Lisbon (Lisboa) is a legendary city with over 20 centuries of history. The capital of Portugal since the Moorish conquest of 1147, it is extremely likable and lively, boasting an array of activities demanding one’s undivided attention… well, at least for the first few days. As our company of friends recently found out for ourselves, there is much more to Portugal once you satiate yourself with Lisboa’s flavour. Actually, there’s so much to explore in this relatively small country, that we had to argue about which of our favourite destinations to include in the list below.
So, if you find yourself bored in Lisbon with several days left on your holiday, why not make the most of your holiday, rent a car and hit the road? We propose the following itineraries–each within a day of round-trip driving from Lisboa.
Day trip 1: Porto
Do not stop on the way, for there is plenty to see in Porto–Lisboa’s rival city. Snap pictures around the Cathedral area, try the amazing sushi and ceviche at the riverside quarter of Ribeira, browse the market of Bolhão, shop at the Baixa (down-town). And, of course, be sure to stop by the Port Wine Museum (and then try some of the namesake).
Day trip 2: Quelus – Sintra -Azenhas do Mar – Cabo de Roca
Visit the museum Palácio de Queluz, one of the most magnificient palaces in Europe. Have a birds-eye view in Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, from either the Moorish Castle or the Pena Palace. Stop by the seaside village of Azenhas do Mar (for an octopus specialty), then have a quick peek at the Roca Cape lighthouse at the westernmost point of Europe. But hold onto your hat, because there you’ll be met with a powerful ocean breeze.
Day trip 3: Cascais – Estoril
Give yourself the royal treatment and sun-bathe at Spanish kings’ favourite harbour town of Cascais (you could also visit the local castle ruins or the sea park). Have a seafood lunch in the town of Estoril, play some golf nearby and come evening, don the tuxedo and head for the largest gambling establishment in Europe, the Casino de Estoril, said to be the inspiration for James Bond’s Casino Royale.
Day trip 4: Carcavelos and Oeiras
Take a leisurely drive right next to the coastline to one of the most popular watersport spots in Europe. Whether you opt for longboard, wind or body surfing, the Carcavelos beach will entice you with its huge waves and plentiful sun. Try the local wine and walk along the sand to the Forte de São Julião da Barra in Oeiras.
Day trip 5: Fatima – Nazaré – Óbidos
Take a pilgrimage to the chapel at the Cova de Iria, where Our Lady of Fatima is said to have appeared, then visit the hence dedicated great basilica larger than Rome’s St. Peter’s. We recommend the fishing village of Nazare and concluding the day within the walls of the medieval town of Obidos.
Day trip 6: The Alentejo (Azeitão – Evora – Estremoz)
Indulge yourselves in the wine region of Alentejo. Have a breakfast of the famous artisinal cheese and the namesake pastry of Azeitão. Once in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Evora, visit the market and the Roman Temple. Surprise yourselves with random stops at the many prominent wineries on the way to the marble-clad medieval city of Estremoz.
Day trip 7: Parque Natural Arrabida – Sesimbra – Setubal
Go for a bicycle tour or a dive at the Arrabida Natural Park. Do a seafood and beach comparative degustation along the coast between the fishing village of Sesimbra and Setubal. Get a well-deserved quiet at a local spa. Try the view from the Setubal Castle unto the Sado river before the trip back.