Portugal Trip Part II

Day Trips from Lisbon

I really love Portugal as a destination for families because it is one of those places that you can see a wide variety of things but only unpack two or three times. Lisbon is such a vivid city, and also offers so many day trip options.
Sintra is a 35-40 minute drive from the center of Lisbon, and if you make the trip, you are rewarded with a visit to a fairy tale destination called Pena Palace. It stands on the top of a hill in the Sintra Mountains above the town of Sintra, and on a clear day it can be easily seen from Lisbon. The drive up to the palace is almost as impressive as the palace itself – the windy road snakes its way through foilage on either side which occasionally allows a peek through the greenery to see how high you have climbed! The palace was originally a monastery that had been long abandoned when Prince Fernando II purchased in 1838. He hired a German architect to design the palace which why it resembles the castles in Bavaria.

We also visited the town of Óbidos which is also located on a hilltop. Óbidos remains a well-preserved example of medieval architecture; its streets, squares, walls and its castle are encircled by a fortified wall. Our time in Óbidos was short, but extremely memorable as we enjoyed one of our best meals here, sipped the local cherry liqueur in an edible chocolate shot glass, danced in the streets as music suddenly blared from the town’s speakers, and witnessed a clown parade (turns out it had something to do with the last day of school before Carnival but we did not find that out until later!!!)  

But the highlight of our time in Óbidos has to be finding the perfect souvenir! Painted tiles that look just like our dog, TimTam!

Another great place to visit outside of Lisbon is Nazare, home of the world’s largest waves. Wave season is from November to February, but sadly there were no monster waves during our visit. This is how big they get!

While we did not see the monster waves, we did see the surfers needing to take the jet skis to get out to the waves so it was still impressive. There is another part of Nazare which is far calmer which can be seen in these photos.

The last day trip out of Lisbon that I want to mention is Evora and the Alentejo region which is filled with farmland, cork oaks and olive trees. There are also some pretty darn good wineries in this region too – even though the Duoro Valley gets more attention for wines in Portugal. I’ve got a thing for cork trees, I think they are the coolest. A completely renewable resource that can be regenerated every ten years once the first couple of low quality cork yields which are used for floors, bulletin boards, shoes, purses, and more! They save the good cork for the important stuff (wine).

The Algarve Coast

Another reason Portugal is perfect for families is that within 2-3 hours, you can also enjoy a beach vacation after soaking in the culture of Lisbon and the surrounding areas. We always try to plan some downtime at the end of each trip. We chose a very family friendly resort and you can see the boys were jumping for joy at all the kid-friendly activities. My crazy boys even decided to swim in the ocean even though the high was only in the low 60s with lots of cloud cover! Luckily, the pools were heated though!

It is not a large town, so it is often added to an itinerary as a day trip from Prague which is how I saw it the first time about 15 years ago.  It is also a short trip from Linz, Austria which is where our river cruise was docked for the day.
As I mentioned, we started our day on a walking tour.  Our guide was so entertaining.  He was the first official tour guide ever for the town.  He saw the potential long before all the tourists arrived in this storybook setting.  The most stunning aspect of the town is the castle built on two hills.  I do not think it was any accident that our departure point of our tour was at the dramatic point where the castle is built between the two hills.  It reminded me of a Roman aqueduct  Here is a quick video of our trip including arrival or check out the below photos.

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Here’s a rundown of our family trip to Lisbon! See Portugal Trip Part l here!

Loire Valley is a great place to travel with kids. See our trip rundown here!