Lisbon casts its spell from hill to hill, neighborhood to neighborhood. These day trips offer a fuller sense of the region around Lisbon as well as the coastal area north of Lisbon called the Estremadura. These Lisbon day trip destinations can be reached very easily, happily allowing visitors to get a sense of the area around Lisbon and the Estremadura alike.
Lisbon Day Trips
Picturesque Walking Town: Sintra
Highlights: breathtaking views; crazy architecture; hillside strolls
Duration: four to eight hours
Exertion level: moderate to high
Accessible by: commuter train, bus
Ahh, Sintra. The hillside town is like a fairy tale, with more than one castle and amazingly green wooded areas. Sintra was honored with a World Heritage Site designation by UNESCO in 1995.
The crowning glory of Sintra is its hilltop castle. It is an eclectic mix of many architectural styles, including the signature Portuguese Manueline style. Dating back to the 14th century, the castle is a riot of pastels. The resulting architectural mélange may offend architecture purists, but those who enjoy whimsy will find it delightful.
We suggest taking a bus up and returning by foot, passing the gorgeous ruins of the Castelo dos Mouros on the way. The twisting hillside path is surrounded by lush gardens and forests. Other attractions include Sintra's hillside villas and the appealing Old Town. The Sintra Museu de Arte Moderna inhabits yet another palace. The Old Town is cute and appealing without being precious.
Sintra can be reached by commuter train from Lisbon. The journey takes around an hour. Transportation is covered by the Lisboa Card. The bus connection from the Sintra station to the castle takes between 10 and 15 minutes. The fare from the train station and the castle costs €3.85, and it is good for either a single or a round-trip journey.
Find more information about Sintra on the official Sintra tourist website.
The Resort-Suburb Hybrid: Cascais
Highlights: laid-back resort; great beaches; cute Old Town
Duration: three to eight hours
Exertion level: low
Accessible by: commuter train, private car, bicycle
Don't be put off by the fact that Cascais is, among other things, an exclusive suburb of Lisbon. It's a really appealingly laid-back place, a place where Portuguese people of all walks of life come to relax. This balance is reflected in the marina's dual functions. Both fishing vessels and pleasure yachts are moored here.
The alleys of Cascais' Old Town are twisting and lively, not all that dissimilar to many of Lisbon's alleyways. You'll even see street signs in distinctive Portuguese tile arrangements in Cascais. The difference is that these alleys are buffeted by fresh sea breezes.
Residents of Lisbon flock to Cascais for a bit of beach time. While it's not always advisable to swim off Cascais, the beaches are lovely and regularly packed. Many an enjoyable day in Cascais is spent between the beach and a seafood restaurant.
Best of all, Cascais can be visited cheaply by commuter train from Lisbon.
The official Estoril tourist Web site contains information on Cascais.
Gorgeous Fishing Village: Peniche
Highlights: bucolic seaside village; excellent lace souvenirs; peace and quiet
Duration: six to twelve hours
Exertion level: low
Accessible by: bus, private car
Peniche is a tiny village known for its hardy fishermen and its lace makers, an intriguing cross section of groups if there ever was one. Peniche's unlikely confluence of populations is guarded over by a stunning 16th-century fort, which currently does duty as a museum.
Peniche's seafood restaurants are, expectedly, quite good. The city's scene is best observed over a traditional seafood meal.
Peniche is also a good gateway to the Ilhas Berlengas, six tiny islands about 10 miles offshore. During the summer months, it's possible to visit the islands on a day-trip basis. The islands draw a varied crowd, including fishing aficionados. Berlenga, the "big island" (it's all relative) boasts a beautiful fort.
The best way to get to Peniche is to take the bus from Lisbon. The bus journey takes one hour and forty-five minutes, and costs around €15 for a round-trip journey.
We like this unofficial guide to Peniche.
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