Discover picture-perfect palaces, fabled fishing villages and beautiful beaches within easy reach of Europe’s coolest capital.
There’s no doubt that Portugal’s biggest city is chock full of cultural treasures. But let’s face it: the labyrinthine streets of the sunshine capital are teeming with more tourists than ever before. There’s never been a better time to get some welcome respite from city life. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to help you plan the best day trips from Lisbon.
With direct connections operating regularly out of Rossio Station, there’s no excuse not to take a day trip to this mystical town. Taking the top position on our list, its lush hilltops and ancient Moorish castles are guaranteed to take your breath away. The Disneyesque Palácio da Pena is a big hit with little travelers too. Hardly surprising it was once a favorite summer retreat of the Portuguese royalty, right? Head to Monserrate Palace after lunch to explore the botanical gardens. You better be prepared for an uphill hike though!
Second up is the lively coastal resort of Cascais. At a little over 30 minutes outside Lisbon, this delightful fishing town is home to some of the best beaches in the region. Get lost wandering the narrow, cobbled streets leading up from the harbor. Take in the scents and sounds of authentic Portugal. Be sure to pay a visit to the Casa das Histórias, a museum dedicated to Portuguese artist Paula Rego.
Évora is a long-time favorite with visitors to Lisbon. But be warned: at four hours round trip by train, it’s certainly not the easiest of day trips from Lisbon. Early risers should have no problem getting there and back by train from Santa Apolónia station though. This enchanting museum-city boasts an impressive 12th-century cathedral, head-turning Roman temple and a prehistoric stone circle.
Want a real flavor of this ancient city? Stop for lunch at a no-frills, family-run restaurant to sample some traditional Portuguese food. The interactive archaeological exhibits at the modern and kid-friendly Museu de Évora are an absolute must for families too.
Can’t make it all the way to Évora? The 10-minute ferry ride across the Tagus to Cacilhas is perfect for those who are a little pressed for time. Here you’ll find the colossal Cristo Rei monument, which you’re sure to have glimpsed during your stay in Lisbon, and the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge (Lisbon’s answer to the Golden Gate Bridge!). These days, it’s a magnet for locals seeking respite from the tourist crowds in town. Head to the restaurant terraces in the main square, where every beer is served with a small tray of fresh shrimp.
5. Costa da Caparica
Just down the coast from Cacilhas, you’ll find the lively seaside resort of Caparica. Its rolling sandy beaches, powerful surfing seas and spectacular scenery attract visitors from far and wide. There’s even a tram to transport beach goers up and down the shore. The truth is that things can get pretty hectic around here when summer strikes. But if you’re looking for a place to party, top up your tan and escape the city heat, then there’s no better place.