If you are traveling to Lisbon, you certainly won’t want to miss a day trip to Sintra. This gorgeous Portuguese town is famous for its medieval castles and beautiful palaces. We think it is worth visiting if you want an escape from the city.
The colorful Pena Palace makes the city a popular tourist destination, but there are plenty of things to do in Sintra for 2 to 3 days. If you have extra time, take a few days to explore this beautiful town.
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How to Get to Sintra from Lisbon
Most tourists opt to not have a car in Lisbon, which is a smart idea. However, you might want to have a vehicle to explore outside the city. If you have a car, you can take the IC 19 from Lisbon. We recommend parking at one of the car parks outside of the town center to avoid traffic.
It’s a fairly easy drive of 25 kilometers that takes between 45 minutes and an hour. You could also hire a private car to Sintra if that works best.
We think the easiest way to travel is by public transportation. It is fairly easy to take the train to Sintra from Lisbon. The train runs every 20 minutes from the Rossio train station to the Sintra train station. It typically takes about 40 minutes to reach Sintra. Note: You can also catch a train from Oriente Station to Sintra Town. This will take about 45 minutes one way.
PRO TIP: Sintra is a small town with many hills and narrow streets. If you arrive by car, make sure to find a good parking spot before you start your adventure. Due to the tourist traffic, driving around Sintra is generally not a good idea.
How Much is a Train Ticket to Sintra?
A single ticket to Sintra costs 2.25 Euros and a return ticket costs 4.50 Euros. You will need to purchase a Viva Viagem card the first time you take a train in Lisbon. If you don’t already have one, it is an additional .50 Euros to purchase the card. This rechargeable card can be used for all metro, tram, funicular, and train journeys in Lisbon.
How to get around Sintra without a car
After you arrive in Sintra, you can easily catch a tuk tuk (private mini-bike) that will get you where you need to go. Tuk-tuks zip around Sintra and unlike buses, they don’t require waiting if it’s not occupied by other passengers. Uber, Bolt, and Free Now ride-sharing options are also available in Sintra.
Another option is catching the 434 tourist bus. This bus stops at the Pena Palace, the Castle of Moors, and Sintra National Palace – the three most popular places to visit in Sintra.
A free alternative is an uphill walk on the steep hills of Sintra. However, the walk is pretty long and you might feel tired as you get to the end of it. If you don’t have a lot of time, I don’t recommend the walking option.
How much time do you need for a Sintra day trip from Lisbon?
I spent only one day in Sintra, while many other travelers prefer to spend up to two full days in this town. Although you may not see the entire town in one day, you will have enough time to see some of the major landmarks.
How much does it cost to see the highlights of Sintra?
- Lisbon to Sintra round-trip ticket: 4.50 euros
- Pena Palace/Castle of the Moors combined ticket that covers both sites is about 21 Euros. However, you can also buy separate tickets for each of these two sites. For example, a full ticket to Palacio da Pena is 14 euros. This includes the inside and the outside of the palace. The ticket that covers the grounds, or the outside part of the palace including terraces and nearby forested terrain only costs 7 euros.
- A ticket to the Castle of the Moors is 8 euros.
- Bus 434 costs 4.10 euros one way or 7.60 euros for a round trip.
PRO TIP: You can also get a skip-the-line ticket here:
Keep in mind that while you will skip the lines to the ticket office, you will not skip the lines to the entrance. You can also take advantage of a Sintra private tour if you want to make the most effective use of your time.
When is the best time to visit Sintra?
As with other popular places in Portugal, Sintra gets incredibly crowded in summer. This especially applies to its most popular landmark, the Pena Palace. If you want to skip the crowds, you might want to avoid visiting Sintra in summer altogether and wait until the middle of September.
If you happen to visit Sintra in peak season, arrive before the palace opens or later in the day when crowds recede. Another option is to book your tickets in advance which will allow you to skip the long lines at the ticket office.
Top Attractions in Sintra
The Pena Palace (Palacio Nacional da Pena)
Here’s a little fact about this place: While everyone calls the castle Sintra because of the name of the municipality where it is located, its name is actually The Pena Palace (Palacio da Pena). This colorful palace is one of the most popular attractions in Portugal. As such, we recommend starting your day trip to Sintra with a visit to the Pena Palace to avoid the crowds.
Pena Palace was originally a chapel built in the middle ages dedicated to Our Lady of Pena. In the 16th century, it was converted to a monastery, but that was destroyed by the Lisbon earthquake of 1755.
The place was abandoned until King Ferdinand II acquired the ruins in 1838 and set out to build a summer palace for his family. After his death, the palace and lands passed into the hands of his wife. On her death it passed to King Luis, until it was purchased by the Portuguese government in 1889 and transformed into a museum.
To visit the Pena Palace you will have to choose a date and time on the website. The time noted is when you can enter the palace. You will have time to explore the beautiful gardens and surrounding park area before or after your timed entry. Purchase your Pena Palace tickets HERE. Note: It takes approximately 30 minutes to walk from the entrance to the palace.
After visiting Pena Palace, you can simply walk down by taking one of the hiking trails through the Pena Gardens toward the town where you can find many cafes and restaurants.
The Castle of the Moors (Castelo dos Mouros)
The Moorish Castle is a medieval fortress built in the 8th and 9th centuries by the Muslims who conquered Spain and Portugal. It was taken over by Christian forces in the mid-12th century and was eventually abandoned in the 15th century. The castle was restored in the 19th century by King Ferdinand II. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit in Sintra.
While the Castle of the Moors is located fairly close to Pena Palace, you will have to do some hiking to reach it, as it is located up on the hill.
There are some epic panoramic views from the Castle of Moors, and it’s worth a visit, especially if you’re visiting Portugal with kids. They will love exploring all the nooks and crannies and walking along the castle walls.
Sintra National Palace (Palacio Nacional de Sintra)
Located in the city center, the National Palace of Sintra is easy to find thanks to its cone-shaped white chimneys. It’s located right in the historic center and was a popular place among Portuguese royalty for several centuries.
How to wrap up your Sintra day trip from Lisbon
Make your way to the center of Sintra, a historic old town with cobbled streets dotted with souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants. Rua das Padrias is a great place if you want to do some shopping. Here you can have a meal and take a look at several highlights such as Igreja de Santa Maria and Fábrica da Nata – home to some fabulous Portuguese custard tarts.
Additional stop in Cabo da Roca
Cabo da Roca is a dream come true for anybody who considers themselves a true adventurer. This is the most western point of continental Europe and worth a visit. Cabo da Roca can be easily reached on the way out of Sintra, as it’s only 17km away or 25 minutes by car. Note: If you would rather travel by bus, you can take the 403 bus from the Sintra Central train station to Cabo da Roca.
When you arrive in Cabo da Roca, it might not seem like much. The site has a lighthouse and a monument that features the words of the Portuguese poet Luis Camoes. To see the true beauty of Cabo da Roca, I recommend stepping closer to the fence. From here, you will see the dramatic cliffs towering above the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Take some time walking around the area and get on a trail that snakes right behind the lighthouse. You will be able to see some gorgeous scenery, especially on a bright sunny day. If you time it right, you can see a glorious sunset along the Atlantic Ocean.
Sintra is a popular day trip from Lisbon and it’s worth the effort. A Sintra day trip itinerary that covers the main attractions will provide a good overview of Sintra’s cultural landscape, and will surely inspire you to return time and time again.