Sintra is one of the most picturesque and photographic destinations located at the foothills of Sintra Mountains. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Portugal with thousands of tourists visiting it every year. It is a short distance from the capital so you can easily do a day trip to Sintra from Lisbon.
My initial interest to visit Sintra was fueled by its colorful photos on social media. It has become one of the most Instagramable places in Portugal and a must visit if you are in Lisbon.
Sintra is popular for its ancient castles and extravagant palaces surrounded by forested walkways and hidden paths.
How to get to Sintra from Lisbon
Sintra is 25km from Lisbon and easily accessible by both train and by road. It is connected by a regular train service or if you prefer driving you can reach Sintra in under an hour. You could even join an organised tour that usually takes you through the main cultural sights of Sintra including the Castelo dos Mouros and the Palácio Nacional da Pena.
It can get very busy during the peak summer season and parking could be an issue so be mindful if you want to drive yourself. You could take a train from Lisbon which would take you roughly 40 minutes. Once you reach Sintra station you could either walk or take a bus to the top of the Pena Palace.
I would suggest taking a tour or driving yourself as there is a lot of steep walking to be done between the main attractions. You could waste a lot of time waiting for public transport in the peak periods.
Getting tickets for Pena Palace
You could either buy individual tickets for each attraction you want to visit or a combined one which give gets you entrance into most popular ones such as:
- Palácio Nacional de Sintra
- Castelo dos Mouros
- Palácio da Pena and grounds – This is the most visited with its colorful palaces.
I would suggest booking tickets online as you could spend a couple of hours just queuing up to buy tickets when it’s busy.
Getting around Sintra.
If you decide to take the train then the final stop is Sintra. From the station it is roughly a 15-20 minute walk to the town centre but one which is very scenic. To get to Pena Palace from Sintra station you can either walk all the way or take the 434 bus. You can stop in the city centre or at Castelo dos Mouros which is between the Sintra town and Pena Palace. The walk from the station to Pena Palace is 45 minutes and involves a fair bit of uphill walking. The Tourist Bus will leave you right in front of the main entrance of the Palace. You can also get a bus for your Day trip from Lisbon to Sintra.
Things to See and Do on your Day trip from Lisbon to Sintra.
Sintra in its entirety is a UNESCO world heritage site with the main attractions being the Castelo dos Mouros and Palácio da Pena and its grounds.
Sintra is becoming a very popular destination in Portugal and attracts huge crowds especially during the summer months. It is a good idea to start your day early as this will help you avoid long queues and get some great photos without the crowd.
As you ascend towards Pena Palace from the station you will reach Castelo dos Mouros or Moors Castle first which is midway. This is a ruined castle and even though there is not a great deal to see here you get some great views of both the historic town below and Pena Palace which is higher on the mountain.
The castle was built at a strategic point overlooking the River Tagus to provide protection to Sintra.
Palácio da Pena and Parque da Pena
The multi-coloured Palácio da Pena is the iconic palace that stands tall on top of the hill surrounded by the forested walkways and gardens of Parque da Pena. The Park incorporates thousands of varieties of plant life including some exotic and non-native species.
This colourful castellated building with influences from the Neo Gothic, Oriental and Moorish era is absolutely fascinating. You could spend hours here admiring the architecture and collections within the staterooms. The eclectic medley of towers, terraces and minarets are the most unique in South Europe.
Even if you have purchased your tickets online you could still experience long queues to enter the castle. I would suggest an early start to avoid the crowds and being rushed through the staterooms and the castle. The other good time to visit it would be just before it closes when the crowds have left.
Sintra is quite rightly one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. It is filled with history, natural beauty and outstanding architecture. Hope this helps you plan A Day trip to Sintra from Lisbon.
If you want to make the most of your trip to Portugal why not discover Porto in 3 Days and also visit Livraria Lello – The Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World.