Sintra – A day-trip guide from Lisbon, Portugal

Sintra – A day-trip guide from Lisbon, Portugal

With a unique combination of majestic castles and lush forests, it’s easy to see why Sintra is becoming one of the most popular day-trip destinations in Lisbon. This UNESCO World Heritage site is located only 30kms from the Lisbon city centre and is a must-see for any trip to Lisbon. I’ve put together a collection of the best attractions, transport and accommodation to help you plan your trip to this amazing city!

 

BEFORE YOU LEAVE – PACKING FOR SINTRA

Sintra is jam-packed full of things to see, however, most of the attractions require a hell of a lot of walking, so make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes and take some water with you. The Castle of the Moors is almost entirely un-shaded, so slap on that sunscreen!

If you want to make the most of your time in the mountains, I suggest packing a picnic lunch. The lush Pena Park surrounding the castles is the perfect spot for a relaxing bite to eat. Alternatively, you can treat yourself to a sit-down lunch at the café within Pena Palace.

A day-trip guide to Sintra, Portugal

 

GETTING TO SINTRA – CAR OR TRAIN

While you can drive to Sintra, the roads become quite narrow in the mountain, and you’ll encounter a few issues when it comes to finding a car park. I suggest catching the ever-reliable train; it’s cheap and super easy!

  • The Lisbon to Sintra train runs every 30 minutes from the crack of dawn, until late at night.
  • The train leaves from Lisbon’s Rossio Station located in Rossio Square.
  • The train is quick! Taking only 40 minutes.
  • Tickets cannot be pre-purchased as the trip to Sintra is considered an “urban” route. You can buy your ticket from the station via the automatic ticket machines or the ticket booth for only €2.25 (one way).
  • Train times can be found on the Comboios De Portugal website.

A day-trip guide to Sintra, Portugal

 

GETTING AROUND SINTRA – BY BUS AND ON FOOT

The best way to navigate the steep slopes of Sintra is via the “Pena Tourist” Bus 434. The bus is a “hop on, hop off” service offing round-trip connections to:

  • Sintra Station
  • Sintra Historic Center
  • Castle of the Moors / Castelo dos Mouros
  • Pena Palace

Utilising this bus will allow you to make the most of your time in Sintra, taking you straight to the main points of interest a lot quicker than on foot. While we did use the bus to reach the Castle of the Moors, we made the onward journey to Pena Palace by foot. There are some amazing views along the way that you simply miss by catching the bus.

Practical information for using the 434 bus service:

  • The bus runs approximately every 15 minutes in summer and every 20 minutes in winter. For an up-to-date timetable, visit the Scotturb Transport website
  • Tickets can be purchased from the bus driver or at Sintra Station – A full day ticket will cost €7.
  • Be prepared to wait – Even in the off-season, lines for buses can be long. If you are able, sometimes it is quicker to walk to your next destination.

A day-trip guide to Sintra, Portugal A day-trip guide to Sintra, Portugal

 

PALACE OF SINTRA – PALACIO NACIONAL DE SINTRA

The Palace of Sintra (also known as the Town Palace) was built in the Moorish period and is located downhill of the Castelo dos Mouros. In 1910 it was declared a “National Monument” and today is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Palace of Sintra is right in the middle of the Historical Town Centre and should be your first stop on your day trip. Jump off the 434 bus at the first stop and soak in the beauty of this Moorish royal residence.

For ticket prices and opening times, check the Parques de Sintra website.

 

CASTLE OF THE MOORS – CASTELO DOS MOUROS

The castle was originally built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries. However, the castle sustained substantial damage when it fell to Christian forces in the 12th century, and again during the Lisbon earthquake in the 18th century.

From the 19th century onwards, significant work went into restoring the castle walls and clearing the surrounding overgrowth. The result? A spectacular fortress, with rings of stone stairs offering panoramic views of the city of Sintra below.

Besides the obvious appeal of this stunning Moorish castle, there is the added bonus of cute little kitties while you explore. That’s right guys, the cats rule this castle and I am LOVING it.

Out of all the stops on our trip to Sintra, this was my favourite. I will mention though, there are a lot of narrow stairs to climb before you reach the top. Make sure you leave yourself enough time to explore the castle fully; the hike is tough, but the views are worth the effort!

For ticket prices and opening times, check the Parques de Sintra website.

A day-trip guide to Sintra, Portugal  A day-trip guide to Sintra, PortugalA day-trip guide to Sintra, Portugal

 

PALACE OF PENA – PALACIO DA PENA

The distinctive Palace of Pena is 1 of the 7 wonders of Portugal and a must-see during your time in Sintra. In the 19th century, King Ferdinand II converted this once monastery, into the palace we see today!

Its vibrant yellow and pink towers are something out of a fairy-tale, often likened to a Disney castle. But in my eyes, all I could see was Peach’s Castle from Mario Kart 64! Am I right?

Tickets can be purchased including access to the Palace (exterior and interior) and also the surrounding Park. Some of the best views of the castle are found in the surrounding forest, so if you have the time it is definitely worth the extra cash!

For ticket prices and opening times, check the Parques de Sintra website.

A day-trip guide to Sintra, Portugal A day-trip guide to Sintra, Portugal

 

HIKING PENA PARK IN THE SINTRA MOUNTAINS – SERRA DE SINTRA

If you have time after all that castle hopping, be sure to take a hike through Pena Park. Created by King Ferdinand II, the park is home to a large variety of plants and boasts some of the best viewpoints in Sintra.

In my opinion, you can’t go past the Cruz Alta (“high cross”) trail if it’s panoramic views you’re after. The Cruz Alta is the highest point of the Sintra Mountain Range at 529 metres above sea level. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see Lisbon and the Tagus River off in the distance.

Check out the Pena Park walking map to plan your route!

A day-trip guide to Sintra, PortugalA day-trip guide to Sintra, PortugalA day-trip guide to Sintra, Portugal

 

WHERE TO STAY – SINTRA AND LISBON ACCOMMODATION

My preferred site for accommodation is booking.com. It’s quick, easy and lists everything from boutique hotels to B&B’s and serviced apartments. After only 5 bookings, you instantly become a “Genius” member which gives you 10% off selected accommodation. If you’d like to give it a go, use my affiliate link below!

I highly suggest booking accommodation in the Lisbon city-centre and making your way to Sintra from there. Josh and I spent an amazing 4 nights in the Garrett 48 Apartments right in the heart of Lisbon’s city centre, I can’t recommend this place highly enough, check it out via my affiliate link – Book here!

Alternatively, there are plenty of options for accommodation in Sintra itself. Check the full listing out here!

Check out the amazing Garrett 48 Apartments for your next Lisbon trip! Check out the amazing Garrett 48 Apartments for your next Lisbon trip!

It’s easy to see why Sintra is such a popular day-trip from Lisbon. You’ll be met by large crowds during the warmer months and on weekends, so I suggest planning your trip in the off-season or on a weekday if possible. If not, arrive early and be prepared! Sintra is well worth battling through the crowds!

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This article contains affiliate links; all opinions and photos are my own.

Eager for more of Portugal guides? Check out my guide to a day-trip to the Belem District of Lisbon, Portugal.

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A day-trip guide to Sintra, Portugal



1 thought on “Sintra – A day-trip guide from Lisbon, Portugal”

  • Since the 19th century, considerable work has gone into restoring the walls of the castle and cleaning up the surrounding sprawl. And it turned out well! Good job

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