3 fantastic day trips from Lisbon

There’s no doubt that Lisbon has immense charm, from its brightly-coloured streets to its delicious food to the vibrant culture. But its surrounds are worth a visit, too. Here’s three day trips from Lisbon that you might not have thought of taking (but should!), all an hour or less by train from the Portuguese capital.

View of sea and town in Cascais Portugal
The charming fishing village of Cascais is located just 35km west of Lisbon (Foter.com)

1) Cascais  

This charming fishing village got a glamorous makeover when the royal family chose it for their summer retreat in the 19th century. Today, the historic town centre offers beautiful architecture, al fresco dining, lively bars and free museums, while its beaches are perfect for surfing and sun-worshipping.

Don’t miss:

  • Cascais-Estoril promenade – Make like you’re on the French Riviera: Put on your shades and stroll along this classy beachfront promenade all the way to Estoril, where you can stop for a swim and a drink.
  • Casa das Histórias Paula Rego– Designed by Portuguese contemporary architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, this striking building houses the works of renowned Portuguese contemporary artist Paula Rego, whose paintings display a unique style and intensity.
  • Guincho bike path– Hire a municipality bikes (MobiCascais) and cruise the purpose-built bike along the wild, dramatic coastline. The 10km round-trip will take you to Praia de Guincho, a vast sandy beach that’s famous for surfing and windsurfing.
  • Fresh fish and seafood– Many restaurants in the area serve up a variety of fish and seafood dishes to feast on, including Fortaleza do Guincho, a Michelin star restaurant in a 17th-century fortress. 

How to get there:

Take the CP train from Cais do Sodré station to Cascais station. The historic centre is just a 5min walk. See route map and transport details here.

hilltop palace Palácio da Pena Sintra Portugal
Sintra’s magnificent Palácio da Pena (Credit: Shutterstock)

2) Sintra

This picturesque resort town in the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra Mountains is a must-do side trip from Lisbon, which is just 30km to the southeast. Its romantic palaces and scenic forests could be straight out of a fairy tale, while the town’s twisting cobblestone streets and beautiful mansions will delight any traveller.

Don’t miss:

  • Palácio da Pena– This magnificent hilltop palace is the best example of 19th-century romanticism in Portugal, displaying a revival of Manueline and Moorish architectural styles. It includes a luxurious park with botanical species from all over the world. To get there take the bus (SCOTTURB nº 434) from near the train station, or hike.
  • Hiking – Immerse yourself in nature on one of the many forest trails around the town. Beyond the incredible natural sights, it is also a great way to reach the many historical sites and palaces.
  • Ride a centenary tram– This historic and charming tram line opened in 1904 and now runs seasonally to Praia das Maçãs, a scenic beach in Sintra’s surrounds that’s around 11km away. 
  • Tea houses– After all the hiking, stop for tea and an excellent local pastry (try the Queijadas de Sintra and Travesseiros) in one of the cosy tea houses around town.

How to get there:

Take the CP train from Lisbon (Oriente, Roma Areeiro, Sete Rios, Entrecampos, Rossio or Campolide station) to Sintra station. The historic centre is a 10-minute walk. See route map and transport details here.

Fishing boats in Setúbal harbour, Portugal
Fishing harbour in Setúbal, Portugal (Foter.com)

3) Setúbal

The thriving port town of Setúbal lies between Sado Bay, one of the world’s most beautiful bays, and Arrábida Natural Park. Located just 50km south of Lisbon, this is an easy day trip by train.

Don’t miss:

  • Dolphin watching in Sado Bay – Sign up with a local tour operator for a glimpse of the playful pods of bottlenose dolphins and surrounding beautiful coastal scenery.
  • Beautiful beaches– Catch the bus to Figueirinha (TST) or the ferry to Tróia (Atlantic Ferrys), where you’ll be wowed by crystal-clear water, soft sand and scenic green hills.
  • A vibrant food market– Mercado do Livramento is one of the world’s best fish markets (with excellent fruit and vegetables too). The art deco building houses some interesting tile panels from the first half of the 20th century.
  • Fresh fish and good wine– Feast on fried cuttlefish, a traditional Setúbal dish, and maybe after drink some Moscatel, the region’s world-famous dessert wine.

How to get there:

Take the FERTAGUS train from Roma Areeiro, Sete Rios or Entrecampos station in Lisbon. The journey to Setúbal is less than one hour; from here the historic city centre is a 15-minute walk. See route map and transport details here.

Feeling inspired? Download the Rome2rio app and start planning your own Portugal adventure.

3 fantastic day trips from Lisbon was originally published 1 April 2019

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