With views over the Atlantic Ocean and Tagus river, Lisbon peeks through the seven hills with all its beauty and charm. Here, you’ll find an amazing city with much to see and to tell. But don’t stick to the Portuguese capital! Read my travel guide to visit Lisbon and surrounding area and be amazed.
Information: You can follow my travel guide to visit Lisbon and surrounding area as it is or, if you prefer, instead of beginning your visit in the capital, you can go straight from the airport to Sintra and leave Lisbon for the last couple of days.
Travel guide of 7 days to visit Lisbon and surrounding area
Days 1 and 2 – Lisbon
If you choose to follow the order of this travel guide to visit Lisbon and surrounding area, then don’t rent a car just yet since you can visit the city on foot and/or public transportation.
There are so many things to do in Lisbon that you won’t know where to begin. Of the points of interest in Lisbon, don’t miss the opportunity to visit places like:
- Hieronymites Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos)
- Tower of Belém (Torre de Belém)
- Historic quarters
- Cathedral of Lisbon
- Monument to the Discoveries (Padrão dos Descobrimentos)
- Monastery and Church of São Vicente de Fora
- National Pantheon
To have an idea of how these first days in the Portuguese capital can be, read my article and discover the amazing places to see in Lisbon in two wonderful days.
It’s true that you won’t have time to visit all the points of interest in Lisbon like museums, churches and parks but you’ll certainly want to return to this amazing city and see what you have missed or even revisit those places you loved the most.
Information: To spend the night, I recommend that you check my suggestions in the articles about the best hotels and best apartments in the Portuguese capital before you visit Lisbon and surrounding area.
Day 3 – Sintra
From this day on and to fully enjoy this travel guide of Lisbon and surrounding area, I recommend that you hire a car by clicking here (affiliate link) so that you can easily move from place to place and visit locations that aren’t accessible by other means of transportation.
Begin your third day of this travel guide to visit Lisbon and surrounding area by going to the beautiful Queluz National Palace, located 13 km away from Lisbon.
This majestic palace in Baroque and Neoclassical style was built in the 18th century and was, for some time, one of the Portuguese royal family residences.
Apart from the wonderful building with amazingly decorated rooms and halls, you can also visit a unique library in Portugal: the D. Diogo de Bragança Equestrian Art Library. Outside, spend some time admiring the forest and the beautiful gardens decorated with statues.
In the afternoon, drive west towards the amazing town of Sintra, one of the most beautiful places in Portugal, that seems to have come right from a fairy tale. Here, the cultural landscape is breathtaking and, because of that, it is listed by UNESCO as World Heritage.
Located just 30 km west of Lisbon and 16 km from Queluz National Palace, Sintra is a town with a unique beauty in Portugal and here you’ll find many traces from Romanticism, Neogothic and Neomanueline styles. If you visit Lisbon and surrounding area, don’t miss the opportunity to visit this town.
On this afternoon take some time to explore the historic centre of Sintra, located right in the heart of Sintra-Cascais Natural Park and where you can admire the beautiful architecture and landscape.
Next, visit Sintra National Palace. This is one of the most visited palaces in the country and has an enormous historic value, having been one of the official residences of the Portuguese royal family up to the 20th century, when monarchy was abolished in Portugal.
If you visit this palace, certainly you’ll be amazed with the traces of Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance and Romanticism architecture. Make sure you go to the most important rooms / halls in the palace:
- Coat of Arms Room (Sala dos Brasões)
- Swans Hall (Sala dos Cisnes)
- Magpies Room (Sala das Pegas)
To finish your first day in Sintra, make your way on foot through the streets Rua Gil Vicente and Rua Barbosa do Bocage until you get to the magnificent Quinta da Regaleira – a short 800-metre walk.
This property is one of the most visited and most enigmatic and mysterious places in Sintra, where you’ll find many traces associated with the Knights Templar, Masonry and alchemy.
Take at least one hour to visit all these points of interest in Quinta da Regaleira:
- Regaleira Palace (Palácio da Regaleira)
- Initiatic Well (Poço Iniciático)
- Terrace of the Celestial Worlds (Terraço dos Mundos Celestes)
- Site: www.regaleira.pt/en
There are many hotels where you can spend the next couple of nights, however I have two great options for you to consider.
My first suggestion is the wonderful São Miguel Guest House (affiliate link). Located in the historic centre of Sintra, just a few metres away from Sintra National Palace and Quinta da Regaleira, this is one of the favourite places for those visiting this town.
Another amazing place to stay and close to several points of interest in Sintra is The Biester Charm House (affiliate link). Among other amenities, you’ll have free private parking, a swimming pool, wonderful views – all that you can ask for to relax in an idyllic scenery.
Day 4 – Sintra
On this fourth day of the travel guide to visit Lisbon and surrounding area, I suggest that you continue exploring the amazing Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, this time further away from the historic centre of Sintra.
In the morning, leave the hotel and go to the ex-libris of this region and one of the most beautiful monuments in Portugal: Pena National Palace.
You can choose to drive there but it’s possible that you won’t find an available parking space in the vicinities since this is a very touristy place (try to be there 30 minutes before opening hours); the other option is for you to take a tourist bus with stops in front of the palace and other points of interest in Sintra.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you arrive to this place is the natural beauty of the park and gardens that surround Pena National Palace. We recommend that you stroll through this park before or after visiting the palace because it is an amazing place worth exploring.
Next, discover a fairy tale palace. Hidden in the middle of the forest and peeking on the top of the hill, you ‘ll find the amazing Pena National Palace.
Built in the 19th century, where an old convent existed, this palace combines a variety of architectonic styles and was one of the favourite country retreats of the Portuguese royal family until the foundation of the Republic, in the 5th October 1910.
At that time, this palace was listed as a Portuguese monument and is today one of the most visited monuments in the country. It’s easy to understand the charm of this place and when you get there take the opportunity to enjoy the exterior decoration but also the beautiful interior where some places stand out:
- Noble Hall (Salão Nobre)
- Queen’s Terrace (Terraço da Rainha)
- Manueline Cloister (Claustro Manuelino)
- Stag Room (Sala dos Veados)
- Reception Room (Sala de Visitas)
In the afternoon and after your visit to the amazing Pena National Palace and Park, we suggest that you continue exploring Sintra, this time with a stop in another place of great beauty – the Chalet and Garden of the Countess of Edla.
Even though this isn’t a place as big as the one you’ve visited before, the Chalet and Garden of the Countess of Edla also deserves your attention when you visit Lisbon and surrounding area.
From here you can admire Pena National Palace from another perspective and you can also enjoy the natural beauty of this place; if you want, you can even enjoy a carriage ride and experience something different and unique.
To finish your day, drive to another wonderful and unique place in Portugal, the magnificent Monserrate Palace and Park.
Located 9 km away from the Chalet and Garden of the Countess of Edla, Monserrate Palace and Garden is a place where you must go. Here you’ll find one of the richest Portuguese botanical gardens with species from all over the world, arranged by regions.
Apart from admiring one of the most beautiful landscape creations from the Portuguese Romanticism, you’ll also have the opportunity to contemplate the amazing palace, where the main hall stands out with its octagonal dome.
This palace was built in the 19th century as well and was a meeting point for the British elite, a place for people like Francis Cook, Lord Byron, among others. Definitely a place to go when you visit Lisbon and surrounding area.
Information: The opening hours and the ticket prices can change depending on the time of the year so I suggest that you check the respective sites for more information.
Information 2: You can choose to purchase combined tickets in the monuments managed by Parques de Sintra company and, this way, benefit from a 5 % to 10 % discount.
Next, return to the hotel and enjoy your last night in Sintra, one of the most beautiful locations in Portugal.
Information: as an alternative to visiting Sintra all by yourself, book this 8-hour guided tour (affiliate link) to enjoy a complete tour that will show you some of the must-see wonders of this region.
Start with the beautiful palace Palácio de Queluz, visit the historic centre of Sintra with a unique cultural landscape, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Then go up to the old castle Castelo dos Mouros and the idyllic palace Palácio Nacional da Pena. Finally, go to Cape Roca, the westernmost point in Europe and end this activity with a tour in Cascais.
Day 5 – Cascais – Cristo Rei – Serra da Arrábida
After your visit to these amazing palaces and parks, it’s time to discover Sintra-Cascais Natural Park coastline.
Drive west to the coastline and make a stop at Azenhas do Mar. This coastal village has a charming and unique scenery that you can’t miss.
Next, drive south towards the beautiful Adraga Beach. Definitely a great place for you to take some amazing photographs.
Finally, it’s time for you to go to Portugal’s and Europe’s westernmost point: the beautiful Cape Roca.
Take some time to enjoy and contemplate the wonderful seascape, the beautiful lighthouse and the small landmark marking this as the westernmost point of mainland Europe.
Afterwards, prepare yourself for a ride along the Atlantic coast, from Sintra and through Cascais until you get to Algés – definitely, a ride you won’t forget.
Leave Cape Roca and drive along the roads N247 and N6. Throughout this itinerary you’ll be able to admire the Atlantic Ocean, several beaches, lighthouses, the Fort of São Julião da Barra and much more. Make sure you make a couple of stops to enjoy the beauty of Lisbon and its surroundings.
Once you get to Algés and before the Tower of Belém, take the A36, A5 and IP7 highways towards the south bank of Tagus river (see map below).
Enjoy the crossing over the Tagus river and admire the views of the 25th April Bridge and the majestic monument of Christ the King that welcomes, with open arms, all of those who want to visit Lisbon and surrounding area.
The first stop you should make in the south bank of Tagus river is precisely in the Christ the King National Sanctuary, where you’ll find a 75-metre portico and, on top, a 28-metre high statue.
Inaugurated in 1959, this sanctuary is the most visited place in Almada and you can understand why: if you take the elevator and go to the top of the portico, you’ll be able to admire some of the most beautiful monuments in Lisbon and, depending on weather conditions, you can even gaze at Sintra-Cascais and Arrábida Natural Parks.
In the afternoon, continue your itinerary through the A2 highway and drive to Palmela and its medieval castle.
In fact, Palmela’s castle has many stories to tell due to the numerous battles between the Moors and D. Afonso Henriques and D. Sancho I troops. Several battles were fought here and it was only in the beginning of the 13th century that these lands became definitively Portuguese.
Inside the ramparts of Palmela’s castle you’ll find a 4-star hotel located in the old convent of the Order of Santiago, the beautiful church of Santiago de Palmela, built in the 15th century and marked by its simplicity, and the ruins of the church of Santa Maria.
Apart from the historical perspective of your visit, take the time to freely stroll through the castle’s property and enjoy the amazing views this place offers: from here you’ll be able to admire the estuary of Sado river, the Arrábida Natural Park and much more.
After your visit to the castle of Palmela, head southwest and visit the beautiful town of Sesimbra and its surroundings.
You should start by going to the town’s castle, located 30 km away from Palmela. Inside the ramparts of this castle (free entry) you can admire the beautiful church of Santa Maria, the donjon and, of course, the amazing views over the town, the sea and Arrábida Natural Park.
Next, and to finish your day, drive towards Cape Espichel, located 12 km away from the castle of Sesimbra.
You should spend some time at this place to enjoy the memorable views over the cliffs and the Atlantic Ocean; you should also take the opportunity to visit the beautiful church of Nossa Senhora do Cabo and admire the lighthouse of Cape Espichel.
To spend the next two nights of this itinerary through Lisbon and surrounding area, I suggest that you choose one of these two wonderful 4-star hotels.
Sesimbra Hotel & Spa (affiliate link) offers great amenities to its guests, including an infinity pool and the restaurant Aquarius – if you want to try some traditional fish dishes, then this is the place to go.
Sana Sesimbra Hotel (affiliate link) is another excellent hotel located just a few metres from the wonderful beaches of Sesimbra. Enjoy and relax in one of the amazing rooms and admire the panoramic views this hotel offers.
Day 6 – Serra da Arrábida – Setúbal
After having a great breakfast, begin your sixth day of the travel guide to visit Lisbon and surrounding area by driving to the heart of the Arrábida Natural Park.
This day will be more relaxing and, because of that, we suggest you explore this region at your own pace – it’ll be worth your while!
If you have the opportunity, drive through the N379-1 road and discover one the best hidden secrets of this natural park: the Convent of Arrábida.
Hidden in the slopes of Serra da Arrábida, you’ll find this amazing and unique 25-hectare property that few people know but that you shouldn’t miss.
Built in the 16th century, this convent was a secluded place for many years like no other in Portugal, a place to meditate. On this property, you’ll find some points of interest like the Old Convent, the New Convent, the garden and the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus.
Information: For further information about this convent, please check the site http://www.foriente.pt
After lunch, you can choose one of these two options to spend the afternoon.
Depending on the time of the year, you can spend this afternoon in one of the wonderful beaches present at the Arrábida Natural Park.
One of the beaches you can consider is the amazing Galapinhos Beach, considered the best European beach in 2017. Enjoy the silence and quietness of this beach, go for a swim in the crystal clear water, relax and sunbathe with Serra da Arrábida in the background.
In addition, there are other attractive beaches that you can also consider: Figueirinha Beach, Portinho da Arrábida Beach, Galápos Beach among others that make this place an idyllic destination.
If you can’t enjoy these wonderful beaches because of weather conditions, then you can drive to the beautiful city of Setúbal, located next to Sado Estuary Natural Reserve.
Take the afternoon to get to know this city, stroll though the streets and visit some of its points of interest like the Convent of Jesus, the Church of Santa Maria da Graça and the Church of São Julião, located in the beautiful square Praça de Bocage.
Go back to Sesimbra and enjoy your last night before you return to Lisbon.
Information: choose this 8-hour tour! Cross the bridge and make your first stop at the beautiful town of Palmela where you can admire the castle, a presence in the landscape for several centuries. Make other stops in Serra da Arrábida like Portinho da Arrábida, some wineries where you can savour the magnificent wine from this region and take the opportunity to discover Sesimbra and its beautiful castle.
End this magnificent day with a visit to the marvellous sanctuary Santuário Nacional de Cristo Rei where you can admire the breathtaking views over the Tagus river and the Portuguese capital.
Day 7 – Lisbon
The last day for you to visit Lisbon and surrounding area is here and it’s time for you to drive back to the Portuguese capital.
Enjoy this 45-km trip to the airport and admire, for the last time before you fly back to your home country (affiliate link), the beauty of Arrábida Natural Park, the majestic statue of Christ the King, the beautiful Tagus river and, finally, some of Lisbon’s monuments.
It’s true that this travel guide to visit Lisbon and surrounding area didn’t show all of the amazing places this region has to offer. On the other hand, you’ll leave Portugal with the certainty that you’ve explored one of the most beautiful regions in one of the most beautiful countries in Europe and you’ll certainly want to return.
Are you going to visit Lisbon and surrounding area? Then don’t hesitate to book your hotel room, your car or the best activities by clicking the links below. This way you are helping me in the development of my blog and I’ll be able to offer you free tips and travel guides so that you can better prepare your visit to Portugal. Thank you!