While you may have started your journey eager to explore Lisbon, you’ve probably already realized that so many different adventures can be found just beyond the city’s borders. Adventures that are perfect for the solo traveler, couple, and even ones that include all the family. So, what are some outdoorsy things to do near Lisbon? This guide is all about Lisbon outdoor activities, catering to adrenaline junkies all the way to people who just want to get outside and explore. Ready? Let’s dive in and get outdoors!
The 15 Best Outdoor Activities in Lisbon
But before we dive into the best outdoor activities in Lisbon, it’s important to note that Lisbon is a year-round destination, and you’ll be able to do most of these activities regardless of the season. So whether you’re visiting Portugal in July or December, you’ll probably be able to experience most of these outdoor activities in Lisbon. This will make your trip planning easy!
1. Ride The Waves of Europe’s Only World Surfing Reserve
Have you heard of a town called Ericiera? Located around 50 km (about 31 miles) west of Lisbon, this small, charming fishing town is known for having some of Europe’s best surf spots.
So, whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced surfer, Ericeira has the perfect beach. For beginners, head to Foz do Lizandro or Praia do Sul. Intermediate surfers can make their way to Matadouro or Ribeira d’Ilhas, while advanced surfers can head to the legendary beach of Coxos.
Not a surfer? Don’t worry. There are plenty of other things to do in Ericeira. You can rent a scooter, go stand-up paddleboarding, join a beach volleyball game, or go sunset mountain biking. After you are done, there are plenty of restaurants and bars where you can savor fresh seafood, sip on local wines, and immerse yourself in the vibrant nightlife of this coastal gem.
2. Explore Cascais-Sintra National Park
One of the biggest national parks near Lisbon Portugal, the Cascais-Sintra National Park, covers an area of around 145 square kilometers (54 square miles) with a variety of landscapes from the forests of Sintra to the beautiful yet rugged coastline that leads to Cascais.
Many people who visit Lisbon will probably travel straight to Sintra, visiting its famous castles like Pena Palace (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Moorish Castle. Both are bucket list locations and perfect getting photos of your trip to Portugal. But if you are looking for something a little outdoorsy, there are plenty of outdoor activities that you can pair with your Sintra trip.
You can take a 4X4 Jeep Private Tour to explore the Atlantic coastline and stop at iconic spots like Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of mainland Europe. If you want to explore by foot, you can opt for one of the many guided tours that will take you hiking through some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the park. Hiking etiquette is similar in most countries. Another option? Why not try mountain biking?
3. Stand-Up Paddleboard in Cascais
Right next to Sintra is Cascais, known for its beaches, historic old town, and marina. The best part is that Cascais is easily connected to Lisbon as a direct train goes from Portugal’s capital straight to this town.
Cascais was originally a humble fishing village but was later transformed when it became the spot for the Portuguese royal family in the 19th century.
The town is home to many beaches, including Praia da Conceição and Praia da Duquesa, two beaches perfect for water sports, given their calm and clear waters, particularly during summer. Translation? They are perfect for anyone who loves stand-up paddleboarding. Our recommendation? One of the best ways to explore Cascais is to pair SUPing with a private boat tour.
If you are looking to surf, look no further than Carcavelos Beach, one of the best beaches near Lisbon. It is located smack dab in the middle of Cascais and Lisbon.
4. Visit The Arrabida Natural Park
Located on the Setúbal Peninsula south of the city of Lisbon – around 40 km (25 mi) – the Arrábida Natural Park (Parque Natural da Arrábida in Portuguese) is known for its stunning landscape of limestone cliffs, pristine beaches, and lush Mediterranean vegetation.
The Arrábida Natural Park has plenty of activities and sights to see, depending on your interests. For adrenaline junkies, opt for an epic coasteering adventure. You’ll go sea cliff climbing, jump in the water, zip line, and hike through the park.
If you want something less intense, you can also go kayaking, snorkeling or stand-up paddleboarding. There are also plenty of beaches to explore at Parque Natural da Arrábida. One of the most beautiful spots is Portinho. Here, you can rent a stand-up paddle board or go on a tour to explore the Lisbon coast.
Other beaches include Praia da Figueirinha, Praia dos Galapinhos, Praia dos Galápos, and Praia dos Coelhos, all of which are renowned for their clear turquoise waters and are perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
Perfect for nature lovers, the Parque Natural da Arrábida is also home to the Arrábida Convent, a historical monument in the hills with panoramic views of the beautiful coastline. If you want to visit the Convent, you must schedule a visit on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
5. Horseback Ride in Comporta
Comporta used to be known as Portugal’s best-kept secret, but nowadays, the cat is definitely out of the bag. Located just 120 km (75 mi) south of Lisbon, it is famous for its boho charm, gorgeous sandy beaches, dunes, and rice paddies. It is also a favorite destination among celebrities. The French fashion designer Christian Louboutin owns property here and even opened up a hotel just 20 minutes away in Melindes.
One of the best outdoor activities to do in Comporta is to go horseback riding on the beach. Imagine galloping down a white sand beach next to turquoise-blue waters, only you and your small group in the middle of nature – incredible, right?
6. Surf in Costa da Caparica
Another Lisbon outdoor activity that doesn’t take you too far from downtown Lisbon is surfing at one of the many Costa da Caparica beaches. Located right over the Ponte 25 de April (25th April Bridge), this small coastal town is one of Lisbon’s hidden gems.
Costa is known for its waves, beach bars, and surf culture that permeates every corner of the town, an energy so palpable you can feel it in your bones. Surfing isn’t what you do here; it is who you are. Various surf tours will take you from Lisbon Portugal, to Costa, and there are waves that suit every type of surfer.
If you aren’t afraid of the cold, you can technically surf in Costa year-round, but we recommend heading to a shop first to rent out a thick wetsuit, especially if you are surfing during the winter.
7. Go on a Lisbon Boat Tour on the Tagus River
One of the best Lisbon outdoor activities is something that you can find just at the Portuguese capital city’s border: a boat tour on the Tagus River.
The Tagus River, also known by its Portuguese name Tejo, is the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula. It starts in Spain and then crosses Portugal and empties into the Atlantic Ocean beside Lisbon Portugal.
Lisbon boat tours are the perfect choice to see some of the city’s most iconic sights from a different perspective and at a more leisurely pace. So, what are you in the mood for? There are party-boat tours, romantic and scenic tours around the city, and sunset tours with champagne and music. Some tours will even allow you to jump into the waters to enjoy a refreshing dip in the cold Atlantic Ocean waters.
8. Free Dive or Scuba Dive in Sesimbra
Another picturesque small fishing village, Sesimbra, has become a popular destination for diving and water sports enthusiasts due to its clear waters and diverse marine life.
Located approximately 40 km (about 25 mi) south of Lisbon, Sesimbra is one of the best day trips from Lisbon, and one of the fun things to do is go scuba diving or free diving. These activities are often done in small groups. You’ll be taken across Portugal’s coastline and enjoy close encounters with diverse sea creatures.
Many schools offer dive discovery experiences or even an open water diving certification course if you don’t have a scuba diving certification. The same goes for free diving.
9. Spot Dolphins
If you want to get up close and personal with a pod of dolphins, you’re in luck, as plenty of spots in and around Lisbon allow you to see these majestic animals in the wild.
There are a couple of places that are perfect for dolphin watching. The first is the Sado River Estuary near the Troia Peninsula. This is one of the only places in Europe with a resident population of bottlenose dolphins. Some of the best tours for dolphin watching are in this estuary, as you’re almost guaranteed to see a dolphin.
Other spots include Sesimbra, Cascais/Estoril Lisbon coast, and the Lisbon marina. Some tour companies will pick you up at a dock near downtown Lisbon and take you out to the wider estuary in the Atlantic in search of dolphins.
10. Rock Climb
For adventurous travelers, why not go on a climbing adventure? One of the best outdoor activities to do around Lisbon is rock climbing.
Many tours can take you to some of the best rock-climbing spots near the city. Some popular sites include Cascais, Sintra-Cascais National Park, Arrabida Natural Park, Guia, Peniche, and Fenda. Some companies, like this private tour, will customize your climbing experience, while others focus on a specific place, like Cabo da Roca.
If you want to rock climb in the city, you can also get an introduction to climbing on Lisbon’s iconic April 25 bridge.
11. Visit A Winery and Eat Cheese in Azeitão
Azeitão is part of the Setúbal wine-producing region and is known for its robust and aromatic wines, the most popular of which is the Muscat of Setúbal or Moscatel de Setúbal. Along with wine, this town is also famous for its creamy and soft sheep cheese. Together, they make the perfect pairing.
Although you can visit Azeitão by yourself, a lot of Lisbon tours, like this one, will offer a full-day tour that will include a visit to Azeitao along with stops at other sites like a beach or two in Arrábida and a stop off in Sesimbra. If you want the perfect Lisbon food and wine experience, visiting Azeitão is perfect.
12. Paraglide in the Portuguese Sky
If you are itching to explore the region’s hilly and coastal landscapes from a bird’s eye view, there is no better way to do that than paragliding.
If you are a beginner or would like to do a tandem flight, various paragliding schools and tour operators in and around the city can offer you lessons and guided flights. Most flights will take you to popular spots like Fonte da Telha, Sesimbra, Arrábida, and Setúbal.
13. Alpaca Meet and Feed
One of the more unusual things to do in and around the city of Lisbon is this tour, visiting and feeding Alpacas in the town of Grândola, located around 110 km (about 68 mi) south of Lisbon.
One of the best tours if feeding Alpacas is on your bucket list, you’ll travel to a family farm where you can hand-fee alpacas while learning all about them and taking in all the stunning nature around you.
14. Hike To Find Dinosaur Footprints
Yes, dinosaurs might be extinct, but their footprints can still be found in Cape Espichel, often referred to as Cabo Espichel in Portuguese. These footprints date back to the Jurassic period, which means they are over 150 million years old.
On one of the more exciting day trips from the city of Lisbon, you can take a hiking tour to find these dinosaur trackways on Cabo Espichel, which are found on vertical cliffs. But the footprints are not the only thing to see. Cape Espichel is also known for its breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.
15. Explore By Bike
Explore Lisbon Portugal, and the surrounding area on two wheels on a biking adventure. Whether biking around Lisbon, taking a bike tour, taking the bike to Sintra, heading to Costa, or just seeing where the road takes you, exploring the area on a bike is the perfect adventure. And if you are not keen on biking, there are also e-bike tours (like this one) – this way, you get the same two-wheel experience without all that hard work.
Remember that Lisbon is known as the city of the seven hills, so it’s best to go biking on more flat land, like the coastal road between Lisbon and Cascais or Lisbon and Sintra. If you are feeling too tired to bike back, you can always board the Cascais-Lisbon or Sintra-Lisbon train with your bike.
16. Eat Local Food
Yes, you can go on a Lisbon food tour, but there are plenty of opportunities to taste some of the finest foods Portugal offers in and around Lisbon, Portugal. In Setubal, for example, you can try the local specialty choco frito of fried cuttlefish. Or, if you’d like, you can head out to an oyster farm and taste some fresh oyster shucked right in front of you.
In Sintra, you need to try travesseiros or queijadas de Sintra, both of which are desserts. And above all else, if you find yourself in a fishing town like Ericeira or Sesimbra, make sure to order some of the fresh catch of the day.
And the best way to enjoy all of these Portuguese delicacies? On the patio so that you can enjoy the beautiful weather while eating your meal.
Lisbon Outdoor Activities: Frequently Asked Questions
When considering the towns outside Lisbon, it’s important to note the direction. Some nearby towns you should visit include Ericeira to the northwest, Sintra to the west, Cascais to the southwest, and Costa da Caparica to the south.
There are so many outdoor activities to do on a bright sunny day in Lisbon. While there are many options available, water sports are highly recommended as they offer a refreshing and invigorating respite on a hot day.
If you have two days in Lisbon, a balanced approach is key. Begin with a day dedicated to exploring Lisbon’s historic sites, neighborhoods, and landmarks. For your second day, opt for outdoor activities, such as visiting the scenic towns of Sintra and Cascais.
There are several touristy areas in Lisbon. Among the most popular are Belem, known for its historical monuments; Chiado, a lively shopping and cultural area; and Bairro Alto, renowned for its crazy nightlife.
So Many Outdoor Activities to do in Lisbon!
Lisbon, with its enchanting blend of urban charm and natural beauty, offers many outdoor acitvities that cater to every traveler’s whim. Whether you’re surfing along the coasts of Ericeira, exploring the enchanting palaces of Sintra, or merely soaking in the sun on the beach, there are plenty of outdoor activities that truly define the spirit of this city.
So, whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a nature lover, or someone seeking serene moments, Lisbon Portugal promises an unforgettable experience under the open sky. Pack your adventurous spirit and let these outdoor activities in Lisbon whisk you away.
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Yvonne Ivanescu is the founder of Now in Portugal. She is a Canadian writer, content creator, and marketer with over 10 years of experience.