Packed with colorful fairy tale palaces, rambling hilltop castles, and exotic flora, there are plenty of magical things to do in Sintra. Here’s all you need to know to plan a Lisbon to Sintra day trip.
A Lisbon to Sintra day trip is a magical voyage into the birthplace of Romanticism.
Once a simple monastery on a hill outside Lisbon, Sintra was converted into a flamboyant and decorative summer palace by King Ferdinand II. His mix of Gothic, Moorish, and Renaissance influences created a mishmash of decorative styles.
Ferdinand set his palace in a landscaped park introducing a vast array of exotic species of trees. The result is a truly unique place combining respect for the past with the beauty of nature.
More whimsical palaces and gardens would follow and in 1995, Sintra was recognized with a UNESCO World Heritage list.
There are plenty of wonderful things to do in Sintra, and unfortunately, it’s not possible to see them all in a single day. But our Sintra day trip captures all the main highlights – in the right order – so you can see the best while saving your legs from Sintra’s hilly climbs.
Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.
A DAY TRIP FROM LISBON TO SINTRA
Although there are many great things to do in Lisbon, It’s worth taking the time to make a day trip to Sintra.
In this guide, we’ll explain the best ways to get to Sintra on a day trip from Lisbon and cover the main highlights we think you shouldn’t miss.
Guided Tours to Sintra — If you want to avoid the effort of getting yourself to Sintra and focus on enjoying the best of this magical Portuguese gem, these fully-guided tours are well-rated and include skip-the-line entry as well as other attractions on the coast.
THINGS TO DO IN SINTRA
1 – PALÁCIO NACIONAL DE PENA AND GARDENS
Pena Palace was originally a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary, then a monastery in the 15th century. It was devastated by the earthquake in the 18th century when it was purchased by King Ferdinand II who converted it into his summer palace.
The old monastery was rebuilt along with a new European grand house surrounded by the battlements, watchtowers, and drawbridge of a faux castle. Islamic and Medieval Christian influences are spread throughout the palace with tiles, vaulted arches, and intricate carvings dominating the interior.
With a bright yellow monastery, a rustic red castle, and ornate battlements the whole sight could easily feel gaudy, tacky, and cheap. It’s all of those things, but also the perfect place to practice taking a selfie and one of the unmissable things to do in Sintra.
Ferdinand also meticulously landscaped most of the grounds which is a beautiful spot to stroll around.
HOW TO GET TO PENA PALACE
Take a tuk-tuk or a bus from Sintra Train Station to the lower entrance of Pena Palace, then walk up through the grounds to the palace.
The queues are shorter at the lower entrance than at the main entrance and the walk up through the interesting flora and Moorish-decorated architecture is open of the best things to do in Sintra.
How long — Allow around 1 hour and 30 minutes to explore the grounds and palace.
TICKETS & DETAILS | PENA PALACE & GARDENS
garden hours – 9 am to 7 pm daily (last admission, 6 pm) | palace hours – 9:30 am to 6:30 pm (last admission, 6 pm) | cost – €14 adults; €12.50 kids & seniors; €49 families.
booked online in advance (online discount applies)
2 – CASTELO DOS MOUROS (CASTLE OF THE MOORS)
Castelo dos Mouros sits on another rocky peak of the hill just a few hundred meters away. It was built in the 8th and 9th centuries by the Moors (Muslims that occupied the Iberian Peninsula at the time).
Its vantage point allowed it to control the Atlantic coast and the inlet to Lisbon. But it was not enough, and after Lisbon fell in 1147 the castle was captured by the Christian King Alfonso Henriques.
In 1755 an earthquake destroyed much of the castle leaving the tower in ruins. But just as he had renovated the monastery, in 1839 King Ferdinand II began restoring the castle as well. He rebuilt the chapel, repaired the walls, and reforested the area.
The castle is now a sight to behold with its walls meandering up and down the contours of the hill. Each turret provides excellent views over the surrounding area. Inside a small exhibition explains the Moorish history with artifacts found during various digs.
HOW TO GET TO CASTELO DOS MOUROS
Exit the Pena Palace at the main entrance, turn left on the road and after a couple of minutes, you will arrive at the Moorish Castle ticket office. The castle is another 5-minute walk beyond the ticket office.
TICKETS & DETAILS | CASTELO DOS MOUROS
hours – 9 am to 6:30 pm daily (last admission, 6 pm) | cost – €8 adults; €6.50 kids & seniors; €26 families.
purchase tickets online to skip the queues and save 5%
3 – HISTORIC CENTRE OF SINTRA
There is no denying that the center of Sintra old town can be busy and the restaurants touristy. But it’s not as bad as it could be. Take a stroll along the pedestrianized streets and narrow stairways admiring the cute shops, churches, and townhouses, and chances are you’ll be won over.
Grab lunch at Tascantiga. They do excellent tapas dishes with a decent wine list on the southern edge of town. If you score a table out the front, it’s a great spot for people-watching.
Stop off at Piriquita II for either their excellent pastel de nata or their signature pastry, chocolate salami – a slice of chocolate goodness packed with nuts and biscuits.
After you’ve taken in the old town and energized yourself with some calories, head towards Quinta da Regaleira.
HOW TO GET TO THE HISTORIC CENTRE OF SINTRA
Exit the Moorish castle and head into Sintra’s old town. Follow the path signed to Sintra which runs down the east side of the hill, then turn left on the main road into the old town. This should take around 20 minutes.
Taking the bus back to Sintra — Alternatively, head back to the ticket office at the Moorish Castle and get the 434 hop-on-hop-off bus into town.
4 – QUINTA DA REGALEIRA
What Ferdinand began; others would follow. Quinta da Regaleira, completed in 1910, is one of the more flamboyant decorative houses and gardens built in the area.
The property consists of an ornate palace, a small chapel, and an expansive park. The palace is impressive enough with gothic turrets rising into the air and ornate features carved into the façade. But the real attraction is the remarkable gardens.
Inspired by the mythological beliefs of the owner, every corner of the park has a hidden gem. Disney-like turrets and castellated walls poke through the trees. Grottos, fountains, ponds, and benches lurk in the undergrowth.
The star attraction of Quinta da Regaleira is the deep well that tunnels into the ground. Taking the spiral steps to the bottom is one of the best things to do in Sintra. A secret tunnel takes you over a cute bridge to exit the well.
HOW TO GET TO QUINTA DA REGALEIRA
Quinta de Regaleira is a 12-minute walk along the main road from the center of Sintra old town. Allow at least 1 hour and 30 minutes to explore the house and grounds.
TICKETS & DETAILS | QUINTA DA REGALERIA
hours – 10 am to 6:30 pm daily (last admission, 5:30 pm) | cost – €5 adults; children under 5 and seniors over 80 have free entry, although a ticket is still required
purchase skip-the-line tickets online
5 – PALÁCIO NACIONAL DE SINTRA
To finish your one-day in Sentra itinerary, you may just have enough time to look around the inside of the National Palace of Sintra. The National Palace was originally one of two Moorish castles in Sintra (the other Castelo do Mouros at the top of the hill). But nothing built during Moorish time has survived.
Instead, what stands here now was constructed by Christian kings in the 15th and 16th centuries.
It still contains significant Gothic, Renaissance and Moorish influences. It has been inhabited for much of the last 500 years, and it’s currently the best-preserved medieval royal residence in Portugal.
HOW TO GET TO PALÁCIO NACIONAL DE SINTRA
Exit the grounds of Quinta da Regaleira and make the 12-minute return walk back into Sintra town to Palácio Nacional de Sintra.
When you are finished looking around the National Palace either take the 10-minute walk back to Sintra Train Station or hop on the tourist bus one last time.
TICKETS & DETAILS | NATIONAL PALACE OF SINTRA
hours – 9:30 am to 6:30 pm daily (last admission, 6 pm) | cost – €10 adults; €8.50 & seniors; €33 families. Entrance to the garden is free.
book tickets online in advance to skip the queue and save 5%
HOW TO GET TO SINTRA FROM LISBON
Sintra is located 29 kilometers northwest of Lisbon in the beautiful Parque Natural Sintra-Cascais. While there are stunning castles spread all over the 145 square kilometers of the natural park, the most popular are centered around Sintra and are easily accessible on a day trip from Lisbon, or as part of a wider Portugal itinerary.
LISBON TO SINTRA BY TRAIN
One of the most cost-effective ways to get to Sintra is by train. The public transport system in Portugal is excellent and trains run regularly. There are two train lines operating from Lisbon to Sintra.
From Rossio Station, Lisbon — As Rossio Station is located in Baixa in the heart of Lisbon, most tourists will use this station to travel to Sintra. It’s also a beautiful building and a tourist attraction in its own right.
From Orient Train Station, Lisbon — Orient Train station is the main intercity station in Lisbon, connecting other cities throughout the country via train, bus, and metro. It’s located 2.5 kilometers from the airport so it’s the route you will take if you are traveling directly from the airport to Sintra.
LISBON TO SINTRA BY CAR
To explore a bit more of the area at your own pace, you can hire a car and do a road trip from Lisbon to Sintra, collecting some of the beautiful Portuguese coast on the way.
As traffic in Sintra has been a problem for some time, the local government has taken drastic steps to reduce the number of vehicles in the center of town. Only residents, city buses, and taxis are allowed in.
Where to Park in Sintra — If you are driving to Sintra, we’d recommend parking at Parque de Estacionamento P1 Sul (Av. Mário Firmino Miguel) and taking the bus into the center of town.
LISBON TO SINTRA BY TOUR
Fully-guided tours from Lisbon to Sintra include the main highlights plus one or two other attractions on the coast. All tours include skip-the-line entry and some offer hotel pick-up in Lisbon.
Here are a few we recommend.
HOW TO GET AROUND SINTRA – MAP
Sintra Train Station is the last stop on the line, and it’s located at the bottom of a hill, 1.5 kilometers from the historic town center.
There are 3 options for getting around on your Sintra day trip.
From the train station, it’s possible to walk around Sintra and see all the sights, however, this could be a very long day. The hills over which the sights are spread are steep and the distance soon adds up.
If you were to walk this entire itinerary, as well as around the sights themselves, you could easily cover 10 kilometers and 300 meters of ascent and descent. If you are up for the exercise, walking is a great way to see Sintra.
The 434 tourist bus does a one-directional loop past the major attractions in Sintra, before returning back to the station. It costs €6.90 for a hop-on-hop-off service or €3.90 for a one-way trip.
The first bus leaves Sintra station at 9:15 am and runs every 15 minutes during peak tourist times. The last bus is at 7:50 pm.
SINTRA 434 TOURIST BUS LOOP
stop 1 // Sintra Train Station
stop 2 // Historic Centre of Sintra (Palácio Nacional de Sintra)
stop 3 // Moorish Castle
stop 4 // Pena Palace
stop 5 // Sintra Train Station
TAXIS / TUK TUK
Tuk-tuk drivers operate from the train station and will run you up and down to Pena Palace. They charge around €5 per person, with the advantage that they will drop you wherever you want.
It’s a good idea to negotiate with them upfront about what you want to see, and where you want them to take you.
OUR RECOMMENDED WAY TO GET AROUND SINTRA
If you enjoy walking, but still want to have time to see all the best things to do in Sintra, here is our suggested method to get around –
- Get a tuk-tuk to the lower entrance of Pena Palace.
- Walk up to the palace through the gardens, which are beautiful.
- After visiting the Pena Palace, walk down the hill to collect the other sights in the order we have listed them above.
This way you’ll be walking downhill most of the day.
As Sintra can get very busy, especially during peak summer months, try to arrive at the lower entrance to Pena Palace when the gates open in the morning.
WHERE TO STAY IN SINTRA
If you decide to turn your day trip to Sintra into an overnight stay, there are several great places in the center of town allowing for a late-night stroll back from a local wine bar. Alternatively, a rural escape in the mountains is a great way to explore the area’s stunning scenery.
If you decide to head back to Lisbon, our accommodation suggestions are in our 3-day Lisbon itinerary.
SKIP-THE-LINE ENTRANCE TICKETS FOR THE SINTRA CASTLES
Queues at Sintra can be long, so we recommend buy your tickets in advance online to skip the queues. Use our links below (which will also include a 5% discount) to save the tickets to your smartphone.
Please note — Time might be tight to complete our one-day Sintra itinerary, so consider buying tickets for the Sintra National Palace when you get there, in case you run out of time.
THANKS FOR VISITING // WHERE NEXT?
A BIG THANK YOU
We’ve been providing free travel content on Anywhere We Roam since 2017. If you appreciate what we do, here are some ways you can support us
Thanks for your support, Paul & Mark.
USE OUR RESOURCES PAGE