Can we all agree that Portugal is one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe? At least I think so – I love the country dearly and keep coming back. Somehow, though, I’ve never managed to do a full-blown road trip to see the whole country. It’s not that Portugal doesn’t provide ample opportunities for long drives through beautiful scenery, hidden places to explore, and relaxing beaches to be enjoyed (check out our posts on how to road trip along Portugal’s coast and the Alentejo coast in particular) but more that I’ve just never had the time.

Instead, I’ve kept mostly to Lisbon. But since I am not the biggest city lover out there (this could very well be the understatement of the year – although I have to admit that Lisbon has conquered part of my city-hating heart), I’ve tried to explore the surroundings in a couple of trips that can easily be done in a day.

If you’re travelling to Lisbon and are in search of a few things to see away from the city, then these five day trips are probably for you. But be careful; Portugal does this thing where it blows you away with its beauty and makes you want to stay not only one day, but forever – you have been warned.

1 – Sintra and Pena Palace

A mere 40 minutes away from Lisbon (or an hour if you’re using public transport), the small town of Sintra boasts a palace/castle that easily rivals those in Versailles and Neuschwanstein. Pena Palace (Palacio da Pena) sits on top of a little hill, overlooking the vast forest of the Sintra-Cascais national park, and invites visitors to marvel at the unique and slightly weird architecture.

If you want to see more of Sintra (or if the entry fee for Pena Palace is too much of a strain on your travel budget – because, let’s face it – Pena is expensive!), head over to the Moorish castle (Castelo dos Mouros), which will give you equally great views (but admittedly less remarkable architecture). Down below in the heart of the little town, the National Palace (Palacio Nacional de Sintra) is another jewel waiting to be discovered – much like the many coffee and pastry shops.

Cabo da Roca Day Trip Lisbon Portugal Edge Europe Westernmost Point

2 – Cabo da Roca

Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point of continental Europe, and that alone would be reason enough for me to go there. However, it just so happens that Cabo da Roca is also a wonderfully pretty corner of this Earth, with steep, ragged cliffs seemingly sinking into the ocean down below, swallowed by the billowing waves at regular intervals, only to emerge again each time, still standing, steady as ever.

It is a place where you can look out to the wide, open sea and let your imagination run wild, but it is also a place for reflection. There is something about standing on the edge of a cliff which always makes me thoughtful and melancholic – at Cabo da Roca maybe more so than anywhere else. After all, it is not only the edge of a cliff – this is the very edge of Europe, of my home.

3 – The beach town of Sesimbra

If you’re craving a beachside holiday with nothing else on your schedule than tanning and sipping on fruit juices and cocktails, then Sesimbra is the destination for you. Another day trip just under an hour away from Lisbon, this little beach town offers a long strip of white sand, clear blue water, and a worry-free atmosphere that works like a charm to relieve you of all that stress that has been building up back home.


4 – Vila Nova de Milfontes

This one, I admit, is quite a drive away from Lisbon – but so, so worth it. To be honest, I almost lost faith in the whole We’re-Going-To-Vila-Nova-de-Milfontes-Project that we had sent our minds on, but once we got to this beautiful stretch of sand and rolling dunes, all my worries were blown away. And so was I; the views are breathtaking – you feel like you are all alone in the middle of flowers, sand, and the ocean.

Take your time to stroll along the seaside, find a little place that suits you, open a good book, and enjoy the silence. Or you can explore the hidden places along the shore; when we hiked a bit further up the coast, we stumbled upon a group of yoginis, practicing in front of the gorgeous backdrop. I can see how this would be the perfect spot for a yoga session – how can your mind not be at ease here? A little further down the coast, still, we made another pleasant discovery: Look closely along the shores and you will find an old shipwreck, giving the already impressive scenery a more dramatic touch.

Porto Portugal Lisbon Day Trip City

5 - Porto

Porto is worth a whole trip by itself – but if you are running short on time, it’s not too far away to make it a day trip from Lisbon. Take the train or rent a car to head up the road up to the city of port wine, and try to get there early – you’ll be happy to have as many hours as possible in this charming place.

We’ve written about the second largest city in Portugal here and here – but if I had to tell you three things that you definitely need to do there, I’d say take your time to walk through the old streets and breathe in the vibrant atmosphere, take the heritage tramway line number 1 all the way to Passeio Alegre and stroll out to the lighthouse, and, of course, have a glass of port wine. Then, ditch all your plans to make this a day trip only and extend your stay for at least two more days – Porto is so beautiful, I fell in love immediately and wanted to stay there as long as possible. I’m sure you will, too!

These are not the only five day trips from Lisbon that you can do, but to me, they are the most beautiful. Have you been to Portugal and know of more amazing places to visit out of Lisbon? Or destinations in Portugal that are worth to spend a few extra days in? I’m curious to know!