You’ve now explored Lisbon, but you’re itching to get out of the city. Then may I suggest exploring one of the numerous routes Lisbon’s train and regional bus system have to offer.
You can find ample information about the Portuguese train system called, Comboios de Portugal (CP), or take a look at the regional bus lines at the Transportes Sul do Tejo (TST) website. Both will give you several choices of places to visit during your stay; however, as there are several destinations that might be unattractive to visitors, and/or are not very accessible by public transport once there, I have provided some suggestions that I believe are worth making the trip.
An old fishing-town, now considered a high-end district, lies at the end of the Linha de Cascais train line. You can take the train from the Cais do Sodré station in Lisbon (Metro Blue line from Marques de Pombal to Baixa Chiado stop then switch to Green line to end at Cais do Sodré) or from the Belém station, if you happen to already be out there. It’s a 40 minute picturesque train ride up the coast where you’ll arrive in the center of Cascais right next to the historical district. This is a very quaint and pretty area to stroll the cobblestone sidewalks, admiring the traditional tile-work on the buildings and maybe indulging in some shopping at designer boutiques. For lunch, try Restaurante Dom Pedro, serving delicious grilled fish at a third the price of other neighboring restaurants. For dessert, head to Gelados Santini for the best ice cream in Portugal! This old-fashioned ice cream parlor started by Italian immigrant family has been around for half a century and makes all of their own ice cream in-house.
If you have a rental car, I highly recommend you continue driving along the main road that goes parallel with the train tracks on the way up and head past Cascais towards Guincho (pronounced “geen-shoo” with the g like “get”). Take this main road along the waterfront and drive north towards the actual coastline where you will see more abandoned military forts and a lighthouse (Farol). Here, you’ll discover pristine beaches with the majestic mountains in the background.
There are several, high-end marisqueira restaurants with an ocean view around Guincho, but if you keep following the road back into the forest and up into the mountain (about a 15min drive), you’ll discover a tiny little town at the top called Azoia, where you can have lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in Portugal, A Casa do Luís. True to its namesake, the family Luis’ house is literally attached to it, a great example of an old world restaurant serving top quality grilled fish platters and the best polvo á lagareiro I’ve tasted to date! Azoia just also happens to be right down the road from Cabo da Roca, the western most point in Europe, and the home of Moinho Dom Quixote, a restaurant/bar attached to an old-fashioned windmill with incredible views of the ocean and mountains. Come here after lunch for coffee, dessert or an afternoon drink where you can either sit inside in their colorful Mexican inspired interior, or out on their staggered mountain terrace, complete with built-in stone tables and seats. If its popularity pushes you out the door, head back down the mountain to Guincho and check out Estalagem Do Forte Muchaxo, the first beachside hotel you’ll encounter. If the day permits, enjoy your drinks while savoring the last bits of sun as they disappear behind the ocean’s horizon.
Sintra is a gorgeous little mountain city in the Serra de Sintra range. You can take the Linha de Sintra train route from the Rossio train station in Lisbon (connected to Restauradores Blue line metro stop) to the end of the line, which puts you right at the entrance to the historical district. Explore the windy, mountainous city streets and gawk at the incredible Old World European architecture, complete with pointy roofs. There are several old churches and museums to discover, but the must-sees are a short bus ride to the top of the mountain where the Pena Palace and Park are housed – an artist’s heaven – and just down the street lies the breathtaking Moorish Castle and the Monastery dos Capuchos. Before you leave Sintra, don’t forget to stop at one of the little cafés from some Queijadas de Sintra, their regional pastry. (Photo by meunierd)
This is about the only day trip available from Lisbon that takes you close enough to several wineries! Take the #702 TST bus from Praça de Espanha towards Evora and get off at Vila Nogueira de Azeitão where you can take both the beautiful Manor House tour at José Maria da Fonseca winery and visit the estate headquarters of Bacalhôa Vinhos to taste some of the best wines in Portugal. You can also visit the cheese museum – Museu do Queijo de Azeitão as the artisanal Azeitão cheese is a must-taste as well as their regional pastry, Tortas de Azeitão.
Another “coastal” city that is situated on the Sado river estuary along the Atlantic. This is a great place for seafood as well. You have 3 buses you can take to get there: #’s 561-63 from either Praça de Espanha or Oriente and get off at the end of the line which will leave you down by the waterfront to explore this underrated region.
Yes it’s true; you can take a day trip to Porto, but only if you’re feeling energetic enough to leave very early and come back very late in order to make the trip worthwhile! You can buy a round trip ticket on the Intercidades Line to leave from the Oriente (Expo) station in Lisbon to Porto for as little as 29 euros per person, but once you arrive in Porto (São Bento station), you will need to buy a metro ticket in order to get to the downtown area. After you’ve explored the Porto side, and dined at one of the great wine-emphasized restaurants along there complete with incredible mouthwatering octopus, take the bus over to Vila Nova de Gaia and spend the rest of the afternoon tasting various port wines from the numerous Port houses!
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