The best road trips near Lisbon highlight the Portuguese region’s diverse landscape. You'll be surprised at the sheer number of amazing sights lurking a short drive from the city. The area around the city has a long and storied history, producing battlefields, temples, monasteries, and lavish palaces to admire.

    Lisbon is only a short drive from miles of sandy coastline, with beaches perfect for lounging and plenty of thrilling activities within reach. The surrounding countryside is the habitat of some extraordinary wildlife, as well as some of the country's best vineyards. Get behind the wheel and prepare for excitement with our guide to the best road trips near Lisbon.

    1

    Sintra

    Pretty mansions and delightful formal gardens

    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo

    Sintra is a delightful town of pastel-coloured buildings with tons of historic charm. Many are drawn to its beautiful historic buildings and charming gardens, surrounded by verdant mountains. the town is located to the northwest of Lisbon, around 40 minutes by car.

    Sintra's outstanding attractions include an 11th-century Moorish fort, a 19th-century palace, and the ruins of a castle looming from the clifftop. Museums and art galleries are varied, displaying everything from dinosaur eggs to war photography. For expansive views of the town, you can follow a hiking trail up onto the hills.

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    2

    Sintra-Cascais Natural Park

    Mainland Europe's westernmost point

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    The Sintra-Cascais Natural Park combines picture-postcard beaches and sea cliffs with lush mountains and rare plants. Its unspoiled nature and historic sights make it a popular refuge from the bustle of Lisbon. The drive should take you no more than 40 minutes.

    Among the park's many historic buildings, you can't miss the Convento dos Capuchos, a former monastery featured in Lord Byron's poems. For much older history, try some fossil-hunting on the beaches of Magoito and Oitavos, or just take a refreshing stroll along the sand. Climb the nearby peaks and you may well spot Bonelli's eagle or Peregrine falcons, as well as foxes, badgers, and wild rabbits.

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    3

    Parque Natural da Arrábida

    A nature haven with incomparable views of the Atlantic

    • History
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    Parque Natural da Arrábida is a sensational natural park that covers a big chunk of the coast south of Lisbon. Get here via the Ponte 25 de Abril, a dizzying bridge over the Tagus, then past the remarkable statue Sanctuary of Christ the King. The journey should take you around 45 minutes by car.

    The clear seas are bordered by beaches of fine white sand overlooked by chalky cliffs, with sheltered bays for a leisurely swim. Above the cliffs sits a 16th-century convent and the fort of Santa Maria da Arrábida, which is now the Oceanographic Museum. You can go diving in the ocean or explore the nearby caves, home to huge colonies of bats.

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    4

    Mafra

    See one of Europe's biggest palaces

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    Mafra is only a 50-minute drive from Lisbon, but it couldn't feel further from the city's urban sprawl. The journey takes you through a patchwork of rich farmland and pretty villages, before sweeping you into the charming, historic town with some glorious period architecture.

    The Palácio Nacional de Mafra is the town's most magnificent monument, a grand palace boasting an enviable library of rare first editions. At the former royal hunting park, Tapada Nacional de Mafra, there are archery activities, plus populations of deer and wild boar. The surrounding countryside is filled with vineyards, so it's worth a stop at a winery on your way back.

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    5

    Tagus Estuary Nature Reserve

    The biggest wetland in Portugal

    • Families
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    The Tagus Estuary Nature Reserve was once an important source of salt, but these days it's the protected habitat of dozens of species of birds. It will take you around 1 hour and 10 minutes to reach the centre of the park from Lisbon. The drive takes you past rolling fields and scenic marshlands.

    The nature reserve's most arresting sight is the vast flocks of pink flamingos which arrive every autumn. They're not the only exciting wildlife, as you can also see eagles, egrets, black cowbirds, and avocets. Visit the seaside watermills, some of which have been turned into museums, or take a trip on one of the old narrowboats that used to transport goods across the river.

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    6

    Óbidos

    A magnificently preserved medieval settlement

    • History
    • Photo

    Óbidos is a walled medieval town filled with whitewashed houses and meandering cobbled streets. The town and its castle perch on top of a hill overlooking rolling green fields. The most direct route by car is north up the A8, and the journey will take around 1 hour and 10 minutes.

    Take in the views on a loop of the ancient walls, or stroll along the town's 16th-century aqueduct, which stretches for 3 km. The church of Igreja de Santa Maria has a breathtaking interior of glazed tiles, while the Municipal Museum displays several centuries of Portuguese paintings. Óbidos is a lively town with frequent festivals, from medieval markets and outdoor concerts to the International Chocolate Festival.

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    7

    Serra de Montejunto National Reserve

    Escape to a place of wild natural beauty

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    The Serra de Montejunto National Reserve is a high mountain range north of Lisbon, with views for miles across the region. The high peaks and open spaces make it a beloved spot for rock climbing, caving, and hang gliding. It will take you around 1 hour 15 minutes to reach this adrenaline-fuelled adventure spot from Lisbon.

    The reserve is mainly limestone, which means it's overflowing with caves and caverns, which are home to huge colonies of Schreibers's bats. Hunt for fossils along the cliffs, or visit the remains of the Royal Ice Factory, which supplied ice to Lisbon in the 18th century. The area is a prime wine-growing region, so you'll find plenty of bottles on sale at local vineyards.

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    photo by Vitor Oliveira (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    8

    Batalha

    Site of a momentous battle in Portuguese history

    • History
    • Photo

    Batalha is a quiet town best known for its immense Dominican monastery, which was built to commemorate a great 14th-century military victory. The name of the town means 'battle'. It will take you around 1 hour and 40 minutes to get here, driving through a geologically interesting stretch of Portuguese countryside full of caves and waterfalls.

    Batalha Monastery is a splendid, ornately decorated Gothic edifice, and the final resting place of King João I. The town also has several arts and crafts boutiques and a small museum of local history. South of Batalha, the original battlefield has handy displays explaining the history and documentaries shown in a small museum.

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    9

    Peniche

    A historic coastal town with first-rate beaches

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    Peniche is an attractive seaside town occupying an isolated headland jutting out into the Atlantic. The sheltered town beach is great for families, while the west-coast waves draw surfers from around the world. It's one of the most popular beach getaways from Lisbon, easily reached from the city in around 1 hour and 20 minutes.

    History enthusiasts will enjoy Peniche Fortress, where political prisoners were held in the 1930s, and which is now a museum. Alternatively, stretch your legs with a walk around the spectacular limestone cliffs and visit the lighthouse at the end of the peninsula. Handmade lace is a famous craft of Peniche, which you can see being woven at the Museu da Renda de Bilros.

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    10

    Évora

    Remarkable architecture and a storied history

    • History
    • Photo
    • Unusual

    Évora has been an important centre of the Alentejo region since Roman times, so there's plenty of history to explore here. It's a bit of a trek from Lisbon, but the 1.5-hour-long drive through the region's sweeping plains and groves of olive trees is as much of an attraction as the town itself.

    Inside the town's well-preserved medieval walls, you'll find Roman temples and baths, 16th-century churches, and a royal palace. The catacombs at Capela dos Ossos, lined with bones from nearby graveyards, are fascinating but somewhat macabre. You'll find simply ambling around the streets equally rewarding, shopping for handmade local crafts, or enjoying a drink at a pavement cafe.

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    Victoria Hughes | Contributing Writer

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