An overview of the most popular day trips in Portugal:
Day Trip from Lisbon to Sintra and Cascais
Lisbon is a fascinating, vibrant city in Portugal, and it also happens to make a fantastic home base for day trips further afield. On a day trip from Lisbon, you can see Sintra and Cascais, filling the journey with coastal vistas, stunning mountains, castles and surfers.
The unforgettable day begins in the Portugese capital, where you’ll board an air-conditioned minivan and travel from Lisbon to Sintra, which is just 30 minutes away. Sintra is unique because it boasts world-class scenery and landscapes as well as medieval palaces and lavish estate homes from more recent times. It is clear to see why so many rich and royal people have lived in this part of Portugal: It is spectacularly beautiful! See it for yourself with a walk along the trails of Pena Park and then onwards to the Pena National Palace. The palace is at the top of Sintra Mountain, and its 19th century design is the epitome of lavish decor. After touring the interior of the luxurious palace, you’ll have some free time to enjoy lunch in Sintra or take a tour of the medieval Sintra National Palace.
It’s back to the minivan, briefly, for a ride to Sintra National Park. Look out the window, because the route passes iconic landmarks such as the Palace of Monserrate. At the national park, you’ll stand next to Cabo da Roca, the rocky bluff that also serves as Europe’s westernmost spot. Watch local surfers catching waves at Guincho Beach, and then make your way to Cascais.
The small coastal town of Cascais is the ultimate place to stroll barefoot in the sand, watching the waves roll in on the shore of this traditional Portuguese fishing village. Don’t leave without snapping some photographs of the iconic white houses with terra-cotta roofs that are lined up mere feet from the Atlantic Ocean. Along the journey back to Lisbon, enjoy pristine views of the scenic town of Estoril.
Day Tour from Porto to Douro Valley with River Cruise
If you’re spending time in Porto, then you’re probably already familiar with the city’s reputation as a wine capital. However, you may be missing out if all that you’re sipping is the local port. With a trip from Porto to the Douro Valley, you can admire the incredible scenery surrounding Porto, and you can also taste some of the other wonderful wines for which Portugal is known.
The wine-lover’s dream trip begins in Porto, where you’ll hop onto a comfortable minivan and head to Pinhão. Halfway there, a brief stop takes you to Peso da Régua, the capital of Douro Valley and an excellent spot for a quick photo. Once you’ve arrived in Pinhão, you’ll have the chance to explore the village on your own. Don’t miss the iconic train station of Pinhão, which was built in 1937 and uses blue and white tiles, many of which depict local people and scenery from the area. You can also check out the incredible bridge that was built by none other than Gustave Eiffel, the same architect responsible for the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
The next item on the itinerary is a leisurely cruise along the Douro River. You’ll climb aboard a traditional rabelo, the local cargo boats, and pass some stunning vineyards, wineries and estates located on the river’s edge. After the river cruise, it’s time for lunch in a local villa, not to mention a glass of Douro Valley wine.
Two more family-run wine estates are on the afternoon agenda, allowing you to see how wine is made in the region. Of course, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sip the local port as well as several other red and white wines on offer, and you might even want to pick up some bottles to take home as a souvenir. The return drive to Porto gets you back to the city in time for your dinner plans.
Day Trip from Lisbon to Fatima, Nazare and Obidos
On this unforgettable day trip out of Lisbon, you can see a completely different side to Portugal that goes beyond the bustling city. In a single day, you will be able to see sites of incredible religious significance, medieval architecture, fishing villages and amazing countryside.
The day begins in Lisbon, when small groups of no more than 15 board air-conditioned minivans and set off for Fátima. Just 130 km (80 miles) from Lisbon, Fátima is an important pilgrimage site in the Christian tradition. Thee shepherd children saw the Lady of Fatima, a saint, in 1917, and that day has been celebrated with a pilgrimage to Fátima ever since. The end destination is the incredible Basílica de Fátima, a beautiful cathedral that gets millions of visitors every year. The next stop is the Batalha Monastery, constructed in the 14th century and boasting very ornate Gothic architecture.
It’s a brief drive from there to the next destination, Nazare. This coastal town is beloved by the Portuguese, many of whom go there for summer vacations on the beach. Take some time on your own to find lunch, which should definitely feature some of the fantastic local seafood available at many of the coastal eateries. Rejoin the group and admire the view from the Nazare cliffs and then set off on a walk to the small but picturesque towns of São Martinho do Porto and Foz do Arelho.
As you begin the drive back toward Lisbon, there is one final stop: Óbidos. This medieval village has a history dating back a staggering 2,200 years. Much of the town’s architecture is truly ancient, allowing you to see incredible views of the original fortified walls, narrow streets constructed long before cars existed and surprisingly colorful houses. Before you depart, wrap up the trip with a taste of the local speciality, a cherry alcoholic drink called Ginja liqueur.
Guimarães and Braga Day Trip from Porto
On this day trip you take a little sojourn from Porto and spend a whole day immersed in the culture of Guimarães and Braga. These two northern Portuguese cities are jam packed with ancient history. Here you’ll be able to see the 10th century castle of Guimarães and learn about the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza.
After taking in all that history, you’ll make a stop off for lunch at a local restaurant for a delicious traditional two course Portuguese meal. And once you’ve had your fill, it’s time for an afternoon of soaking up some ancient Roman history with a knowledgeable guide.
This is definitely a tour for those who are interested in history. Braga is one of the oldest Christian cities in Portugal and is famous for its religious heritage, with a whole scattering of churches are religious buildings. But it’s especially well known for the Bom Jesus do Monte, a beautiful neoclassical church.
You’ll also get to walk around Braga itself. This is a great opportunity to marvel at sights like its exquisite Baroque cathedral, as well as a museum dedicated to sacred art. Aside from history, this city is awash with lively streets thanks to its student population.
Évora Day Trip from Lisbon
This day trip is definitely one for those who like to sample a bit of local food and flavor. You can really make the most of your time in the Mediterranean; leave the Portuguese capital behind as you head out over the Vasco da Gama bridge across the Tagus River on an adventure to explore the ancient Roman city of Évora.
Another one for history lovers, this place is famous for the 16th century St Francis Church – it’s a little bit of a macabre offering as here you’ll get to see a chapel lined with row upon row of human skulls. Elsewhere, there’s the imposing Cathedral of Évora. Then it’s time to marvel at the ruins of the Roman Temple – this is truly ancient, dating all the way back to the 1st century AD!
Next stop is Évora’s Giraldo Square, the city’s main square that buzzes with life and is lined with rows of beautiful historic buildings – and the all important cafes when you need a pick-me-up and a tasty local snack. The square has been the same in look and atmosphere ever since its construction in the 1570s!
Your local, well informed tour guide will take you to try out some truly delicious olive oil. There’s a long tradition of making the good stuff here. A great chance to learn – and taste, of course! And on the way back to Lisbon back a stop at the prehistoric site of Almendres Cromlech. These huge standing stones were used to work out the equinox and solstice and were placed here over 6,000 years ago!