Off the beaten path day trips from Lisbon

Tired of seeing what everybody else does? Here is a comprehensive list of off the beaten path locations from Lisbon. Find out what hidden...

Tired of seeing what everybody else does? Here is a comprehensive list of off the beaten path locations from Lisbon. Find out what hidden gems exist near Lisbon and take a day trip to explore other beautiful, lesser known places in Portugal. From skull chapels and Buddha parks to beautiful beaches and fortified medieval towns, there's plenty to choose from!

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On my last blog post I talked about popular day trips from Lisbon city centre, including Cascais, Sintra and Cabo da Roca. Now, what if you still have more days to explore? Or you just want to visit less popular places?
Portugal might be a small country, but there are loads of things to do and places to explore. So here is a comprehensive list of off the beaten path day trips from Lisbon:

1) Azenhas do Mar
2) Évora
3) Sesimbra and Serra da Arrábida
4) Mafra, Ericeira and Santa Cruz
5) Bombarral and Óbidos
6) Peniche and Berlengas
7) Nazaré, Fátima, Batalha, Alcobaça and Tomar

View to Azenhas do Mar. You will find this place next to a parking spot on your left, when driving from Lisbon towards the town.

The first destination on this list is certainly not a place you need a whole day to visit, but only few hours. This is a lesser known destination, and so, I could not add it on to the previous post (Popular Day Trips from Lisbon). Not very far from Cabo da Roca and Sintra, it makes it a perfect addition to the days that you decide to visit these locations, just few minutes drive away.
Azenhas do Mar does not have a specific attraction that you should visit, since the highlight is this "viewpoint" in the picture above, close to a parking space before you get to the town.

2) Évora
Drone shot of the Gothic Évora's Cathedral

Unlike the following destinations, Évora is located to the interior of the country (east), and so, further away from the remaining points that I will mention on this blog. Since it's not located by the coast, it can become very hot during Summer, and the attractions will be quite different to the ones in the other day trips. From the centre of Lisbon, it takes about 1h30 to 2h drive to reach Évora, a town with many attractions that you wouldn't quite expect to see in Portugal, such as a roman temple and a chapel built with bones. Curious? Here are the top attractions to include on your day trip:

There is also a megalithic complex not too far from Évora, but not ideal if you don't have a car.

Serra da Arrábida. Photo by Tiago Eira on Unsplash, edited with my presets
These two locations are a beach paradise for many, and are located right next to each other. Only 45min drive from the centre of Lisbon, Sesimbra it's the perfect day trip for those who want a relaxing day at a beach that can offer crystal clear waters and a beautiful landscape, that includes rock formations and green vegetation. The most popular beach in Sesimbra is Praia da Ribeira do Cavalo.
Only few minutes away is the Parque Natural da Arrábida, also known as Serra da Arrábida, a natural park with more beautiful white sand beaches.

Mafra National Palace. Picture taken back in 2012, when my camera was a tiny thing that would fit in my pocket!
Beautiful sunset colours at Santa Cruz beach
Mafra is a town full of culture, 40-45min drive from the centre of Lisbon, mostly famous for the Mafra National Palace (Palácio Nacional de Mafra), the most important baroque monument in Portugal and for the Tapada Nacional de Mafra, a national park where you can see deer.
Between Mafra and the next destination, Ericeira, you will find the small town of Sobreiro. In here, you can visit the Sobreiro Aldeia-Museum - also known as Aldeia-Museu José Franco. José Franco was raised in this small town, helping his mother with pottery, and you will find small miniatures of the typical houses made by him in this museum, as well as human scale replicas of fortresses, windmills, and a small park.
Ericeira is a popular destination among Surfers because of it's great waves, and it's a picturesque small town covered in white and blue. Ideal to visit during Summer!
Along the coast from Ericeira to Santa Cruz, you will find many beaches. Santa Cruz has to be my favourite beach as at sunset, the low bay allows you to see the rocks underneath and walk just below the big rock, where you can take amazing pictures (just like the one above!)
You probably won't have enough time to visit all of this, so select what interests you more, and enjoy your trip!

Bacalhôa Buddha Eden has plenty of beautiful places to explore as the park is massive
Drone shot of Óbidos town
This is probably my favourite day trip, simply because I love to explore and these two places are just perfect for explorers! Bombarral is basically in the middle of nowhere, about 1h drive from Lisbon, and has nothing interesting to see, apart from this amazing Buddha park: Bacalhôa Buddha Eden, an Asian garden with giant Buddhas and other sculptures, lakes, pagodas and other attractions. It's the biggest Asian garden in Europe, with about 35 hectares, and provides lots to do and see. The garden was created as a protest against the destruction of the Giant Buddhas in Bamyan (Afghanistan).
Only 20min drive from the park you can find the second destination: Óbidos - a medieval town on a fortress. Walking along the medieval streets and colourful houses will bring you a taste of what the medieval times were like in Portugal.

6) Peniche and Berlengas
Berlengas Archipelago fort. Photo by Lachlan Cruickshank on Unsplash. Edited with my presets
One of the most dreamy places you will ever visit in Portugal, Peniche is located about 1h15-1h30 away from the centre of Lisbon, and it's mostly famous for the Berlengas Archipelago, a nature reserve 11km away from the coast, with a wonderful marine life and a fort that looks straight out of a fairy tale. Due to the strong waves and wind, the ferries to the island only operate from May to September of each year.

Streets of Nazaré. Photo by Aurelien Thomas on Unsplash
Convent of Christ in Tomar. Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash
These five locations are all about 1h30-2h drive north from Lisbon centre, and all of them offer a different experience. Depending on what you want to do on your day trips from Lisbon, you might want to include one or more of these locations on your itinerary. You will definitely not have enough time to do all five locations in a single day, but you can easily group two of them, maximum 3 to do on a day.

  • Nazaré - unlike the other 4 locations, Nazaré is a fishing town, a popular surf destination (one of the biggest surfed waves was recorded here) and a great place to enjoy one of the best seafood dishes. Get to the main viewpoint (Miradouro do Suberco) by funicular (also called "ascensor") or see the town from above from another viewpoint - Miradouro da Pederneira. Enjoy a stroll along Nazaré Beach (Praia da Nazaré) surrounded by boats and fishermen, visit the Lighthouse and see an impressive cave (Gruta do Forno de Orca) caved by the strong waves of Nazaré.
  • Fátima - Fátima is a religious landmark in Portugal and for most Portuguese Catholics, visiting the Fatima Sanctuary is a great achievement and honour. People from all over the country walk for days to visit the sanctuary on festival days. The sanctuary is a huge complex that will catch the eye of even the non-religious, just curious traveller.

The following three locations are similar in terms of attractions, and there is a ticket named "Bilhete Património Mundial", that can be purchased for 15€, and will grand you entrance to the 3 main attractions in the area (both Batalha and Alcobaça Monasteries and Convent of Christ in Tomar)

And this was the list of the lesser known day trips from Lisbon that you should definitely add to your itinerary! I hope this post was helpful to you, and that it inspires you to discover lesser known destinations in Portugal 😊
I have created a map to help you having a better idea of where exactly each place is located, hope it helps!

Tips to use the map above
  • You will find different layers on this map, showing you all points of interest by categories. To see these, click on the tab icon (top left). All layers will be enabled by default. By clicking on the check marks, you can disable/hide a specific label to better understand the info you're looking for.
  • To view more detailed information on any point of interest, click on it's icon over the map.
  • You can save this by clicking on the star on the top of the map (right next to the title). This will be added to your Google Maps, and you will be able to access it from any device (Google Maps - Your Places - Maps)

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