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Escape Lisbon's hustle in these 5 towns.

Updated: Mar 25

Escape the city chaos and explore serene towns less than 50 km from Lisbon, where tranquility takes center stage.

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While tranquility is often associated with places like Alentejo or the North of Portugal, discover surprising hidden gems in the lesser-known towns just a stone's throw away from Lisbon.

Meco near to Lisbon

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In a place called Meco, near Lisbon, there is a village in the Castelo parish. In 2011, only 339 people lived there in 205 houses. Meco is about 39 kilometers from Lisbon and has a famous beach. Back in the 70s, a group of hippies discovered the beach, which was hard to reach at that time. They made it accessible for everyone.

The beach is 4 kilometers long, and part of it is for people who like to be naked while enjoying the beach - they are called naturists.



Penedo, located in the Serra de Sintra and 42 kilometers from Lisbon, is likely one of the oldest towns in Portugal, with records dating back to the 16th century. With just 368 residents, Penedo offers a peaceful retreat with its traditional white houses, fountain, and several chapels. The town's steep, maze-like streets provide a unique charm, and on clear days, visitors can catch glimpses of the Atlantic Ocean and Praia das Maçãs.

Notably, Penedo is the only place in mainland Portugal where the Festas de Espírito Santo is celebrated, a religious festival also observed in the Azores.


In the Colares parish, still within the Sintra municipality, lies Azenhas do Mar, a town situated 39 kilometers from Lisbon and likely the most renowned among those mentioned.

Perched by the sea, Azenhas do Mar boasts a petite beach, only 30 meters long, which can vanish during high tides. Famous for its rocks and sizable waves, the town offers an ideal setting to unwind while enjoying the soothing sounds of the sea. Azenhas do Mar attracts numerous tourists keen on savoring local delights like wine and seafood.

The architecture of the buildings predominantly follows the Portuguese Suave style, and the town mainly features houses intended for second residences. Despite having no more than 450 inhabitants, it's recommended to reserve a spot in nearby restaurants well in advance, as they tend to fill up quickly.

Azenhas do Mar

Over time, this town underwent significant reconstruction, primarily catering to tourism. Essentially, Mata Pequena is a street situated in the Special Protection zone of Penedo do Lexim, within the Mafra municipality, located 41 kilometers away from Lisbon.

Aldeia da Mata Pequena

The houses in Mata Pequena are mostly constructed from rock and often adorned with abundant vegetation, creating a lush environment throughout the town. Many of these houses serve a tourism purpose, attracting visitors who seek a weekend retreat in Mata Pequena for relaxation.

To preserve the architectural charm of the town, visitors are required to park their cars at the entrance since the streets are not designed for vehicular traffic. This measure also contributes to maintaining the aesthetic appeal of Mata Pequena, a town that served as the backdrop for the Portuguese soap opera "A Serra."

Aldeia Típica de José Franco

Also recognized as Aldeia Saloia, this town was built by José Franco, drawing inspiration from typical Portuguese villages. Originating in the 1960s, it now functions as an open-air museum open to the public at no cost.

Visitors can indulge in the local wine and savor Portugal's most renowned Pão com Chouriço. Boasting a swing, a mill, and various other monuments, this town is an ideal destination for families with children, offering an educational glimpse into Portuguese customs during the 20th century.

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