Caicais, day trip from Porto and Lisbon and Portugal Travel Guide

Top Day Trips From Lisbon and Porto

If you want to explore some of the smaller cities around Lisbon and Porto in Portugal, there are several great choices. This post covers some of the top places for day trips from Lisbon and Porto.

I met up with friends here and we visited Avieros, Belem, Caiscais, the Douro Valley, and Obidos, in additional to Lisbon and Porto. Each providing a different perspective on Portugal, with interesting things to see and do.

After this, I went on to explore Lagos and Sagres, in the Algarve region of southern Portugal on my own, and was blown away by their beauty and the friendliness of the people. Who knew Portugal had so much to offer?

Day Trips From Lisbon and Porto

There are three great day trips options from Lisbon that are relatively close, Belem, Caiscais, and Sintra, while Douro Valley is the perfect day trip from Porto. Each provides a unique glimpse into Portuguese life, the landscape, and its history.

Belem


If you want to learn more about Portugal’s 15-16th century Age of Discoveries, Belem is the place to visit. Although it technically is in Lisbon, it’s on its western side. It’s about a 40 minute train ride away from Lisbon’s center, so I’m adding it as a day trip.

The monument of Padrao dos Descobrimentos takes you back 500 years to when famous explorers left the Targus river here on their journeys to India, the Orient, and other exotic places.

Padrao de Descobrimentos Top things to do in Lisbon
Padrao dos Descobrimentos

It sits on a promenade along the river and also has a small museum.

You can also visit Belem Tower, built as a fortress to protect Lisbon, and Jeronimos Monastery, a very ornate monastery that is the final resting place of King Manuel I. Both of these remarkable buildings are UNESCO listed. In addition, each is only about a 10 minute walk from the monument.

How To Get To Belem: Take the train from Figuiera Square. You can also board at Commercio Square, but it’s easier to get a seat at Figuiera, as it originates there. Exit at Mosteiro dos Jeronimos.

Sintra

If enchanting palaces, castles and villas from bygone centuries is your thing, the UNESCO listed town of Sintra is the place to go.

Colorful Pena Palace is one of its most popular stops. Its 19th century Romanesque Revival architecture, sitting on a hilltop, was designed by King Ferdinand II.

Medieval looking 8th century Castelo dos Mouros, or Castle of the Moors, is also set on a mountain top.

Pena Palace | Diego Delso

There’s also the National Palace of Sintra and 20th century Quinta de Regaleira, a gothic masterpiece, which has been a private residence for several influential citizens, including the Viscountess of Regaleira.

Monserrate Palace, yet another site, was the summer residence of Portuguese royalty in the 19th century.

If you have more time, visit Praia de Ursa for beautiful cliffs overlooking the sea.

How to Get to Sintra from Lisbon: Sintra is about a 40 minute train ride from Rossio station in Lisbon to Sintra station. Although you can self-drive, it’s not recommended as parking is limited and roads are narrow and hilly. You can walk to central Sintra from the train station, but it’s best to catch bus 434, which operates as a hop-on hop-off bus for the top sites.

Caiscais

Cascais is the perfect destination for a beach trip. This seaside area was a seasonal residence by King Luis I in the 1870’s, making it a popular resort. It’s Praia de Carcavelos is one of the nicest beaches near Lisbon.

Caicais, day trip from Porto and Lisbon
SUP Paddle Boarding in Caiscais
Caicais, day trip from Porto and Lisbon
Old Town Caiscais

It’s perfect for families or for those wanting to try the variety of water sports available here. You can go SUP paddle boarding, sailing, surfing, kite surfing, and more.

It also hosts many international sailing and surfing events, like the America’s Cup and world champion surfing.

In addition to surf and sand, there is also a fortress, museums, and lighthouse to explore, as well as many shops and restaurants in its charming old town.

How To Get To Caiscais: Caiscais is about a 40-minute train ride from Cais do Sodre, in Lisbon, to Caiscais station. Although you can drive, it’s not recommended as parking is limited. See Lisbon To Caiscais for more details.

Douro Valley

If you want to explore the history of Portugal’s port wine, see the lush vineyards where it grows, and taste different varietals and ages, Douro is the place to visit. It’s an UNESCO World Heritage site in the beautiful, mountainous northeast, a little over an hour drive west of Porto.

Several companies offer boat rides on the Douro to see the area, paired with stops for lunch and a vineyard. Check Viator or Trip Advisor for the latest options.

Stunning view on day trip Douro valley

How To Get To The Douro Valley from Porto: The fastest route is to self-drive, or hire a private driver. It will take about 1 hour to 1.5 hours. The train is also an excellent option, taking less than 2 hours. It departs Porto from Sao Bento station, with stops in Peso de Refua and Pincino, the end of the line. Read more about the Douro Valley Train for details. Taking an organized tour or a bus are also options.

Stops Between Lisbon and Porto

These stops are ideal when traveling between Lisbon and Porto, although they also make great day trips from Lisbon and Porto as well.

Obidos

Obidos is a charming medieval city with cobblestone streets, surrounded by fortified walls. It was gifted from King Denis to his Queen on their wedding day, adding to its fairytale-esque feel. With a medieval castle, Obidos Castle, and many shops and restaurants in its whitewashed alleyways to wander, it’s great place to stop.

There are also festivals here, like a chocolate festival in spring and a medieval market and fair in late July.

How To Get To Obidos: Obidos is a little over an hour north Lisbon and about two hours south of Porto. You can self-drive, or take the bus or train. The bus is better than the train in this situation, as the latter run less frequently. Use the “Rapida Verde” bus. See Lisbon to Obidos for more details.

Aviero

With the colorful Known moliceiros, which are Portuguese gondolas, rising through the cities canals, Aviero is know as the Venice of Portugal.

Aviero Molicieros, on a day trip from Porto and Lisbon
Moliceiros

Historically, these boats collected and transported seaweed for fertilizer. Today, however, they are mostly for tourists. Beyond the boats and canals, it’s nothing like Venice, but it’s still fun to stop, ride a moliceiro, and learn the history here.

Aviero also has some beautiful Art Nouveau architecture. You you can admire them from your moliceiro, or take an organized tour to learn more about them. There is also an Art Nouveau Museum.

This architectural style was popularized by the arrival of rich bourgeoisie from Brazil in the 20th century.

How To Get To Aviero: Aviero is about 2.5 hours north of Lisbon and less than an hour south of Porto. Other than self-driving, or a tour, the train is the next best option.

From Porto, the train departs from Sao Bento station and arrives at Aviero station. See Porto To Aviero for more details.

From Lisbon the train departs from the Santa Apolonia station.

Art nouveau in Aviero on day trips from Lisbon and Porto
Art Nouveau Museum

Other Must-See Places in Portugal

Of course, you must visit Lisbon, the oldest capital city in Europe, full of beautiful vistas overlooking the sea, great restaurants and cafes, tons of history, and it’s melancholic Fado music. Porto, a less touristic city, is great for tapas and tasting some of Portugal’s famous port.

And a visit to Portugal’s Algarve region is spectacular. I was blown away by the beaches in Lagos, with their golden limestone cliff formations. From there, I took a day trip to Sagres, on Portugal’s southwestern tip, which has a more rugged, desolate beauty.

Portugal really has a lot of variety to offer travelers, making it an ideal destination.

Hello! I resigned from a corporate career in product development to explore the world. Although my goal was to travel for a year, 8 years later, I’ve been honored to have explored more than 60 gorgeous countries and met some unbelievably amazing people. Our world truly is a beautiful place! Follow me into the gorgeous unknown by subscribing below. You’ll receive details on fabulous destinations, comprehensive travel guides, travel tips and tidbits, and information on travel trends, like experiential, sustainable, and transformational travel. Where is your next gorgeous unknown? Julie

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