Lisbon is beautiful!! If you ever get the chance to go - YOU MUST GO! I'm still so impressed by the architecture and the flair of the city. The tile art called "Azulejo", which is deeply integrated into the Portuguese architecture was so inspiring to me that I wish, I could also build my future house with tiles on the outside now. Anyways, if you want to know what you can discover around Lisbon, this is your article. Excluded in this article, however, is my Lisbon activity bucket list as well as my Lisbon Food Guide. Both can be found in separate articles if you follow the links.
But now, let's deep-dive into what you can do around Lisbon.
Good news, there are tons of things to explore around the beautiful city of Lisbon. Bad news, it is so hard to make a choice. Especially if you only have a few days available. My personal highlights were Sintra and Belén. My parents also decided to go for a "half-beach" day to Cascais while I stayed home "working". Therefore, I can't tell from personal experience how the beaches are around Lisbon. Everything else though, are recommendations based on personal experiences of mine. Enjoy!
Belém should be an absolute MUST on your Lisbon itinerary. There is so much to discover there. Belém itself is actually a neighboring city of Lisbon reachable with the little tram within 30min. The day we went to Belém, we started with a Breakfast at Fauna & Flora (one of my favorite Brunch restaurants in Lisbon). The restaurant is basically located on the way to Belém. In Belém, we then first went into the beautiful Mosteiro Dos Jerónimos, one of Belém's impressive UNESCO World Site Heritages. From the impressive gothic monastery, we continued our trip with a walk to the harbor to take a closer look at Lisbon's fascinating monument Padrão Dos Descobrimentos. Strolling along the harbor on foot, we eventually ended up at the "ceremonial gateway" of Lisbon, the impressive "Belém Tower". (UNESCO World Site Heritage #2 of Belém). If you feel like it, you can also purchase a ticket to discover the insides of the tower. We decided though, to just take a few pictures from the outside and then continue our trip with a visit at LX Factory.
As mentioned above, I, unfortunately, didn't get to visit Cascais during this first Lisbon trip of mine. But from what my friends, my parents as well as many other blog articles have told me, Cascais is a little cozy town - perfect for a mini "escape" out of the crowded city. However, you should be aware that you may not the only person with this idea. Therefore, try to do your beach trip on a weekday if you can. From what I have heard, Cascais is as packed as Belém, Sintra and all the other spots around the city during "high season".
If you decided to go, there is not much you have to plan for. You can easily reach Cascais via train passing through Belém and then further to Cascais. The perfect train station to hop on is in the city center - a station called Cais do Sodré.
My third and highly recommended "day-trip" during a stay in Lisbon is a trip to Sintra. I loved our little adventure to this magical place. The little town filled with castles has so much to discover. To get there, we hopped onto the train at Rossio train station. (Tickets can be bought there directly for less than 10 EUR). The train takes about 45 min and the train departs hourly as far as I remember correctly. Of course, you can also take a car to get there but I honestly think you absolutely don't have to invest the money into a rental car. The train works super smooth.
What is very important for Sintra, is to have a plan for what you want to do, as the options seem endless. You can choose from
- Palácio de Monserrate - We went there. The Villa, hidden in a huge park, is absolutely magical
- Quinta da Regaleira - Find the "inition well" well here
- Palácio da Pena - This is the classic colorful palace you may have seen on pictures
I highlighted the places we visited during our one-day trip in a separate font. When we arrived via train we fist started with a little hike to get to La Quinta da Regaleira. If you don't feel like walking, you can always take taxi from the train station or take one of the Rikschas there. But don't buy any of their tour tickets. Your trip will be much more economical if you just purchase the tickets for the park at the entrance. Plus, unless you rush through everything, you need to prioritize. One day isn't sufficient for all of the parks. But back to la Quinta.
La Quinta da Regaleira is absolutely stunning. (see for example the header image on top of the page which was taken there). Unfortunately, it was a little bit crowded when we went there. But if you are patient, you can even get your Instagram photo on a Saturday there. To get to the next park, we then hopped onto the official Bus 434 and 435. The bus runs every 30 minutes, tickets are pretty economic and available in the bus.) Our next destination was Palácio de Monserrate. In my opinion, this "palacio" is an absolute "hidden gem" in the middle of nowhere. Unlike la Quinta, very few people were in the park - perfect to take tons of beautiful pictures.
After the two parks, we decided to return to the city as we also arrived a little late Sintra overall. But if you have the time, I highly recommend to also visit the Palácio da Pena - the classic palace with the multicolored buildings. I will keep the palace on my bucket list for next time ;)
- Check out my ultimate Lisbon Foodie's Guide
- Discover the "MUST-SEES" I highly recommend for a weekend trip to Lisbon