After a whirlwind 48 hours in Lisbon the other week, I am already planning my return to this wonderful city. But what about exploring further outside the city? Here is my guide to heading out of the city and taking a day trip from Lisbon.
Lisbon is known mostly for its beautiful buildings, colonalist history, surfer culture and traditional Fado music. And although there are some areas to avoid in the city, the city is nowadays really safe; the perfect place for a weekend break for couples, families and girl groups.
Over the past few days the popularity of the city is booming and it’s not difficult to see why. The city isn’t the biggest in Europe, but there are so many things to see and do – and to be honest, 3 days in Lisbon just isn’t enough to explore this gem of a city.
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT LISBON AND SURROUNDING AREAS
GETTING TO LISBON AND GETTING AROUND
Flights to Lisbon were super expensive when we travelled to Lisbon, but we did go in August. I looked for other times of the year and October they were as little as £50 return. So it’s worth visiting this wonderful city in the off-peak season. Lisbon has one airport only, but with two terminals so it isn’t the biggest.
From the airport, getting to the city centre is pretty easy, and we used Uber which was incredibly cheap and only around 10 euros for two people. Or you can also jump on the Metro – the airport is the final stop of the red line, meaning that, with one change, you can find yourself right in the city centre within roughly 45 minutes. It’s worth buying a Metrocard when visiting, especially if you are spending 3 days in Lisbon.
ACCOMMODATION IN LISBON
The best place to stay in Lisbon
Located in the heart of Lisbon, the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon sets the standard in luxury five-star accommodation in the city and is the best place to stay in Lisbon. The hotel was built in 1959 by the Dictator Salazar, and designed by award-winning architect Pardal Monteiro, to prove that Lisbon could do luxury as well as any other European capital and he certainly proved himself with this stunning building, and its interior.
Locals still call the hotel the Ritz Hotel, but it was taken over by the Four Seasons group and entirely refurbished. It’s also got a great location, with Lisbon’s narrow streets making traffic a problem, the hotel’s location near the main Avenida de Liberdade provides easy access for guests around the capital.
The iconic hotel wears the soul of Portugal on it’s sleeve, with art-deco interiors, set against a collection of important contemporary local artwork, and outside from the bedrooms and the rooftop fitness centre you can view the city’s rolling hills, brown roofs and even the sea beyond. A huge marble lobby area, which leads into a formal lounge area, where guests can relax before and after dining in the Varanda Restaurant.
The décor throughout the hotel is grand, there are chandeliers and huge flower displays on gilded furniture, as well as collections of modern Portuguese art, from tapestries to sculptures and paintings. You can also dine on the terrace at the Varanda Bar is you want the alfresco style of dining, or you can head to the luxury spa in the basement, where you will find a 18-metre pool, with spa and sauna rooms.
Other Places To Stay in Lisbon, Portugal
Here they are, the five best day trips from Lisbon…
The surrounding regions of Lisbon offer visitors to Portugal’s capital, an incredible natural beauty. There are an array of fascinating historic towns and glorious sandy beaches all throughout the surrounding area of Lisbon. The number of day trips from Lisbon can extend your holiday to the city by a few days, or you can do a road trip and add a week to your trip. I would definitely recommend to anyone visiting Lisbon to do a few day trips from Lisbon in addition to exploring the city.
This guide will highlight the best day trips from Lisbon, and offer further information on what to do in these places. And if you’ve got another few days, check out this guide to visiting Ericeira and Travel Tips. The following list is some of my recommended day trips from Lisbon:
Popular day trips from Lisbon
- Fatima and Nazare
- Knights Templar
- Vineyards of Azeitão
Sintra and the Pena Palace
Probably the most popular and iconic days trip from Lisbon is visiting the famous Pena Palace and Sintra. The Pena Palace is a Romanticist castle in São Pedro de Penaferrim, on the Portuguese Riviera. The castle stands on the top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains and on a clear day it can be easily seen from Lisbon.
The views from Sintra and Pen Palace would be stunning even without the magnificent, multi-coloured palace, but with their colourful hues and bright building, and the palace makes for an amazing Instagram shot. The colours are because the King couldn’t settle on a single style, so instead he went for lots of different colours, thus the castle is a mishmash of many different colours and architectural styles. The surrounding Park of Pena is amazing too, full of exotic plant life and other secret treasures.
Cascais is a delightful fishing town known for its sandy beaches and busy marina, dotted with restaurants and cafes all around. The old town is home to the medieval Nossa Senhora da Luz Fort and the Citadel Palace, a former royal retreat. And only a few minutes walk away you can find the iconic whitewashed Nossa Senhora da Assunção church, and the Paula Rego House of Stories shows the Portuguese artist’s paintings.
Fátima and Nazaré
Fátima is a central Portuguese town that’s home to the Sanctuary of Fátima, a Catholic pilgrimage site. The Capelinha das Aparições marks the spot where the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared in 1917. If you want to find out more about this, you can head to the Chapel of the Apparition and Holy Trinity Cathedral, where you will find the former house of the shepherds. From Fatima, you can continue on to Nazaré for some of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal and its also famous for surfing with millions flocking here for the waves each year.
Belem and the Jeronimos Monastery
Only a short bike, taxi or train ride away from Lisbon you will find the beautiful area of Belém, a laid-back area on the Tagus River, known for its seafood restaurants and colorful tiles. Around Belem there are lots of museums, places to sit and have a picnic, historic landmarks and the iconic 16th-century Tower of Belém, as well as the Discoveries Monument. Near the vast Gothic Jerónimos Monastery, the popular Pastéis de Belém patisserie is famous for its custard tarts.
The Belém Tower (Torre de Belém) was built in the 16th century as a fort to protect the coast from foreign attacks, and like the Jerónimos Monastery, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an example of Manueline architecture. The Jeronimos Monastery is an ancient architecture was granted UNESCO world heritage status in 1983, commissioned in the late 15th century by King Manuel I, to honour Our Lady and Saint Jerome.
READ MORE: The Lisbon rooftop venue SEEN and Sky Bar
Sesimbra is a municipality of Portugal, lying at the foothills of the
Located near the hills of Serra da Arrábida, Sesimbra is a gorgeous mountain range area, with the most incredible views near the Sado River. It is an important fishing town to the region and here you can find some excellent seafood caught that day and you can also visit the restored central church, or go to Sesimbra castle. On the way back, make sure you stop at the Cristo Rei statue in Almada, for incredible views over Lisbon.
Another gorgeous town you must do on a day trip from Lisbon is Obidos, a pretty and historic walled town, located around 80 km to the north of Lisbon. The town is one of the most popular day trips from Lisbon, and gives visitors a locals view to Portugal. The town is not always on the tourist trails and has therefore kept its uniqueness with cobbled streets and painted housed. Óbidos has a fascinating history so make sure you stop at the Pousada de Óbidos, the Town Gate, St Peter’s Church and St Mary’s Church.
If you’re a history buff or simply love learning, make sure you head out on a day trip from Lisbon to Knights Templar. It’s a religious-military order full of mysteries with a great treasure and used to be the headquarters in Portugal, built between the XII and XVI century. Today it is an UNESCO world heritage site and if you want to learn even more stop by Constância and Tomar to learn about the story of the holy order of warrior monks.
Mafra is a city and a municipality in the district of Lisbon, on the west coast of Portugal with a beautiful historic village and beautiful buildings and architecture. On a day trip from Lisbon, you can go back through the ages to the beautiful Palace of Mafra, which is the largest baroque palace built in the 18th century.
Vineyards of Azeitão
Located within the vineyards, is the beautiful town of Azeitao. On a day trip from Lisbon, you can find olive and cork trees, and vineyards as far as the eye can see at the foot of the Arrábida mountains. I’d spend a day here and get some lunch, before enjoying an afternoon of drinking all the incredible wine Portugal has to offer, and of course the other countries in Europe.
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