– Guest Post by Rachel from SneakerTravelTips.com –
Lisbon has something for everyone, no matter whether they desire to learn about Renaissance history or take advantage of the flourishing club scene. With Lisbon being so stimulating, many travelers fail to take advantage of the equally interesting sites that are easily accessible from the city’s center. One of the best ways to travel around Portugal is by renting a car, which enables you to explore the hidden corners of this beautiful country. Below are my picks for the top day trips from Lisbon:
1) The Palace of Queluz – 25 minutes from Lisbon
This is a Portuguese hidden gem that deserves to shine bright for all to see. Accessible by train from both Sintra and Lisbon, this 1700’s royal palace has similar a similar aesthetic as Versailles.
Here, you’ll find large gardens thick with regal fountains, spectacular chandeliers and artwork, and magnificently crafted interiors and exteriors literally fit for a king. The best part is that the Palace of Queluez is almost entirely empty! When we went during a peak travel time, there were no crowds and no noise outside of the piano player that played in a breathtakingly decorated, empty hall.
So why don’t more people make the short drive or train-ride from Lisbon to see the Palace of Queluz? Well, to begin with, the palace is smack dab in the middle of a working-class neighborhood that doesn’t bother to be tourist-friendly. Plus, it seems (wrongly) overshadowed by other semi-nearby sites like the Pena Palace.
2) Sintra – 40 minutes from Lisbon
Sintra is a place that lives up to the hype. The foliage is lush, the town is both pleasant and bustling, and the famous sites look even better in person than in the pictures. I started my trip at the Castle of the Moors, a hilltop fortress that offers spectacular views and surprisingly little crowds.
While I followed this up the iconic Pena Palace, the real treat was the Quinta da Regaleira. A modest mansion that looks vaguely haunted, its gardens offer intriguing tunnels and towers cloaked in a wide variety of plants. One could spend a full day simply exploring the surprisingly-large grounds of Quinta da Regaleira.
3) Evora – 1 hour and 30 minutes from Lisbon
Located east of Lisbon, this small city is famous for the Roman ruins of the Diana Temple, the Chapel of Bones (it’s exactly how it sounds), and its standing as a top bullfighting destination. The town is easy to explore by foot because almost all of the attractions are within walking distance of the Main Square.
My favorite part of my time in Evora was browsing the many stores that only sold products made out of cork, including dresses, shoes, umbrellas, and jewelry.
4) Coimbra – 2 hours from Lisbon
This university-city offers rich history, as well as an energetically youthful vibe. Those interested in modern history can learn about the reign of their dictator Salazar and how he used to fearfully try to control the freethinking student body.
Plus, visitors can tour one of the oldest universities in Europe. Regardless of whether you are a history nut (like me) or have little interested in the past, the winding medieval streets will prove fun to explore.
Which one of these day trips you would take while in Lisbon?
Let me know in the comment section below!
Author: Rachel is a native Philadelphian who enjoys photography, hiking and, of course, traveling. You can follow her travels at SneakerTravelTips.com.