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 best known for its colonalist history, with beautiful buildings, 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
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 tourists a stunning natural beauty, beyond the busy city of Lisbon. There are an array of fascinating historic towns and glorious sandy beaches. The number of day trips from Lisbon can extend your holiday to the city by a few days, and I would definitely recommend anyone visiting Lisbon to add this extension to their trip. This guide will highlight the best day trips from Lisbon, and offer fruther 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 here would be stunning even without the magnificent, multi-coloured palace and the palace makes for an amazing iconic Instagram shot. The colours are because the King couldn’t settle on a single style, so the castle is a delightful mishmash of Romantic, Renaissance, Manueline and Moorish styles. The surrounding Park of Pena is amazing too, full of exotic plant life and other secret treasures.
Cascais is a delightful Portuguese fishing town, which has a charming centre – it’s known for its sandy beaches and busy marina. The old town is home to the medieval Nossa Senhora da Luz Fort and the Citadel Palace, a former royal retreat. Nearby is the whitewashed Nossa Senhora da Assunção church, with glazed azulejo tiles. Paula Rego House of Stories shows the Portuguese artist’s paintings in a modern building.
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. You can find out more about this religious reference at the Chapel of the Apparition and the nearby Holy Trinity Cathedral, as well as taking a look at the former house of the shepherds. From there, you can continue on to Nazaré for a completely different type of sightseeing: beaches! Nazare is one of the most popular seaside resorts in the Silver Coast, and is famous for its surf appeal.
Belem and the Jeronimos Monastery
Belém is a laid-back area on the Tagus River, known for its seafood restaurants and houses decorated with colorful tiles. Among the area’s shaded green lawns are historic landmarks that recall Portugal’s seafaring past, like the 16th-century Tower of Belém and the sail-shaped Discoveries Monument. Near the vast Gothic Jerónimos Monastery, the popular Pastéis de Belém patisserie is famed for its custard tarts.
By the riverside are two major landmarks, with a 15-minute walk between them, which both serve to remind visitors of Portugal’s significant role in the Age of Discoveries. 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 Serra da Arrábida, a mountain range between Setúbal and Sesimbra. It’s located near the mouth of the Sado River and is an important fishing town to the region. Here you can sample some excellent seafood from the catch of the day and you can also pay a visit to the restored central church, or go to Sesimbra castle. On the way back, stop at the Cristo Rei statue in Almada, which offers incredible views over Lisbon.
Obidos is a pretty and historic walled town, situated 80 km to the north of Lisbon. The town is one of the most popular day trips from Lisbon, offering tourists the opportunity to visit one of the best-preserved old towns in Portugal, with cobbled streets and brightly painted houses. Óbidos has a fascinating history and make sure you stop at the Pousada de Óbidos, the Town Gate, St Peter’s Church, and St Mary’s Church, which at one time served as a mosque.
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. The former Knights Templar headquarters in Portugal was built between the XII and XVI century and is nowadays a UNESCO world heritage site. You can also visit the villages of Constância and Tomar and learn about the intriguing 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, and part of the urban agglomeration of the Greater Lisbon subregion. Mafra is a beautiful historic village with a beautiful array of buildings and architecture. Here you can take a trip back through the ages, and to the beautiful Palace of Mafra, the largest baroque palace to be built in the 18th century.
Vineyards of Azeitão
The Wine Town of Azeitão. Nestling among vineyards and olive and cork trees, Azeitão is a pretty little town situated on the old Setúbal-Lisbon road at the foot of the Arrábida mountains just 40 km south of the Portuguese capital. 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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