Despite so many new countries and places to see on this planet, we always find our minds drifting back to Portugal.
I’m not entirely sure what it is that keeps dragging us back to this country, but one thing I am aware of, coastal views, great food, and good waves never fail to disappoint.
Although Lisbon lost many of its important monuments during the 18th-century earthquake, due to its charm and authenticity, the city has become a top travel destination in Europe worthy of your time.
Pastel aesthetics and world-famous attractions are some of the reasons why Lisbon tops the list as a seductive travel destination. But there are a couple of more incredible places everyone that visits Portugal’s capital should see, some of them located just a short train ride away.
City breaks, although wonderful, can be intense. If you feel the need to unwind then hop on the train and head over to the seaside to wash it all away.
#1. Visit charming Cascais Village
Have you ever been someplace and it looked much better than you imagined? For us, it was visiting Cascais! We were on a surf trip but needed to have some culture on the side. This place stunned us more than we ever anticipated because arriving in Cascais was like stepping into a dreamy scene.
If you choose to visit Cascais, the finest resort town of the Lisbon coastline, be prepared to be amazed by fascinating museums, grand mansions and perfect beaches. Once a little fishing village, Cascais became home to Portuguese wealth, when King Luís I proclaimed the town as the summer residence of the Portuguese nobility.
The best way to explore Cascais is on foot as all the attractions are located near each other. You can wander around its main square, check out the beaches, visit Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães and make your way to the lighthouse and Boca do Inferno. After you’ve seen all the highlights take a seat on the bench, eat ice cream, read a book and watch the world go by.
- How to get to Cascais | The best way to travel from Lisbon to Cascais is with the train which departs from Cais do Sodré train station. The train ride is 40 minutes long and very scenic as it follows the coastline. The ticket costs EUR 2.25, and you don’t have to worry about when to get off because Cascais is the last stop on the route.
- Entrance fees | The Casa de Santa Maria and Santa Marta lighthouse can both be visited with the same ticket which costs €5. Entrance fee to the Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães costs €4 and Centro Cultural de Cascais will set you back at €5.
- Good to know | Cascais gets busy during the summer month, and there is limited parking in town that why there’s no need to rent a car. But, if you have one, you can add Guincho beach and Cabo da Roca to your itinerary.
#2. Explore beautiful Mafra Town
Why not treat yourself to a day trip to Mafra town who’s one of the greatest treasures is its beautiful library decorated in Rocco style and has well over 30.000 thousand books?
Mafra, a little pretty Portuguese village, is home to one of Europe’s largest and most extravagant palaces, and anyone that wishes to see its incredibly decorated rooms, where the royal family invited their guests in the 19 century and gawk at its library, can pop a bus in Lisbon and be in town in 40 minutes.
The main boulevard of Avenida da Liberdade is beautifully covered with the traditional black-and-white Portuguese pavement, and the town itself is very very quiet.
Mafra National Palace Library is known as one of the most spectacular libraries in the world, it dates back from the XVII and contains 36,000 books including some rare ones such as the first encyclopaedia.
What makes it so unique the library has become home to a large number of bats who hide behind the bookshelves and come out at night to eat the insects who would damage the books.
- How to get to Mafra | Situated 30km to the north-west of Lisbon Mafra is connected to the city by inexpensive bus service. You can also join an organised tour or even rent a car to go on a mini road trip.
- Good to know | The beautiful Mafra Palace is the only tourist attraction in town, and besides it, there isn’t much else to see.
- Entrance fees |The Palace is closed on Tuesdays and is free for children under 12 and costs EUR 6 for adults.
#3. Wander around historical Evora
Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage city, is a bundle of Roman ruins, old-world charm and a wealth of classical buildings. Located in the beautiful Alentejo region known for its olive trees and rolling plains, Evora has become a very popular day trip from Lisbon and Algarve.
The city dates back more than 5,000 years and once was an important Roman trading town, still partially enclosed by medieval walls today. Despite its size, you’ll find lots to do because the city has the second-highest number of national monuments in Portugal.
The biggest tourist attractions in Evora are Roman Temple, Evora Cathedral, the Gothic-style Church of St. Francis, Evora’s main square, Praça do Giraldo, Evora museum and the Bone Chapel Of The Church Of St. Francis.
For foodies, Evora is like heaven on earth, the city is known for its wine and olive oil tasting and for notorious rich Alentejan Cuisine. The main delicatessen is a variety of cheeses, bread soup, lamb stew and the Alentejo bread.
- How to get to Evora | Evora town is located 135 km/80miles southeasts of Lisbon, and there is a regular bus service between the two cities. The journey takes up to 1hour and 45 minutes and tickets cost around Euro 12 one way.
- Entrance fees | Most of the attractions in Evora are free to explore, and a visit to the cathedral allows access to the roof from where you can enjoy amazing views.
- Good to know | If you are travelling to Evora by public transport, be prepared for a very long day trip. If you travel during the summer season, the weather in Evora is much, much warmed than in Lisbon and makes walking around in the scorching sun very challenging.
#4. Explore castles and hills of Sintra
One of the most awe-inspiring parts of your trip can be found outside of Lisbon city walls. Panoramic views, incredible castles and fairy tale vibes are some of the few reasons why Sintra is often regarded as the finest day trip from Lisbon.
Sintra is beautiful. Seriously beautiful. If you wish to see incredible Moorish castles perched high atop leafy green hills and wander through cobbled streets, then this is a place for you.
The highlights of Sintra are its four castles, including the colourful Pena Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the main Portuguese cultural attractions. The castle is a fusion of various styles from Neo-Gothic and New-Islamic to New-Manueline and Neo-Renaissance.
In addition to Pena Palace, there are the ruins of the Castelo dos Mouros, the Quinta da Regaleira, a Franciscan monastery the Convento dos Capuchos, the National Palace, the Palacio de Monserrate and the Palacio de Monserrate.
Sintra town is well set up for visitors, and you can use the 434 tourist bus that connects the train station to the historic centre, Pena Palace and Moorish castle before it goes back to the starting point. A ticket costs €6.90 and the bus is the best way to explore Sintra.
- How to get to Sintra | Located 25km to the west of Lisbon, Sintra can be easily reached by train. There are two train lines, Rossio Station to Sintra and Oriente station to Sintra, both equally good for visitors.
- Entrance fees | If you wish to see the main castles and have lunch in town, expect to pay around €60. Entrance fee to Palácio da Pena is €14.00, to Castelo dos Mouros €8.00 and to Palácio Nacional de Sintra is €10.00.
- Good to know | Sintra is a very popular day trip and tends to get really busy during the summer month, that’s why it’s good to start your day as early as possible. Also, with so many palaces and castles to see, plan your trip accordingly and bring sunscreen, and good walking shoes.
#5. Relax at Ericeira Village
If you had to take a trip just for delicious seafood and an ultra-cool surfing ambience, Ericeira would be it. Because this little fishing village, located 45 minutes from Lisbon, can unexpectedly surprise you. Loaded with great restaurants, cafes, Ericeira and beautiful sandy beaches, the town is adorned by Portuguese and can be even used as a base for exploring Sintra, Peniche, Obidos and Azenhas do Mar.
If you are visiting Lisbon in summer, you need to know it gets unbearably hot, but in coastal areas, the weather is much cooler, and you’ll get to enjoy the dramatic coastline. Escaping cities heat and heading to a surf town surrounded by stunning beaches is a fantastic idea even if you aren’t interested in surfing.
You can easily explore the town on foot and seek out the beautiful azulejous that Portugal is so famous for. They date back to the 13th century when Moors invaded the country, and you’ll be able to see many of them in Ericeira too.
- How to get to Ericeira | Ericeira can be easily visited as a day trip from Lisbon by car. The driving distance is around 50 kilometres via A8 and A21. If you don’t feel like renting a car, you can use public transport. The buses depart from Lisbon every 90 minutes and cost EUR 7 one way. Nearby town Mafra is on the same bus route which departs from Campo Grande and takes on Lisbon-Mafra-Ericeira route.
- Good to know | Ericeira is a lovely seaside resort town and besides its beaches, surfing activities, restaurants and a few churches, you won’t find any other attractions.
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Now, over to you!
Have you ever been on a day trip from Lisbon? Let us know in the comments!
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