Lisbon is among the best travel destinations in Europe, with old-world charm, outstanding restaurants, pristine beaches, and breathtaking views, just to name a few. You may be surprised to learn that some of the best Lisbon tourist attractions are actually outside the city. To get the most out of your trip, visit some of the lesser-known but equally charming destinations in the surrounding countryside.
Sintra, located in the hills of the Serra de Sintra, is frequently listed among the best day trips from Portugal. The Palacio Nacional de Pena is a feast for the eyes with Romantic architecture and vividly painted exteriors. While you’re there, take a stroll through the ruins of the Castelos dos Mouros, a 9th-century Moorish armament among the gardens of Pena Palace, whose battlements and crumbling towers offer a glimpse into the rich history of the region. Don’t leave without visiting Pena Park, where winding paths lead through the forest to the highest summit of the Serra de Sintra and a wonderful view. The rich history, fantastic sites and lush vistas of Sintra are only 30 km (18.6 miles) from Lisbon and easily accessible by train or bus.
Once a minor fishing port, Cascais has grown into a popular holiday destination with something to entice any traveler. Cascais’s historic center features traditional fisherman’s homes converted to bars, shops, and alfresco restaurants among the quaint cobbled pavements. Condes de Castro Guimarães museum displays a 16th-century manuscript including one of the oldest images of Lisbon, along with artifacts from the founder’s personal collection. Families can enjoy beautiful sandy beaches with crystal blue and calm waters, most supervised by lifeguards. Just to the north of Cascais, surfers will find mighty Atlantic waves at the Guincho beach coast within the Serra de Sintra park. Cascais is a 34 km (21 miles) train ride from Lisbon and is easily walkable.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of Lisbon with a relaxing walk through Obidos. A fine example of a Portuguese walled town, Obidos was presented to the Queen of Portugal on her wedding day, instilling a lasting sense of pride in the residents. Visitors can explore the narrow cobbled streets, painted houses, and medieval castle displaying the best of traditional Portugal. The 85 km (53 miles) journey from Lisbon to Obidos is best traveled by car or express bus.
Fatima is one of the most significant Catholic shrines to the Virgin Mary in the world and draws pilgrims from around the world. In 1917, the Apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary (Our Lady of Fatima) appeared to three shepherd children who saw several apparitions, including one witnessed by 60,000 people on October 13 and known as “the day the sun danced.” Visit Cova de Iria, where the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared at a chapel. This is also the site of the neoclassical style basilica constructed in 1928 where two of the three visionaries are buried. Train and shuttle bus transportation is available for the 128 km (80 miles) trip, though many tourists choose to join an organized group tour to take advantage of everything the city has to offer.