There is so much to do in Lisbon that it’ll keep you busy for days on end. But there are also some highly worthwhile places to visit within day trip distance of the city.

Having lived in Lisbon for over 7 years, I’ve had plenty of time to check out all of the best day trips from Lisbon. Here are my top suggestions!

Quick Answers

Best day trip from Lisbon: the palaces and gardens of Sintra
Beach towns near Lisbon: Sesimbra, Cascais, Setubal, or Costa da Caparica
Fun outdoor activities: dolphin watching in Setubal, sea kayaking in Sesimbra, surfing in Costa da Caparica


1. Sintra

Thanks to its stunning gardens, palaces, and mountaintop Moorish castle, Sintra is easily the most popular day trip from Lisbon.

The most important thing to know about this must-do day trip from Lisbon is that there is a lot to see. Make sure you get an early start so you have plenty of time to explore. The sights are somewhat spread out and it’s easy to underestimate just how many hours you can spend in Sintra.

It’s possible to visit Sintra independently by taking the train from Lisbon and using local shuttle buses there. I recommend leaving before 9 a.m so you can have a proper full day in Sintra.

However, given the many sights, it can be a lot more efficient to visit Sintra on a tour.

The town of Sintra itself is cute with lots of medieval architecture and set amongst green mountains, but the real reasons to visit are the sights among the surrounding forests.

The Palacio Nacional da Pena is a must-see, as well as the medieval Castelo dos Mouros, which offers great views of the Atlantic coastline. The Quinta de Regaleira is a wonderful place to explore as well; an eccentric and magical garden filled with cave tunnels, interesting romantic architecture, and a mysterious stone well.

Honestly, there is a lot more in Sintra than you can see on a day trip from Lisbon. I actually think you can spend 3 days there if you want to see it all!

But to see the absolute highlights, I recommend this small group tour which includes the Pena palace, the castle, and the Regaleira gardens.

Before you leave Sintra, be sure to grab a travesseiros pastry and queijadas tart at the Casa Piriquita bakery that has been open since 1862.

Day trip to Sintra

By train: catch the direct train to Sintra from Rossio railway station in central Lisbon. It takes about 40 minutes. It’s then about a 20-minute walk to the old town of Sintra from where you can arrange further transportation.
By car: drive to Sintra via the A37. It takes about 50 minutes depending on traffic.
By tour (easiest option): With this full-day tour on GetYourGuide you will visit the 2 biggest highlights: Quinta Regaleira and Pena Palace (as well as the historical town itself). This private day tour on Viator will also take you to the Moorish castle and the coast and includes hotel pickup in Lisbon.


2. Óbidos

With its many restored buildings with flowers hanging from balconies, Óbidos is one of the prettiest towns you can visit in Portugal. Its cobbled streets, white cottages covered in colorful wallflowers, and a still-intact outer castle wall make it an utterly romantic place.

It’s a lot further from the capital than Sintra (it takes about 80 minutes to drive to), but it’s still one of the best day trips from Lisbon.

Óbidos is an old medieval town that was given to Queen Isabel de Aragon as a wedding gift from her husband King Dinis in the 13th century. It continued to pass between royal families until the 19th century. The town was once enclosed by a stone wall that dates back to the medieval period and you can still walk along what’s left of it today.

Interestingly, the history of Óbidos is closely tied with literature. In fact, the town is a UNESCO City of Literature, so it has some interesting bookstores. One of the most impressive is the Livraria de Santiago, which is within the 18th-century Sao Tiago church.

Try some ginjinha (a sour cherry liqueur originating in Obidos) or have a cold beer at a plaza. The best way to get to know Obidos is to just wander around and get a bit lost along the cobblestone streets.

Day trip to Óbidos

By bus: catch a Rodoviaria do Oeste bus from the Campo Grande bus station (you can see the schedule online and buy your ticket at the station).
By car: Obidos is about 75 minutes from Lisbon. You can get there via the A8 if you’re driving.
By tour (easiest option): Organized tours starting in Lisbon are also available. These combine Obidos with other places like the religious sanctuary of Fatima and Nazare, the site of the world’s tallest waves and surfing world records. Check this group tour on GetYourGuide or this similar tour on Viator.


3. Serra da Arrábida & Sesimbra

The Serra da Arrabida is a small mountain range that extends above the bay of Setubal south of Lisbon. There’s a mix of lush coast, green woodland and shrubland making it an interesting place to hike.

There are some public transport links to the towns of Sesimbra or Setubal, but you won’t get to many other places by bus.

If you’re just going on a day trip it’s worth hiring a car for a day and going on a mini road trip to make the most of your time.

Some of the most gorgeous beaches near Lisbon can be found here, such as Galapinhos Beach and the well-hidden but wonderful Ribeiro do Cavalo beach, where the rugged cliffs may remind you of the beaches in the Algarve.

There are lots of hiking trails too, which are clearly marked. If you want to check some routes out beforehand or download a map, I’d recommend using AllTrails.

While in Sesimbra visit the 17th-century Fortaleza de Santiago, and don’t skip the Museo do Mar (Museum of the Sea) within the fort if you want to find out about the town’s history. There’s a Moorish castle above the town too, which dates to the 10th century.

It’s worth having some freshly caught grilled sardines while you’re there. The town also has lots of watersport tours on offer, like diving and kayaking.

The Arrabida National Park is filled with hidden beaches, caves, and coves. Although the weaters are pretty cold even in summer, if you squint your eyes some of the sandy beaches may look like tropical hideaways.

The coast here is perfect for sea kayaking, having calm waters and many interesting rock features. I’ve done this kayaking trip starting in Sesimbra and think it’s one of the best outdoor activities near Lisbon. The guided trip takes you to some secret spots and includes lunch at the gorgeous Ribeiro do Cavalo beach.


4. Setúbal

The small city of Setúbal, located south of Lisbon along the Sado River estuary, makes for a fun day out from Lisbon.

If it’s your first time in Lisbon it probably won’t be your top priority to visit, as most people will want to see places like Sintra first. But if you have an extra day to spare, it’s a lovely and not touristy place to go.

Located near a ferry terminal and port, the town is a mix of historical streets and some more commercial areas. It’s a real Portuguese city with some beautiful parts and some industry (further to the east).

I recommend hiking up to the São Filipe fort, from where you get wonderful views of the bay. Much like Sesimbra mentioned earlier, Setúbal makes for a great waypoint towards the beautiful cliff-backed beaches of the Arrabida National Park, with Galapinhos Beach being a real highlight here.

Setúbal is especially lively on Sundays, when crowds gather in the many seafood restaurants to gorge on “choco frito” (Portuguese for fried cuttlefish, not fried chocolate as I had briefly and foolishly assumed).

Best of all, it’s worth coming to Setúbal for the water activities. It’s a great place for stand-up paddle boarding as well as dolphin-watching tours. Several shoals of playful bottlenose dolphins have made the Sado Estuary their permanent home, so on the dolphin-watching cruises by catamaran from Setúbal you are virtually guaranteed to see them.

You can take either a train from Lisbon to Setubal, which departs from Roma-Areeiro station. Or you can catch the bus 4725 from Sete Rios station or the bus 4720 from Oriente station. In any case it will take about an hour to get there.

If you have your own transportation, you could stop by the charming hilltop town of Palmela, which overlooks a nature valley with several historical windmills.


5. Costa da Caparica

For some beach time, most travel guides will recommend Carcavelos Beach because it is easily reached by commuter train from central Lisbon. Unfortunately, it does get absolutely packed in summer, which is why I much prefer the beaches at Costa da Caparica, south of the river.

The town of Caparica itself is not so noteworthy, being a somewhat ho-hum seaside resort with several older apartment blocks, though it does have its charm in places. That said, the beach is the widest, longest, and nicest near Lisbon. Even on the busiest summer days, there’s plenty of space if you’re willing to walk a bit.

You can count on needing about 90 minutes one way to get there including waiting times, which is why it’s ideally done as a day trip.  The main way to get to Caparica is to catch a ferry to Cacilhas from the Cais do Sodré station in central Lisbon. There you can hop on bus 3022 or bus 3011.

As of 2023, there is also a bus going straight from Cais do Sodré station to Caparica, the 3708, which takes about 70 minutes.

The beaches near Caparica town are great for swimming and for surfing, with the waves being suitable for beginners (you can book a class here). But if you have your own transportation (or sufficient patience with public transportation), the beaches further south along the Costa da Caparica are the real gems.

I highly recommend Fonta da Telha, a wild and wide beach backed by limestone cliffs. The new bus line 3012 will take you there directly, but this bus only goes the full way to the beach in summer, otherwise it terminates at Charneca de Caparica.

Even further south you can go to the Lagoa de Albufeira, a beach with a small town very scenically located beside a lagoon.


6. Cascais

I was once at a rooftop party in Lisbon where the DJ had slick hair and wore a preppy shirt with the collar up, and one of my Portuguese friends said, “Oh, he’s definitely from Cascais.”

Cascais is indeed a bit of a posh place, starting its life in the 19th century as a resort for the Portuguese nobility.

Today, it’s still where the well-off Portuguese and foreign expatriates live in order to be close to its golf courses, marina, and international schools. However, far from being some kind of exclusive place, Cascais town has plenty of down-to-earth charm and makes for a wonderful and easy day trip from Lisbon.

The Marechal Carmona Park is a great place for a stroll or picnic. Also worth a look is the Museu Condes de Castro, a whimsical early-19th-century mansion along the river filled with paintings and decorations from cultures around the world. The oceanfront cliffs at Boca do Inferno are worth a look, and several small beaches can be enjoyed as well.

To get there, all you need is to catch the train from Cais do Sodre station in central Lisbon and ride it until the final stop. The ride takes about 40 minutes.

With its palm-lined streets and many inviting restaurants, Cascais makes for a pleasant and surprisingly unpretentious escape from the city.


7. Berlengas Islands

The Berlengas Islands are made up of three different islands, but you can only visit one, the Berlenga Grande island. The one drawback of this day trip is that it does require forward planning. As only 350 visitors are allowed on the island each day, you’ll want to grab your ticket in advance (especially if you’re visiting in peak season).

The island is just 1.5km long, so a day trip is enough time to explore. You can hike around the island, visit the old fortress, laze on the beach, or scuba dive in the Natural Reserve of the Berlengas. There’s a lighthouse on the island too, the Berlenga Lighthouse, that is still in use today. The only way to get to Berlenga is by boat, and most embark from Peniche.

It’s worth staying a night in Peniche, so you can explore the coast and jump on a boat early the next morning. The boat ride takes about an hour and if you’re short on time half a day is enough to explore this little island.

Peniche is a small town where most people come here to surf. The waves are much friendlier to amateurs than the gigantic swells that crash on the shores of Nazare. But even if you’re not a surfer, there are plenty of spots for swimming and sunbathing.


8. Évora

Évora is an ideal day trip for foodies and history fans. Some of the best-preserved Roman ruins in Portugal are in Évora. One of the most well-known is the Roman temple, a 1st-century marble temple that’s now a ruin.

Another history hotspot in Évora is the Bone Chapel, a section of the Sao Francisco church. It was constructed in the 17th century and it’s pretty spooky. On the inside of the church, many of the walls were built using human bones. The skulls stick out amongst the cement and give the whole place an eerie feel.

Evora is also known for its wine. Get a bit tipsy at Cafetaria Pateo de Sao Miguel before jumping on the bus back to Lisbon.

You can get to Evora from both the Sete Rios and Oriente bus stations. There are buses quite frequently, and you can check for schedules and up-to-date prices on the Rede Expressos website.


9. Nazaré

Known for its unusually tall waves, this coastal fishing town was put on the map in 2011 when Garett McNamara, a professional US surfer, conquered a 24-meter wave near the lighthouse off North Beach.

More recently, on the 29th of October 2020, the German surfer Sebastian Steudtner set the Guinness World Record for the largest wave ever surfed. The 26.2-meter wave that broke that day was another of Nazare’s monster waves.

The town itself won’t keep you busy for too long, but it’s great to see the waves crashing onto shore, especially around October and November when they’re often at their strongest. The best spot to watch from is the lighthouse, which has a big platform-like area.

There’s a long stretch of beach along the front of the town, and you can sometimes swim there if the sea is behaving itself that day — but if you’re looking to lounge and snorkel, there are other beach destinations.

You can take the funicular between the two parts of the town, one of which sits high above the coast and has some pretty spectacular views of the beaches below.

Nazare is about 2 hours drive away from Lisbon and between 2 to 3 hours away by bus. There are public transit options from both the Sete Rios and Oriente bus stations, with operators like Rede Expressos and Flix Bus. However, Nazare is best combined with other sites on a day trip by car, or visited as part of a multi-stop tour. Obidos and Peniche are more or less on the way and can be combined with Nazare.


10. Cacilhas

Cacilhas is a neighborhood on the south bank of Lisbon, giving you great views of the city and the 25th of April Bridge.

Walk along the Tagus River and stop for a lunch of freshly grilled fish at a local restaurant. Near the ferry station, there are mainly fresh seafood restaurants, like Ponto Final.

If you’re looking for variety, one of the best food spots in town is the Rua Candidos dos Reis, a street lined with restaurants and ice cream shops.

There’s a free panoramic lift you can go up to see the city and town from a different perspective. Fancy a good coffee and seeing some art? Then head to Casa da Cerca, it’s just five minutes walk away from the lift and they have contemporary art exhibitions, a cafe, and a cute terrace.

The great thing about Cacilhas is that it’s just a 10-minute ferry ride away from Lisbon. You can easily catch the ferry from Cais do Sodre station.

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