On our trip to Lisbon, we had Sintra placed right near the top of a list of day trips we wanted to take. That’s no surprise, as searching any list of top attractions when visiting Lisbon, you will find Sintra on the list. Sintra is just a stone’s throw away from Lisbon and has a rich history dating back to ancient times. It was prized by Romans for its strategic location – and later became a royal retreat for Portuguese monarchs.
I would say that Sintra is a must-visit destination. It has charming palaces and castles, like Pena Palace, that reflect centuries of architectural and cultural influences – it was named a UNESCO World Heritage site, so as you can imagine, it’s a very popular attraction. No matter where you go in Sintra, you’ll find it an alluring spectacle.
Let me share my insights into how you can make the most of taking a day trip to Sintra.
Getting to Sintra
The easiest part of your day will be getting to Sintra. Here are some travel tips to help you make the most of it.
Take the Sintra Express if you prefer a hassle-free journey Just hop on the Sintra Express train from Lisbon’s Rossio Station. You will be taking a picturesque 40-minute ride that offers breathtaking views of the Portuguese countryside. Technically, it’s the quickest way to reach Sintra. Be sure to check the schedule and arrive early to secure your spot.
Alternatively, for a more romantic approach, consider taking a scenic bus or cab ride from Lisbon. This longer journey allows you to see serene landscapes, pass through charming villages along the way, and even give you time to stop to pick up some pasteis de nata. It’s a relaxing option for those who like the journey as much as the destination. I preferred the cab ride over taking the train.
As you arrive in Sintra, your eyes will immediately be drawn to the awe-inspiring Pena Palace. Quite frankly, it’s impossible not to stare and want to immediately take out your camera. This whimsical castle is at the top of a hill, overlooking the town like a dreamy mirage. Here are some helpful tips to make sure that you get the most out of your time here:
Can I buy my tickets now?
Absolutely, and you should. You will find everything you need to make a reservation on their official website. Even though you have tickets, you will not be able to enter until the exact time that you have purchased on your ticket. Every 30 minutes a line forms for that time slot and people can only enter then.
How much time do I need?
Give yourself at least two hours to explore Pena Palace. You will want to walk through the vibrant gardens, marvel at the intricate architecture, and step inside to discover room after room that is decorated with art and years of history. Don’t forget to climb the Queen’s Terrace for panoramic views that will take your breath away. be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as you will be doing a lot of walking.
How do I beat the crowds?
This is a very popular attraction and you are going to want to try to avoid the crowds – arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon. The midday hours tend to be busier but there is no time during the day that it will be deserted. Plan your visit accordingly for a more serene experience.
Can I visit all the castles on the same day?
Technically, yes, but I would not advise it. Just trying to check off each castle so that you can say you did it all will not be as rewarding as taking the time to get to know the treasure troves of sights that are just waiting to be explored.
What are other key attractions?
Visit Quinta da Regaleira, an extraordinary estate filled with mysterious tunnels, caves, and enchanting gardens – you can also find the infamous inverted tower. Stroll through Sintra’s historic center, with its charming streets, colorful houses, and quaint cafes. The entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage site
How to prepare for the weather?
We were not lucky and the castle had a layer of mist almost day – and it was quite cold. That is one of the downsides of visiting in Winter. Bring a jacket, just in case.
An Unforgettable Journey
Will you be able to see all of Sintra in one day? No, but even if all you have is the one day, taking a day trip to Sintra will be unforgettable.