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Day Trips and Overnight Excursions from Lisbon Portugal

Day Trips and Overnight Excursions from Lisbon Portugal

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Lisbon Portugal, or the city of seven hills, is fast becoming known as a premiere tourist destination. Lisbon’s gastronomy, iconic architecture, fascinating history, and relatively moderate prices make Lisbon an attractive option when considering a European vacation.  

After a few visits, Lisbon has risen to the top spot on a list of our favorite places to visit. And after 4 years of full-time travel, we’ve seen a few.

We’ve compiled our favorite list of things to do in Lisbon, including getting in some wine tasting, enjoying Lisbon’s waterfront, and doing one of our favorite activities, taking a regional cooking class.

We’ve now turned our attention outside of Lisbon, with our suggestions of some fantastic day trips from Lisbon (including a few overnight excursions).

Those who would enjoy outdoor adventure, sandy beaches, nature preserves, medieval castles with hidden passageways, or a tour through a macabre church covered in human remains, will all find a place of intrigue on this list.

Day Trips from Lisbon Portugal

Day trip to Sintra from Lisbon

Castle of Moors

Castle of the Moors overlooking Sintra

Upon arriving at Sintra’s city center, the first thing you will notice is the high mountain ranges that loom above. Perched on the surrounding peaks are glimpses of castles of every sort. Old, sprawling, ornate, or bright and colorful properties dot the landscape and invite discovery.

Upon closer inspection, Sintra will also reveal its wooded pathways, underground tunnels, and hidden passageways that will give you the feeling that you have fallen into a fairy tale.

Initiation Well Sintra

The same Initial well from the top

 

Sintra’s Colorful Palácio da Pena

 

Sintra Passageway

Don’t forget to bring a light

While Sintra does have its charms, it also has its corresponding challenges. Sintra can by no means be considered an undiscovered hidden gem. This is exceedingly evident during a packed bus ride up the narrow winding roads to the castles.

It is still worth a visit, and for those who would like a less packed and jarring experience, plenty of private vans and tuk-tuks are available for hire.

The main attractions are the colorful Palácio da Pena, ancient stone Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors), and whimsical Quinta Regaleira.

The grounds of Quinta Regaleira contain many surprise tunnels and ornate statues at every turn, which are all accessible by the local tourist bus, tuk-tuk, or taxi.

Keep in mind that each attraction will come with its price of admission, but once you are there, why not go all out?

Sintra is easily accessed from Lisbon by bus or by train. Note that lines to buy train tickets in Lisbon can become quite long, and can be purchased in advance.

Once arriving in Sintra, there is a tourist information office across the street where tickets for the tourist bus can be purchased (while again avoiding the line).

Tickets are also available while waiting in line for the bus that forms outside the train station. Another good recommendation is to get there early and avoid the weekends. With that in mind, a day trip to Sintra brings some of the best memories of a trip to Lisbon.

There are also guided tours from Lisbon to Sintra that can leave all the planning to someone else.

Day Trip to Evora from Lisbon

Day Trips from Lisbon

Historic Evora is a memorable day trip from Lisbon

Evora is a short 1 1/2 hours from Lisbon, either by bus or train, but the experience here might as well be in another country altogether.

There are some of those staple things you’d expect from a Portuguese destination, such as shops selling products made of cork along with opportunities to sample wonderful Portuguese cuisine. From there the place feels like another world.

Evora Aqueduct

Evora Aqueduct

 

A walk up the narrow winding streets reveals ancient ruins, including a Roman Temple and Aqueduct. The most unusual sight, however, lies within the Sao Francisco Iglesia (St. Frances Church).

Contained within the larger structure is the Capela dos Ossos, or Bone Chapel.

The walls are adorned with over 5000 bones. Franciscan monks in the 16th century were faced with the problem of overcrowded cemeteries.

Their solution of using the bones to create ornate designs was also a not-so-subtle message that life is temporary. A fact that, if remains are buried, may not be as well appreciated by those who remain among the living.

Admission to the site is a mere 2 Euros. Once arriving in Evora, the city center, which contains all of its not-so-hidden treasures, is a short 10-minute walk.

Evora Bone Church Day Trip from Lisbon

 

Evora Bone Church

Capela dos Ossos – Reminding us that life is temporary

 

Evora Bone Church Skeleton

Evora Bone. Church Adorned by Skeletal Remains

Day Trip to Setubal from Lisbon

Setubal Fishing Harbor

Setubal Fishing Harbor, Credit

Setubal is a day trip best known for one group of inhabitants that you may not have anticipated – pods of dolphins. In the wetlands in the area encompassed within the Sado Reserve Natural Estuary (Reserva Natural do Estuario do Sado).

Dolphins have made a permanent home in the area. They can be frequently spotted on a boat ride through the area, where another local is also a common site – flocks of flamingos.

Birders and nature lovers will be completely in their element here. But if that doesn’t appeal, Setubal is also the home of a nice span of beach.

Setubal Flamingos

Flamingos – Frequent Vistors of Setubal

Setubal can be reached in about an hour from Lisbon by bus, taxi or ferry.

Day trip from Lisbon to Cascais

Cascais Portugal

Cascais Day Trip from Lisbon

Cascais is a seaside city about 30 minutes west of Lisbon. A short walk from the train station reveals a small beach and a pedestrian street bursting with shops and restaurants on either side.

It’s a nice place to slowly wander through and carefully select that perfect spot for a long leisurely lunch in an outdoor cafe.

Those who are looking for a little more activity can take advantage of the free bikes available in the town center. There is 5 1/2 mile (9 km) bike path along the sea cliffs (Boca do Inferno) that ends at the picturesque Guincho beach.

There are all sorts of things to do in Cascais, including water sports like paddle boarding and surfing lessons.

Others who are less inclined might enjoy some shopping followed by another favorite local sport, wine tasting! Then perhaps a sunset cruise?

Cascais Pedestrian Street with Iconic Portuguese Tile

 

Wine Tasting in Cascais

Wine tasting in Cascais, a perfect day trip from Lisbon

Day Trip from Lisbon to Cacilhas

Day Trips from Lisbon: Cacilhas

Day trip from Lisbon to Cacilhas

Cacilhas is a small area of about 6,000 inhabitants across the Tagus River from Lisbon. The picturesque peninsula is accessible from Lisbon via ferry or bus.

The ferry ride is only about 10 minutes and offers some beautiful views of Lisbon along the way. Once you arrive, the biggest appeal of the area will soon present itself.

There is a long line of seafood restaurants spilling into the streets, many with outdoor barbecues grilling up the day’s fresh catch. During summer months, large fresh sardines are plentiful and are a favorite with locals.

Cacilhas

Cacilhas Restaurants spilling out into the street

 

Grilled FIsh: Sardines

Grilled Sardines

A popular restaurant choice is The Ponto Final, which boasts wonderful reviews, a menu including typical Portuguese seafood dishes, and dramatic seating perched atop a narrow pier.

Note when dining in many restaurants in Lisbon, the bread, cheese, and other delights that may be placed on the table are often not gratis. Waiters will happily remove those items if you ask. If not, don’t be surprised when the bill is a little higher than you might have expected.

After lunch, it’s an easy trip to visit the popular Cristo Rei statue, which overlooks the Rio Tejo from this side of the river.

Things to do in Lisbon Portugal

Lisbon Portugal Redeemer

Overnight Excursions from Lisbon Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Douro River View

View of River from the Ancient Wall

While technically Porto can be done as a day trip from Lisbon, this beautiful city deserves a day or two on a Portuguese itinerary at a minimum.

Here you will find all of the characteristic buildings covered in ornate blue tiles, in an area surrounded by sweeping panoramic views of the Douro River.

Porto also offers the opportunity to enjoy tastings of the famous Porto fortified wine, which can also be enjoyed at area restaurants alongside the area’s favorite sandwich, the Francesinha.

The multilayered pork sandwich is covered in a rich beer and butter sauce, topped with cheese, and joined by a side of fries.

Here’s our list of 10 top things to do in Porto, Portugal, including tracking down the famous sandwich. Porto can be reached by train from Lisbon in under 3 hours. Alternatively, you can plan your own road trip from Lisbon to Porto!

Porto Portugal

Porto Portugal – A perfect trip from Lisbon

 

franceshina

Iconic Porto Sandwich – the Frnceshina

Badajoz, Spain

Badajoz Spain Church

Badajoz Spain Day Trip from Lisbon

Find some great deals on flights and hotels! 

 

Badajoz, Spain is one of the area’s best-kept hidden gems. It has all of the features of a most visited European city, minus the actual herds of people.

There are fantastic restaurants with regional delicacies from both Spain and Portugal, which makes sense given its location on the border between the two.

Within the historic city center, many small taverns are spilling over into the narrow cobbled roads. A further wander revealed a pristine Moorish neighborhood that gives way to a view of old city walls.

Cobbled Streets of Badajoz Spain

We found one of our favorite Spanish dishes, Carrilladas, which are fork-tender slow-cooked pork cheeks in a rich brown sauce, at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Meson El Postigo.

The tiny place is filled with locals, and the tapas are simple and delicious. We couldn’t believe the large portions and the low prices.

Colorful Badajoz Courtyard

Colorful Badajoz Courtyard

If deciding whether to visit Portugal or Spain, Badajoz is a great option to get the feel for both places in one quaint location.

We were completely taken with the place and disappointed that we only had such limited time there. To be fair, Badajoz is about 4 hours from Lisbon by bus, making it a better overnight (or two-day) trip.

Badajoz Spain Bridge at Night

Badajoz Spain Bridge at Night

Lagos, Portugal

Lagos Portugal Harbor

With an almost 5 hour train ride from Lisbon, Lagos is the furthest suggestion as a trip, but well worth consideration on an itinerary through Portugal. Lagos is a small city in the Algarve area of Portugal and is a favorite summer destination.

Its expansive maia praia beach (accessible from the city center via a tiny ferry) can get very popular with locals and tourists alike. But the main attraction here is the smaller beach coves and rock formations that are mainly accessible to those who have a car or hire a boat.

Lagos Arches

Famous Lagos arches over the water

 

Cave in Lagos with stunning blue water

The beautiful rock arches surrounded by a light blue sea are a sight that deserves a place in a portfolio of souvenir photos of a lifetime. It also makes taking a chilly morning drive to the ocean to watch the sunrise while the rest of the world sleeps.

Lagos Sunrise

Perfect beginning to the day – Sunrise water view in Lagos Portugal

Here’s a short video from Lagos for a little extra inspiration. Happy Travels!

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