Archives for May 2020

9 Best Day Trips From Lisbon, Portugal

When you say Lisbon, you’d most likely think cobblestone streets, postcard-pretty buildings, great restaurants, and lively bars. It’s a gorgeous city that’s a wonderful mix of the old and the new, laid back yet vibrant.

One could probably take days in exploring it, but if you have more time to spare – go on a day trip. Lisbon is surrounded by intriguing locales that range from quaint fishing villages, medieval towns, pilgrimage sites, and places that look straight out of a storybook.

With most of these places just an hour or so away, you’re bound to experience the best of Portugal.  Go plan your holiday with these must-try day trips from Lisbon.

9 Best Day Trips From Lisbon, Portugal

1. Arrábida Natural Park

Parque Natural da Arrabida

If you have a license, go rent a car and visit the gorgeous Arrábida Natural Park.

Hire a car if you must, you simply can’t miss the scenic drive on the way. It’s less than an hour away from Lisbon but it’s probably one of the best road trips ever.

The drive takes you through winding coastal roads until you reach the headland with a lighthouse in it.

At the park itself, you get to enjoy views of the magnificent Serra da Arrábida, which rises 500 meters over the Setúbal bay.

This is where you’ll find the Parque Natural da Arrábida, a verdant paradise comprised of woodland, and home to diverse flora and fauna. There are hiking trails within the area that lets you explore and see more of Arrábida.

If you’re looking for a scenic excursion out of the capital, this is the perfect Lisbon day trip for you.

2. Batalha

Batalha

Located in Batalha town in Portugal’s Centro Region, the Batalha Monastery is a Lisbon day tour that’s a must in your itinerary.

This was built in honor of João I’s 1385 victory over Castile at Aljubarrota and took a century to complete. The monastery’s official name is Santa Maria da Vitória and known as a prime example of Portuguese Gothic architecture with ornate Manueline details.

As you enter the monastery, check out the intricate late Gothic design in its high portal. The cloisters are quite magnificent as well, with its delicate Manueline arches.

Other places in the monastery that deserves a visit are the Capelas Imperfeitas (Unfinished Chapels), and the Capela do Fundador (Founder’s Chapel).

The Founder’s chapel houses the final resting place of João I and his wife, Philippa of Lancaster, as well as the tomb of Prince Henry the Navigator.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Batalha is just an hour and 31 minutes by bus or car from Lisbon.

3. Cabo da Roca

Cabo da Roca

A visit to the scenic Cabo da Roca only takes an hour or so by train and bus. This beautiful day trip from Lisbon takes you to a rocky headland west of the capital.

With splendid views of the Atlantic, this is an ideal break from all the cobblestone streets, churches, and palaces that you see in other towns and cities.

Apart from the stunning coastline, Cabo da Roca is a haven for bird watchers. The wild cliffs that dominate the area provide a dramatic background for photos. There are also lighthouses perched among rocks and vegetation that’s a stark contrast to the crashing waves.

A lovely place for long walks or simply lounging by the shore to take in the relaxing views, Cabo da Roca is a must in your itinerary.

4. Cascais

Cascais

Before it became one of the top Lisbon day trip destinations, Cascais was a quaint coastal village. Easily accessible by rail where you’ll enjoy a scenic journey, this is a must-visit if you’re in Lisbon.

The charming village used to be the summer retreat for King Luís I and retains that regal atmosphere despite the tourist influx.

The old town is a must-see, as well as attractions like the Museu do Mar-Rei D. Carlos, the Parque do Marechal Carmona and Marina de Cascais. For sprawling views of the coast, head towards the romantic Santa Marta Lighthouse.

‪5. ‪Évora‬

Evora

Évora is home to various monuments that were witnesses to its long history.

Capital of the Alentejo region, the town is where you’ll find the unmissable Roman temple from the first century, the medieval cathedral Sé de Évora, and the 16th century Agua de Prata Aqueduct.

If you’re into the macabre, check out the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of the Bones) found in the Church of St Francis.

Here you’ll find lots of human bones and skulls which were exhumed from overcrowded old cemeteries. Évora also has an impressive museum that’s home to a massive art collection comprised of archaeological artifacts,  paintings, sculptures, and many others.

If you’re after a town that has diverse options to offer in terms of attractions, Évora is a must-visit.

6. Fatima day trip from Lisbon

Santuário de Fátima

Fatima is regarded as among the most important Christian pilgrimage sites in the world. It all started after three shepherds claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary in 1917.

Whether you’re religious or not, the sights around Fatima are worth the trip.

See the many chapels and churches, as well as monuments and the Basilica that welcomes thousands of pilgrims every year.

Two of the most important sites for pilgrims are the Chapel of Apparitions and Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Fatima is among the most intriguing day trips from Lisbon, easily reached by bus or car in around an hour and a half.

7. Nazaré

Nazare

Nazaré is a fishing village that’s also a popular destination among surfing enthusiasts around the world.

Located by the Atlantic coast, this community is pretty much a mini-Portugal — with its picturesque traditional houses, narrow old streets, traditional restaurants, great food, and views of the ocean.

If you’re visiting Nazaré as a day trip from Lisbon, don’t forget to enjoy a meal or two here. They’re big on seafood or fish so try dishes like caldeirada de peixe (fish stew and grilled sea bass or sardines.

Do not leave Nazaré without visiting the crescent-shaped Praia da Nazaré Beach which can be reached by funicular.

To get from Lisbon to Nazaré, travel time is around two hours but it’s worth it as it one of the best day trips from Lisbon.

8. Óbidos day tour from Lisbon

Óbidos

A lovely place to walk around is where you’ll feel like you time-traveled to a bygone era, Óbidos makes for a memorable Lisbon day trip.  Easily accessed by an hour-long bus ride, this medieval town dates back to 700 years ago.

Walk around town and you’ll realize that everything is old yet stunning, as if not much has changed for several centuries.

The old castle walls still surround the entire town, and you can climb it to enjoy sweeping views of the countryside.

Apart from the old-world atmosphere, Óbidos is also known as a haven for booklovers. A popular place to visit here is the Literary Man Hotel, which is the largest literary hotel in the world.  Literary Man opened in 2015 and home to 36,000 books.

Around town, there are more than 13 bookshops, set in the most interesting places.

You’ll find a church, a convent, an old market, and even a wine cellar converted into a bookshop. With this town’s love for books, it was listed as a UNESCO city of literature.

A day in Óbidos is bound to be busy so wear comfortable shoes and make sure you have enough cellphone or camera battery.

9. Sintra

Palacio da Pena sintra

Only an hour away by train, Sintra is undoubtedly one of the most popular day trips from Lisbon. The city is filled with noteworthy attractions that if you want to see them all, you have to set out early.

Sintra is just one of those cities that feels like you’ve just been transported into another era or a fairy tale.

Along with pine-covered hills and lush green spaces, you’ll see majestic palaces. One of these is the 14th-century Palácio Nacional, which is known as the summer house of the Portuguese royalty.

There’s also the elegant Palácio da Pena, which was constructed around a former monastery, and the unmissable Palácio de Monserrate, which has an impressive botanical garden.

Not to be missed are the ruins of the Castelo dos Mouros (The Moors Castle) at the top of the Sintra mountains.

Speaking of gardens, another must-visit is the intriguing Quinta da Regaleira garden. Wander through this unique green space surrounded by fountains and fascinating symbols.

Don’t leave Sintra without visiting the luxurious Rococo Palace of Queluz, which will definitely remind you of Versailles in France.

8 Best Day Trips From Basel, Switzerland

Basel is a charming city in northern Switzerland, known for its thriving art scene, traditional Swiss architecture, and a variety of museums.

It is also a haven for foodies, with numerous cafes, eateries, and restaurants offering their distinct local and regional cuisine.

Basel is a fascinating city to explore and one can probably spend days doing so, but it’s also an ideal starting point for fabulous day trips.

See more of central Switzerland, as well as parts of France and Germany.

Make the most of your vacation with these best day trips from Basel, Switzerland.

8 Best Day Trips From Basel, Switzerland

Chur day trips from basel

1. Bern day tour from Basel

bern switzerland

Bern is the capital city of Switzerland and often regarded as one of the most beautiful places to visit in the country.

There is plenty of things to do and see here, and a must-visit if you’re looking for a memorable day trip from Basel.

This city dates back to the 12th century and known for the well-preserved architecture of the picturesque Altstadt or Old Town. Bern also takes pride in its world-famous rose garden and the stunning  Bern Münster with its towering spire.

Meanwhile, the Bern Historical Museum is a must-visit for those who want to know more about the city’s long history and unique culture. 

2. Chur / Glacier Express

Glacier Express

Experience a one of a kind day tour from Basel as you cruise through spectacular scenery via the Glacier Express.

Prep yourself for the journey by strolling through the scenic town of Chur, then embark on the world-famous Glacier Express.

This train ride takes you through mountain gorges, lush valleys, and quaint villages. 

Enjoy more breathtaking views as the train winds through what’s known as Switzerland’s ‘Grand Canyon’ through scenic drops and soaring peaks that take you 6,669 feet (2,033 meters) high at the Oberalp Pass. 

3. Colmar

Colmar France

Just an hour from Basel and across the border to France is the postcard-pretty Colmar.

Often called one of the prettiest places in France, it is known for the colorful half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, and winding canals.

A visit here makes for a fun day trip from Basel, as Colmar has a lot to offer. If you are coming from Paris, this is also one of the best day trips from the city

Don’t miss the chance to see the ‘Little Venice’ area, the ‘Tanner’s District’, and the Launch River canal. Take canal cruises, walk-on pretty bridges, or explore the colorful old town on foot.

Other must-see places in Colmar are 13th-century churches of Eglise Saint Martin and Eglise Saint Matthieu, the Market Hall, and the  Palais de Justice (Law Courts).

4. Freiburg, Germany

freiburg

Freiburg, situated at the foot of the stunning Black Forest, is the sunniest part of Germany.

This picture-perfect town practically glistens, and one of the best Basel day trips if you want to be in another country even for a day.

As you approach, the majestic spires of the 13th century Freiburg Minster welcomes you.

As you stroll through town, you’ll come across picturesque old quarters that look even more vibrant bathed in Freiburg’s seemingly endless sunshine.

Walk along the canals and stop every now and then to admire the architecture.

While here, enjoy a pint of some German beer in one of the breweries lining the pretty streets along with cafes and shops. 

5. Jungfraujoch – Top of Europe

Jungfraujoch

Treat yourself to this winter destination any time of the year, as you enjoy a unique Basel day tour to Jungfraujoch.

At 3,454 meters above sea level, this is the highest train station in the continent and that’s why it is called the Top of Europe.

The surrounding views on the way to this glacial pass between the Jungfrau mountain and the Mönch mountain are quite breathtaking, more so when you reach the top.

At the Jungfraujoch, you get to experience winter even at the peak of summer as you walk inside a glacier, see the Sphinx terrace, various exhibitions and even visit an ice palace.

With the icy wind on your face, snow under your feet plus spectacular views anywhere you look, a tour of the Jungfraujoch is not to be missed. 

6. Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne

Another magical Basel day trip awaits when you visit Lucerne, which is just an hour away by train.

This pretty city by the lake is known for its colorful and intricate architecture that looks straight out of fairy tales. 

Lucerne is situated under snow-capped Mount Pilatus and a great place to visit any time of the year.

Enjoy various water activities during summer, while winter offers one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

Another must experience in Lucerne is the delicious and hearty Swiss food served in the many eateries spread across the city.

Some of the must-try food include Chapellbridge-Röschti or Swiss hash browns, raclette, Zopf, or plaited loaf and älplermaggronen, the Swiss version of mac ‘n cheese. 

7. Zurich

Zürich

The city of Zurich may be known as an upmarket destination, but it is more than just a global hub for banking and finance.

One of the easiest day trips from Basel, it is located by the northern end of Lake Zurich and is definitely not all high rise buildings and upscale shopping districts.

Walk along the pretty streets of the  Altstadt (Old Town), and you’ll come across structures that showcase its long history.

Zurich is also a city that deeply values the arts, so it’s a must to visit the Kunsthaus Zürich Museum of Fine Arts, the Rietberg Museum, or Chagall’s stained glass windows of Fraumünster Church.

Meanwhile, art and history merge on the other side of the Bahnhofstrasse, formerly known as Fröschengraben. This part leads towards the lake and is lined with beautiful turn of the century buildings.

8. Zermatt and Matterhorn

Matterhorn

The Zermatt and Matterhorn area offers a unique day tour from Basel. The train ride is under three hours, so it’s best to set out early to make the most of your visit.

Located in southern Switzerland’s Valais canton, 

Zermatt is known as a year-round destination for those into climbing, hiking, and skiing. It is also situated at the foot of the iconic, Matterhorn peak.

There is an alpine village in Zermatt that is a must-see because you’ll get to learn more about the area including the history of climbing the Matterhorn.

From here, there’s a cogwheel train  to Mount Gornergrat, which is regarded as the go-to place if you want to enjoy spectacular views of Matterhorn. 

 

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