Day Trip


Here are a few tips if you’re planning a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra. First, try to arrive at least a few hours before closing time. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to see everything in town. And if you want to avoid the crowds, get the first-morning train to Sintra. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in a crowded city. Second, try to spend at least a night in Sintra.

Quinta da Regaleira

If you’re planning a day trip to Sintra, you’ll probably spend most of your time exploring the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace, but there are other attractions. If you’re only spending a day in Sintra, you should make your Sintra sightseeing the first stop on your itinerary. Then, you can move on to other places in the area as time permits.

The main attraction in Quinta da Regaleira is its initiation wells, which were once used for ritual rites. They are thought to have links to Templar and Tarot mythology. Visitors can climb the spiral staircases to the first well and follow a tunnel to a smaller one. The bigger one has mosaic floors and is accessible only by walking. Once you’re done exploring the initiation wells, you can head to the nearby castle for a delicious meal or an afternoon of shopping.

If you’re planning a day trip from Lisbon, you may also want to visit the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, which was built with a cornerstone donated by Pope John Paul II. While in Lisbon, you’ll probably want to pair your visit to Fatima with another stop to enjoy both the town and the city simultaneously. You’ll be spoilt for choice!

Sintra’s Castle of the Moors

The first thing you need to do before heading to Sintra is plan your itinerary. Several attractions in Sintra will keep you busy for hours, and you might want to avoid the busses if you can. However, it is worth considering taking the bus to Sintra to see the Moorish Castle. The Moorish castle is a magnificent structure located on a steep hill, but it isn’t worth the long walk down.

When planning your visit, keep in mind that the train station in Sintra is quite far from the old town. If you have time, consider taking a bus or a tuk-tuk to the town center. These two methods will take you to Sintra’s Castle of the Moors and Pena Palace without the hassle of dealing with the tourist crowds.

If you want to see the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace, book a guided tour of the town center. You can also visit the Quinta da Regaleira, known for its lovely gardens. Keep in mind that the town is very hilly and difficult to walk around. You can use tuk-tuks, taxis, or local buses to get around. Parking in Sintra is not easy, so plan your trip accordingly.

Lisbon to Sintra day trip

If you plan a day trip to Lisbon, include a visit to Sintra. The town is full of fairy-tale palaces and magical gardens, and more than 3 million visitors visit yearly. Although it is impossible to see everything in a single day, your Lisbon to Sintra day trip guide will help you see the highlights. A little extra time in Sintra will allow you to visit additional palaces and gardens.

Depending on the time of year, you can make a Lisbon to Sintra day trip a car-free experience. Parking in Sintra is limited, so plan your trip around bus or car-free. If you are visiting on a busy day, leave your car at the train station or park in the street, as parking is not always easy. Parking in Sintra can be miles away from most of the sights.

If you have time to spare, visit the historic district of Sintra, where you can walk through the town’s narrow streets and discover quaint houses that date back to the 10th century. It has been the home of Portugal’s monarchy and many nobles throughout the centuries. The castle was also the meeting place of foreign ambassadors, and several kings passed through its decorated rooms. Your Lisbon to Sintra day trip should include a stop at this palace.

Avoiding crowds in Sintra

To avoid the crowds in Sintra, the perfect day trip, make sure to go in the early morning. The palace, as well as the parks, usually get crowded within an hour of opening. You can also visit the gardens near closing time. While this is not the best time to visit Sintra, it is still worth a visit if you have time to spare. It’s possible to experience many sights in a single day, but if you don’t have much time, make sure you start your trip early.

If planning a day trip from Lisbon, you’ll want to go to Sintra as early as possible. Although it’s only 20 miles from Lisbon, the town still feels like a retreat. Its UNESCO World Heritage site has many historical and artistic treasures, and you can wander the cobblestone streets and take in medieval architecture. You can even get a Lisbon Card and enjoy free train travel to Sintra!

To avoid crowds in Sintra, book tickets in advance and visit during the weekday. You can also avoid crowds by booking tickets online and avoiding the day of your trip. Remember that the place can get very crowded during the summer. So, it is best to go during weekdays or early in the morning. You’ll also avoid the long ticket lines and crowds that often plague this beautiful village.

Getting to Sintra by train

Getting to Sintra by train is a convenient way to travel to this city. Parking in Sintra can be a challenge, especially during the summer, but a train ride takes the hassle out of getting around town. In addition to convenient train service, many tours also include other attractions. Packaged tours can help take the hassle out of traveling to Sintra by offering ticket entry to significant sites and expert guides.

The journey’s last stop is the station in Sintra, which is a short walk from the town center. The train station is also near the airport. While not as central as the Rossio station, the Sintra station is still convenient. You can purchase tickets for both train trips online to save yourself time at the box office and get a 5% discount. To avoid inconveniences, consider purchasing tickets for both train routes online at once, and remember to buy your ticket in advance to guarantee you get the best price.

Getting to Sintra by train from Lisbon takes approximately 8 hours. The journey can accommodate a group of one to eight people, and tours are available seven days a week. These drivers are well-trained and have all the materials you need to enjoy your trip to Sintra. You can also use a private taxi in the town, but it’s essential to know how to get to the train station in advance.

Getting to Sintra by car

If you’d like to visit Sintra on your own, there are several ways to get there. Taxis are usually available outside the Sintra train station and opposite the post office. Taxis in Sintra are typically metered, and a one-way trip to the National Palace will cost at least EUR10, a little more in heavy traffic. A waiting time in a taxi can run as high as EUR15. Consider sharing the cost with one or more other tourists for a more affordable ride.

You can take the train to Lisbon and catch the Sintra line if you don’t have a car. You can then follow signs to the palace and gardens. If you don’t have a car, you can also take the train to Cabo da Roca, which stops in Lisbon’s downtown area. Taxis are also available at the railway station and the Sintra railway station. If you’re planning on arriving by train in Sintra, be sure to leave plenty of time to explore all the sights.

Getting to Sintra by car is possible, but it’s not a good idea during rush hours. The town has limited parking, so it’s best to plan to arrive early in the week and park in the modern city, which is about 1.5 km to the east. In addition to the train, you can also rent a car in Lisbon. The city’s numerous car rental agencies can help you with your trip.

Dubrovnik, Croatia, has become an increasingly popular place among tourists worldwide, and with good reason. Millions of people visit this beautiful coastal town from May to August, but not all venture outside of Dubrovnik. Montenegro, Croatia’s neighboring country, does not get nearly enough credit and popularity as Croatia does. If you are looking for an easy Montenegro day trip from Dubrovnik, continue reading below.

Montenegro is easily accessed from Dubrovnik by car, bus, or tour. It also is a stunning change of scenery from Dubrovnik, offering majestic mountain peaks and the second largest fjords (Norway has the largest) in Europe. Montenegro was also formally part of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, so the language is the same as in Croatia (with a slightly different dialect). Since it was all one country roughly 25 years ago, the food and culture are similar to its neighbor Croatia. The only thing the two countries do not have in common is how underrated Montenegro is compared to popular tourist hubs like Dubrovnik and Split. Also, if you want a break from the ridiculous prices in Dubrovnik’s old town, Kotor and Budva will be a nice break!

How to get to Montenegro from Dubrovnik:

Getting to Montenegro from Dubrovnik is pretty simple. There are three options for transportation, as mentioned above. We rented a car and drove ourselves. Renting a car gives you the most significant amount of freedom and amplitude of time. If you are not comfortable going yourself, some buses run almost daily from Dubrovnik to Kotor. I am not sure about the prices, but I can imagine it is not very expensive. The third option is to take a guided tour with a bus full of people. Many tour companies outside the old town of Dubrovnik go to Kotor and Budva daily. I believe the times are about USD 50 per person.

If you want to rent a car in Dubrovnik, the rental car companies are located at the airport. We usually rent from Enterprise or Alamo at the airport once we arrive. It is easy and not too pricey, given your freedom to explore. There is a green card that the rental car company will sell you for 50 euros so that you can cross the border, make sure and get this to avoid any issues.

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If you are driving, the border of Montenegro is about a 20-30 minute drive from Dubrovnik. I am sure you have heard horror stories of the long times at the edge in peak season. We were in Dubrovnik at the end of July, peak season, and waited at the border to get into Montenegro for maybe 10-15 minutes. We did leave our apartment at 7:30 AM to avoid a long time, and it was well worth it.

Getting to Kotor, Montenegro, and Exploring:

The first town in Montenegro you will visit is Kotor. I am surprised how many people have not heard of Kotor, which is a real shame. Kotor is most famous for the superb Bay of Kotor and the Fjord. Kotor is about another hour of travel once you cross the border into Montenegro. There are two ways to get to Kotor by car. You can drive around Kotor or take the ferry, which will shave off about 30-40 minutes of travel. The ferry ride is about 5 minutes long and will cost USD 5 for you and your vehicle! We ended up taking the ferry on our way back to Dubrovnik, and it was a nice scenic ride, a memorable 5 minutes!

Once you make it to Kotor, you will want to find excellent and reliable parking. There is a big parking lot right next to the walls of the old town of Kotor. It is paid to park (honestly cannot remember how much we paid, but it was not a lot) and can get full quickly if you get there too late in the day. Once you park your car, make your way to the old town. If you park in the parking lot next to the walls, it is an easy 5-minute walk to the ancient city. Kotor, just like Dubrovnik, can get very crowded during the day. You are even more crowded when the cruise ships begin to dock. So I cannot stress enough how important it is to get there earlier in the day.

St. Johns Fortress (AKA Castle of San Giovanni):

Our first activity in Kotor was to find the bathrooms; ok, not an activity, but a must before walking up to the St. John Fortress. There are public bathrooms in the old town, and about one euro to use. After our bathroom break, we set out to find the entrance to the climb up the Fortress. The door was not that easy for us to find, so we had to ask a local to direct us in the right direction. There is an 8 Euro fee per person to climb up to the Fortress. Even though I think 8 Euros to rise in the heat is ridiculous, I just knew the view would be worth it.

The two best times of day to climb to the top are morning or evening during sunset. The afternoon is sweltering in the summer, and climbing up is not as easy as you think. It takes about 1.5-2 hours round trip to climb to the top or longer depending on stops on the way up. Unfortunately, we did not make it up to the top because hunger set in. Food ultimately wins, especially when you have been climbing up tiny and old stairs in the heat. We made it up a far distance and were just below the Fortress.

Walking around Kotor Old Town:

Once we got back down from climbing to the Fortress, we decided it was time for lunch and a cold drink. You could spend 2 hours or longer roaming Kotor’s many alleys and streets. It is a cute little town with white-washed buildings, fountains, and cobblestone streets. It reminds me a lot of Dubrovnik’s old town, except smaller. By the time we got down from our climb, it was already noon, so the ancient city was completely packed. Getting crowd-less shots at that point was virtually impossible unless you found  a relatively little

We got some lunch at one of the many little restaurants and had the traditional cevapi. If you are ever anywhere in the Balkans, cevapi are an absolute must. I have been eating cevapi since I was a child, and it is a dish I am always in the mood for when back home. Cevapi are minced meat sausages usually served with pita bread, pepper sauce, and onions.

Now that you have explored Kotor, there is the option to see the Our Lady of the Rocks island by the small town of Perast. We did not go to this little artificial island due to time constraints, but I have heard from many that it is a beautiful place with fantastic views of the Bay of Kotor.

Another great option before you leave Kotor is to go to Lovcen National Park. I cannot tell you how upset I am that we did not get to drive up to this national park. It is about a two-hour drive from Kotor through winding roads on the mountainside, which sounds super fun. Unfortunately, we had already made plans to head to Budva and Sveti Stefan, so an extra two-hour detour was not on the itinerary. I have seen photos from the Lovcen National Park, which is unreal! If you think that the view from the Kotor Fortress is impressive, then Lovcen will be ten times that.

Getting to Budva and Sveti Stefan from Kotor:

Budva is about a 30-45 minute drive from Kotor. It is a straight shot from Kotor and such a scenic drive. Budva reminds me a lot of Dubrovnik, as it is a fortified town. The walls and town are much smaller than Dubrovnik’s but just as charming.

Even though Budva is excellent, I do not recommend spending much time there as it is tiny. My main aim was to find a good viewpoint of Sveti Stefan since non-hotel guests are not allowed on the actual little island. Sveti Stefan island housed a monastery many, many years ago. In recent years, The Aman hotel chain bought out the entire island, monastery included, and built a five-star resort. The Aman Sveti Stefan resort has recently housed celebrities, including David Beckham and his family. The hotel is stunning, I immediately went to google to see what this prestigious hotel looked like, and I will say that my jaw dropped. No wonder it is a whopping $800-1000 or more USD a night.

Sveti Stefan View Point:

There are two good viewpoints of Sveti Stefan from above. The first is a hotel/restaurant called Hotel Adrovic. We decided we would have a drink or coffee at their cafe and take in the beautiful view below.

While sitting on the balcony enjoying a cappuccino, a small church at the top of the mountain above us caught my eye. I immediately told my husband we were going up there; the only issue was how we got up to the top! Thankfully with google and the help of a local, we found the name of the small church. It is called the Sveti Sava church. The local we asked about said that you could not drive up to the top, but we decided to try it anyway. The good news is that you can go up to the top; the road is very narrow but surprisingly easy. There are a lot of homes on the mountain, so you are driving through a neighborhood.

The best way to get to the Sv. Sava church is from Hotel Adrovic. If you are facing the road from Hotel Adrovic, your back is to the hotel; you will see a road on the left side going uphill. Take that road and literally go straight the entire way up. It will lead you up to the little church and the viewpoint. We also did use google maps on our cell phones which helped guide us up to the top. It takes about 10 minutes to get up to the top, where the little church is located.

This was one of my all-time favorite viewpoints in Montenegro (aside from the Bay of Kotor View) that did not require climbing or intense sweating. It is worth it if you are in Budva or Sveti Stefan.

After soaking up the beautiful views, we went back down and were on our way back to Dubrovnik. On our way back, we decided to take the ferry through the Bay of Kotor, as I mentioned earlier. It was an excellent way to shave off 30 minutes from our driving time and a great way to soak in the views.

I cannot stress enough how beautiful Montenegro is, and I am almost sad that we only had time for a day trip. If I could do that all over again, I would have planned for a two-three night stay in this beautiful little country. There is so much to see and hidden gems we did not have the time for. When you make your way to the Balkans, I hope you reserve some time for this very underrated country. If you are under a time constraint like I was, then at least venture out of Croatia to Montenegro and experience this little country’s beauty.

So you have made it to Dubrovnik, one of the most beautiful towns in the world (check out my guide HERE on what to see and do in Dubrovnik), and you have noticed that big green island directly across from the old town. It is hard to miss; naturally, your curiosity starts to spark. Shortly after arriving in Dubrovnik, I remember how I could get to that big green island. The good news is that it is super easy to take a day trip there! This lush green island is called the Island of Lokrum and is a beautiful natural paradise to explore. This is a guide on the ultimate Dubrovnik to forum day trip.

If you have had enough of the tourist crowds swarming in Dubrovnik, especially in the summer, then a quick trip to Lokrum will leave you super relaxed and give you an excellent sense of peace. Benedictine monks once inhabited this island. Can you believe how lucky these monks were to call Lokrum home? Talk about living life! Not only is Lokrum exceptionally beautiful because of its stunning nature and rugged coastline, but it also holds a curse placed by these monks. I will get into the curse later in the post, but let’s talk about how to get to Lokrum from Dubrovnik.

How to get to Lokrum Island:

Getting to Lokrum is pretty straightforward, so easy that I did not research it before we went! There is a ferry right in the port of Dubrovnik (you literally cannot miss it) that departs about every 30 minutes. I believe the first ferry departs around 10 am, and you can buy tickets right in front of the boat on the day of departure. It is about a 15-minute ferry ride to Lokrum, and it docks in the small bay of Porto. Not only is it easy to get there, but it is also very affordable. About 12 USD will get you a round-trip ticket to Lokrum with ease of going and leaving whenever you please. In high season, the last ferry departs around 6 pm, so you have the whole day to spend there if you would like. Now be aware that once the last ferry leaves, there is no other way off the island. You are not allowed to spend the night on the island, so keep track of time.

Once you arrive at the little bay of Porto on Lokrum, there is a map of the entire island. It is pretty easy to navigate if you want to go to a particular spot, but if you want to wander around, the odds of getting lost are slim! Before I talk about what to see on the island, let me give you a little history of the Island of Lokrum and its curse.

The Legend of the Island of Lokrum:

In 1023, a Benedictine Monastery was founded on the Island of Lokrum. The Monastery was built on the side of Lokrum, facing Dubrovnik directly to warn the walled city of any threats heading their way. The Monks would signal the guards on the walls with smoke when they suspected an invader.

Lokrum has a beautiful botanical garden and rabbits and peacocks freely frolicking around the island. This is because the Monks and Archduke Maximillian Ferdinand of Habsburg brought exotic plants and animals from all over the world to Lokrum, which is how Lokrum got its name.

Now to the good part, the curse of Lokrum Island and why you are not allowed to stay overnight. In the late 1700s, a French army general ordered the shutdown of the Monastery on Lokrum island, including the monks’ evacuation. The monks attempted to do everything they could to stay on the island and keep the sanctuary open without any success. On their final night on the island, they held one last religious gathering in which they walked around the island in their hooded robes, leaving a trail of candle wax. As they walked around the island, they chanted that whoever claimed Lokrum island for their pleasure would be damned. The monks were ordered to leave the following day and never returned.

Some genuinely believe the curse locals, with many stories spread, some that you may even hear while on the island. There has been misfortune directly related to taking possession of Lokrum for pleasure. Several aristocratic families claimed Lokrum for their fun and were either assassinated, went bankrupt, or suffered an unfortunate death. And not only did the curse affect these families, but it is said that many fishermen and ships have gone missing that were docked on the coast of Lokrum overnight. Today, as mentioned before, no one lives on the Island of Lokrum, and no one is allowed to stay overnight.

So who wants to stay overnight on Lokrum Island? Okay, I am kidding, but pretty eerie, right? It almost made me not want to use Lokrum for pleasure while there! But that should not stop you, Lokrum is just a gem to explore, and I can see why the monks did not want to leave. Okay, so let’s talk about what there is to see and do on this unique island!

Float in the Dead Sea:

A small salt lake is located almost in the center of the island. You cannot miss it as a sign points you to it. This salt lake has such refreshing and, you guessed it, salty water! We enjoyed a cool-off in this little lake after a whole morning of walking around Lokrum and exploring hidden coves and beaches. You can float, swim, swing on the rope swing, or just lay out in the sun for a perfect and peaceful afternoon. The Dead Sea lake does get crowded in the afternoon, especially in the summer, and can sometimes result in a hard time finding a little spot to sit down.

Find the Hidden Natural Window on the Adriatic Sea:

Now we get to the not-famous yet natural window on Lokrum Island that overlooks the Adriatic sea. I am shocked that more people do not know about this natural window. It is straightforward to miss, so I can see why more people have not disclosed its exact location! I kind of like the fact that it is a secret; Instagrammers and tourists do not overrun it. It is very peaceful, and we spent at least two hours there without being bothered by anyone.

How did I find out about this natural window, you wonder? Well, I saw a photo of it on none other than Instagram. As soon as I saw it and realized it was located on Lokrum Island, I knew I just had to find it. I searched online for its exact location and came up with absolutely nothing. I became determined to find it myself (with the help of my husband, of course, we all know I am terrible with directions) as soon as I got to Lokrum Island. Luckily, a couple on the ferry ride from Dubrovnik to Lokrum was on the island the day before and found the natural window. They gave us some direction about its location, which was a huge help!

As soon as we stepped off the ferry, we began our mission to find this natural wonder. We missed it the first time; we walked right on top of it! The second time we re-traced our steps and finally realized that we needed to climb down to get to it. It was worth finding because, in my opinion, this is the most beautiful spot on the island!

So to keep it secret and not be overrun by millions of other people, I have decided to disclose its exact location with a map if you subscribe to my blog (screenshot of the subscription) and send me an email through my contact information! This way, the location is kept hidden and still enjoyable to the few that find it.