Travel Guide to Sintra
As I mentioned in my travel guide to Lisbon, there are several places you can take a day trip and one of them is Sintra. When I was writing out the Lisbon travel guide, I realized that I needed to dedicate a post for Sintra. If you have to prioritize all the Lisbon day trips, Sintra should be on the top of your list!
Sintra is 25km from Lisbon, and it is known for its palaces and castles. It seriously looks like it is straight out of a Disney fairytale. Which by the way, I’ve heard that Walt Disney was inspired by Pena Palace for Disneyland’s castle. How cool is that!
I will admit, we didn’t dedicate enough time if you want to explore more of Sintra. We spent a full day and then before dinner we headed back to Lisbon. We had just enough time to visit Pena Palace and its castle. But if I could, I would love to have a day and a half so I can see more than Pena Palace and the town (it’s so cute!).
From Lisbon, you will need to take the train at Rossio Station. It will be the last stop (you will get off at the ‘Sintra’ stop). You’ll know, because it will probably be the most populated train and filled with touristy people. The ride is about 45 minutes. Not too bad!
I recommend getting on the train early, because as it gets later in the day, it gets more crowded. Also, it limits the amount of time you have to explore Sintra. We thought we were early by arriving at 10 am, and when we arrived at Pena Palace, there was already a very long line to get tickets. We waited about an hour. Therefore, I also advise buying tickets ahead of time!
When you arrive at the Sintra station, there are buses that can take you to the castle and palaces. If you plan on seeing Pena Palace, I recommend using the tuk tuk. Big thanks to my friend Kit for this recommendation! I think it cost about 10 Euros. Most of the the other castles and palaces are walkable, but not Pena. It is on the highest foothill of the Sintra Mountains. It will take you forever to get to the top of the mountain. Plus, it can be a little dangerous because the roads will be narrow, cars and busses will be driving by, and the incline is steep. The tuk tuk did make a fun ride!
Sites to See
If you can’t tell, Pena Palace is first sure a must see site. However, right when you get off the train station you can go to the National Sintra Palace (Palacio Nacional de Sintra). You can easily walk from the stop.
The town of Sintra is really cute and we briefly walked around it. If we had more time, we would explore the town more. Also, right next to the Pena Palace is Moor castle.
Check out this site for a full list of the palaces and castles in Sintra.
About Pena Palace
You can pretty much walk anywhere in Pena Palace. There are a few spots that are roped off, but overall you can see so much of it. Every corner and angle is picturesque. You can also see the interior, which we briefly checked out.
Not only are the castles beautiful, but the gardens are too! The garden is very large and it probably took us over an hour to walk through it. You walk from the top of the hill where the palace is located to the bottom of the hill. I also recommend having a map of the gardens, as you can easily get lost. There are several different paths to take. Some paths will take longer than others.
They also have several shops and a restaurant and cafe. We decided to have lunch in the restaurant and were actually impressed. The only downside is that they don’t serve everything that is listed on the menu. They only had a few options available. It seems that the menu is really just to list what they could be serving for the day versus what they are actually serving.
Where to Eat in Sintra
Now you know that the Pena Palace has a restaurant and cafe, however, there are other places to dine. The town of Sintra has several different restaurants. There are a few right by the train station. From what I hear, there are a lot of good restaurants in Sintra that serve traditional Portuguese cuisine.
Where to Stay
You can stay in Lisbon and take the train, which is what we did. But if you want to stay the night, there are a few hotels. They’re all boutique hotels and are relatively affordable with good ratings. I also heard that there are amazing Airbnb options as well!
This pretty much wraps up my guide to Sintra! Hope you all find this to be helpful! If you do end up going to other palaces and castles aside from Pena Palace, please let me know and share your thoughts!