Farah's Insider Guides
As Portuguese wine, food and textile importers, our team at Farah Trading Co is split between the US and Portugal - with lots of travel in between. Our team members on the ground in Portugal have put pen to paper to give you Farah's Insider Guides to Portugal. From visiting Lisbon to the beaches of the Algarve to the wineries of the Douro Valley - we have you covered!
Author Joana Rute Carmo / Category Portugal Travel / Published: July 1-2021
Lisbon is uniquely positioned for incredible day trips in every direction - in less than an hour you can be surrounded by vineyards, orchards or the beach.
Lisbon’s highways are easy to navigate - so we suggest taking the plunge, renting a car and seeing what the greater Lisbon region has to offer.
Today we have three itineraries for day trips in the Lisbon area; the first heads north through Lisbon’s bucolic Lisboa wine region. You will discover forgotten grape varietals and have a rustic regional lunch in a vineyard.
Our second Lisbon day trip itinerary heads south, to the sandy beaches and scenic hills of Sesimbra and Azeitão. You will visit a cluster of small villages, a medieval castle and try Portugal's famed sweet Moscatel wine.
The third day trip from Lisbon heads west to the charming cobblestone streets of Cascais, and the historic wine region of Carcavelos and Colares.
A Lisbon day trip is a perfect opportunity to try the famed wines from the Colares region - one of our favorite wineries is the beautifully tiled Adega Viuva Gomes winery.
North of Lisbon: A Day Trip to the Lisboa Wine Region
Lisbon’s wine region sits north of the city, sheltered by the Atlantic Ocean breeze and the Montejunto hills, giving the wines a mineral and sometimes salty characteristic. While wine tourism has been growing in recent years, it is more low key on average than visiting Portugal's famed Douro Valley to the north. The region is dotted with small family wineries - many of which you can visit.
Lisbon is an incredibly diverse wine region with wines for literally every palate. White, red, rosé, sparkling and dessert wine – there’s something for everyone. The region, most famous for its whites, is home to dozens of indigenous Portuguese grape varieties, like Arinto and Sercial. A day trip to Lisbon's picturesque wine region will immediately take you off the beaten path to a more rustic Portugal ... let's get started!
Stop 1 - Bucelas Wine and Vine Museum
Drive a quick 30 mins north of Lisbon to your first stop - the Bucelas Wine and Vine Museum. While the Lisbon wine region is split up into nine separate sub regions, Bucelas is the birthplace of Arinto, and demarcated as a wine region for its whites specifically. The Bucelas wine museum will give you an in-depth discovery session of the grape, the region and the terroir.
This is a small museum with two distinct exhibition areas; one with a permanent display, where the visitor gets to understand the main stages of vine culture and traditional methods of wine production and a mezzanine reserved for temporary exhibitions, thematically connected to different wine topics. Overall, a fabulous way to jumpstart your day trip to Lisbon's wine region!
STOP 2 - LUNCH AT CHÃO DO PRADO
A mere five minute drive away you will find Chão do Prado, truly a hidden gem in the region. Rustic tables are scattered around their patio which jets out into the vines. Here you will find delicious, low-key regional food. Being a bit farther from the water, meat is the speciality. Make sure to pair it with some local Lisboa wine - this will be one of those meals you’ll remember fondly for years!
Stop 3 - Spend the AFTERNOON AT ERICEIRA BEACH
After lunch, make a quick 30 minute drive to Ericeira beach. This beach and surrounding town is as picturesque as it gets - upon arrival I am sure you will immediately wonder “why haven’t I heard of this before!”. This small fishing village has morphed into an international surf spot - a favorite of Portuguese and European visitors.
The charming whitewashed town is dotted with independent cafes, shops and restaurants. If you are in the mood for a seafood snack, this would be where to do it. Check the weather forecast as the good surf is caused by good winds - this beach can be windy at times.
Stop 4 - TASTING AT MANZWINE WINERY
Before you head home I would suggest stopping at a winery with an incredible story - 20 minutes from Ericeria you will find Manzwine, a small boutique winery in Cheleiros, a medieval town of only about 1,000 people.
Historically, the town of Cheleiros was filled with vineyards as most townspeople were producing wine in their small backyard and front yard vineyards. A large out migration to Lisbon turned its wine production upside down as many small family plots were abandoned.
Manzwine is a wine producer that has brought the town’s local tradition back and in the meantime has revived an almost extinct grape varietal and wine– Jampal. The Jampal grape was known to be a “lost” or extinct grape in a single row in the vineyard when the owner purchased the property. Being a grape very few had ever heard of, he was unsure how it would turn out - today this hard to grow grape makes fresh, mineral, delicious white and sparkling wines!
From Manzwine your trip back to Lisbon will be just under 40 minutes. It is incredible how much you can see and do in Lisbon’s easy to navigate, beautiful and welcoming wine region.
Upon arrival at Ericeira's cliffs overlooking its beach, I am sure you will immediately wonder “why haven’t I heard of this magical town before!”.
South of Lisbon: A Day Trip to Azeitão and Sesimbra
Our second Lisbon day trip itinerary also wine inspired, heads south through the iconic regions of Azeitão and Sesimbra. Azeitão is a region made up of a cluster of small, bucolic villages. The region is well known for its sweet moscatel wine - a sweet wine that is a bit harder to come by than Port in the US.
Our day will start with a visit to José Maria da Fonseca, a gorgeous historic winery in Portugal, followed by a delicious lunch at their restaurant. We will then head to the village of Sesimbra and its stunning beaches and a breathtaking medieval castle you can visit. To finish the day we will end with a seafood feast, overlooking Lisbon.
VISIT AND WINE TASTING AT JOSÉ MARIA DA FONSECA WINERY
José Maria da Fonseca is one of my favorite wineries to visit in Portugal - a family owned winery that dates back to 1834 it is the oldest table wine company in all of Portugal. José Maria da Fonseca makes some of the most iconic wines in Portugal and the world and particularly well known for the sweet Setúbal Muscatels (Muscats or Moscateis) which are classic icons of this region. The winery is located in the picturesque town of Vila Nogueira de Azeitao
The winery itself is a delight to visit – they offer tours, tastings, a museum visit, a wine shop and a restaurant.
After a quick 30 minute drive from Lisbon center, enter the estate, starting at their museum to learn about the history of wines in the region and the family’s story. Move to the cellars and finish in the grand, dark, moody barrel room where you’ll get a more in depth knowledge about the wines and the Moscatel with some exciting bottles that are well over 100 years old. Take a walk in their gardens before you head to their restaurant.
LUNCH AT THE WINE CORNER RESTAURANT
Move next door, to José Maria da Fonseca’s restaurant, The Wine Corner. The menu is made to be shared and focuses on a selection of regional ingredients, with a modern twist. Of course, they have a fantastic wine menu . Besides being a restaurant, this is also a wine bar so make sure you reserve some time for a longer lunch where you can really taste everything inside or outside on their fabulous terrace.
SPEND THE AFTERNOON IN SESIMBRA AND EXPLORE THE CASTLE
A short 20 minute drive gets you to Sesimbra, a beautiful fishing village at the foothills of the Serra da Arrábida mountain range, with more than five centuries of history. This is a perfect village for long walks, exploring its narrow streets and hidden corners. Seisimbra has stunning clear water beaches, while also being home to historical monuments like the Fortress of Santiago, a sixteenth century building with a terrace overlooking the sea.
Make a stop at the town’s maritime museum to learn about the region's centuries old relationship with the water. You can also check out the town’s municipal food market to see a small Portuguese village in action. And, this would be a perfect spot for a seafood snack.
If you have enough time, head up to visit the town’s castle sitting on one of the hills overlooking the village. The Sesimbra castle is the last Portuguese castle located by the sea with its original medieval characteristics. And the best part is, you can actually go inside! Got to love Portugal!
DINNER AT RESTAURANT PONTO FINAL
You will be heading back to Lisbon from the south, so this would be a perfect moment to stop at one of my favorite restaurants - Ponto Final - which means "the end". A 40 mins drive from Sesimbra, Ponto Final which is located at the south side of Lisbon’s bridge with one of the best views of the city. The restaurant literally sits on top of the Tejo river, so make sure to book a table outside and enjoy delicious fresh fish while overlooking the city’s natural light and beauty as the sun goes down. It will be a meal to remember.
West of Lisbon: A Day Trip to Cascais, Colares and Sintra
Our third Lisbon day trip itinerary, also wine inspired hits the three C's right outside of the city limits - Cascais, Colares and Carcavelos – the three C’s right outside the Lisbon city limits. For this day trip from Lisbon I would suggest setting your GPS to avoid the highway. While the highway is quicker, the smaller “marginal” roads take you seaside, passing lovely tiny beaches and small quaint towns.
Morning in Cascais
A thirty minute drive - or a 40 min train ride - west of Lisbon you will find the town of Cascais. Cascais is one of Portugal's most famous beach towns, a former fishing village bathed by the sea on one side and sheltered by the mountain on the other. Note, if you are looking for a less involved day trip, I would suggest taking the regional train to Cascais from Lisbon and spending a full day between the beach, shops and restaurants. It is a quick 40 min train ride from the Cais do Sodre train station. The ride there and back hugs the water - with stops at many famous beaches that dot the coastline.
Cascais is perfect town to explore on foot. Explore the narrow streets of its cobblestone village, walk on the beach or pass through its marina and sit for a nice coffee by the waterside. For a historical stop in Cascais, try the Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, a stunning museum designed by Souto de Moura displaying the artwork of some of Portugal's top artists. If you are looking for a moment in nature you can take a quick drive from the center - or rent a bike - to the "Boca do Inferno" or “Mouth of Hell” north of the city, a spectacular sea arch and cliff formation near a handful of boutique restaurants and shops that line the seaside bike and walking path.
Don’t skip the Cascais food market, which dates back to 1952 and is open 364 days a year (closing only on Christmas day).
LUNCH on the beach AT ADRAGA RESTAURANT
Jump back in the car and head north through the lush roads leading you to one of my favorite hidden gem restaurants. I want to emphasize the hidden part; the restaurant is planted on top of the sandy beach of Adraga, between two cliffs with no reception or wi-fi. But here’s what you’ll get – the freshest seafood available, which you can choose directly from their aquarium, exceptional service, a fantastic wine list and a beautiful view of the ocean.
Stop in Colares for a wine tasting at Adega Viúva Gomes
The most western vineyards in Europe are found in Colares. This wine region, windy, wet and often cold has one more characteristic which makes it a difficult place to grow grapes - sand. Colares' sandy soils are low in nutrients, producing small bundles of grapes that struggle. Yet this difficult characteristic proved a literal lifesaver for the region. In the 1800s a terrible inset infestation phylloxera killed off most of the European rootstock - what was spared? Grapes growing in sandy soils, making the vines of Colares some of the oldest in Europe. Stop for a tasting at the historic Adega Viúva Gomes winery. This tiled building is a testament to the history of the region - you can try indigenous varietals to the region, like Ramisco, and if you are lucky, see the bottled being labeled by hand. This winery will make you feel like you stepped back in time (make a reservation in advance).
The cobblestone streets of Cascais
With Portugal's incredible highway system and the incredible diversity of terrain surrounding Lisbon, day trips are not only do-able... but a must!
We hope you enjoyed these insider tips! Cheers - The Farah Team