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If you have more than a few days in Lisbon, take an easy day trip out of the city to either Cascais, Sintra, or Ericeira.
Cascais and Ericeira offer stunning beaches and condense old towns to explore while Sintra reveals centuries-old castles and palaces to visit. All three towns are readily accessible from Lisbon either by car or public transportation and are must-visits on a trip to Portugal.
Keep reading for my advice for three easy day trips from Lisbon, Portugal.
Easy Day Trips From Lisbon | Overview
Cascais, Sintra, and Ericeira are three of the easiest day trips to access from Lisbon.
The geographically closest of the three, Cascais is a beach town popular with expats, tourists, and locals alike. The town offers many fantastic restaurants, accessible beaches, and interesting boutiques.
Sintra is arguably the most famous destination, featuring historical castles and breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The hilly area is a bit inland and therefore provides cooler temperatures, a welcomed relief in the hot Portuguese summers.
For a more laid back vibe, visit the trendy surf town of Ericeira. Of the three day trip options, Ericeira offers the best beaches and fewest tourists.
How To Get There | Cascais
Cascais can be reached in 40 minutes via a direct train from Lisbon. The Cascais Line has multiple stops in Lisbon and follows the coast until it ends in Cascais. You can either use a pre-purchased Lisbon Card or buy the train tickets directly at a ticket machine at the station.
What To Do | Cascais
Due to its easy access from Lisbon, Cascais is popular for its beaches. Praia da Ribeira de Cascais and Praia da Rainha are only a few minutes’ walk from Cascais Station while Praia da Ribeira is conveniently located near many restaurants. Mirador Casa de Santa María and the connected lagoon near Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães are well-known swimming spots by locals as well.
In addition to swimming, spend time exploring the small downtown area’s many shops and restaurants. Meander down the various streets between Cascais Station and Santa Maria Lighthouse and you’ll spot many interesting places to visit.
During my own day trip to Cascais, I ate lunch at Hifen (I suggest making a reservation in advance) and had an excellent seafood meal overlooking the sea. I also enjoyed browsing local crafts stores, including Galeria5050 and Zazulê Cascais.
How To Get There | Sintra
Although not far from Lisbon, Sintra is logistically a bit difficult to reach. No parking is allowed in the main sightseeing areas, so you will either need to:
- Drive and park near the downtown area of Sintra then use the local bus to reach sightseeing destinations
- Take a train to Sintra Station then use the local bus to reach sightseeing destinations
- Ride Bolt or Uber from Lisbon and within Sintra to sightseeing destinations
Given how inexpensive Bolt and Uber are in Portugal, if you are traveling with more than two people I suggest option 3. A one-way ride from Lisbon to Sintra will cost roughly 18-20 euros.
Once in central Sintra, you can either ride taxis, Bolt/Uber, or Tuk Tuks to get to the various attractions or use the Sintra bus. Riding in a car or Tuk Tuk is often the same price or cheaper than using the bus (not to mention, more convenient).
What To Do | Sintra
Sintra is undoubtedly best known for its many historical palaces and castles. Popular destinations include Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, Moorish Castle, and Sintra National Palace.
Realistically, you can view 2-3 different attractions in Sintra on a single day. I suggest the following itinerary (listed in recommended chronological order):
- Moorish Castle
- Pena Palace
- Town of Sintra
- Quinta da Regaleira
Take the Sintra loop bus or a Bolt/Uber ride directly to Moorish Castle, a 10th-century castle offering panoramic hillside views. Aim to arrive as soon as it opens at 9:30AM so that you can comfortable spend about an hour exploring it.
Next, walk about 10 minutes up the road to Pena Palace. Pena Palace is by far the most popular attraction and requires tickets to be booked in advance. Assuming you visit Moorish Castle first, I suggest booking your entrance time for 11:30AM or noon. It takes roughly 20-30 minutes from the entrance of the Pena Palace grounds to the palace itself and you can queue to enter about 30 minutes before your entry time. Expect to spend about 60-90 minutes exploring Pena Palace.
After touring Pena Palace, take a Tuk Tuk, app-sharing ride, or bus down to the town of Sintra for lunch. The iconic pastry shop Casa Piriquita serves a variety of Portuguese treats and is a fun pick-me-up during your day trip.
In the afternoon, walk about 10 minutes down the road to Quinta da Regaleira, an early 20th-century palace reminiscent of fairytale castles. You can spend a comfortable hour walking around the palace grounds.
Tip: Although the distances between the town of Sintra and Moorish Castle/Pena Palace don’t seem far, it’s unadvised to try walking between them. The road is steep, has little to no interesting views, and no separate section for pedestrians.
How To Get There | Ericeira
The easiest way to reach Ericeira is 40 minutes by car.
Using public transportation, it takes around 1.5 hours to reach Ericeira from Lisbon. Several buses depart Estação Norte in Lisbon for Ericeira, although note that some are more direct than others and options run only a few times an hour. The most direct bus is #2801 as it makes few stops in between and stays on the highway. Get off in Ericeira at Terminal Rodoviário and either walk around 20 minutes to the town or take a short local bus.
What To Do | Ericeira
Ericeira is best known as a surf town. Several surf schools in the area, including West Coast Surf School and 3Surfers, offer lessons or retreats for visitors.
Even if you don’t surf, pay a visit to one of the area’s stunning beaches. My personal favorite was Praia do Sul (you need to bring your own towel, but there are outdoor shower facilities you can use).
Given the town’s surfer and yogi image, don’t be surprised to see a plethora of açai and health cafes dotting Ericeira. I enjoyed a topnotch açai bowl from Sunset Bamboo after a few hours at the beach.