Lisbon is often described as the dream destination for many tourists. The capital of Portugal hides many secrets Built on a series of hills, the charming city offers countless of gorgeous views, excellent museums and art galleries and is a hotspot for nightlife as well. Thousands of churches and halls mean that you’ll be so immersed in Lisbon’s history that it’ll be very difficult to get out.
However, sometimes you just need a break – and with its rising popularity, Lisbon can feel very overwhelming and crowded very quickly. Luckily, going around Portugal has never been easier. Either on a train or by car, you can visit hundreds of beautiful places around Lisbon very easily. As there’s a lot of choice, we’ve narrowed it down to 15. Here are the best day trips from Lisbon:
Only 30 kilometers north of Lisbon, Sintra is very easily reached either by car or by a direct train from the city center.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sintra’s beauty lies in its many palaces, rolling hills and landscapes and ancient historical sites.
Located in the Old town, the Palácio Nacional de Sintra dates all the way back to the 14th century and its characteristic twin chimneys are certainly a sight to behold.
It used to be a summer retreat for queens and kings so it’s definitely worth a stop on your tour.
The Castelo dos Mouros is another wonderful sight to behold – you can take a shuttle bus up there, or, if you’re enthusiastic, take the hike up the hill.
Suggested tour: Sintra Full Day Sightseeing Tour
2. Pena National Palace
The Pena National Palace could technically be considered a part of Sintra but it deserves its own mention purely because it’s possibly one of Portugal’s most easily recognized sites.
It’s just outside of Sintra, so there’s plenty of shuttle buses there, as well as great roads you can take a drive on and enjoy the landscape.
The true payoff comes when you climb to the top of the hill and see the gorgeous panoramic views.
The palace itself is not any less appealing.
It’s surrounded by an epic fairytale garden, perfect for a leisurely stroll at sundown.
For the more adventurous among us, there are numerous tourist trails and hikes to be discovered on your way to and around Pena National Palace.
The city of Évora is only an hour and 45-minute drive from Lisbon – or you can get there by train too and still enjoy the beautiful landscapes around.
Officially ranked the second-best place to live in in Portugal, the old Roman town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its well preserved old town and various Roman monuments.
Its highlight is the Roman Temple, which has still retained much of its formal grandeur and is best enjoyed just after sunset in the dusk of the evening.
Take a walk through the winding streets of the Old Town and make sure to visit Évora Cathedral too.
Finally, make sure to visit the famous Chapel of Bones, attached to the Church of San Sebastian.
Suggested tour: Évora Full-Day Tour with Wine Tasting from Lisbon
Known as Portugal’s inaugural student city, Coimbra is very easily accessible from Lisbon via train.
The city is beautifully perched on the banks of the Mondego river and is home to the oldest university in Portugal.
It’s often the case that you’ll see young men and women clad in black capes.
If you’re looking for the best places for a cheap lunch or a good night out, ask them – they’ll be happy to help.
If you go at the right time of year, the university graduation parties are not one to miss – they’ve been doing it for so long they’ve pretty much nailed the perfect recipe for a great party! And if you feel like university life’s a bit too much to you, make sure to explore the lovely little winding streets and enjoy the gorgeous views.
Available tour: From Lisbon Private Tour to Coimbra
Hidden very much off the beaten track, the little village of Obidos is only an hour’s drive away from Lisbon.
The main point of interest in Obidos is its castle, situated right in the middle of the city.
Like any self-respecting medieval town, the rest of it is built entirely around the castle.
Walk through the little streets and enjoy the contrast between the pearly white buildings and the blue sky.
Throughout its history, Obidos was dominated by Romans, Visigoths and Arabs and remainders of all those cultures are still scattered around the town.
Finally, the town is surrounded by a sturdy wall, which you can even go on, giving you a chance to go back in time and experience some lovely panoramic views, both of Obidos and the surrounding areas.
6. Quinta Da Regaleira
Situated only a 30-minute drive from Lisbon, Quinta Da Regaleira is often overlooked because of its more imposing cousin, the Pena National Palace.
However, this palace has a lot to offer on its own too.
We recommend combining it with the day trip to Sintra because they’re so close to each other.
The palace is also free to visit, with different guided tours available – so it’s a great option for the more cost-conscious traveler.
Its gardens are no less impressive than Pena’s and offer a great option for a romantic stroll.
Don’t miss the chance to go up to the roof of the castle where gorgeous views to the whole area will open up to you.
The gardens are dotted with various towers and fountains but one of the most impressive features is the Initiation Well at its top.
Finally, explore the castle’s underground tunnels for a quick way to get between places and get a sense of the life of royalty!
Any trip to Portugal without going to the city that gave the whole country its name is partially wasted.
Porto is the second largest city in Portugal, therefore it’s really well connected – it only takes about two hours on the train to get there from Lisbon and it’s even easier if you drive.
Porto’s city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you can easily spend hours wandering through its winding little streets.
Historically, Porto was key to trade in Portugal, so its business and trade atmosphere can still be felt on the marinas of the city.
Other than that, make sure to stroll along the medieval walls and check out the Baroque churches, the tiny streets of the Ribeira district, and the gorgeous Romanesque Cathedral.
Finally, Porto is famed to have a wonderful nightlife, too.
Often referred to as the pearl of the Portuguese riviera, Sesimbra is Portugal’s best hidden secret.
A quick 45-minute drive from Lisbon will take you straight there and you can enjoy the gorgeous weather and golden beaches with the waters of the Atlantic Ocean gently lapping at them.
Sesmbra is a surfer’s paradise, so if you’re into catching the waves, get your board and head straight there.
Apart from that, the little village itself is not one to miss, with its winding cobbled streets, friendly locals and gorgeous little houses huddled next to one another.
When you’re there, make sure to stop by for some refreshing lunch – ask the locals for the best place to go.
Sesimbra is famous for not only being one of the friendliest but also one of the cheapest places in all of Portugal.
Suggested tour: Lisbon: Arrábida Natural Park and Sesimbra Day Trip
9. Convent of Christ
At first sight, a visit to the Convent of Christ might not seem as impressive as anywhere else but your opinion will soon change the moment you set foot in it.
Based near the small town of Tomar, the Convent of Christ is about an hour and a half drive away from Lisbon, or two hours on the train.
The convent was designed by one of Portugal’s most famous architects, Juan de Castillo, and it was a part of the Templars’ route through the country.
It’s wonderfully preserved from its lavish gardens to its gorgeous interiors and sturdy outer walls.
The convent is a great example of Portuguese Renaissance architecture and is definitely a must-see for anyone visiting Portugal.
Suggested tour: Knights Templar Day Tour from Lisbon
10. Basilica of Our Lady
An hour and 45 minutes’ drive north of Lisbon, The Basilica of Our Lady stands at the heart of the sanctuary of Fatima.
Located in the small town of Cova da Iria, this religious complex attracts over four million pilgrims annually from Portugal and across the world.
The Basilica itself stands an imposing 65 meters high, and is decorated with a bronze crown weighing 7,000 kilos.
It also boasts an organ with over 12,000 pipes, a staggering array of bells and many unique stained-glass windows which depict the mysteries of the Rosary.
A spiritual experience unlike any other in Portugal, the Basilica of Our Lady is a must-see for Catholic visitors to Lisbon.
Available tour: Fátima Full Day Tour
11. Comporta Beach
A place that knows how to treat tourists, Comporta Beach has been referred to as Portugal’s secret beach spot.
Squeezed between enormous rice fields and the Atlantic Ocean, Comporta substitutes the hustle and bustle of Lisbon for a more rural feel.
With mile upon mile of sweeping white sand, you know there will always be space to park up and sunbathe, swim or just kick back.
Fresh Portuguese seafood is never far away here, nor is a cool glass of something equally local.
You’ll surely catch a glimpse of local wildlife whilst visiting, as Comporta lies in the midst of the enormous Sado Estuary nature reserve, full of nesting flamingoes and storks.
The beach is only accessible by car, the drive from Lisbon taking around 80 minutes.
Available tour: Horses in the Sand Private Tour (Ride a horse on the white sands of Comporta Beach)
A seaside resort known for its accessible and relaxing beaches, Cascais has a lot to offer despite its small size.
The medieval ‘old town’ was once a royal escape from the capital, after all, and Cascais’ Citadel Palace marks this royal influence.
The old marina and Nossa Senhora da Luz Fort also conjure up images of Portugal’s past, adding to the quiet and timeless feel of Cascais.
An ideal way to leave Lisbon’s crowds without losing its distinct atmosphere, Cascais is only a 30-minute drive from the heart of Lisbon.
It also has a dedicated train service (on the ‘Linha de Cascais’) which takes 40 minutes.
Ericeira is a small fishing town and ‘surf mecca’ 45 minutes’ drive north of Lisbon.
With local wave conditions unrivalled elsewhere in Europe, the town was chosen as the world’s first World Surfing Reserve.
For expert surfers, Ericeira has an incredible range of clubs and shops.
For the rest of us, the town is still scenic and picturesque to make a trip from Lisbon well worth the effort.
Ericeira’s streets are packed with brightly painted houses and a range of eye-catching architecture, exemplified by the local churches.
Whether viewing the ocean from clifftop terraces or at beach level, Ericeira doesn’t fail to impress.
14. Portinho de Arrábida beach
If you’re tired of the hustle and bustle of town and want some peace and quiet, head over to one of Portugal’s best-kept secrets, the Portinho de Arrábida beach.
It’s right next to Setubal and it only takes 50 minutes to drive there.
Make sure to pack some food for a picnic if the weather permits it, because you’ll definitely fall in love with the gorgeous rustic surroundings.
It’s no coincidence that a Capuchin monk declared Portinho de Arrábida one of the suburbs of heaven.
A hike or bike ride around the surrounding forests is a great way to spend some time outdoors and fully enjoy this little piece of suburban life.
Available tour: Arrábida Kayak Tour from Lisbon
Also called Bracara Augusta, Braga is probably one of the longer day trips you can take from Lisbon.
It takes three and a half hours to get there by express train but it’s definitely worth it once you do.
The city’s history is astounding and definitely deserves at least a few hours of your time.
The town’s cathedral (Sé de Braga) was built from 11th to 13th centuries and there are a range of architectural styles reflecting the town’s varied and fascinating history to enjoy.
Because of its Christian routes, Braga has many ancient churches and monasteries.
The more contemporary part of Braga offers a fantastic nightlife with a range of great bars to choose from.