When it comes to Lisbon, I think I could spend there months and months without risking to get bored. But when you only have a few days on your hand and you want to make the best out of the time here, here is my proposal for the best full day trip from Lisbon.
And I wanted to put an emphasis on the “full day” part, because our trip truly filled one entire day, from the very morning to the very evening.
Since we only had four days in Lisbon and wanted to make the best out of this period, but also could not have missed Sintra and the colorful and joyful Pena Palace, the plan was to take the train one early morning and explore the area.
But you know how life gets and sometimes what you’ve planned is not what really happens. And sometimes, life has something better in store for you, as long as you are open and flexible! That’s pretty much what we were offered: something way better!
This was not something we planned to decide during our journey from our Airbnb to Belem Tower, but fate brought Rui our way. As a good businessman, he sold us the one day trip we were going to enjoy because he was going to drive us not only to Sintra as we planned but also to many other beautiful places.
The best full day trip from Lisbon
We started early in the morning, because leaving Lisbon as early as possible is the best if you don’t want to get stuck in traffic, and at the same time arrive before the crowds at Pena Palace, having time to fit everything in one day.
As we left Lisbon behind and wondered on the highway, being lucky to catch a rather sunny day for November, the colorful Pena Palace showed itself quite fast. Hanging on the top of a mountain, it was easy for us to understand that getting there was going to require some climbing.
But Rui left us just in front of the entrance, once we’ve passed by Sintra and left it on the right, driving through one of the most fairytale-like roads. Even though we arrived early, there were still 2 lines: one for the tickets, and one for the entrance (people who had already bought the tickets).
Once the doors opened, everyone rushed in and I can say this place is so popular that it was crowded at 10 AM, during low season. There’s a shuttle bus taking you to the top, right in front of the palace, but the hill is easily done by foot so that you don’t have to wait or get squished inside of the small bus.
As I’ve heard someone saying, Pena Palace is an Instagram Heaven.
Pena Palace is so colorful, filled with pretty tiles, with many balconies and a wide terrace with the most breathtaking view you’ll find. It’s only normal that we’ve spent so much time here, both on the outside, and on the inside.
The inside has deep oriental influences and it’s not that somptuous as other Palaces might be, but it is still nice.
Once we’ve finished the tour, since we wanted to see so many things in one day, we did not explore the garden of the Palace, but that’s one thing that you should do if you have just enough time to spare.
Our next stop was not far from the Palace, in the small and picturesque town of Sintra.
I have to admit here that the town is really small (or at least what we got to see, but I’m pretty sure there wasn’t much more to it), but has a charm to it. Something that made me think about the small Italian towns, tucked on hills, with small colorful houses. Just add in the blue and white tiles and you have Sintra.
Since we did not have breakfast, our stop and most of the time we spent in Sintra was at the most famous pastry in town: Piriquita.
Dating from 1862, Rui had told us about this place and about its famous sweet pastry we had to try: travesseiros. And that’s what we did: enjoyed a cup of coffee with some delicious pastry, to give us power for the next destinations.
Quinta da Regaleira Palace
Not as famous as Pena, but with a whole lot of charm, Quinta da Regaleira is torn from a different kind of fairytale.
When I’ve shown the pictures from our trip to my mother, she loved this place most, with its romantic Gothic style. Even though the inside of the Palace is not so impressive, and the upper floors are closed to the public, the place sure is worth a visit.
Another thing worth knowing about the place is that it is surrounded by a luxurious park where we got lost and surpassed the time scheduled for this attraction.
Maybe the most iconic place to see in the park: the Initiation Well and the Tunnels.
Azenhas Do Mar
No, I had no idea about this place. That is until the day before our trip to Sintra, when scrolling through Instagram I came across a stunning pic from here. After carefully checking the map, I realized there was no way we could have the time to get there and left it to that.
Until Rui asked us if we would like to see something else. Something that people don’t usually see, because it is another extra hour for the trip, and showed us the picture of the place.
Of course, we said YES right away, because wow, I guess life really brings you wherever you have to be, at the right moment.
And we got to this small village. White houses, on a cliff, standing in equilibrium above the ocean.
A large beach with the most perfect sand there is, waves crashing the stones, a natural pool, and almost nobody in sight. I call that one of the most amazing ways of spending one hour of your life.
Cabo da Roca
We couldn’t miss the westernmost extent of Portugal, continental Europe, and the Eurasian landmass.
As you’ve guessed already, the place is popular, therefore filled with tourists.
But if you manage to find a remote spot, the ocean will look endless, and the perfect solitaire red and the white lighthouse will charm you.
Boca do Inferno
Close to Cascais, Rui stopped the car and told us that we need to get off and see this cool place called Boca do Inferno. We were staying in between restaurants, tourist souvenir shops and nothing looked that cool to me.
But we listened and took the stairs towards the ocean and saw the interesting cliff formation, like a whole into the cliff’s wall, with the water furiously bursting in, below the arch created during the years.
Cascais & Estoril
Two beautiful villages by the Ocean, Cascais, and Estoril feel like being the same place but actually look at each other across the water. From what we’ve been told, here is where you will find some of the most expensive houses in Portugal, and where celebrities own villa. And just by looking around you can easily understand why.
The place is crowded during Summer and we didn’t have much to do when we stopped here. Just sat and looked at the Ocean, the colorful little fishermen boats, and the cats running around looking for some fresh fish to eat.
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