The pretty Portuguese capital is a joy to stroll around, but some of the country’s top sights are within a daytrip’s reach. So steal yourself away from the hills and the tiles and try out one of these places.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site at Sintra is nothing short of extraordinary. Byron called it “the most beautiful village in the world” and he isn’t far off – the tiny town, stuffed full on 19th century Romantic architecture, is pretty enough, but the place you really must get to is the multi-colored, fairytale-like Pena Palace, built as a home for the Portuguese Royal Family in the 19th century. It’s like Disneyland, but real.
The old port area of Lisbon is one of the most important parts of the city. See the 16th century creamy Tower of Belem (it used to be a fortress) the incredible wedding cake of a building that is the Hieronymite Monastery, and then reward yourself with a taste of the Pasteis de Belem – the Portuguese little custard tarts originated here.
The seaside town 30km west of Lisbon has come far since its days as a little fishing village – it’s now Portugal’s answer to St Tropez. There’s a harbor for the private yachts, beautiful beaches and plenty of sports on offer, from golf to racing cars.
Right next to Cascais, Estoril is just as glitzy. It has a casino, for a start (it’s actually one of the biggest in Europe), and it’s known for sport – F1 used to be held here and the Estoril Open tennis tournament still takes place every April. Next to the casino, the Hotel Palacio might seem familiar – you may have seen it in the Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The westernmost point of the European continent (Ireland is technically a little further west), Cabo Da Roca is stunning – waves from the Atlantic Ocean crashing against the huge cliffs. As well as the natural beauty you’ll find a lighthouse on top of the cliff, as well as a shop selling certificates vouching that you’ve stood at the limit of Europe.