 2011 Garrett McNamara surfed the biggest wave ever surfed, but meanwhile brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa broke the world record riding a 80 feet (24.4m) wave. If you ever felt like reenacting the movie Point Break with your friends, you can certainly do so close to Lisbon!
🚗 50 minutes it all it takes to Ericeira following the A8 highway. To make it all the way to Nazaré by car, it takes about 1h30.
There’s no shortage of options for beach lovers here in Portugal. There are beautiful beaches within easy reach from Lisbon, even using the public transportation network. But the truth is that, during the summer months, the beaches which are closer to the city center do get busy. If you want to enjoy more space, more sand, more privacy and incredible views all around, we suggest getting a bit further away from Lisbon. The coastline in Comporta to the south of the Tagus river is stunning and CNN referred to it as “Portugal’s best secret beach spot”. Going to spend a day at Comporta doesn’t have to be all about sunbathing or sipping cocktails with your feet buried in the sand, in one of the beach’s many trendy spots. Comporta’s geographical location, in the district of Setúbal, makes it also a great destination for foodies. Here you can enjoy a beautiful seafood rice, with local carolino type of rice planted nearby, the buttery sheep milk cheese from neighboring Azeitão, and end with a Moscatel from Setúbal.
🚗 1h20 using the A2 highway.
🚌 Having a car even if it’s just for the day can really come in handy if you’re planning to visit Comporta. To use public transportation you’d have to first make it to Setúbal, either taking a Fertagus train or using the bus service from TST. From Setúbal, you’d have to cross to Tróia by ferry. From Tróia to Comporta there are several buses by Rodoviária do Alentejo during the week, but the options during the weekends are very limited! The bus ride from Tróia to Comporta takes around 20 minutes.
For wine tasting lovers
Wine tasting opportunities abound no matter where you go in Portugal, but we all know things tend to be even more enjoyable when tasted at the source. There are plenty of wineries on the Peninsula of Setúbal, but it’s not just about quantity. In the last couple of decades, the region has gained quite a reputation for its excellent productions, blowing up the wine tourism in the region. The Peninsula of Setúbal comprises the designations of origin of Palmela and Setúbal, while the name of Setúbal alone refers exclusively to the fortified Moscatel wines from this region, Moscatel of Setúbal and Moscatel Roxo. The most popular wineries that open their doors for guided tours and wine tastings in this region include José Maria da Fonseca and Quinta da Bacalhôa. While you’re in the Peninsula of Setúbal in the pursuit of tasting the region’s most iconic flavors, we’d recommend not to miss out on the most typical dish of the city of Setúbal, choco frito, that is, strips of battered and deep fried cuttlefish, usually served with chips and salad.
🚗 The fastest route by car to Setúbal will only take about 40 minutes.
🚌 Fertagus trains can take you from Lisbon to Setúbal in less than 1 hour.
Alcântara – Guincho Loop
For fit cyclists
If pedaling is your thing and you’d like to do so while following the Tagus river as it meets the Atlantic ocean, we recommend doing the Alcântara – Guincho loop. Departing from the docks in Lisbon, right under the 25 de Abril bridge, you’ll travel almost exclusively on a cycle path all the way. As you leave Alcântara, you’ll cross the district of Belém and you’ll get to see some of its most iconic monuments, including the Monument to the Discoveries and the Belém Tower, as well as the Jerónimos Monastery across the street. If you need fuel to pedal, you can stop here for a Portuguese custard tart at the historic Pastéis de Belém. Otherwise, continue all along the sea shore, letting the Atlantic breeze aid you in beating the heat. You will cycle by some of the most popular beaches of the so-called Cascais Line, including Carcavelos and Estoril, and eventually reach the pretty town of Cascais. In the outskirts of Cascais on your way to Guincho beach, you can make a stop at Boca do Inferno, aka, Hell’s mouth, to contemplate how the ocean waves crash vigorously against the rock formations that make the shoreline. From here make it to Guincho beach, which consists of a little less than one kilometer of shoreline that sits in a natural depression on the southern side of the Serra de Sintra hills. Make yourself comfortable and take time to catch your breath here before making your return to Lisbon but, be warned, the weather at Guincho beach is infamously windy!
🚴 72km (or 45 miles) which, depending on your level of fitness, should take about 5 hours.
For history buffs
If you are into history and monuments, a day trip from Lisbon to Batalha can be very rewarding. This small town in the Leiria area, to the north of Lisbon, has got UNESCO World Heritage status. Batalha is famous for its Monastery, built to celebrate the Portuguese victory over the Spanish in the Battle of Aljubarrota of 1385, which confirmed Portugal’s independence from the Castilians. There aren’t too many unique things to see in Batalha besides the Monastery, so combining a few places for this day trip can be a good idea. Once you’re done appreciating the gothic architecture of Batalha’s Monastery, we recommend checking out nearby Alcobaça, where you can visit the Royal Abbey of Santa Maria, founded by the Order of Cistercians in 1153. Or Fátima, an unmissable pilgrimage destination for Catholics.
🚗 Reaching Batalha will take you about 1h40, following the A8 highway from Lisbon.
🚌 Use Rede Expressos’ buses to arrive in Batalha in about 2 hours.
Tejo and Sado Estuary Natural Reserve
Portugal is arguably one of the best places for birdwatching in Europe, once it concentrates different habitats across its relatively small territory. Very close to Lisbon, you’ll find two different estuaries, Tejo and Sado, with a similar diversity of species. Many are surprised to see flocks of flamingos and spoonbills coloring the landscape around here. But besides these birds, and depending on the season of your visit, you can also observe pied avocets, great cormorants, ducks, herons, godwits, sanderlings, black-winged stilts, plovers and ducks. While you can reach the area on your own, it may be a good idea to hire a specialized service which can not only guide you, but also take you on a boat trip so that you can observe the species from closer up.
🚣 Join an organized boat trip from Setúbal.
Aldeia da Mata Pequena
For a rural getaway
If you’re in for a contrast between the city and the surprisingly nearby countryside, you’ll find a picture perfect rural scene at Aldeia da Mata Pequena. Even though this is a village dedicated to rural tourism and that also welcomes travelers who’d like to come for the day, this is a village where people still live tranquil lives, in close contact with nature. Unless you’re staying overnight or you bond really deeply with the donkeys or pigs that you’ll often see roaming around, chances are you won’t stay all day at Aldeia da Mata Pequena. So we’d suggest exploring nature a little more and visit Cascata do Mourão, a nearby waterfall, or heading to the city of Mafra to enjoy its grand National palace and the typical foods from the area which include Mafra bread and pastel de feijão.
🚗 Just 40 minutes from Lisbon.
🚌 There’s no public transportation from Lisbon all the way to Aldeia da Mata Pequena. But you could take a Mafrense bus to Mafra (about 40 minutes) and hop on a taxi from here for the remaining 10km that you’ve got left to the destination.
For a taste of the Alentejo
The Alentejo region of Portugal certainly deserves more than a day trip. Between the interior of the region, closer to Spain, and the Vicentine coastline that goes all the way south to the Algarve, there’s just way too many things to explore in the Alentejo. Nature, typical villages, incredible beaches, wineries galore and, of course, one of the most acclaimed regional styles of Portuguese cuisine. But if one day is all you really have, you can still have a taste of what the Alentejo is all about, taking a day trip to Évora. It was named by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1986, but Évora has existed for more than 5000 years! As you can imagine, historical sites abound around here, including a roman temple from the 5th century, a 13th-century gothic cathedral and a 16th-century aqueduct. Just outside Évora you will also have the chance to visit Almendres Cromlech, a megalithic complex often compared to Stonehenge. Historical buildings aside, Évora will give you the opportunity to taste Alentejo food, including iconic dishes such as paprika-infused pork with clams, dogfish soup, lamb stew over local rustic bread slices, and a vast range of cheeses and sweets.
🚗 About 1h30 car drive, following the A6 highway.
🚌 Only 1h45 with Rede Expressos buses from Sete Rios.
Azenhas do Mar
For Instagram photo-ops
If it’s true that all places above have their charms and thus represent good photo opportunities, Azenhas do Mar offers such breathtaking views that even those who aren’t particularly into selfies will want to click a photo here. Azenhas do Mar Mediterranean feel is inspired by the white and blue clustered houses with the intensely colored ocean as backdrop. Besides the views and beach, Azenhas do Mar is popular for having a seawater pool that allows you to swim in the natural water without having to face the often aggressive waves, as well as for its restaurants specializing in fish. From atop the cliff, and considering you’re facing west, you can catch splendid sunsets that are likely to make your Instagram followers feel a little jealous. After all, if the aftermath of that feeling is that they also plan a trip to Lisbon, it would turn out to be a good thing!
🚗 40 minutes via A37.
🚌 Take the train from Sete Rios in Lisbon, which reaches Sintra about 40 minutes later. On the bus terminal opposite the train station in Sintra board bus 441 or 440 to Azenhas, which will take an additional 35 minutes or so.
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