Sintra is a city located near Lisbon. It’s smaller than the capital city but it’s a charming place, full of extraordinary attractions that will please even the picky ones. We spent there one day visiting as much as we could. The city enchanted us and we would love to spend more time there. If you are planning to go to Lisbon, Sintra is a place you just have to see! Take a look at what you should visit there and how to organize your day trip to Sintra.
How to get to Sintra?
The easiest solution is to get there by train from Rossio station in Lisbon. It takes 40 minutes. The first trains leaves every day at 6 a.m. and other leaves every 20 minutes during the week and every 30 minutes on the weekends. One way ticket costs 2.25 euro and it can be charged on a transport card used in Lisbon for example Viva Viagem card. You can buy tickets in ticket office at the station on in special ticket machines. The trains are not really crowded, so you can easily find a place to sit, especially in the morning. You should get off on the last station called “Sintra”.
How to move around in Sintra?
You can easily get to the city center from the train station on foot. It should take 20 minutes. Also, from the center you can walk to Quinta da Regaleira. To other places like Pena Palace, you can take the bus 434. It’s not a very economic because the one way bus ticket costs 5 euro.
If you want, you can also walk to Pena Palace. It’s 3-4 km route up the hill so it’s a bit tiring. However, I believe it’s worth it if you have enough time. There are lovely views waiting for you on the way, especially of the Castle of the Moors:
What to see in Sintra?
From the train station, go to the city center. You will see a white, conical building from further distance. It’s a National Palace which used to be a summer residence for Portuguese kings and nowadays it’s open for visits. A ticket costs 9.5 euro.
Apart from that, it’s a good idea to walk through the narrow streets and try local sweets. Check sweet shop Casa Piriquita in the center and try pastel de Sintra 😉
Quinta da Regaleira
The first place we visited in Sintra and it stole our hearts. Quinta da Regaleira is located 15 minutes’ walk away from the National Palace. It’s a palace and a huge garden. When you buy a ticket you will get a map with all attractions of the park. I especially recommend you going down the well Poço Iniciático and passing through the tunnel. The entire park is full of interesting buildings and beautiful plants. What’s more, it’s located on a hill so there amazing views from there. Visiting the palace is a must too. When we were there, only one floor was open for visitors, other two were closed for renovation. However, it’s worth going inside to see the decorations, furniture and lovely azulejos on the walls.
Seeing the whole complex will take at least 2 hours. Ticket costs 6 euro.
We moved from Quinta da Regaleira to the most famous place in Sintra which is Pena Palace. Getting there took us around 1.5 – 2 hours. There are two entrances to the place, the main one and an entrance from the park. We chose the second one and we visited the park first. Most of toursits focus on the palace and thanks to that, the park was actually empty. Trust me, it derives attention 🙂
I don’t think I have to present the Pena Palace. A big and colorful construction overlooking the city is the symbol of Sintra. It was built in Romanticist style between 1840 and 1847. Many people say (and we actually agreed with that) the palace reminds the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. In fact, it’s the other way because Neushwanstein was built later than the palace in Sintra. All in all, both of them look like from a fairy tale.
History of the palace
Let’s focus only on Pena Palace. In 19th century it was a residence for the Portuguese royal family. After the revolution in 1910 it became a national monument and it was changed into a museum. The last queen of Portugal, Amélie of Orléans, spent there her last night before leaving the country and going to exile. It must have been hard for her to leave the walls of this charming place. Same like it wasn’t easy for us to leave the place and go to another place.
Nowadays, the interior of the palace is full of chambers that used to belong to the royal family. There are many objects preserved, you can see the bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms and even a kitchen. The only disadvantage is that there were really many tourists inside. I can’t imagine what happened there in high season if in March it was so crowded.
Where to find best view
If you want to escape from crowd and noise and still enjoy the amazing view, go up to the High Cross in the surrounding park. This is where all the famous pictures of the palace come from. You want regret going up. Hardly anyone goes there, well, the bus that goes around the park doesn’t get there so you have to walk to see it… There is so much to see. If the weather is nice and it’s sunny, just watch out! The risk is that you will fall in love with the view and you won’t want to go down 🙂
A visit in the palace and the park takes around 3 hours. The price of the ticket depends on the season. Until 24th of March the ticket to both palace and park costs 11.5 euro. Seems a lot but I think it’s worth its price. If you don’t want to go inside the palace, you can buy the ticket only for the park for 6.5 euro. Since the end of March until almost the end of October the combined ticket to park and palace costs 14 euro and to the park only 7.5 euro.
Castle of the Moors
Castle of the Moors (Castelo dos Mouros) is located near Pena Palace and it was the last stop in our visit to Sintra. Walking there from the palace takes around 15-20 minutes. The castle is a place with astonishing views. You can see Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira and other parts of the city from there. The castle was constructed in the 8th and 9th centuries during the Moors time in the Iberian Peninsula. When in 1147 the forces faithful to Afonso Henriques (the first king of Portugal) conquered Lisbon, the Moors surrendered the castle to the Cristian forces.
It’s an interesting part of the history and the castle is well preserved until now. In front of the entrance, there is an exposition of artifacts found during the excavations in the castle. If you don’t want to go inside the castle, you can always see the exposition.
However, in my opinion it’s worth seeing the castle, walk on its walls and admire the views. There you can also escape from the crowds of tourists. The castle of the Moors is underestimated and not many people go there. I think it deserves more attention. There was a moment when we were alone in the castle and we could enjoy the views and take pictures without being worried of photographing tourists in the background.
The ticket to the castle costs 7.5 euro and visiting takes around 1 hour.
The Castle of the Moors was the place we visited in Sintra. From there, we went to the train station and came back to Lisbon. Visiting Sintra, all the places mentioned above and walking everywhere took us around 12 hours. If you have limited time or budget and you have to resign from some attractions, I would recommend you most Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. The castle of the Moors is worth seeing too, however I believe that the price of the ticket is a bit high as for the time you need to visit everything inside. We spent much more time in Quinta da Regaleira. Nevertheless if you are not limited with time or money, you won’t regret seeing the three places 🙂
If you have already been to Sintra, share your opinion. What did you like most? Which place would you like to go back to?