The Best Day Trips from Lisbon

Beyond the most popular day trips from Lisbon, visiting Sintra, Cascais, Estoril and the Portuguese Riviera there are many other beautiful and fascinating parts of Portugal waiting to be discovered, only a short drive away from the city centre of Lisbon.

Whether you are looking to escape to the beach for some sun, surf and relaxation, enjoy some hiking, cycling or paragliding in a nature reserve, or visit one of the many interesting historic towns and villages, it is really worth adding some extra time to your holiday in Lisbon to enjoy exploring some further adventures beyond the city.

We’ve compiled some recommendations for you below of some of the most interesting places to visit during your stay.

Day Trips to the West of Lisbon

Ericeira

Ericeira is a charming Portuguese fishing town and seaside resort, popular especially with surfers that are drawn to its coastline of beaches with powerful waves, extending to Ribeira das Ilhas and Lizandro.

This former quiet village still retains its local tradition, combined with the more recent emergence of a cool surfing community bringing a relaxed daytime scene and lively nighttime vibe, with many trendy cafes and restaurants popping up amongst the cobbled streets and traditional whitewashed fishermen’s cottages.

In the summer it becomes a popular holiday destination where visitors flock to enjoy the beaches, traditional fishing harbour and seafood restaurants.

Mafra

On the way to Ericeira it is worth passing through the fascinating historical town of ****Mafra, most famous for the Palacio Nacional e Convento de Mafra, a 18th century Palace-Convent built during the reign of King Dom João V.

Whilst you are there, you can also visit the Basilica de Mafra, Cerco Garden and the Tapada de Mafra, originally a royal Hunting Grounds, now designated a protected forestry area and all ****classed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Day Trips to the South and East from Lisbon

Costa da Caparica

Costa da Caparica is a beautiful long stretch of coastline along the western coast of Setúbal, named after the resort town of the same name. The region provides miles of glorious sandy beaches and natural forest, popular in the summer months with visitors from Lisbon flocking to the beach to escape the city.

Some of Costa da Caparica’s best beaches include the Praia da Morena, Praia da Sereia, Praia da Mata and popular Cabana do Pescador where you can also enjoy watersports such as kitesurfing or one of the many beach-front bars and restaurants and late night beach parties.

At the wilder southern side lies the traditional fishing village of Fonte da Telha, Praia do Meco and the beautiful lagoon of Lagoa de Albufeira, nestled amongst the fossil-rich cliffs in the ‘Arriba Fóssil’ nature reserve.

Serra da Arrabida

Only one hour drive south of Lisbon lies the wild Arrábida Natural Park, spread over 18,000 hectares of protected habitat it offers a true haven for outdoor, nature lovers and the area’s relative isolation has sheltered it from serious overcrowding. With its vast expanse of wilderness, hikers, mountain bikers and runners can explore a multitude of beautiful trails and hiking routes, with Azeitão a popular spot for cyclists who wish to brave the steep climbs and daring slopes.

The region features some of the most stunning beaches in Portugal, with limestone cliffs rising from the ocean offering clear water and white sands whilst offering a great opportunity for water sports including kayaking, surfing, kitesurfing or paragliding. Enjoy one of the many restaurants along the coastline offering freshly caught fish with locally produced wine.

The most idyllic beaches (some ranked among the best beaches in Europe) often requiring a scrambly descent along rough trailsinclude the Praia de Galapinhos, with its crescent of white sand set against a dense pine forest; Portinho da Arrabida, a former small fishing village with crystal clear waters and a great spot for fishing; Praia da Figuerinha close to the town of Setubal is one of the more popular beaches in the area; Praia do Creiro offers a beautiful beach with calm, clear waters; Praia do Meco has a large golden sand beach with powerful waves and a naturist area to the south of the large dune, as well as the popular beach bar and restaurant Bar do Peixe.Nearby – and often requiring a scrambly descent along rough trails – lie noteworthy beaches such as Portinho da Arrábida, and Praia dos Galapinhos (ranked among the best beaches in Europe).

Arrábida Natural Park is also known for its growing wine industry, particularly around the village of Azeitão, where you can explore some historic wine cellars and sample the local varieties.

The fishing town of Sesimbra is known for its Moorish castle and Sesimbra beach featuring a long sandy beach that splits in two at high tide, and you can enjoy lunch or dinner at one of the many excellent seafood restaurants.A deserted army barracks on a remote cliffside near Outão has become a popular destination for visitors seeking a unique photo opportunity, with an array of street art covering the whitewashed walls of its abandoned buildings.

Visit the stunning area around Cabo Espichel, a cape in Castelo at the southwestern tip of the Setubal Peninsula, set against a rugged coastline and dramatic cliffs . Explore the coastal trails to the dinosaur footprints, pilgrimage sanctuary and lighthouse, and end the day overlooking the dramatic sunset.

Évora

The capital of Portugal’s south-central Alentejo region is centred around the ancient Roman Temple of Évora, known as the Temple of Diana. Take a stroll around the white washed houses of the historic town centre and visit the 12th century Gothic Cathedral of Evora and the Igregia de São Francisco featuring Gothic and baroque architecture and Chapel of Bones.

A short drive away is Almendres Cromlech, a stunning megalithic complex in the village of Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe built between 5000 and 4000 BCE and the finest example of Neolithic structures on the Iberian Peninsula, primarily cromlechs and menhir stones, discovered in the 1960s.

Day Trips to the North of Lisbon

Nazaré

Nazaré, or Naza as surfers like to call it, is a fishing town and seaside resort, made infamous by the Hawaiian surf legend Garret McNamara in 2011 who took on a giant wave from the beach Praia do Norte. Indeed, the giant waves and surfing is Nazaré’s main attraction, due to the phenomenon of “Nazaré Canyon”, the largest underwater canyon in Europe about 230 kilometres long and reaching depths of 5000 metres, that acts as a ripple polariser. The big wave season begins from November until February and brave surfers visit Nazaré every year from all over the world, attracting also many visitors who wish to enjoy this spectacle. Beyond the surf, you can enjoy Nazaré beach which also retains one of the most ancient fishing traditions in Portugal. Explore the narrow streets of the old town where you can stop at one of the restaurants to enjoy the fresh seafood, grilled fish or traditional dishes such as the ‘coloured’ fish stew and the local delicacy dried fish. Sitio rock face provides an impressive view of the Portuguese coast which the adventurous can reach on foot or by funicular.

Óbidos

The mediaeval town of Óbidos is one of strategic historical importance, making for a delightful and interesting day trip. It is a relatively small town which you can explore in two or three hours,  and the surrounding region also provides some worthwhile stops on the way, including the fishing town of Peniche, the beaches at Lagoa de Obidos and Europe’s largest collection of Buddha statues at the Buddha Eden.

Óbidos has been inhabited since the late Palaeolithic, with later settlements by Celtic tribes and Phoenicians prior to the arrival of the Romans and then the Moors in the Iberian Peninsula. The town prospered again during the reign of King Dinis I in the 13th century, who offered the town to his wife, Queen Isabel.

The Port da Vila southern gateway of Santa Maria through which you enter the town has a beautiful small chapel adorned with 18th century Azulejo tile paintings. Walk around the top of the Muralhas da cidade, the ancient walls circling the historic centre, providing scenic views over the town. The main street Rua Direita takes you back to the mediaeval era, lined with traditional houses, shops and restaurants along cobbled winding streets leading to the Moorish castle, which is now a pousada. Worth visiting are the charming baroque churches including the Igreja Matriz de Santa Maria and Capela de São Martinho.

A lively programme of events all year round makes it a lively town, most prominent are the Holy Week Festivities, the Ancient Music Festival in October and the ‘Mercado Medieval de Obidos’, a mediaeval festival which takes place in July.

Fátima

Fátima has become one of the most important centres for the Cult of the Virgin Mary, recognised worldwide as a significant pilgrimage destination devoted to Our Lady of Fátima.

This settlement was developed and named during the occupation of the Moors, when according to legend, the Templar knight Gonçalo Hermingues, also known as Bringer-of-Moors, fell in love with Fátima, a Moor captured during the Christian Reconquest. Reciprocating the love, the young woman converted to Christianity and changed her name to Oureana.

The town of Fátima was then established as a parish in the province of Leiria in the 16th century, with the events known as the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fátima taking place in the early 20th century, when in 1917 an apparition of Mary appeared six times to three shepherd children over the course of six months, culminating with the Miracle of the Sun witnessed by over 70,000 people.

Millions of Pilgrims and visitors are drawn to Fátima every year to visit the massive religious complex at the site of the apparitions, including the beautiful Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, Mary’s chapel of the Apparitions and the village of Aljustrel where the shepherd children lived. The most important celebrations include the Candlelit Procession on 12th and 13th May and October every year, and the 13th of every month between these two dates is also a day of devotion.

Tomar

Tomar is an enchanting town with a fascinating history, as one of the most important sites in the world related to Templar history, which from the 12th to the 14th century served as the official home and headquarters of the Knights Templar.

Tomar was founded in 1160 by Gualdim Pais, the most famous Master of the Order of the Temple, where the town centre was planned as a cross and  conceived according to an esoteric plan and initiation, similarly to the Acropolis in Athens, and Pantheon in Rome. With the conquest of Ceuta in the 15th century, Infante D. Henrique became the Grand Master of the Order of Christ and lived for over a decade in Tomar where he designed the project of the Portuguese Discoveries.

Visit the remarkably preserved Convent of Christ, a spectacular testimony to architecture, built over five centuries combining Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance, Mannerist and Baroque elements. Explore the surrounding beautiful woods of Mata dos Sete Montes, where many initiating rituals took place.

Stroll through the characteristic cobbled streets of the historic town centre to explore the many local shops and restaurants, culminating in the main square featuring a statue of Grand Master Gualdim Pais between the City Hall and the Church of Saint John the Baptist. Also worth visiting is the Church of Santa Maria do Olival, an ancient Roman Psyllium gifted to Master Gualdim Pais by King Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal.

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