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Top 10 Day Trips From Lisbon

From dolphin sanctuaries to bone chapels to 19th-century palaces, there is so much to see just a short journey away from Portugal’s capital city. When you want a change of scenery from the big city, these are some of the best day trips from Lisbon.

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1. Sintra

If you only have time for one day trip, it should probably be to Sintra. This gorgeous town is best known for its 6 castles that can be seen from Lisbon on a clear day.

Pena Palace is the most popular site in Sintra, and it’s worth it to make the journey for this castle alone. Recently declared a UNESCO Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal, this colorful castle makes you feel like you’ve wandered onto a Disney film set.

Another “must-see” in Sintra is Quinta da Regaleira, a mysterious Neo-Gothic villa from the 19th century. The manor is filled with underground tunnels, hidden caves, and secret spiral staircases. But most fascinating is the Initiation Wells, inverse towers that spiral nine stories deep into the ground. The owner of the manor was a member of the Knights of Templar, and used them for part of the religious group's initiation ritual. Would-be members would be blindfolded, carried to the bottom, and forced to climb back to the surface.

While you could take the train from Lisbon, and show yourself around the castles, this tour guide lets you skip some of the lines and takes you through all of the highlights, explains the historical significance of the castles, (and lets you bypass the hike up to Pena Palace).

2. Cascais

For a relaxing day by the sea, head to the coastal town of Cascais. It’s easy to reach from Lisbon - just a 40-minute train ride from Cais do Sodre.

Cascais is where the locals in Lisbon go for beautiful beaches, bougie shopping, and amazing seafood restaurants. The waves here are usually very mild, making it the perfect place for families.

Some of the best beaches around Cascais are Carcavelos, Praia da Conceição, and Praia da Rainha.

3. Nazaré

If you're looking for some excitement, head to Nazaré, a coastal town internationally known for its impressive waves. Often referred to as a “surfing mecca,” the town holds the record for the largest wave ever surfed (86 feet/21 meters!). Even if you're not a surfer, the views from the cliffs overlooking the beach are breathtaking.

Nazaré is a laid-back, traditional Portuguese fishing village. When you walk around town you’ll likely spot colorful fishing boats, fish air-drying in the sun, and elderly folks in traditional dress.

As it’s a fishing village, Nazaré is home to some of the freshest seafood in Portugal. Swing by Mar Bravo, Canastra a Grelha, or Restaurante Gil Vicente for the best meal of your vacation.

4. Óbidos

For a taste of medieval Portugal, visit the fortified town of Óbidos. With its narrow streets and whitewashed houses, Óbidos feels like something out of a fairytale.

The Castle of Óbidos, Porta da Vila, and the Church of St. Mary are just a few of the historical “must-sees” in town.

In late June, the city reverts to its medieval glory with the Medieval Fair of Óbidos.

Everything is transformed to look like it did 1,000 years ago and historical markets, jousting tournaments, and open-air concerts pop up across Óbidos.

5. Setúbal

Located south of Lisbon, Setubal is a bustling port town with plenty to see and do, like visit the Fort of São Filipe for panoramic views of the city and the Sado River, go swimming in the waveless Praia de Tróia, or grab a quick lunch at the Mercado do Livramento.

This area is also known for its wineries. The most famous wine from this region is the Moscatel de Setubal, a sweet and fruity dessert wine. Setúbal can be difficult to reach by public transportation, but this wine and food tour picks you up from downtown Lisbon and lets you try the area’s best-known wines.

6. Arrábida Natural Park

Just outside of Setúbal is the Arrábida Natural Park, one of the most exciting day trips from Lisbon. Locals flock here on holiday breaks to be surrounded by forested mountain ranges, turquoise beaches, and golden cliffs.

This area is perfect for adventures like mountain biking, hiking, snorkeling and kayak tours, climbing, and cave exploring.

7. Sado Estuary Nature Reserve

Did you know that less than two hours away from Lisbon, there’s a nature reserve with dolphins, flamingos, and otters? The Sado Estuary Nature Reserve is the river and marshlands near Setúbal that is home to hundreds of different species of wildlife. The best way to see the wildlife is by arranging a boat tour, like this full-day dolphin-watching tour that guides you around the entire reserve.

8. Evora

Evora is a historic Roman town roughly two hours outside of Lisbon. One of the most interesting things to visit is the Chapel of Bones. Similar to the Catacombs of Paris or the Capuchin Crypt in Rome, the chapel is exactly what it sounds like; the walls are decorated with bones from over 5,000 skeletons taken from the city’s graveyards. As you enter, you’ll be greeted by a sign that bears a message from the skeletons themselves “We are the bones that are here, for yours we wait.”

Other sites that aren’t to be missed are the Roman Temple, the Sé cathedral, and the medieval city walls.

9. Azenhas do Mar

For an under-the-radar day trip from Lisbon, try exploring Azenhas do Mar, a small seaside town near Sintra. It’s best known for its cliffside white houses, beaches, and seawater pool.

This village receives significantly fewer tourists than Cascais and Setúbal, making it the perfect spot if you want peace and relaxation. Some of the best beaches in Azenhas do Mar are Praia da Aguda, Praia do Magoito, and Praia das Maçãs.

Just south of town is the Miradoura das Azenhas do Mar, a popular lookout that gives a postcard view of the city against the ocean. This is a popular spot for afternoon picnics and watching the sunset.

10. Tomar

Tomar is often left off of Portugal travel itineraries, which should be illegal because this adorable town 2 hours from Lisbon has so much to offer! The town was designed by one of the most prominent members of the Knights of Templar (the same religious order that inspired the inverted wells in Quinta da Regaleira) and is a stunning village steeped in history.

Some of the highlights of Tomar are the Convent of Christ, the Castle of Tomar, and the Aqueduct (that you can walk across!).

Once every four years, Tomar hosts the Festa dos Tabuleiros, or Feast of the Trays, one of the biggest harvest festivals in Western Europe. For a whole week, the town celebrates with live music, feasts, games, and parades.

The main event is the Procession, where women lead a parade while carrying trays of bread and flowers that are as tall as the person carrying them on their heads. They are followed by horses and chariots, priests with crowns and banners, and oxen-pulled carts of wine and meat.

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