Sintra, with its colourful Romantic palace, Moorish castle, lush gardens and bustling town, make this UNESCO World Heritage site a perfect day trip from Lisbon. The summer destination of choice for royalty since the 15th century ensures it attracts a constant stream of visitors. Read our guide for the best of Sintra in a day.
Getting there from Lisbon
Mode of transport: Train from Cais do Sobré station to Cascais.
Cost: €40 (Adult return) – purchase Sintra Green card combined ticket. Includes train, bus travel, and entry to Sintra.
At Sintra: The Sintra Green card includes the 434 bus that loops Sintra.
Journey time Sintra: 40 minutes
Need to know
Visa: From 1st January 2021, UK residents can visit Portugal for 90 days maximum in any 180 day period.
Travel: See the FCDO website.
Currency: Euro (£1 = €1.11 approximately).
Language: Portuguese and Spanish. English is spoken and understood.
Best time to visit: February to September.
The best of Sintra in a day
- Pena Palace and Park – Free (included in Sintra Green card combined ticket)
- Moorish Castle – €8 (Adult)
- Sintra National Palace – Free (included in Sintra Green card combined ticket)
- Sintra Town – Free
Note: Queluz Palace is at Belem on the route between Sintra and Lisbon, so it is not walkable. The ticket does not include entry to Moorish castle.
Pena Palace and Park
From the drop-off point, head to Pena Palace. Resist the temptation to look outside, beat the crowds, head to the interior first, then come out onto the terrace for the scenic views. To finish, complete the wall walk.
Triton Terrace, Courtyard of the Arches, and Sao Martinho church
Head to the Triton Terrace leading to the Courtyard of the Arches and then Sao Martinho church.
Garden of Camellias and Valley of the Lakes
The 1840s saw the introduction of camellias to the gardens imported from China via England. The gardens are part of a manor house which is a venue for special events in Portugal.
The English Garden and The Fountain of the Small birds
Walk through the English garden to reach the Fountain of the Small birds, which is an Islamic style domed pavilion.
The Stables, Garden of Azaleas and the Greenhouses
The Stables at Pena Farm is a restored 19th-century building located at the western edge of Pena Park. Further along is the Garden of Azaleas with azaleas, rhododendrons, and bamboos. Plants and vegetables grow in the greenhouses.
The Chalet of the Countess of Edla
The chalet built in the 1860s by Don Fernando II for the Countess of Edla adopted an alpine design. The love story between the two made a perfect retreat. The windows and door frames use cork. The balcony juts out and encircles the entire upper floor. The interiors are rich with stucco, frescoes, and copper.
Moorish Castle (Castelo Mouros)
Moorish Castle, originally a military fort built in the 10th century, is a five-minute uphill walk from Pena. At the castle is the Guard House, Arms Square, Walls of Moorish Castle, Door of Betrayal, Royal Tower, Castle Keep, and Old Stables. A walk along the perimeter walls offers the best views across the Sintra hills, Lisbon city, and the Atlantic coast.
Sintra National Palace
A hunting lodge, summer retreat, and royal residence were some of the Palace of Sintra’s uses. Several rooms are worth seeing, such as the Arab Room, Swan Room, Magpie Room, Palatine Chapel Blazons Hall, and the Coat of Arms Room with 72 coats of arms on the ceiling. The grounds are impressive, with well-manicured greenery.
The historic centre of Sintra, or Vila de Sintra, has many bars, restaurants, and historic buildings. Exploring the town is worthwhile, with independent shops selling ceramic goods and wine.
Food and drink
Food ranges from local cheap eats to Michelin-starred restaurants.
Cheap – Restaurante Pendoa, a small, local family-run place. This is no-frills Portuguese dining, served quickly, which is ideal for lunch.
Fine dining – A Raposa is a restaurant perfect for dinner. The squid ink risotto and foie gras is a good choice.
Sweet tooth – Casa Piriquita has been serving pastries for 160 years. Try the travesseiros en queijadas, puff pastry with eggs and almond cream inside.
Drinks – This busy local bar, Salla de Estar, serving cheap cocktails and vegetarian food. The staff are friendly, and the bar has a great, lively atmosphere.
Sintra should be top of the list for anyone visiting Lisbon. Two days allows enough time to explore the comprehensive list of attractions. It is possible to see the best of Sintra in a day.
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