As we all know already, Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon is one of Europe’s most exciting destinations, full of attractions and things to do. But, the fun doesn’t stop there. There are many other wonderful places in Portugal that you can visit, and you don’t even need to travel far. Here are some trips that you can do from Lisbon in just one day, ordered in travel time from the city.
Belém is technically a district of Lisbon, but it definitely merits a full day of exploration. From Cais do Sodré station, you take the Linha de Cascais train and it’s a 10-minute journey to Belém station. You can start off by taking a stroll around the beautiful Afonso de Albuquerque gardens, which you’ll see as you step off the train. If you are a fan of walking around gardens, there are also the Tropical Botanical Gardens, which contain an exotic variety of plants from all over the world, notably from former Portuguese colonies.
It was from Belém’s waterfront that Portuguese sailors began their journeys during the Age of Discovery, so take a look at the famous Discoveries Monument, and head up to the top for an amazing view. The tomb of Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese sailor who discovered the sea route to India, is at the stunning Jerónimos Monastery, classified as a World Heritage site. You’ll probably be a bit peckish by now, so it’s time to try the famous pastéis de Belém, known as the best pastéis de nata in Portugal.
During the afternoon you could look around one of Belém’s museums, I would recommend the Berardo Museum, which has a fascinating collection of contemporary art, including works of well-known artists like Picasso and Andy Warhol. If art isn’t your thing, you could just have a leisurely stroll along the waterfront, and take in the stunning view of the river Tagus. I recommend staying until the sun sets behind the horizon to take the most beautiful pictures and enjoy a relaxing time by the river shore.
The little seaside town of Cascais oozes charm; you get there by taking the same Linha de Cascais train, getting off around 30 minutes later at Cascais station. It is a popular holiday destination and is mainly known for its beaches, however, the historic centre itself is lovely to walk around, featuring pretty pastel houses and cobblestoned streets. Continue your walk – or hire bikes and cycle – along the coastal route, until you reach Boca do Inferno, a unique rock formation within the cliffs which makes for a stunning setting.
If you hire bikes you can continue the cycle along to Praia do Guincho, a long stretch of golden beach on the edge of the Sintra-Cascais natural park. Due to the strong winds from the Atlantic, the beach is perfect for water-sports, so get ready to practice your surfing! If you’re more of a sunbather, stick to one of the three beaches in the centre that are equally as beautiful, but can be more crowded, especially in the summer months.
Sintra is a must for anyone who is in or visiting Lisbon. From Rossio station, take the Linha de Sintra train to Sintra, which is only 45 minutes, but there’s a lot to see, so make sure you start your trip early. After arriving, hop on the tourist bus which does a loop of the main monuments. Get off first at the glorious Pena Palace, a multicoloured mansion that was last occupied by the royal family before the 1910 revolution. From this stop, you can also visit the Castle of the Moors, believed to date back to the 8th century. From these hilltop ruins, you can experience incredible views over the Serra de Sintra.
Get back on the bus and head back into town, and spend some time exploring the historic centre, full of traditional shops and cafés on charming little streets. From here you can see the National Palace, and also with a short walk, the Quinta da Regaleira, a gothic mansion within fairytale gardens. If you have time, you can take a different bus to Cabo da Roca, the rugged and beautiful cliffs that mark the most easterly part of continental Europe.
Next on the list is the lovely town of Óbidos. It’s a bit further than the other places, but the express bus service, which you can take from Campo Grande station, can take you there in around an hour. The timetable for this bus can be found here. Óbidos is known as one of the most traditional and picturesque towns in Portugal. The town is encircled by the city’s ancient walls, and it is small enough to be able to walk the entire perimeter in a couple of hours. The narrow streets and terracotta roofs make Óbidos an idyllic destination.
Make sure to visit the Porto da Vila, the main gate into the town, which contains a beautiful chapel covered in classic Portuguese blue and white tiles. Óbidos is also known for its medieval castle, which has amazing views over the town. If you visit in July, you can see the town go back in time at the medieval festival. After all the walking, you’ll need a drink, why not try the famous Ginjinha de Óbidos – the sour cherry liquor served in a chocolate cup – ready for a snooze on the bus home.
Last but not least is Évora. It’s the furthest away, taking around an hour and a half to get there by either train, which you can take from Oriente station, or bus, from Sete Rios. It is definitely worth the trip. The town itself is full of beautiful white-washed buildings and, you guessed it, cobblestoned streets! After visiting the main square, the Praça do Giraldo, be sure to check out the cathedral and the university, two truly amazing pieces of architecture, before getting lost in the winding streets of the old quarter.
Évora is well-known for its number of fascinating historic sites, such as the Roman Temple of Évora, one of the most important landmarks of the Roman presence in Portugal. Another fascinating site, albeit not for the squeamish, is the 16th century Chapel of Bones. The chapel was constructed using bones dug up from the overfilled graveyard to make way for the burial of new bodies. Creepy, right? But certainly a riveting experience.
Portugal truly is a country of treasures, and thanks to its small size, all of them are within easy travelling distance. Whether you are studying and living in Lisbon or just on holiday, be sure to visit these wonderful places the country has to offer, especially since they are all trips you can do in just one day. So, which one will you pick first?
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