Last Updated on September 8, 2020 by queenie mak
There is so much to see in Lisbon that it would take many days to see everything! And not to mention all the attractions outside of the city! Instead of putting all the information for all the day trips from Lisbon in my solo traveller’s guide to Lisbon, I am dedicated an entire post on the day trips you can take from Lisbon.
Related Post – The Complete 2 week itinerary in Portugal
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Belém has all the iconic monuments that all visitors to Lisbon must-see. Start your journey by visiting the Torre de Belém, a fortified tower located at the edge of the Tagus River. Built in the early 16th century, the tower was once used as a defence system and a ceremonial gateway to Lisbon. But these days, the tower brings in visitors from all over the world. Just a word of caution, go early so you can avoid (minimize) the line-up!
Then further west is the astonishing Padrão dos Descobrimentos. You can marvel at the monument from below and above. When you are at the top of the monument, look down and see the compass rose which is made of black and red limestone uniquely in Lisbon.
There are also amazing museums in Belém. Berardo Collection Museum has one of the best collections of modern art. From Pablo Picasso to Piet Mondrian, the museum showcases contemporary art from the 20th century to the present day. And if you have time, visit MAAT Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia. Even if you don’t go in to see the unique collections of Portuguese artists, take photos of the striking exterior. The building reminds me of a spaceship!
And just north of Padrão dos Descobrimentos, you will find the Jerónimos Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site and also an excellent example of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon. And walk a few minutes from the monastery to find Pastéis de Belém, where you can find the best Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese custard tarts)! I know because I tried a lot of Pastéis de Nata! Ha!
On your way back from Belém, stop by the LX Factory to see how all the old warehouses are converted into modern shops and restaurants. The industrial complex is a trendy gathering spot for locals and tourists. And check out Livraria Ler Devagar, a giant bookstore and cafe while you are there.
How to get to Belém
There are a few ways to go to Belém. One option is to take the suburban train for 1,30€ with either a ticket or your Viva Viagem Card (stored value ticket). Another option is to take the local bus to Belém. Either option will take between 10 to 20 minutes to get there.
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Cascais is a quaint Portuguese fishing town west of Lisbon. Tourists visit Cascais for its beautiful beaches and dramatic coastline while locals move to Cascais to experience the peaceful town and away from the bustling Lisbon.
When you arrive at the train station, walk to the town centre, and you will immediately see the pedestrian streets. Explore the cobblestone streets, historic buildings, museums and shops. Then walk along the promenade, and you will see Palácio Seixas, a historical building and a symbol of Cascais. You can visit the Palace of Cascais Citadel, the official residences of the Government of Portugal. Also visit the Lighthouse Museum of Santa Marta, a modern architectural building at the edge of the coast.
Most people visit Cascais to see Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth). It is part of the beautiful rugged coastline where a small cave is chiselled out by the waves from the Atlantic Ocean, pounding the shore. Walk as far as you can so you can get close to the edge to see the rocky cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean. You can get to Hell’s Mouth on foot from the town centre.
After visiting Hell’s Mouth, make your way back to town and spend the afternoon lounging at Baia de Conceição, Baia de Rainha, or Baia de Cascais. There’s no better way to cap off the day by some relaxation and fun at the beach.
How to get to Cascais
Start your journey at Cais do Sodré station and either purchase a ticket for the next train to Cascais or make sure you have enough money on your Viva Viagem Card (stored value ticket). It costs 2,25€ each way. Hop on the next train and Cascais is the last stop of the urban train line. The train ride is no more than 40 minutes.
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Sintra is one of the most picturesque Portuguese towns. From castles, palaces, historic buildings and beautiful gardens, there is so much to see in Sintra that you may want to spend more than one day to explore. You can comfortably explore these following attractions in one day.
One of the best ways to see Sintra is on foot. You don’t need to be part of any tour to see this beautiful city. Once you strolled through the quaint Historical Centre of Sintra and picked up a snack from a local coffee shop, start your journey by finding the hiking trail that will lead you to Vila Sassetti, a gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage building. Continue up the hiking path, and it will take you directly to Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle). The castle is worth seeing but be prepared to hike up some stairs. Built in the 8th century, the castle is set on the ridges of Sintra mountains where you can take in 360 degrees of panoramic views of the whole area. This is also the spot where you can see Pena Castle from afar. It looks far, but it’s walkable.
A visit to Sintra won’t be complete if you haven’t visited Pena Castle. When you leave the Moorish Castle, follow the signs for the footpath to Pena Castle. I’ve scrolled through many photos of Pena Castle on Instagram while I was planning my trip to Portugal which is how I discovered this impressive castle. You have the opportunity to tour the inside of the castle and see the interesting decor of the 19th century. And because of the colourful facade and interesting Romanticism architecture, there are plenty of photo opportunities from the outside.
Quinta da Regaleira
There is just too much to see in Sintra. But out of all the attractions, other than Pena Castle and Moorish Castle, Quinta da Regaleira is another unique spot not to be missed. Not too far from the Historical Centre of Sintra, Quinta da Regaleira is a 20th-century residence where the property includes beautiful gardens and historical buildings in the styles of Gothic, Moorish and Renaissance. One of the highlights of the property is the Poço Iniciático (Iniciatic Well). As you approach the well, you will see the spiralling staircase that will lead you to the bottom. Not intended to use for water collection, it is an initiation well (or inverted tower) that was used for ceremonial purposes. And keep exploring the grounds because you will find hidden caves and passageways that will lead you to a waterfall.
How to get to Sintra
Going to Sintra is easy peasy. Make your way to Rossio Station and either purchase a ticket for the next train to Sintra or make sure you have enough money on your Viva Viagem Card (stored value ticket). It costs 2,25€ each way. Hop on the next train and Sintra is the last stop of the urban train line. It only takes 40 minutes to get there.