3 unmissable day trips from Lisbon

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Lisbon has been probably one of my favourite trips this year. If you’re planning to visit the Portuguese capital, you can check my blog/vlog on what to do in Lisbon. As you will see, there is plenty to do! However, if you’re staying for some time, it’s worth to try a few day trips from Lisbon.

In this blog/vlog I will show you 3 great day trips from Lisbon:

  • Sintra, the former royal residence
  • Belém, the place where the pastel de nata – the most iconic Portuguese pastry – was invented
  • Cabo de Roca, alas the end of the world!

You can watch the video and read the blog – or choose one of the them, although the 2 complement each other! 

#1 Sintra – day trips from Lisbon

sintra

How to go to Sintra

Sintra is a town around 40 minutes away from Lisbon. You can go there by train from Rossio Square station in Lisbon. Sintra is on a hill and historically it was the place where Portugal’s kings went to spend the summer and escape Lisbon’s heat. You will feel that it’s cooler, so bear in mind to bring more clothes with you. You will want to wear trainers too or comfortable shoes because there is a lot of walking.

What is there to see

Sintra is a very touristic town. The centre is very small and all around it there are castles and estates to visit, as you can see in the map. Although most people, like us, do a 1 day trip, I would recommend to spend at least 2 days if you plan to visit all.

 

We decided to visit 2 places in Sintra: Quinta da Regaleira and Palacio da Pena.

Palacio da Pena

palacio da pena

The Pena Palace was the royal residence and today is the most famous and iconic building in Sintra, and possibly of all Portugal. For this reason we didn’t want to miss it. The palace is beautiful and colorful like a fairy-tale castle. However, I think that the best part is the garden. We walked all the way up to Cruz Alta (High Cross). It’s a 20 minute walk and all up a hill but it’s really worth it. It’s the highest point in Sintra and the view is spectacular.

high cross

Most visitors don’t go all the way up there, which was lucky for us and unfortunate for them!

Quinta da Regaleira

quinta de regaleira sintra

Quinta da Regaleira is possibly not the most famous attraction in Sintra, but it should be! It was AMAZING and one of the best places I have ever visited. Quinta means “estate” and Regaleira was the name of the family that owned the place. However, the most interesting place is not the estate itself, but the park.

The park is like wonderland. You will find towers, dark tunnels, secret passages, underground lakes, a labyrinth, a waterfall, and an initiation well on the style of the Templars. We had a lot of fun exploring and playing around and I absolutely recommend to everyone NOT to miss this place.

Watch the video at the bottom to see more!

How to go around Sintra

Sintra is a small town but the places you want to visit are not necessarily at walking distance. Also, the town is built on a hill and most roads don’t have a pavement, which makes it dangerous to walk. You can easily reach by foot the Palacio National de Sintra, right in the town centre, and Quinta da Regaleira, which is a 5 minute walk.

To see everything else, though, you will have to take a bus. There is a bus that goes around Sintra and stops at all major places of interest. I recommend to take it from the Palacio National or from the train station because you have more chances of getting on.

When we arrived at the train station, there were too many people and we decided to walk. We reached Quinta da Regaleira and then decided to take the bus from there to go to Palacio da Pena. Except that the bus didn’t stop. It was already too full. So in the end we walked back and took it from the town centre. Other people that were with us stayed there waiting for the second bus, and we watched their exasperation when the bus didn’t stop again. So you are advised!

Another thing to consider is that the last bus runs at 8pm. We enjoyed our stay at Palacio de Pena so much that wanted to stay as much as possible and ended up taking the very last bus! It was starting to get dark, so walking down the hill wouldn’t have been great. The return ticket is €5.50 (half the prize of the ubiquitous tuk-tuks!).

#2 Belém – day trips from Lisbon

belem lisbon

Belém is a district west of Lisbon. The tram 28, famous for being the most ancient tram in the world, can get you there. However we opted for the train because it takes 10 minutes instead of 30 and because the tram 28 is ALWAYS full of people, mostly tourists.

Being so close, you can combine 2 day trips from Lisbon, going to Belém and Cascais. Cascais is a beach town where locals go to spend a day at the beach.

Padrao dos Descubrimentos

padrao dos descubrimentos

Belém was the place from where the great Portuguese expeditions departed in the XVI and XVII centuries. Today there is a big monument, Padrao dos Descubrimentos (which translates to “The Monument of Discoveries”) to commemorate this golden time. If you want to know more about this period of Portuguese history, you can check the official website of Portugal.

Torre de Belém

torre de belem

Another architectural sight is the Tower of Belém, which used to be a prison. We didn’t go inside mainly because there was a huge queue!

The Monastery of Jeronimos (i.e. where the monks invented the pastel de nata)

monastero de jeronimos

The place we didn’t want to miss was the Monastery of Jeronimos. The monks who lived there invented the famous pastel de nata, the most iconic Portuguese pastry. However, I’m sorry to say that the monastery itself does NOT deserve its €10 entry and 30 minute queue. There is really nothing to see apart from what you see in the picture above. It is nice, but not worth the trouble.

Something that deserved our time and money, though, was the Pastel de Belém, the bakery to which the monks sold the original recipe of the pastel de nata. To this day, this is the only bakery to know the original recipe. Maybe it is the power of suggestion, but we felt that these pastel de nata were delicious and somewhat different from the others we had eaten!

pastel de nata

#3 Cabo de Roca – day trips from Lisbon

cabo de roca lisbon

Cabo de Roca is famous for being the westernmost point in Europe. For centuries, people believed this was the end of the world! The landscape is pretty wild, with cliffs, rocks, and the Atlantic Ocean.

There isn’t much to do but I still liked the feeling of being at the edges of the continent. I loved the landscape so much that I have used the pictures taken there for the header of this blog!

Unfortunately, there is only one, possibly overpriced, cafe/restaurant, so you may want to bring your own food. Also, I’m afraid that the restaurant has the only available toilet in the area and they allow only customers to go. They are quite strict on that, they even have gates like the ones you find to enter the underground! We ended up having a coffee, which was quite annoying, but there was no other choice.

Finally, you can find here the vlog for more imagery of these beautiful locations!

 

I hope enjoyed this post, goodbye from Portugal!

cabo de roca

18 Replies to “3 unmissable day trips from Lisbon”

  1. I’m desperate to get to Portugal. your post has such great tips! I’ll definitely have to save for planning!

    1. Thank you I’m glad you found this useful! Hope you will make to Portugal soon, it’s a great country 🙂

  2. Love the idea of having the vlog along with the blog post! This is an awesome guide – I’m going to Portugal next week and will be saving this to refer back to when we’re there! Thanks!

    1. Thanks! I’m quite new to video editing, it’s time consuming but in the end it’s worth it! Thank you very much for the nice words, I’m sure you will have a great time 🙂

  3. Of all the day trips you have mentioned Sintra sounds most appealing to me. I have never been to a European castle, so that attracts me even if it is touristy. I would love to climb up to the cross.

    1. Yes Sintra is great even despite all the crowd, and from High Cross the view is breathtaking! If you’re interested in European castles, check out also Neuschwanstein in Germany and the Loira region in France. I don’t have blogs about them but they both have historical castles 🙂

  4. All day trips from Lisbon are very attractive and beautiful thing to do. I would live to visit beautiful town of Sintra. Also western point of Europe is great which was believed as end of land. Nice tips on day trips from Lisbon.

  5. Hi Alice!
    Loved your article <3. Just a tiny correction: Belém is not a town, is a "district" from the city of Lisbon (called "freguesia" in portuguese).

    1. Thank you for the correction!! Doubled checked and you are right, I will edit 🙂

  6. Portugal is on my top charts already and I love to spend atleast a month there. I’m always up for day trips and Sintra is a beautiful town. I am in awe with Palacio da Pena, gosh that’s too gorgeous just like a fairytale. Thanks for sharing about a wonderful place!!!

  7. I’ve been to Lisbon, but unfortunately did not have the chance to visit the surrounding towns. I’m due to return to Lisbon in a couple months and I’m very excited to go exploring. Great article!

    1. Thanks! I’m sure you’ll have a great time 🙂

  8. I loved all the 3 places you chose to recommend as trips from Lisbon. But I must say I am eager to see the landscapes from Cabo De Roca. The place just seems to fascinate me being the tip of the continent.

  9. these are great laces for day trips, so thanks for sharing. the architecture of the towers, castles and monasteries are so beautiful. glad there’s also some great nature to explore. the most western spot is def one not to be missed

  10. This really make me want to visit Lisbon (it’s been on my travel wishlist for a while). Sintra looks beautiful, but Quinta da Regaleira sounds amazing. I’ve been noticing on my travels that while I enjoy going to castles (and I do) I sometimes love visiting the beautiful castle gardens a little bit more.

  11. I’ve never been to Lisbon or Portugal for that matter but it’s been on my bucket list for years. All three day trips sound lovely but if I had to only choose one, I think I’d go with Belém so I could taste the iconic pastry pastel de nata!

  12. We have been to Lisbon couple of years back and have explored all of these places. Sintra has so many wonderful places to explore but yes the Pena Palace, Cabo de Roca, and the Quinta da Regaleira are definitely unmissable.

  13. I’m planning to explore Portugal in 2018. Hoping to go on an extended weekend trip to Lisbon and I hope I’ll be able to see atleast one of these daytrips. Sintra looks the most gorgeous and more my kinda place with so much of heritage & history!

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