Planning a trip to Sintra near Lisbon? Sintra is a fabulous town just 30 kilometres east of Lisbon and one of the best tips for a day trip.
There are so many interesting and beautiful places to see during your visit. Check out our tips for beautiful palaces and castles in Sintra worth visiting.
- Sintra in Portugal
- How long to stay in Sintra?
- Things to Do in Sintra, Portugal
- 1. National Palace of Pena (Palácio Nacional da Pena)
- 2. Moorish Castle (Castelo dos Mouros) – things to do in Sintra
- 3. National Palace of Sintra (Palácio Nacional de Sintra)
- 4. Quinta da Regaleira Palace (Quinta da Regaleira) – things to do in Sintra, Portugal
- 5. Monserrate Palace (Palácio de Monserrate)
- Best trips to Sintra from Lisbon
- Where to eat in Sintra, Portugal?
- How to get to Sintra?
- How to get around Sintra?
- Where to stay in Sintra?
- The best things to do in Sintra, Portugal: MAP
- Tips and practical information before visiting Sintra
- Learn more about Portugal
- Frequently asked questions about visiting Sintra
Sintra in Portugal
Sintra is a small town 30 km west of Lisbon, full of greenery, rocky hills, winding narrow streets and beautiful buildings.
The English poet Lord Byron called it a glorious paradise, and Robert Southey called it the most blessed place in all the habitable earth.
These are all reasons why the whole area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you’re planning a trip to Lisbon, it would be a shame not to visit Sintra. Few places in the world can offer castles, palaces and gardens that literally transport you to Disney fairy tales.
Maybe you’ll be so enchanted by Sintra and its surroundings that you’ll decide to spend 2 days here and take a trip to other places around Lisbon. It’s worth it.
Every palace and castle in Sintra is completely different. It has its own unmistakable charm and atmosphere. But you can’t do them all in one day. At least not enough for you to enjoy them enough and calmly go through.
Sintra is quite a hilly city where you are constantly going up and down. Each palace and castle has extensive gardens that are unique, different and definitely worth a visit, as well as the interiors of the buildings.
This brings us to the question:
How long to stay in Sintra?
If you’re limited on time, choose 2-3 sights to visit in Sintra from the inside. I recommend going early in the morning, as the sights close relatively early and there are already queues around 10am in high season.
Do you have enough time? Sleep here. You can visit 2-3 sights on the first day, save the other sites for the next day and take a trip to the beautiful cliffs with the Cabo da Roca lighthouse.
From Cabo da Roca, you can then return to Lisbon via Sintra or take it via the beach town of Cascais (about 20 minutes by bus from Cabo da Roca).
Cascais is not large and has several beautiful beaches and the famous open cave of Boca do Inferno. From Cascais you can take a direct train to Lisbon in half an hour.
All the places are beautiful and it would be a shame not to put them on the itinerary of the best things to do in Lisbon.
And now to the town of Sintra itself and tips on what to see here. You’ll also find information on admission fees, opening times and other tips on how to avoid the queues (and the queues are really long).
Things to Do in Sintra, Portugal
1. National Palace of Pena (Palácio Nacional da Pena)
Pena National Palace is exactly the kind of place that tourists from all over the world flock to. It’s colourful, fabulous and completely against all the rules.
And that is exactly why it is one of the best things to do in Sintra. The rich yellow-red hues will literally illuminate you, as will the incredible views that abound.
From the Courtyard of the Arches, for example, you can see the Sierra da Sintra landscape and the Atlantic Ocean. The Pena National Palace is rightly one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal (the Jeronimos Monastery and the Tower of Belém in Lisbon are also included).
Pena Palace stands surrounded by greenery and forests on top of a cliff in the Sierra da Sintra. In good visibility you can see it from Lisbon. As part of the tour, you can visit not only the palace, but also the 200-hectare park.
The park is interwoven with paths and attractions including ponds, waterfalls, exotic plants and a horse farm. It is also home to the most important arboretum in Portugal. The trees were brought from all over the world.
Please note: No photos are allowed inside the Pena Palace.
What is the entrance fee to Pena Palace?
Admission to Pena Palace varies depending on what you plan to visit:
- Admission to the palace and park: full admission for 18-64 years 14 €, reduced admission for children 6-17 years and seniors over 65 years 12,50 €, under 6 years free
- Admission to the park without the palace: full admission for 18-64 years old 7,50 €, reduced admission for children 6-17 years old and seniors over 65 years old 6,50 €, under 6 years old free
Note: When booking a ticket you choose a specific time that you must keep or your ticket will be forfeited.
TIP: With the Lisbon Card you get a 10 % discount. You can get an additional 5 % discount with a combination ticket with Moorish Castle, which is only a 10-minute walk away (or 1 stop on bus 434). Read our detailed guide to the Lisbon Card.
What are the opening hours of Pena Palace?
Pena National Palace is open daily from 9:30-18:30 (last entry at 18:00). The park is open a bit longer – 9:00-19:00 (last entry 18:00).
Allow at least 2 hours to explore the palace and Pena Park. The palace itself will take you one hour. If you plan to explore the adjacent park more thoroughly, expect 3-4 hours.
How to get to Pena Palace?
Pena Palace is right on top of the hill and is not easily accessible from the station. You have several options to get to the top:
- On foot you are on the top in about 1.15 hours on one of the marked trails.
- By bus no. 434, which you take right by the station (on the right as you exit the station). Tickets can be bought directly at the stop from the Scotturb carrier (you won’t miss it) or from the driver. A single ride costs 4,10 € or a round trip for 7,60 €. The first bus leaves at 9:15.
- Tuk tuk is another option to get to Pena Palace. It is more expensive (5-7 € per person), but the ride is more fun.
- Taxis or Uber are slightly more expensive than a bus, but on the other hand they are the most reliable. You can’t always count on buses to arrive on time. Plus, they don’t start running until after 9am, so if you want to be at the palace as soon as possible, opt for a taxi or Uber. You can board directly at Sintra Station.
- If you are driving your own car, park around the station, where there are several paid parking lots. The centre of Sintra is reserved for residents only.
How to skip the queues for Pena Palace?
Long queues are something that can ruin a palace tour for many people. It is common to wait in line for up to 2 hours. You wait for tickets, you wait to enter the palace grounds and thirdly, you wait for a tour of the palace.
The best time to visit is from October to April. On the other hand, the longest queues are in July and August or at weekends. If you’re coming here in high season, the best option is to take a taxi or Uber and arrive at 9am when the park opens. From the entrance, it’s another 15 minutes to the palace, which opens at 9:30. You will be among the first to see the palace from the outside without people.
I also recommend buying a ticket in advance and go straight to the entrance. Here you just show your ticket on your mobile and you’re good to go. If necessary, tickets can be cancelled up to 24 hours in advance.
For more information on tickets, entry and how to get to Pena Palace (including more photos), see the separate article on Pena Palace.
Read more information about Pena Palace in a separate article.
2. Moorish Castle (Castelo dos Mouros) – things to do in Sintra
The Moorish Castle, or Castle of the Moors, is just a 10-minute walk from Pena Palace. You can see the Moorish castle from the station building as soon as you get off the train.
The Moorish castle is not really a castle anymore. Rather, it is a ruin of a former fortress, but it will give you a good dose of history. You can think of it as a large wall with towers. It’s a bit like a smaller version of the Great Wall.
The castle was built by the Moors in the 10th century, making it one of the oldest castles in Portugal. It was an Islamic neighbourhood at the time. In the local museum you can see several artifacts from that time.
In the Middle Ages it served as a burial place for Christians. Yes, you will see skeletons and remains of the burial ground. In addition, food was also stored here – storage holes can be seen in the rocks. After that the castle decayed for a long time until Ferdinand II had it reconstructed in the 19th century.
From the Moorish Castle you can enjoy beautiful views of the surroundings. The mountains, the floodplain, the Atlantic coast and the Sintra Palace on the opposite hill.
Please note: Take extra care when walking on the walls of Moorish Castle. I do not recommend visiting Moorish Castle with small children or if you are afraid of heights. There are no handrails or other safety features and the stairs are steep. Don’t forget to wear proper shoes, something on top (it’s windy here) and plenty of water.
What is the entrance fee to the Moorish Castle?
Full admission is 8 € for persons 18-64 years old, reduced admission is 6,50 € for children 6-17 years old and seniors over 65 years old. Children up to 6 years of age are admitted free of charge. Buy your ticket here.
What are the opening hours of Moorish Castle?
The Moorish Castle is open daily from 9:30-18:30 (last entry at 18:00). Set aside about 1-1,5 hours for a tour of the Moorish castle.
How to get to the Moorish Castle?
The options from Moorish Castle are the same as for Pena Palace. You can walk here in about an hour, take bus 434 (get off at the 2nd stop) or take a tuk tuk or taxi.
However, Moorish Castle will probably be your second stop after Pena Palace. It is very easy to get to – just a 10 minute walk according to the signs.
From the castle you can take bus 434, tuk tuk or taxi (there are plenty of them waiting at the top) or go downhill gradually (about 30 minutes to the centre of Sintra).
3. National Palace of Sintra (Palácio Nacional de Sintra)
We’ve had the most colourful castle in the world, a scaled-down version of the Great Wall, and now we’re going to see a palace with huge white chimneys that are unparalleled in the world. (And I’ll disclose that we’re about to see a well leading to hell and a palace from the Arabian Peninsula.)
The National Palace of Sintra is the oldest surviving royal palace in Portugal. The royal nobility resided here from the 15th to the 19th century.
The palace is located on the airy Praça da República. From the outside, it looks a bit inconspicuous compared to other palaces in Sintra. Except for the huge, 33 m high white chimneys, which are absolutely unique.
Inside is perhaps the most spectacular of all the places in Sintra. Particularly worth seeing is the room with coats of arms and azulejos depicting historical scenes or the Swan Room, which has 27 swans painted on the ceiling.
Learn more about the Portuguese royal family and enjoy the view of Sintra from the balcony.
What is the entrance fee to the National Palace of Sintra?
Full admission is 10 € for persons 18-64 years old, reduced admission is 8,50 € for children 6-17 years old and seniors over 65 years old. Children up to 6 years of age are admitted free of charge. The gardens are also free of charge. Get your tickets here .
What are the opening hours of the National Palace of Sintra?
The National Palace of Sintra is open daily from 9:30-18:30 (last entry at 18:00).
How to get to the National Palace of Sintra?
The National Palace of Sintra is located right in the middle of Sintra, just a 10-minute walk from the train station or one stop away on buses 434 and 435. Thanks to its easy accessibility, it is called the City Palace.
How to skip the queues for the Sintra National Palace?
The Sintra National Palace is one of the most popular sights in the area. Queues form here, but they are not as frequent and long as at Pena Palace. But if you don’t want to linger on the spot, you can purchase tickets in advance .
This way you don’t have to worry about having enough cash if your card payments don’t work (this is no exception in Sintra). Just download the tickets to your mobile phone and scan the QR code at the entrance. Just a note that you do not reserve a specific time slot and it is up to you when you come during opening hours. .
4. Quinta da Regaleira Palace (Quinta da Regaleira) – things to do in Sintra, Portugal
Just a 15-minute walk from the National Palace of Sintra is the Quinta da Regaleira Palace, also known as the Millionaire Monteiro Palace. Another of the top places to see in Sintra.
Did you feel like you were in a fairy tale at Pena Palace? So in Quinta da Regaleira you will return to the fairy tale again. The palace’s prospectus describes the palace as an imaginary universe of symbolism and metaphor.
And it is. The symbols stretch across the entire palace and park. They perfectly capture the dark history of the palace under its first owner, Monteiro, which was linked to Freemasons, alchemy and the Knights Templar.
The palace was built in 20th century in the Romantic style and has a Gothic facade. During the tour you will see the first floor, which has beautiful paintings.
What not to miss when visiting Quinta da Regaleira? Definitely the Initiation Well . You can think of these as inverted towers with spiral staircases that were used for initiation rituals. At the bottom you will see the Templar octagon.
You can walk through the tower via a narrow staircase, which will take you to an underground labyrinthine passageway that is perhaps even more interesting than the well. It is lit only by LEDs to maintain the right atmosphere.
Most visitors head to the initiation wells and it can get quite crowded during the midday hours. I wouldn’t recommend visiting in the evening either, as it can be quite dark down in the well.
In addition, the gardens are full of ponds, waterfalls, fountains, towers, arches, fountains and seating areas.
What is the entrance fee to the Quinta da Regaleira?
Full admission is 10 € for 18-64 year olds, reduced admission is 5 € for children 6-17 and seniors 65-79. Children under 6 years of age and seniors over 80 years of age are admitted free of charge. Get your tickets here.
What are the opening hours of Quinta da Regaleira?
The Quinta da Regaleira is open daily from 10:00. Closing times vary by season – in high season from April to September it is open until 19:30 and in low season October-March it closes at 18:30. The last entry is always at 17:30. Allow 2-3 hours for the tour.
How to get to Quinta da Regaleira?
Quinta da Regaleira Palace is a 10-minute walk from the centre. Another option is bus 435, which stops at the station and in the centre.
How to skip the queues for Quinta da Regaleira?
Quinta da Regaleira is another popular place in Sintra where queues can form. But they’re still smaller than the Pena Palace. One way to avoid the queues is to arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon. Preferably during the week.
The best time to visit is from autumn to spring. The biggest crowds of tourists come here in summer. I also recommend buying tickets in advance to avoid standing in line for tickets.
5. Monserrate Palace (Palácio de Monserrate)
Monserrate Palace is a bit of a hidden gem in Sintra. It is located about 3,5 km from the centre and as a result far fewer people visit. And that’s a great pity. On the other hand, it is an oasis of peace from the touristic and crowded Sintra.
You can imagine the Monserrate Palace as an ornate pink cake with a beautiful garden and one of the best examples of Romanticism. It was built in 19th century as a summer home for the British merchant Sir Francis Cook.
The gardens are full of exotic plants, lakes and waterfalls and are thematically divided (Japanese Garden, Mexican Garden, etc.). You can sit on top of the hill directly below the palace and enjoy the surrounding forests. The palace tour also includes the ruins of the chapel, all set in the surrounding greenery.
What is the entrance fee to Monserrate Palace?
Full admission is 8 € for persons 18-64 years old, reduced admission is 6,50 € for children 6-17 years old and seniors over 65 years old. Children up to 6 years of age are admitted free of charge. Get your tickets here.
What are the opening hours of Monserrate Palace?
The Monserrate Palace is open daily from 9:30-18:30 (last entry at 18:00). The park is open between 9:00-19:00 (last entry 18:00). The palace is rather small, but the gardens are beautiful and extensive, so make sure you set aside 2 hours or more to visit the Monserrate Palace.
How to get to Monserrate Palace?
Monserrate Palace is 3,5 km from the city centre. You can get here by car (parking is right outside the palace) or by bus 435, which stops at the station, in the centre or at the Quinta da Regaleira.
Best trips to Sintra from Lisbon
Would you like to take a day trip to Sintra and the surrounding area? In the framework of organized trip with a friendly guide you’ll visit Pena Palace, the beautiful cliffs of Cabo da Roca and the seaside town of Cascais.
A simple and fun way to enjoy the Lisbon area.
An air-conditioned car will pick you up at the hotel in the morning and drop you off again in the evening. You don’t have to worry about transport or a ticket to the palace.
Choose from a selection of popular trips from Lisbon:
Where to eat in Sintra, Portugal?
Sintra is full of tourists, so there are plenty of places to eat. But as it happens in tourist areas, not all restaurants are worth it. Here are some of our tips on where to eat:
- Tascantiga – excellent local restaurant with a nice garden
- Bacalhau to Vila
- Romania de Baco
- Casa das Minas – a little hidden at the foot of the hill below the Moorish castle; excellent food at good prices plus a great view
Near the train station you can eat well in Incomum or grab a delicious sandwich across the street at Café Saudade . If you’re looking for a good restaurant in the centre (and don’t mind if it’s vegetarian), there’s a restaurant a short walk from the National Palace of Sintra A Praca . It’s kind of tucked away in a side alley next to the Natural History Museum.
What Portuguese specialities to try? Every Portuguese restaurant will have some cod. For example, cod cake, i.e. fried cod croquettes with tomato rice.
If you have time left, make a stop in Casa Piriquita Pastry Shop for traditional travesseiros, or almond pillows. It is a sweet pastry made of puff pastry with almond cream and egg yolks. It’s a secret recipe from a local pastry shop, so it’s only sold here.
Another local specialty that you can buy anywhere in town is queijadas. Queijadas are small cheese cakes that are sold in two versions – one is made with almonds and the other is made purely from cheese. If you’re not a cheese lover, try the almond version.
Also popular are shots of local wine for 1 € or Ginja cherry liqueur (you get a shot on the house).
How to get to Sintra?
Train is the most popular way to get from Lisbon to Sintra. Train services depart from Rossio Station in central Lisbon or from Oriente Station, just 3 stops from the airport. The ticket costs 2,30 €.
Trains run from Rossio and Oriente stations at regular intervals of 15-20 minutes during the week and every 30 minutes at the weekend. The first train departs at 5:41 from Rossio station (the same applies to Oriente station). Back to Lisbon, the last train of the week leaves after midnight and on weekends at 1am.
To use transport in and around Lisbon, you need a Viva Viagem card. This can be purchased at the airport or at any train station in the city for a fee of 0,50 €. Then you charge the card. Before departure and upon arrival, always attach your card to the turnstile.
TIP: If you have a Lisbon card, you don’t need a Viva Viagem card. The train journey to Sintra will be free of charge. The Lisbon card will be attached to the turnstile on departure and arrival, just like the Viva Viagem card. Read more about the Lisbon Card in our review.
There are also buses to Sintra, but the tickets are more expensive and the journey is not shorter.
Are you planning to visit Sintra by car? There are several paid car parks around the station where you can leave your car. Only residents can park in the historic city centre. For more information about parking lots, see the city’s official information, which includes parking areas are marked .
TIP: You can rent a car through Rentalcars.com, which has the largest selection of cars in the world at competitive prices. They have a huge selection of vehicles, but also places where you can pick up your car (right at the airport). Cancellation is free on most cars and cars are insured. Book your car in advance to ensure you get the best price and choice.
How to get around Sintra?
Sintra is a small town, but very hilly. For tourists, there are special lines 434 and 435 from the carrier Scotturb. Both stop to the right of the station and you can buy tickets from the driver (or at the ticket machine and at the Scotturb information centre opposite the station). It’s better to have cash on you.
Bus line 434 stops in the centre, at Moorish Castle and Pena Palace. The first bus departs at 9:15 and runs until the evening four times a day (less frequently in winter). A ticket to the Pena Palace alone costs 4,10 € or the whole tour for 7,60 €.
Bus line 435 stops in the centre, at Quinta da Regaleira and Monserrate Palace. The ticket can be bought from the driver and costs 5,50 € for the whole route. You can get off and then get back on and take the same ticket to the next stop.
In addition to the buses, you can also use taxis, Uber or tuk tuks that stop right outside the station. The price is slightly higher, but you get more comfort and you don’t have to queue for the bus.
Read more information on transport to Sintra in a separate article.
Where to stay in Sintra?
The area near the station is ideal for exploring Sintra and connecting to Lisbon and the surrounding area (Cascais, Cabo da Roca). Quiet neighbourhood 5 minutes from the bus to Pena Palace or Monserrate Palace and within walking distance to the historic centre of Sintra. There are also plenty of restaurants and grocery stores nearby.
Chalet Saudade Housed in a historic building, this hotel has a beautiful garden with ponds and a fountain. Just a short walk from Chalet Saudade lies B&B Lanui Guest House. Cheap but cosy accommodation with garden and excellent breakfast included.
The best things to do in Sintra, Portugal: MAP
HOW TO USE THIS MAP: Above you will find a detailed map of Sintra. Click at the top left of the map to see separate layers with highlighted locations. You can hide and show the different layers or click on the icons on the map to see the names of the places mentioned in the Sintra guide. If you want to save the map, star it. It will then be saved to your Google Maps and can be retrieved at any time on your mobile phone or computer. For a larger version of the map, click on the icon in the top right corner.
Tips and practical information before visiting Sintra
- Take enough water. Passing through the Sierra da Sintra, you will have a considerable climb and descent. Even if you take a local bus or taxi, you can’t avoid the climb in some places. There are shops and vending machines with water and refreshments along the way, but in high season queues can form in front of them.
- Wear comfortable shoes. No flip-flops, you need proper trainers.
- Buy your tickets in advance. Not only do you save time in queues, but you don’t have to deal with cash. There are card machines on site, but they don’t always work. Personally, we don’t like to carry large amounts of cash. Especially in tourist areas where we have to guard our stuff from pickpockets.
- Sintra is about 5 degrees Celsius cooler than Lisbon. Take an extra layer. It can also be quite windy at the Moorish Castle and the sensation temperature is a hair lower.
- Although it’s cooler than Lisbon, the weather is generally Mediterranean and temperatures can soar. On hot days there is a risk of fires and some parks may be closed for safety reasons.
- Start early in the morning and visit Pena Palace and other popular spots first to avoid the biggest crowds.
- Save yourself the climb and take the 434 bus to Pena Palace (or take a taxi, Uber or tuk tuk). Not only will you save time, but you’ll also have more energy left over to explore the beautiful parks and gardens.
Learn more about Portugal
If you have a question about the trip to Sintra, let us know in the comments below. Did you like the article? Leave a comment or share. Have a safe journey!
Frequently asked questions about visiting Sintra
I’m sure it is. Sintra is a city like no other. Surrounded by the Sierra da Sintra peaks, with fabulous palaces and spectacular views of the mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Moreover, it is very easy to reach from Lisbon by train in less than an hour.
The colourful Pena Palace is one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal and attracts crowds of tourists every year. Just a short distance away is the ruins of Moorish Castle, which offers the most beautiful views of the surrounding area. 10 minutes from the centre of Sintra, you’ll find the Quinta da Regaleira Palace with its dedication wells, and in the middle of Sintra, the National Palace of Sintra, which is probably the most spectacular of all the palaces here. A few kilometres away, the pink palace of Monserrate stands on a hilltop, surrounded by exotic gardens.
Most tourists head to Sintra for 1 day. If you want to get to know the city better, it is better to set aside 2 days. You can also take a trip to the nearby cliffs of Cabo da Roca or the seaside town of Cascais.