A Day in Sintra
Near to the Portuguese capital Lisbon is the enchanting town of Sintra. The town is hidden within the Serre de Sintra mountain range and if you head up through the forest you’ll find the beautiful castles and palaces perched on top of the hills.
Due to it’s beauty Sintra has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each castle and palace has something different to marvel at and spending a day in Sintra exploring is like being in a fairytale!
Probably the most popular of all is Pena Palace and it isn’t hard to see why! As soon as you get there the amazing colours pop out against the green forest surrounding the palace and the romanticism style architecture is amazing to admire inside and out.
Pena Palace is located on top of a steep hill which means you get amazing views out over Sintra. Also to be explored is Pena Park, a maze of paths winding through the enchanted forest, up hills and down to the valley of lakes.
A short distance from Pena Palace are the ruins of Moorish Castle. This medieval castle was previously used to defend the region with its prime location spreading across the hilltops. Now you can walk the walls and explore the towers taking in the beautiful views of the surrounding region.
Pena Palace is close enough that you can see it from Moorish Castle. We walked between the two which took under 10 minutes but if you prefer to take the bus, hop off at Moorish Castle first and make Pena Palace your second stop.
Our last stop of the day was the beautiful Monserrate Palace and its surrounding exotic gardens. We found the intricate details and romantic architecture was the most stunning of all the palaces we explored. Monserrate was the quietest of all the palaces and castles, probably due to it’s location further from the town centre, but it is one definitely worth visiting if you have time!
There are two main ways to get to Sintra, by car or train. From the centre of Lisbon it is about a 30 minute drive but it can be tricky to get a parking space the busier it gets.
The best way to get there is by train. From Lisbon to Sintra takes about 40 minutes with trains running frequently from both Rossio station and Oriente Station.
To get up to the hills and to each place you use the hop-on-hop-off buses. A ticket costs €15 each and the buses have two main routes which run fairly frequently to the different palaces. The first bus starts at 09:00 in the morning and the last at 19:00 in the evening.
If you aren’t sure which palaces or castles you want to visit before you go, then you can buy tickets at the entrances to each one. Luckily when we went it wasn’t too busy and we bought a combined ticket for Moorish Castle and Pena Palace from the ticket machine which made it cheaper than individual tickets.
At peak times you might end up standing in long queues especially for the more popular places like Pena Palace. You can buy tickets before you visit on the Sintra Palace Website.
There’s so much to see in Sintra that one day isn’t enough to fit everything in! We got to Sintra just after 09:00 but finding parking and then waiting for buses can take some time. We recommend getting there earlier for the first bus to make the most of your day! We would have also ideally stayed in Sintra overnight to give us more time and freedom to explore.