There’s no shortage of things to see and do (and eat) in Lisbon, and you could spend months here just drinking wine, sampling the olives and soaking up the scenery. If you’ve spent some time exploring the city and are ready to see some of the surrounding area, take a day trip to nearby Sintra, just 40 minutes away by train. A paradise hidden up in the mountains, this special place has incredibly unique and diverse castles, majestic gardens and adorable mom-and-pop shops throughout its quaint streets.
Getting to Sintra couldn’t be easier; there are direct trains that run every 15 minutes from Lisbon’s central Rossio station. The journey takes roughly 40 minutes and a round-trip ticket costs 4.30 euros. The train station in Sintra is located roughly 1 km away from the main town, but it’s pretty easy to walk. If you don’t feel like trekking it, you can also take the #434 bus, which will cycle through town and to all of the main castles and attractions. The Sintra bus route costs 5 euros for a single loop trip. Tickets are purchased from the driver, so be sure to have exact change!
The National Palace (Palacio Nacional de Sintra)
The national palace is located in the heart of town, which makes it an easy and convenient first stop on your list. Its gothic exterior is picture-perfect, but its history is the real draw; the palace was occupied from the 15th to the 19th centuries, making it Portugal’s most lived-in royal palace.
The Palacio Nacional de Sintra is open every day from 9:30am until 7:00pm. Entrance fee is 9 euros.
Castle of the Moors
The Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors) is the ruins of a castle built in the 9th century by North African Moors, and was used for centuries as an outpost to protect the city of Sintra. Its overall look with its tall, fortified stone walls and thick battlements is drastically different than the rest of the area. Also, its panoramic views of the hills and the valley from here are splendid. Be sure to turn around and look up the hill for a great shot of Pena Palace from afar.
The castle is open 7 days a week from 9:30am to 8:00pm during the summer season and from 10:00am to 6:00pm during the winter. The entrance fee is 7 euros.
By far one of the most unique palaces in all of Portugal (if not the world) this incredibly eclectic castle is the highlight of your trip to Sintra, so be sure to set aside the most amount of time for exploring. Built by an artistic king with an eye for the extravagant, each section of the palace is different from the rest. The interior state rooms are lavishly designed, and the views you’ll get from each vantage point are stunning. If you have some time, stroll around the lush gardens for more great photo ops.
Pena Palace is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00am to 7:00pm during the summer and 10:00am to 5:00pm in the winter. The entrance fee to the palace and Pena Park is 13.50 euros. A cheaper ticket which grants access to the park and palace terraces, but not the state rooms, costs 7.50 euros, but the state rooms are pretty neat to see.
Quinta da Regaleira
Portugal has some incredible places to experience, which you will have heard of. With a bit of research ahead of time however, you’ll discover some of the less-famous gems like Sintra. Allow yourself some proper time for exploration and a great trip to Portugal will become spectacular.
G Adventures runs a number of departures in Portugal encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.