Portugal’s maritime history is evidence that the country was able to exploit its location by creating an empire. Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, faces the Atlantic Ocean and the wealth that came from the “Age of Discovery” helped build incredible architecture in Lisbon and other cities in Portugal. Lisbon is the largest city in the state, with the greater metropolitan population totalling over 25% of the national figure.
Lisbon welcomes visitors all year round with its latitude and coastal location, meaning its winter weather is mild, if sometimes wet. Most visitors to Lisbon head there from Easter onwards. There are lots of things to do in Lisbon, a city full of famous landmarks. However, there are plenty of day trips from Lisbon if you use the capital as a base. These ideas should persuade you that you can take a holiday in Portugal and return home richer for the experience of making Lisbon your base.
- Day Trips From Lisbon
- Top 3 Tours
- 20 Day Trips From Lisbon
- 1- See Pena Palace And More
- 2- Visit Some Religious Landmarks
- 3- Head North To Porto
- 4- Experience Stone Age
- 5- Discover The Secrets Of The Knights Templar
- 6- See Berlenga Grande
- 7- Visit Arrabida National Park
- 8- Explore The Algarve
- 9- Investigate the Queluz National Palace
- 10- Go Sea Fishing From Cascais
- 11- Swim in the Open Ocean
- 12- Sailing On The Atlantic
- 13- Wine Tasting in Colares
- 14- Take On The Challenge Of Penna Longa
- 15- Relax At Costa Caparica
- 16- Observe The Birdlife at Reserva Natural do Estuário do Sado
- 17- Absorb The Charm of Obidos
- 18- Explore Caldas da Rainha
- 19- Wander Around Quinta da Regaleira
- 20- Visit The Moorish Castle of Sintra
Day Trips From Lisbon
Top 3 Tours
- Lisbon day tour to Pena Palace, Sintra, Cabo da Roca and Cascais – Avoid the lines at Pena Palace on this guided tour and discover the amazing architecture of Sintra and the gems beyond.
- Lisbon day tour to Porto, Nazaré, and Coimbra – Explore UNESCO World Heritage Porto and discover some of Portugal’s most intriguing sites.
- Lisbon day tour to Fatima – Visit Catholic shrines, convents and seaside villages.
20 Day Trips From Lisbon
1- See Pena Palace And More
A tour out of Lisbon for a day offers so much and even the journey itself is great, with stunning coastline views as you head to Sintra and Cascais.
The highlight of Sintra is the Pena Palace, but if you prefer to explore Sintra rather than the palace, you have that option.
UNESCO has recognised its importance, making it a World Heritage site.
Cascais is a popular seaside resort, originally just a fishing port with a fort.
When you head to Cabo da Roca, you are at the western edge of mainland Europe.
Be sure you have your camera to photograph the many highlights of this day trip from Lisbon.
2- Visit Some Religious Landmarks
Religion has always been important in Portugal; a day trip from Lisbon to Fatima, Obidos, Batalha and Nazaré is evidence of that.
The Fatima Shrine has been a famous pilgrimage for a very long time.
The architecture you will see dates back to the 16th Century when Portugal’s wealth was increasing each year.
The afternoon involves visiting the resort of Nazaré, where you will see its colourful fishing boats, the beach and the black Virgin Mary statue by Saint Joseph.
3- Head North To Porto
If you are prepared for a long day, drive north to Porto, Portugal’s second city. This charming historic city is where port wine originated.
En route, you can spend a short time in Nazaré but the main point of this tour is to see Porto.
The Dom Luis I Bridge links the two banks of the Douro.
Porto’s old quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage site, filled with stunning 17th Century churches.
You will be guided to many landmarks as you walk around and enjoy a typical Portuguese lunch.
On the return journey, you can visit one of the oldest universities in the world at Coimbra first opened at the end of the 13th century.
4- Experience Stone Age
Évora is the old capital of Alentejo and is home to Portugal’s Stonehenge equivalent.
The Cromeleque dos Almendres are megaliths arranged in such a way that it proves that ancient civilisations had some knowledge of astronomy; they align with the sun and stars.
The centre of this old capital is a UNESCO World Heritage site with ruins dating from Roman times to the Renaissance.
The Temple of Diana and the medieval cathedral are significant landmarks, as are the Renaissance Church of St. Francis and the Chapel of Bones.
You will also learn how cork is extracted from Cork Oaks. Find out more here.
5- Discover The Secrets Of The Knights Templar
The Knights Templar was a religious-military order that spent time across Europe as far as today’s Greece and Turkey.
They played a significant role in the foundation of Portugal before the “Age of Discovery.”
The day involves a few different locations, the village of Constância, Almourol Castle on a small island and the Tomar Convent of Christ, inspired by the temple of Solomon.
The latter was the headquarters of the Knights Templar, with UNESCO’s recognition a natural consequence.
The last place to visit on this tour is the Gothic Church of Santa Maria do Olival, built in the 12th century. Find out more here.
6- See Berlenga Grande
Berlenga Grande is the largest of three islands in a nature reserve protected since 1465, a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
There are sea caves and fortifications, including Fort of S. João Baptista, which juts out into the Atlantic.
A boat ride takes you out on the wild waters to get a closer look at the caves and the fort.
The island is small, with dramatic cliffs, never wider than 400 m (0.25 miles) or more than 1.4 km (0.87 miles).
This rocky island is home to several species of birds, plants, and flowers and a small number of inhabitants. Book your spot on this tour.
7- Visit Arrabida National Park
Arrábida Natural Park on the Sado River estuary is an excellent place for a day trip from Lisbon.
Crossing the Tagus River, you can expect a day surrounded by greenery, trees, and flora.
The park is a protected area covering 108 acres, and within it, you will find the Convento de Nossa Senhora da Arrábida, a monastery dating back to the 16th century.
Golden sandy beaches surround the Lagoa de Albufeira, a lagoon you will see as you head for a pilgrimage site, the Santuário de Nossa Senhora do Cabo Espichel.
The view of the Atlantic from the cliffs is stunning but it is on Sesimbra, a quiet fishing village where you can enjoy lunch.
You can cruise if you wish or enjoy the beaches before returning to Lisbon later that afternoon. Book your tour here.
8- Explore The Algarve
The Algarve has become a popular tourist region within Portugal, and if you are prepared for a long day, you can get a flavour of it by heading south.
It will be almost three hours by road, but the journey reveals a great natural environment before you reach your destination.
The south-facing coastline with nice beaches and a warm sea has led to the Algarve’s popularity.
Enjoy them both and perhaps savour the grilled sardines that make such a tasty lunch, washed down with a glass or two of the local wine.
Depending on your schedule, you can have up to six hours in the Algarve before the journey back to Lisbon.
9- Investigate the Queluz National Palace
The National Palace of Mafra is a complex that comprises a Royal Palace, a Basilica and a Convent.
It was finished in 1735 and fulfilled the promise of King D. João V to look after his descendants.
The king died a few years later but the palace remained a court favourite.
The rare books gathered together in the library date back to the 15th century in some cases.
The next part of the day tour provides time at the fishing village of Ericeira, where the impressive cliffs, the narrow streets and the freshest fish in the local restaurants all add to the day’s experiences.
Finally, you reach the palace regularly compared with Versailles, the 18th Century Queluz National Palace.
It was formerly a summer retreat, and you can explore its beautiful gardens and rooms, the throne room, the music room, the ambassador’s room, and Don Quixote’s room. Find out more about this tour here.
10- Go Sea Fishing From Cascais
Even if you are not an experienced sea angler, you will enjoy a day on the Atlantic Ocean searching for fish.
Heading out into the bay with an experienced captain and crew is an experience, even before you start to fish.
Your boat will be fully equipped with a fish finder to identify any shoals or large fish.
Crew members will help you with casting and advising about how to land a fish.
On a full-day trip from Lisbon, you can enjoy lunch on board and take home anything you catch at the end of your day.
Bass and Bream are the most likely catches you will make.
11- Swim in the Open Ocean
Open Ocean swimming is a real challenge that only strong swimmers should contemplate.
Cascais Bay is a great place to try if you are a confident swimmer, and there are guides who will ensure you are safe.
You will begin by getting a safety briefing before spending a short time in the water warming you up for a longer swim.
You can spend up to an hour swimming in the ocean, although the first attempt may be for a short time.
You will always be under the watchful eye of experts, and they will have photos and even a video of your efforts.
The satisfaction you will get from this experience is beyond description.
12- Sailing On The Atlantic
Travelling under sail off the Portuguese coast is exhilarating and tranquil.
Head to Cascais and board your yacht to choose from a few route alternatives.
The captain and crew are in charge of allowing you to enjoy the day and this is where you can cruise to the westernmost point on mainland Europe, Cabo the Roca.
Perhaps you’re looking for a tranquil beach to relax or swim? There are a few on offer.
The run back to Lisbon is another alternative, giving you a different perspective of the landmarks en route and the capital.
13- Wine Tasting in Colares
Any trip to Sintra should include its significant landmarks, but the real purpose of this day trip from Lisbon is to taste the local wine. And one of the best ways to do it is on a private tour of Sintra’s cellars.
The cellars of Adega Regional de Colares have been operational for a couple of centuries and it’s the oldest cooperative winery in Portugal.
Learn about its history, see its cellars and taste what the winery is proud to label as its product.
Ramisco is one of three grapes grown here and it makes a light ruby-coloured wine that darkens to tawny as it ages.
You can buy on-site but you are likely to open the bottle well before it has the chance to turn to tawny.
14- Take On The Challenge Of Penna Longa
Unlike many recently built golf courses, Penha Longa has little reliance on water hazards to provide a test if you ignore the Par 3 15th.
Approaching its 30th birthday, Penha Longa uses the terrain to present golfers of all standards with a real challenge.
The course sits above the Estoril Grand Prix circuit just a short distance from Lisbon.
It is of championship quality, hosting the Portuguese Open soon after it opened.
If you take a golfing holiday in Portugal, it offers an alternative to the Algarve, yet for a holiday with plans to enjoy more of the country, it is a good place for just a day before you head back to explore more the next day.
15- Relax At Costa Caparica
The town on the west coast near Setubal is relatively small but well worth a day trip from Lisbon.
Here you will find the largest stretch of beach in Portugal, measuring around 30 km (over 18 miles).
It is subject to erosion and was created as the ocean receded.
Not surprisingly, the beach attracts significant visitors, especially during local holidays when the local campsites fill up.
There are ongoing efforts by the authorities to plant vegetation to establish dunes to stop erosion.
Even when large numbers of visitors head to the beach, there is still plenty of room for all.
16- Observe The Birdlife at Reserva Natural do Estuário do Sado
If you are keen on bird watching, the reserve at the estuary of the Sado River is worth a visit.
The river reaches the sea near Setubal, where the land is exceptionally fertile.
As a result, rice fields and other cultivation are alongside the nests of the white storks from Africa in springtime.
Storks are just one of 200 species regularly seen in the reserve.
Some like the storks are migratory; the storks leave again around August with their chicks for the long flight “home.”
Others are residents all year round.
Cork and pine groves cover parts of the area.
A bonus is a chance of seeing dolphins in the sea if you take a short boat trip.
17- Absorb The Charm of Obidos
If you want to get the chance to interact with locals, the charming small town of Obidos is where you can do this, especially if in the early evening.
Return to Lisbon late, and you will experience what local life is all about.
Obidos is 85 kilometres (53 miles) northwest of Lisbon in the district of Leiria.
It is like an open-air museum, a small town established by the monarchy in the 13th century. Its highlights include the old town walls, the Castelo do Obidos, now a luxury hotel and the quaint narrow streets.
The small church near the castle was once the chapel used by the monarchy, while the other churches, especially the Church of Saint Mary, are also worth some of your time. You may like this tour.
18- Explore Caldas da Rainha
This UNESCO Creative City was founded in the 15h century and if you love exploring museums, this is the town for you.
There are nine museums covering history and culture, art and sport.
Caldas is 91 km (57 miles) north of Lisbon by road.
There are regular festivals and exhibitions held in this town, the creation of Queen (Rainha) Leonor, who saw the attraction of the local hot springs.
She built a church and hospital, and the town began to grow.
Among the traditions associated with Caldas are its ceramics and its embroidery.
19- Wander Around Quinta da Regaleira
This complex is nicknamed the “Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire” commissioned by António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro and designed by Italian Luigi Manini.
As well as the palace and chapel, the magnificent gardens have lakes, fountains and intriguing grottoes.
Monteiro acquired the four-acre site in 1892, with the project taking six years to complete (1904 to 1910).
Since 1997, it has belonged to the local authorities.
20- Visit The Moorish Castle of Sintra
This castle from when the Moors occupied much of the Iberian Peninsula is well worth spending several hours exploring rather than just a short period during a general Sintra tour.
With the help of audio, you can take your time but book your ticket in advance to avoid standing in line.
The castle’s treasures, the Keep, Royal Tower and the Second Circle of Walls are interesting to explore.
At every turn, the audio gives you relevant history and information.