Pena Palace colorful castle in Sintra, Portugal
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25 most popular day trips from Lisbon, Portugal

There are plenty of options for fantastic day trips from Lisbon thanks to its almost-central location on the map of Portugal! Charming villages, fairytale castles, and breathtaking nature – it is all just a stone’s throw away from Lisbon!

Although I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the capital of Portugal and Lisbon is truly one of my favorite cities ever, if I’m completely honest, some of the most magical places in Portugal are hiding outside Lisbon and other big cities!

We spent a couple of months traveling around Portugal and exploring every corner this country had to offer. In this blog post, you will find all the best destinations for your perfect day trip from Lisbon with photos, descriptions, and locations on the map. Happy exploring!

Read more >>> 33 most famous Lisbon Instagram spots (+map!)

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1. Sintra – one of the most magical places on Earth

Sintra, Portugal-red tower view at the National Palace of Pena - best Instagram spots in Sintra
View from the Pena Palace

Sintra is a small town near Lisbon featuring some of the most popular tourist attractions in Portugal. With its fairytale castles, colorful buildings, beautiful gardens, and spectacular views Sintra tops the list of the best Lisbon day trips!

The most famous places to visit in Sintra include the fairytale Pena Palace, the medieval Moorish Castle, the romanticist Palace of Monserrate, and the majestic Quinta da Regaleira with the famous Initiation Well – an inverted tower with a spiral staircase.

Sintra, Portugal-Initiation Well at Quinta da Regaleira
Initiation Well at Quinta da Regaleira
Sintra, Portugal-Park and Palace of Monserrate - rooms and hallways
Palace of Monserrate

Sintra Old Town also features an important landmark palace – Sintra National Palace which is regarded as the oldest palace in Portugal and the best-preserved medieval residence of Portuguese royalty. It is one of the most popular palaces near Lisbon.

Because Sintra is located just a short drive away from Lisbon (30 minutes by car and 40 minutes by train), the Sintra day trip is written in basically every Lisbon bucket list and it gets very crowded, especially during peak season (late spring-summer-early fall).

Sintra, Portugal - Sintra Historic Center, Centro histórico
Sintra Historic Center
Things to do in Sintra, Portugal - Pena Palace Instagram spots in Sintra
Pena Palace

How to visit Sintra on a guided tour? If you want to experience Sintra as much as possible, I recommend the Sintra highlights tour that will take you to three of my favorite palaces – Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, and the Palace of Monserrate.

If you are looking for a Sintra and coastal adventure tour, I recommend a full-day Sintra and coastal adventure tour to the famous Pena Palace in Sintra, Cabo da Roca cape (Westernmost point of Europe), Cascais, and one of the best views in Portugal – Azenhas do Mar.

Sintra, Portugal-balcony and gardens of the Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Monserrate
Sintra, Portugal-Castelo dos Mouros, Moorish Castle Instagram spots in Sintra
Moorish Castle

How to visit Sintra on your own? Private vehicles are banned from Sintra Old Town and from accessing most of Sintra’s palaces! The best way to get to Sintra from Lisbon is by train. It goes every 30 minutes from Lisboa – Rossio train station to Sintra and costs 2-3 EUR.

In Sintra, you can catch a taxi, a tuk-tuk, or a bus right next to the Sintra train station to get to the palaces you wish to visit. You can also hike, but some distances are quite significant – Pena Palace will be a 60-minute uphill hike.

Sintra is a bucket list place to visit in Portugal. Portuguese royalty has favored this dreamy place since the Middle Ages and even to this day as the current claimant to the now defunct Portuguese throne still lives in Sintra. It’s a magical place!

Location: Sintra Old Town

2. Azenhas do Mar – one of the most beautiful towns in Portugal

Azenhas do Mar fishing village in Portugal

This iconic view of Azenhas do Mar, one of the most beautiful towns in Portugal, is an unforgettable place you have to experience and see with your own eyes! The town is situated an easy 40-minute drive away from Lisbon.

Azenhas do Mar name translates from Portuguese as ‘Watermills of the Sea’. The magical town is the perfect place for watching the sunset which is exactly what we did when we visited this place.

The town that originated as a fishing village has now grown into a seaside resort featuring Mediterranean-style whitewashed houses with terracotta roofs. It is now famous for its picturesque landscape with houses sitting on the majestic seaside cliff.

Viewpoints situated on the seaside cliff offer some of the most beautiful views you can see in Portugal. I recommend stopping by Miradouro das Azenhas do Mar viewpoint to enjoy the fantastic views of the town as well as the beach below with its iconic rock pool.

Location: Miradouro das Azenhas do MarParking lot

3. Cabo da Roca – the Westernmost point of continental Europe

Sunset at Cabo da Roca in Portugal - the most Westernmost point in continental Portugal and Europe

Cabo da Roca or Cape Roca is an iconic place in Portugal – it is not only the Westernmost point in Portugal but also mainland Europe! It is a famous cape stretching into the Atlantic Ocean – the most popular place for watching the sunset in Portugal!

The cape also features an 18th-century lighthouse and amazing views of the surrounding landscape and the ocean. Waiting for the sunset in Cabo da Roca is usually written on every other Portugal bucket list.

Sunset at Cabo da Roca in Portugal - the most Westernmost point in continental Portugal and Europe
Sunset at Cabo da Roca in Portugal - the most Westernmost point in continental Portugal and Europe

However, due to its iconic nature, it gets very crowded, especially around the sunset hours. You can easily reach Cabo da Roca by car (there is a large parking lot) – it is located a 40-minute drive away from Lisbon.

If you have extra time to spend here I recommend arriving earlier before the sunset and taking a hiking trail along the coastline from Cabo da Roca to one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal located just nearby – Praia da Ursa (read more below)!

Location: Cabo da Roca

4. Praia da Ursa – one of the most breathtaking wild beaches in Portugal

Praia da Ursa - Ursa beach in Portugal

Praia da Ursa or Ursa Beach is easily one of the most beautiful places I have visited in Portugal! With its golden-sand shores and astonishing rock formations this wild beach completely mesmerized me when I finally got to see it.

The beach got its name thanks to the large sea stacks – one of them is named ‘Roca da Ursa’ or the ‘Rock of Bear’. The beach is accessed by a steep dirt path descending the cliff. A beautiful place for a seaside walk, but not a place for a quick beach stop!

Romantic beach with massive rocks - Praia da Ursa or Ursa Beach in Portugal
Romantic beach with massive rocks - Praia da Ursa or Ursa Beach in Portugal

If you have time, I highly recommend adding this place to your list if you decide to visit Cabo da Roca Cape. The beach is just a short walk away from the Westernmost point of Portugal and is well worth a visit. It took my breath away!

If case you are looking for a scenic picnic place near Lisbon or even something more romantic like a proposal or confessing love to someone, this is the perfect place to go. Find a scenic spot on the cliffs along the path and the words will come out of your mouth themselves!

Location: Praia da UrsaParking lot

5. Fort of São João Baptista in the unique Berlengas Islands

Fort of São João Baptista in Berlengas archipelago in Portugal

One of the bucket list things to do in Portugal is to take a boat trip to the Berlengas Islands. It is a small archipelago just off the coast of Portugal near Peniche – a seaside town just 1h 15min drive away from Lisbon.

Berlengas Islands are known for crystal clear waters – people enjoy the beaches as well as cliff jumping here. The most famous tourist attraction on the Berlengas Islands is Fort of São João Baptista.

This fort is a military defensive structure. The octagon-shaped fort was built from the remains of an old monastery that was abandoned due to regular pirate attacks. It was constructed during the 17th century.

Fort of São João Baptista in Berlengas archipelago in Portugal
Berlengas archipelago
Fort of São João Baptista in Berlengas archipelago in Portugal
Berlengas archipelago

How to get to the Berlengas Islands?

To get there, you need to buy a round-trip ticket to Berlengas online (this is the one we went with) for the exact time you wish to go. You will have about 3 hours to spend on the island before the ferry departs back to Peniche.

Before the trip, you have to register on berlengaspass.icnf.pt and obtain a Berlengas Pass by paying a tourist tax for visiting the archipelago. It costs 3 EUR per person, but you must do it before your trip.

Fort of São João Baptista in Berlengas archipelago in Portugal
Fort of São João Baptista
Fort of São João Baptista in Berlengas archipelago in Portugal
Bridge to the fort of São João Baptista

On the day of your trip, you have to drive to the port of Peniche. They have a paid parking lot right next to the ferry that goes to the Berlengas Islands. You have to arrive about 30 minutes before departure.

Bring some snacks, drinks, comfortable shoes, and sunscreen. There is little shade on the island. Some of the paths are not paved. The fort is located 1 kilometer from the port so it will be a bit of a hike with some vertical meters as well. Totally worth it!

Location: Forte de São João Baptista

6. Óbidos – Town of the Queens

Óbidos, Portugal things to do-Wall of Óbidos
Óbidos Castle – one of the most famous medieval castles in Portugal

The medieval town of Óbidos is one of the most charming places in Portugal. Referred to as the ‘Town of the Queens’ this place introduces you to medieval architecture through its narrow cobblestone streets, squares, walls, and the medieval castle.

Read more >>> Charming Óbidos: 17 best things to do in Óbidos, Portugal

Located just an hour’s drive away, Óbidos is the perfect destination for a day trip from Lisbon! We visited this small medieval town in the middle of summer exploring the main attractions of Óbidos including Óbidos castle, Rua Direita street, city walls, and the famous Óbidos chocolate shops.

Óbidos, Portugal things to do-Castle of Óbidos
Óbidos Castle
Óbidos, Portugal things to do-Porta da Vila
Porta da Vila gate

Notably, Óbidos Castle is one of the most famous medieval castles in Portugal and is among the Seven Wonders of Portugal. However, my favorite place there was the Porta da Vila gate with the beautiful Portuguese tiles – azulejos (see photo above)!

The whole of Óbidos is encircled by massive defensive castle walls. The best part about it is that you can walk around the town walls like a town guard a couple of centuries ago! The perimeter of the walls reaches more than 1500 meters (nearly a mile).

Fun fact! Óbidos Castle is part of a hotel network in Portugal called ‘Pousadas de Portugal’ where historic state-owned buildings (like castles and palaces) are turned into hotels. So you cannot actually visit the castle as a tourist unless you book a stay there.

Óbidos, Portugal things to do-Óbidos Chocolate House
Chocolate is a big thing in Óbidos
Óbidos, Portugal things to do-Ginja de Óbidos
Ginja de Óbidos – a Portuguese cherry liqueur

Some of the must-try things in Óbidos include the local Ginja de Óbidos – a Portuguese liqueur made of sour cherries, sugar, and usually cinnamon. In Óbidos they serve it inside small cups made of chocolate, so you can eat and drink it all at once!

Another thing not to miss in Óbidos is local chocolate. Óbidos even hosts an International Chocolate Festival that has taken place in Spring every year since 2002. It is when the whole town turns into a big festival and celebration of chocolate!

Location: Castelo de Óbidos

7. Nazaré – a seaside town with the giant waves

Nazaré, Portugal best things to do-Miradouro de São Brás

Nazaré is a charming seaside town in Portugal and home to the biggest wave ever surfed as noted by the Guinness World Records. It is located 1h 20 min drive North from Lisbon. We spent two days in Nazaré however one day should be quite enough.

Some of the best things to do in Nazaré town include enjoying golden-sand Praia da Nazaré beach, stopping by São Miguel Arcanjo fort – THE place for watching the huge waves, the unique dried fish open-air exhibit, and the panoramic seaside viewpoints.

Nazaré, Portugal best things to do-Seca do Peixe, fish drying exhibition
Nazaré, Portugal best things to do-Baloiço da Ladeira

When is the world record big wave season? Typically wintertime – from late October to early March. You can check webcams from Nazaré and big wave updates here. If you visit during the summer months, you are likely to see a more or less flat ocean.

Nazaré is the perfect destination for a day trip from Lisbon especially if you are looking for a relaxing place to enjoy those slow beach days and golden sand. The golden sand beach stretches far and wide and there’s plenty of room for everyone to enjoy!

Location: Nazaré

8. Mafra National Palace – one of the largest royal palaces in Portugal

Palaces and castles near Lisbon, Portugal - Mafra National Palace

Mafra National Palace is a crown jewel amongst all the palaces and castles near Lisbon. Located in Mafra city about a 40-minute drive away from Lisbon, this incredibly massive palace with a basilica and a monastery is quite a sight to see!

This monumental royal palace is one of the largest ones in Portugal. Built back in the 18th century, this Baroque and Neoclassical palace is an iconic attraction listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Palaces and castles near Lisbon, Portugal - Mafra National Palace
Palaces and castles near Lisbon, Portugal - Mafra National Palace

The palace complex includes 1 200 rooms, halls, and 156 stairways as well as a large library with over 30,000 rare books. The library is actually famous for housing bats which protect the books from insects.

The central part of the building is a basilica with the royal palace stretching to both sides of it. The impressive facade is 220 meters long. However, behind the main facade hides a monastery with cells for about 300 monks.

Palaces and castles near Lisbon, Portugal - Mafra National Palace
Palaces and castles near Lisbon, Portugal - Mafra National Palace

Visit to the basilica is free but there is an entrance fee of 8 EUR for the palace and the monastery. Visits happen individually however there is a fixed route that takes you through all the halls and rooms including the monastery and the famous library.

Palace of Mafra was the final residence of the last king of Portugal, Manuel II, who left the palace to go into exile on 5 October 1910 after it was announced that the monarchy was overthrown and Portugal was now a republic.

Palaces and castles near Lisbon, Portugal - Mafra National Palace
Palaces and castles near Lisbon, Portugal - Mafra National Palace

The palace is truly massive. I thought we would never get through that building in a day but somehow we managed to do that! Not my favorite palace in Portugal, but I’m glad I got to visit this place because of its historic importance!

If you decide to come here, just know that a visit to Mafra National Palace will not be a quick one! It took us somewhere between 1 to 2 hours at a quick pace. There’s just so much to see and you have to walk hundreds of hundreds of meters around the palace! Worth it though!

Location: Mafra National PalaceEntrance tickets

9. Queluz National Palace – the Portuguese Versailles

Palaces and castles near Lisbon in Portugal - Queluz National Palace

The glamorous 18th-century Queluz National Palace is amongst the last major Rococo buildings designed in Europe and served as a residence and a retreat for many different members of the Portuguese royalty.

Although it was built as a place for leisure and recreation for the Portuguese royal family, at times it became an official residence for some members of the monarchy. Today Queluz National Palace is a member of the European Royal Residences Network.

Palaces and castles near Lisbon in Portugal - Queluz National Palace
Palaces and castles near Lisbon in Portugal - Queluz National Palace

The Palace of Queluz is often referred to as the ‘Portuguese Versailles’. Founded by Queen Maria I and King Pedro III, the palace displays an abundance of extravagant architecture. Of all the Portugal’s palaces, this is amongst the most beautiful ones for sure!

I loved wandering around the halls, corridors, and rooms of the extravagant palace. The architecture here was truly majestic! My favorite places inside the palace were the Ballroom, the Hall of Ambassadors as well as Sala das Mangas gallery with tiled wall panels.

Palaces and castles near Lisbon in Portugal - Queluz National Palace
Palaces and castles near Lisbon in Portugal - Queluz National Palace

However, it is especially known for its majestic gardens, including the famous Fountain of Neptune. The gardens feature statues, terraces, fountains as well as a cascade, the first artificial waterfall to be built near Lisbon.

Queluz National Palace is located in Sintra municipality right at a halfway point between Lisbon and Sintra Historic Center – it will be a 20-minute drive from either of those locations! Entrance tickets to the palace cost 10 EUR per person. Worth it!

Location: Queluz National PalaceEntrance tickets

10. Cabo Espichel – in the footsteps of dinosaurs

Cabo Espichel in Portugal - following the footprints of dinosaurs
Cabo Espichel
Cabo Espichel in Portugal - following the footprints of dinosaurs
Dinosaurs were here!

Cape Espichel is the Westernmost point in the Setúbal Peninsula located to the South of Lisbon. This area is famous for fossilized dinosaur footprints that are visible in some places on layers of Jurassic Age rocks that form the coastal cliffs.

Cabo Espichel is also known for its remoteness and jaw-dropping views over the Atlantic coast that reach as high as 134 meters above the ocean. If there is one place to experience the power of nature and the ocean, it is right here!

Cabo Espichel in Portugal - following the footprints of dinosaurs
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Cabo Espichel
Cabo Espichel in Portugal - following the footprints of dinosaurs
Views over the Atlantic coast

The cape also features a Sanctuary of Our Lady of Cabo Espichel that dates back to the 15th century. It has a beautiful courtyard lined with archways and a large cross on one end of the square.

You can reach Cabo Espichel by car or by bus. The scenic road goes through the Arrábida Natural Park – a wild and untouched nature reserve. Come here to watch the sunset, hunt dinosaur footprints, and be impressed by nature!

Location: Cabo Espichel

11. Alcobaça Monastery – one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal

Portugal bucket list-Alcobaça Monastery
Alcobaça Monastery is one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal

Alcobaça Monastery was established by the first Portuguese king – Afonso I and at the time of its completion it was the largest church in Portugal. A fact that makes it a symbolic place for the Portuguese nation.

Alcobaça Monastery is located a 1h 30min drive away from Lisbon. The glorious monastery complex with a church, cloisters, and massive halls is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list as well as one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

Portugal bucket list-Alcobaça Monastery
Portugal bucket list-Alcobaça Monastery

The entrance fee to the monastery costs 10 EUR per person. Although it is a bit pricey, I never felt that it was too much for such a historic monument. There are so many interesting rooms, halls, courtyards, tileworks, and architectural elements to see there!

Established back in the 12th century, it is the first Gothic building in Portugal. Alcobaça Monastery once was one of the richest and most influential monasteries in Portugal with a population of nearly 1000 monks.

Portugal bucket list-Alcobaça Monastery
Portugal bucket list-Alcobaça Monastery

It is also the final resting place for many monarchs – kings and queens of Portugal, including King Pedro I and his forbidden love – Inês de Castro who was assassinated by King Pedro’s father. Their tombs are located in the main church hall facing each other.

However, one of my favorite rooms was the kitchen. It featured a colossal room-size chimney in the center of the room with a massive fireplace underneath it. Interestingly, water and fish were diverted to the kitchen basin through a specially built canal!

Portugal bucket list-Alcobaça Monastery
Portugal bucket list-Alcobaça Monastery

We arrived at the monastery one hour before closing thinking that we would easily walk through the whole building. The reality was that we barely got through the building in time! The positive side was that there were fewer visitors right before closing!

Maybe going to churches or monasteries might not seem too exciting however they often tell the most comprehensive stories about the history of the country. If you want to learn about Portugal, Alcobaça Monastery is an excellent addition to your travel itinerary.

Location: Alcobaça Monastery

12. Batalha Monastery – the first royal pantheon in Portugal

Portugal bucket list-Batalha Monastery
Batalha Monastery is one of the most beautiful places in Portugal

Batalha Monastery is one of the most beautiful places in Portugal that we ever saw during our 3-month road trip. It is located in a town with the same name – Batalha – and is just a 1h40min drive North from Lisbon.

The glorious monastery was built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese over the Castilians at the battle of Aljubarrota in 1385. It serves as the first royal pantheon in Portugal filled with tombs of kings, queens, and princes.

Portugal bucket list-Batalha Monastery
Portugal bucket list-Batalha Monastery

Construction of the massive complex took over a century and was done under the reign of seven kings and the supervision of fifteen architects. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also one of the most important Gothic sites in Portugal.

My favorite place in Batalha Monastery was the roofless Unfinished Chapels. It was intended to be the Pantheon of King Duarte. However, the sudden death of the king as well as that of the main architect – Huguet – put a stop to the construction process.

Portugal bucket list-Batalha Monastery
Portugal bucket list-Batalha Monastery

Construction of the Unfinished Chapels started in the 15th century, then it was stopped due to the deaths, then it received modifications, and then it resumed. Its extravagant entrance and seven funereal chapels around the octagonal perimeter were finished in the 16th century.

Unfortunately, the Pantheon never saw the finish line and was left roofless which kind of makes it extra unique and exclusive. At least the first half of the 20th century saw the tomb of King Duarte finally find its peace inside the roofless pantheon where it lies today.

Portugal bucket list-Batalha Monastery
Portugal bucket list-Batalha Monastery

It truly took my breath away. One of the most spectacular buildings I have seen in terms of architecture. Because it was built over the course of more than a hundred years, it features many different architectural styles.

The monastery is predominantly Gothic, but, it saw the use of Flamboyant Gothic and the intricate Manueline styles for the first time in Portugal, including one of the most extravagant places – the entrance to the Unfinished Chapels that was made in Manueline style.

Location: Batalha MonasteryEntrance tickets

13. Grutas de Mira de Aire – the unique caves from the Jurassic Age

Grutas de Mira de Aire limestone caves in Portugal

Grutas de Mira de Aire is a large complex of caves located in the Mira de Aire town in Portugal. The town is located about a 1h30min drive away from Lisbon and is the perfect destination for a day trip from Lisbon especially if you enjoy unique nature!

One of the caves in the complex – Moinhos Velhos Cave – is accessible to the public and you can join guided tours in groups to visit the cave. This is one of the most impressive and beautiful limestone caves that I have visited (and I have visited quite a few of them!).

Grutas de Mira de Aire limestone caves in Portugal
Grutas de Mira de Aire limestone caves in Portugal

Visits to the cave happen in groups. You don’t need to book your visit prior – just arrive, go to the ticket office, buy a ticket, and then wait until the group is big enough to go. The cave is warm inside and easy to walk, but comfortable shoes are recommended.

Most of the tour was only in Portuguese language, but we got a brochure with numbers and descriptions in English about each point that you will visit in the cave. Overall, we learned and understood enough to get a good insight into the cave.

Grutas de Mira de Aire limestone caves in Portugal
Grutas de Mira de Aire limestone caves in Portugal

The entrance to the cave is higher above sea level than the exit. This means you will be walking downhill pretty much all the time. At the end of the tour, there is a lift that will take you above the ground so you can walk back to the starting point.

The caves formed about 150 million years ago during the Jurassic Age when there were dinosaurs on the Earth. You can still see some dinosaur footprints in this area and in other places in Portugal.

Grutas de Mira de Aire limestone caves in Portugal

The caves are lit with lights throughout the whole route so you don’t need any extra lights. Different colors of light emphasize the marvelous stalagmites and stalactites that are growing everywhere inside the cave.

The tour costs 7.80 EUR per adult, but there are lower prices for different groups of people. You can read all about visiting the cave on their website. The tour lasts around 60 minutes, but we didn’t even notice – time flies down there!

Location: Grutas de Mira de Aire

14. Convento de Cristo in Tomar – the marvelous convent of the Templar Knights

Convento de Cristo in Tomar, Portugal
The 12th-century Oratory of the Templars in the Convent of Christ in Tomar, Portugal

Convento de Cristo or the Convent of Christ in Tomar, Portugal is a 12th-century convent founded by the Templar Knights. However, the construction of the impressive building complex took about five centuries!

Convent of Christ is the paradise of architecture lovers as it combines Romanesque, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance, Mannerist, as well as Baroque styles. Today it is a National Monument as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Convento de Cristo in Tomar, Portugal
Convento de Cristo in Tomar, Portugal

Because the Convent of Christ is surrounded by the walls of the Castle of Tomar, it also served as a stronghold to defend the new Portuguese country against the Moorish forces during the 13th century.

One of the most beautiful and incredible places in the convent is the 12th-century Oratory of the Templars – the famous round church (called a rotunda). The intricate frescoes and paintings mostly depict biblical scenes.

Convento de Cristo in Tomar, Portugal
Gallery at the Convent of Christ
Convento de Cristo in Tomar, Portugal
Chapter House Window at the Convent of Christ

Another famous architectural artwork that you can visit in the Convent of Christ is the chapterhouse window (photo above). The Manueline window is filled with maritime themes including ropes, wood, buoys, and others.

It is a pure work of art, unfortunately, on the day we visited the convent, the famous window was partly covered and being restored. However, I did look at photos online and it looked absolutely exquisite.

Convento de Cristo in Tomar, Portugal
Convento de Cristo in Tomar, Portugal

However, one of my personal favorite places in the convent was the spiraled staircase that leads to the second floor and is accessed from the main courtyard. It is hard to imagine how much effort was put into this building centuries ago!

The spiraled staircase is a beautiful photo spot in the convent and so are the scenic courtyards, the gallery, the famous round church, and the view from the arcade on the second floor overlooking the roof and towers of the building!

Convento de Cristo in Tomar, Portugal
The spiraled staircase in the Convent of Christ in Tomar

Entrance to the convent costs 10 EUR. We visited the convent about an hour before closing and we barely got through every room, hall, and courtyard. Visitors can explore two stories so it takes a bit of time to see everything.

Honestly, this was one of the most beautiful places we got to visit during our road trip around Portugal. I highly recommend paying a visit to the Convent of Christ if you can spare a day trip from Lisbon. Besides you can combine your visit to multiple spots in one day!

Location: Convento de Cristo

15. Castelo de Leiria – the medieval castle built by the first king of Portugal

Castelo de Leiria medieval castle in Portugal

Leiria Castle is a beautiful and picturesque medieval castle built in the 12th century by the order of King Afonso I, the first king of Portugal, to protect, at that time, the Southern border of his country.

Throughout the centuries it has served as the residence for Portuguese monarchs and played a strategic role in the defence of the country. Today the iconic castle is accessible to the public and an entrance to the castle costs 2.10 EUR per person.

Castelo de Leiria medieval castle in Portugal
Castelo de Leiria medieval castle in Portugal

There are a couple of legends involving the castle – one of them claims that there is a dormant volcano under the castle that is responsible for heating the water in the hot spring.

Another legend says that one winter morning the queen left the castle to distribute bread to poor people in Leiria. When the king inquired about her plans and what she was hiding in her clothes, the queen said that there were roses.

Castelo de Leiria medieval castle in Portugal
Castelo de Leiria medieval castle in Portugal

So when the king seemed surprised that she would carry roses in January, the queen then revealed her clothes and there were indeed roses instead of bread that she had hidden there.

The Castle of Leiria is located in Leiria city just a 30-minute drive away from the coastal town of Nazaré and just a 1h 30min drive away from Lisbon. It is one of the best medieval castles to visit near Lisbon!

Each year Leiria hosts a Leiria Medieval Fair – a big medieval festival where the whole city is turned into a medieval-themed playground. One of the best places to be for history lovers!

Castelo de Leiria medieval castle in Portugal

If you happen to be around during those days, I highly recommend paying a visit to Leiria and the castle as everything will be beautifully decorated and there will be medieval celebrations throughout the city.

We happened to be there a day before the festival started so we saw different performances, everything in festive colors, and a city full of medieval markets and street food stands. Sadly, we could not stay longer, but it definitely looked quite fun.

Location: Castelo de Leiria

16. Sanctuary of Fátima – Shrine of the World

Sanctuary of Fátima pilgrimage site in Portugal
View of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary from the arcade

Sanctuary of Fátima is a massive shrine complex and a catholic pilgrimage site built in a place where, it is said, the Virgin Mary appeared to three kids in the early 1900s. Overall, about four million pilgrims visit the basilica every year.

The sanctuary is located in Fátima town about a 45-minute drive away from Nazaré. Even if you are not really interested in Catholic pilgrimage sites it is still an impressive place to visit when in Portugal.

Sanctuary of Fátima pilgrimage site in Portugal
Sanctuary of Fátima pilgrimage site in Portugal

The massive complex consists of several monuments and buildings like the Chapel of the Apparitions which is the spot where the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared in 1917, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary (main building), the massive Basilica of the Holy Trinity, and more.

The site is accessible to the public for free, but be sure to check online before going there as there are regular events taking place on the site. A rosary or mass won’t be a huge event (with exceptions), but there may be bigger celebrations as well.

Sanctuary of Fátima pilgrimage site in Portugal
Sanctuary of Fátima pilgrimage site in Portugal

The most important dates related to the apparition of the Virgin Mary are the 13th of May and the 13th of October. Those dates will attract millions of pilgrims to the site, so take that into account when visiting this place.

We visited the Sanctuary of Fátima quite early in the morning and there were already quite a few people visiting. Don’t forget to walk through the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary church and pass by the tombs of the kids who claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary.

Location: Sanctuary of Fátima

17. Monsanto – the most Portuguese village in Portugal

Best things to do in Monsanto, Portugal - viewpoints overlooking the village

Stone caves and houses built above or under big boulders – this is the mysterious stone village of Monsanto! Voted as the most Portuguese village in Portugal this ancient village attracts plenty of visitors who crave a feeling of stepping back in time.

Some of the best things to do in Monsanto village include climbing up to the 12th-century Castle of Monsanto, visiting boulder caves and boulder houses, as well as trying the famous cherry pastel de nata – pastel de cereja.

Best things to do in Monsanto, Portugal - visit the Gruta cave
Best things to do in Monsanto, Portugal - House of the Dragon filming location

The village got extra fame after the well-known TV series House of the Dragon filmed a couple of scenes right in this village. Namely, they filmed Daemon and Rhaenyra’s wedding here on a foggy day as well as Rhaenyra’s coronation.

However, probably my favorite thing to do in Monsanto was hunting for the best viewpoints. The village sits on a hilltop 763 meters (2,503 ft) above sea level offering panoramic views over the surrounding area. We saw the most beautiful sunset there!

Monsanto, Portugal - cherry pastel de nata
Best things to do in Monsanto, Portugal - Miradouro do Forno viewpoint

Monsanto is located deep into the inland of Portugal about a 2h 45min drive from Lisbon. It is not an easy destination to reach but it is very much worth it if you enjoy hidden gems and ancient places.

Monsanto is small and gets very busy during the day so I would recommend arriving here in the evening, staying the night there (this is where we stayed) and then exploring the village the next morning before the tourist buses arrive!

Location: Monsanto

18. Piódão – one of the Historical Villages of Portugal

Piódão, one of the Historical Villages of Portugal

Piódão is a hidden village in the Serra do Açor mountains in Portugal. Piodão with its 120 inhabitants is labeled as one of the historic villages in Portugal – ancient urban areas that were founded before the Portuguese nation itself.

Piódão is also known as one of the schist villages in Portugal. Schist is a form of metamorphic rock typical in the Serra do Açor mountains. Every house, every wall, and every narrow street is made of small pieces of schist! Incredibly unique!

Piódão, one of the Historical Villages of Portugal
Piódão, one of the Historical Villages of Portugal

There are a couple of schist villages in Portugal in this area, but Piódão is probably the most famous one of all. Schist was used as it was a cheap option – the abundance of this material that was available for free was enough of a reason to use it everywhere!

Piódão is very small and you only need one or so hours to see everything this magical place has to offer. This could be amongst the best day trips from Lisbon for those who seek lost places and unique experiences. See the best places to visit in Piódão here!

Location: Historical Village of Piódão

19. Serra da Estrela – the highest point in continental Portugal

Serra da Estrela mountain in Portugal - best things to do in Portugal
Visiting Serra da Estrela mountain is a bucket list thing to do in Portugal

Serra da Estrela mountains – located just a 1h40min drive away from Monsanto, is the highest point in continental Portugal reaching 1993 at the highest point named ‘Torre’. It is not a distinct mountain but rather the highest place on a large plateau.

Driving up to Serra da Estrela mountain is a bucket list thing to do in Portugal. Especially because you can drive to the very top of the country by car – there is a paved road that goes through the mountains, including the highest point.

Serra da Estrela mountain in Portugal - best things to do in Portugal
We bought Serra da Estrela chocolate as a souvenir
Serra da Estrela mountain in Portugal - best things to do in Portugal
The highest point in continental Portugal – Torre

At the top, you will see a tower with a cross on top – the highest point in Portugal. There are also a couple of restaurants and souvenir shops where you can have a meal or buy some souvenirs.

We bought some Serra da Estrela chocolate as well as the famous Serra da Estrela cheese! Its recipe is more than 2,000 years old, so definitely try it! It is soft and gooey and has a strong and interesting flavor (but in a good sense!).

Location: Serra da Estrela

20. Coimbra – the old capital of Portugal

Coimbra, Portugal - the old capital of Portuguese country
Coimbra sits on a hill next to the picturesque Mondego River

Coimbra is the fourth largest city in Portugal and served as the Portuguese capital from 12th to 13th centuries. Coimbra is home to the first Portuguese university – the University of Coimbra.

The historic city sits on a hill next to the picturesque Mondego River. There are a couple of popular places and historic monuments inside the city that are worth visiting besides the University of Coimbra which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Coimbra, Portugal - the old capital of Portuguese country
Monasterio de Santa Cruz
Coimbra, Portugal - the old capital of Portuguese country
Almedina Gate in Coimbra Old Town

One of the most known landmarks is Monasterio de Santa Cruz – a 12th-century monastery that houses the tombs of the first two kings of Portugal – Alfonso I de Portugal and his son, Sancho I of Portugal.

other places of interest in Coimbra include Almedina Gate and other old city gates, Praça da República Square, the Old Cathedral, the Botanical Garden, and the Joanine Library often regarded as one of the most beautiful ones in the world.

Location: University of Coimbra

21. Évora – the unique Museum City

Evora, Portugal - best things to do and see - Cathedral of Évora
Cathedral of Évora

Évora is Portugal’s second city and due to its rich architecture and well-preserved historic center Évora has been labeled as The Museum-City. Visiting the Historic Center of Évora, a World Heritage site, did feel like being in an open-air museum!

Located just a 1h 30min drive East from Lisbon, Évora is one of the best destinations for day trips from Lisbon. We spent two days exploring everything Évora had to offer. It is a great place for those who appreciate medieval architecture and places of rich history.

Evora, Portugal best things to do - Roman Temple of Évora
Roman Temple of Évora
Evora, Portugal things to do - Chapel of Bones and Museum of Évora
Chapel of Bones in Évora

Some of the best things to do and see in Évora include the Roman temple, the famous 17th-century Chapel of Bones decorated with bones from about 5,000 skeletons, as well as the Cathedral of Évora and tile-covered walls of the University of Évora.

My favorite attraction was the Cathedral of Évora. Awarded as the biggest medieval cathedral in Portugal, it is a majestic place to visit! It is also one of the most important examples of Gothic architecture in Portugal. Plus you can climb on the roof of it!

Location: Cathedral of ÉvoraChapel of BonesRoman TempleUniversity of Évora

22. Marvão – iconic village listed as one of ‘1000 places to see before you die’

Castle of Marvão - a medieval hilltop village in Portugal

Marvão is one of Portugal’s most beautiful medieval villages sitting 860 meters above sea level on a large quartzite rock in the Serra de São Mamede mountains in Eastern Portugal. It is located near the border with Spain a 2h 30min drive Northeast of Lisbon.

The village earned significant attention after it was listed in the #1 New York Times bestselling book ‘1000 places to see before you die‘. With more than a thousand years of history, this village is a mystical place to discover.

Castle of Marvão - a medieval hilltop village in Portugal
Castle of Marvão - a medieval hilltop village in Portugal

Marvão is a fortress with big stone walls completely surrounding the ancient village. Once you step inside the fortification, you are thrown back to the medieval times with stone houses and those cobblestone narrow streets.

The most famous attraction in Marvão is the Castle of Marvão – a well-preserved medieval castle dating back to the 8th century. You can access the castle’s walls, defensive towers, and courtyards for an entrance fee of 1.5 EUR.

Location: Castle of Marvão

23. Castelo de Vide – Sintra of Alentejo region

Medieval castle of Castelo de Vide - Sintra of Alentejo

Just a stone’s throw away from Marvão is another iconic village hidden in the Serra de São Mamede mountain range – Castelo de Vide. It is another hilltop village sitting 550 meters above sea level.

Thanks to its natural riches, proximity to the mountains, and the beautiful surrounding countryside this village is often referred to as Sintra do Alentejo or Sintra of the Alentejo region.

Medieval castle of Castelo de Vide - Sintra of Alentejo
Medieval castle of Castelo de Vide - Sintra of Alentejo

The most famous attraction here is the medieval Castle of Castelo de Vide. It is situated in the heart of the tiny town and is the perfect spot to see Castelo de Vide from above. Entrance to the castle is free, but it has opening hours.

The best part is that you can actually climb up to the roof of the castle’s defensive tower and get a great overview of the natural beauty of this place. I wasn’t sure, but I think we even saw the Castle of Marvão in the distance from the rooftop!

Location: Castelo de Vide

24. Monsaraz – one of the oldest settlements in southern Portugal

Castelo de Monsaraz - medieval hilltop town in Evora district in Portugal
Monsaraz hilltop village is one of the oldest settlements in southern Portugal

Monsaraz is a village in Évora district near the border of Spain. It sits on a hill and is one of the oldest settlements in southern Portugal. The most important landmark in Monsaraz is the medieval castle – Castelo de Monsaraz.

Due to its strategic location near the border and its advantageous position on a hill, it was once an important stronghold during many military conflicts that the country has experienced over the centuries. Monsaraz was under the rule of many different forces.

Castelo de Monsaraz - medieval hilltop town in Evora district in Portugal
Watchtower of São Gens do Xarez
Castelo de Monsaraz - medieval hilltop town in Evora district in Portugal
The entrance gate to the village

The imposing castle dates back to the 14th century. Much of what was built back then has still remained to this day. Walking around this medieval village felt like a time machine transporting me back in time.

You can visit the Castelo de Monsaraz for free. From the top of the castle walls, you will get amazing views over the surrounding area, especially the Alqueva water reservoir – the largest artificial lake in Western Europe.

Castelo de Monsaraz - medieval hilltop town in Evora district in Portugal
 The inner enclosure is used as a bullring
Castelo de Monsaraz - medieval hilltop town in Evora district in Portugal
Porta da Vila, the main entrance gate to Monsaraz

There is not much left of the castle itself so the views over the area, climbing up to the defensive walls, and walking around them was the biggest fun we got. The inner enclosure of the castle today is used as a bullring.

I loved walking around the medieval village. It has whitewashed houses, narrow cobblestone streets, and stone defensive walls with only a couple of entrances, so you have to check where you can enter this fortification.

You can’t really drive inside the village, so you will have to park your car outside the walls and then climb up to the village on foot. See the parking location on Google Maps below. Monsaraz is a 50-minute drive away from Évora and a 2-hour drive from Lisbon!

Location: Castelo de MonsarazParking lot

25. Elvas – home to the largest bulwarked dry ditch system in the world

Elvas, Portugal - a unesco world heritage site, Elvas Castle, fort
Praça da República main square in Elvas
Elvas, Portugal - a unesco world heritage site, Elvas Castle, fort
Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça from afar

Just 1-hour drive away from Évora and a 2-hour drive from Lisbon, there is an authentic Portuguese city – Elvas hosting a couple of unique places that make this city a worthy destination for a great day trip.

Elvas lies on a hill just a couple of kilometers from the border of Spain. It is known for its unique star-shaped military architecture – bastion fort fortifications that are the largest bulwarked dry ditch system in the world. For this reason, Elvas is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Elvas, Portugal - a unesco world heritage site, Elvas Castle, fort
Castelo de Elvas
Elvas, Portugal - a unesco world heritage site, Elvas Castle, fort
Arco de Santa Clara

The whole historic center of Elvas is built inside massive fortifications. if you drive to the city, you will have to drive through a narrow gateway leading inside the fortifications. However, there are other smaller forts around the city.

Obviously, it is not possible to see the shape of the fort when you are at ground level. However, you can see the smaller forts on Google Maps if you switch on the satellite view. Look for Forte de Santa Luzia as well as Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça.

Elvas, Portugal - a unesco world heritage site, Elvas Castle, fort
Forte de Santa Luzia from afar
Elvas, Portugal - a unesco world heritage site, Elvas Castle, fort
Amoreira Aqueduct

You can also see the forts from afar – from the Castle of Elvas you can see one of the forts, Forte de Nossa Senhora da Graça. But if you go to Miradouro da Parada do Castelo viewpoint right next to the castle, you will spot the other fort as well.

Other places to visit in Elvas include the Castle of Elvas (there is 2 EUR entrance fee if you want to climb up to the walls and explore the watchtowers), the famous Arco de Santa Clara arch, Praça da República main square, and the massive Amoreira Aqueduct.

Location: Praça da RepúblicaArco de Santa ClaraCastelo de ElvasForte de Nossa Senhora da GraçaAmoreira Aqueduct

Happy exploring!

Lisbon is a city like no other – rich in history, full of picturesque viewpoints, beautiful art, and colorful tiles! However, many fantastic places are hiding right outside Lisbon and waiting for you to discover them. Portugal has so much to offer!

Thanks to Lisbon’s central location, many of those bucket list places in Portugal are just a short day trip away from Lisbon, so I hope you can spare a day or two for an unforgettable adventure.

We enjoyed our time in Lisbon and Portugal very much, and I hope you do too. Hopefully, this blog post will give you some travel inspiration to make your trip to Lisbon, one of the oldest cities in the world, even more fun and exciting! Happy travels!

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Most popular day trips from Lisbon, Portugal
Most popular day trips from Lisbon, Portugal

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