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3 Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations One Hour from Lisbon

by Ron Bernthal

May 20, 2022

© Jose Manuel

Daily

Lisbon’s popularity has soared in recent years, but within an hour’s drive of Portugal’s capital city, lots of quiet towns and interesting regions that are still somewhat off-the-beaten path await.

 

 

Portugal

© Ron Bernthal

 

Santarém is a city within the fertile wetland region of the Tagus River valley, known for farming, cattle breeding and bullfighting. Northeast of Lisbon, the city lies an hour from Lisbon’s center. The city was a highly developed region during the Middle Ages, evidence of which is still visible today in its monuments, key features in the history of Portuguese art.

 

Check out Portas do Sol Gardens, the citadel of the old castle which D. Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal, captured from the Moors in a surprise attack during the night in 1147.  The UrbiScallabis Visitor’s Center is also nearby, where a visitor can obtain maps and information about the city.

 

 

Portugal

© Ron Bernthal

 

The Setúbal Peninsula is also just an easy, one-hour drive south of Lisbon. The peninsula offers great scenery, beaches and wineries, and the port city of Setubal is a wonderful, non-touristy place to visit with great seafood. Cross the 25 de Abril Bridge toward Sesimbra, then take the road to Cabo Espichel, located at the end of the peninsula. On reaching the headland, stop at the isolated Shrine of Nossa Senhora do Cabo (Our Lady of the Cape). With its extraordinary views of the sea and the long Fossil Cliff of Costa da Caparica you see to the right, you will feel Lisbon is a million miles away. For wineries, you can’t go wrong at José Maria de Fonseca, Quinta do Alcube and Bacalhoa Vinhos de Portugal.

 

Just 50 minutes northwest of Lisbon, along the Atlantic coast, is the sun-splashed town of Ericeira. Once a small fishing village, the town features a nice mix of traditional stone homes, modern, white residential towers and a nice selection of small restaurants. Fishing is still an important local industry here, as the town sits along most of Portugal’s Atlantic coastline. Stop for lunch at Ti Matilde Restaurante, which lies at the top of a cliff overlooking the ocean and the surfers always gathered on the beach below. During the past 10 years, Ericeira has gained a reputation as a surfing mecca, as well as for its grilled fish and especially lobsters, raised in local sea farms.

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