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Home » Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Sintra Day Trip from Lisbon: Tips & Itinerary
Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Sintra Day Trip from Lisbon: Tips & Itinerary

Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Sintra Day Trip from Lisbon: Tips & Itinerary


Planning a Sintra day trip from Lisbon? Get ready to be captivated by the splendor of Pena Palace, the mysteries of Quinta da Regaleira, and the timeless beauty of the Moorish Castle. This Sintra guide cuts to the chase, offering you streamlined travel advice, insider secrets, and a snapshot of the enchanting experiences in this popular tourist destination. Discover Sintra’s most cherished sites, as well as savvy tips to navigate the town, all within an easy day’s journey from Portugal’s capital.

Ultimate Day Trip to Sintra

Sintra is a perfect day trip from Lisbon with its historic palaces and beautiful scenery; get an early start to avoid crowds, especially at Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira. It’s easy to reach Sintra efficiently by train. Located just 30 minutes from Lisbon, Sintra was a playground for Portuguese nobility and wealthy families who built beautiful houses and vast gardens.

The 434 bus, Uber, or tuk-tuks are good for getting around Sintra. To save time and money, purchase tickets ahead of time online for attractions like Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira, and consider visiting during the quieter spring or autumn seasons.

Is a Day Trip to Sintra from Lisbon Possible?

Sintra, with its unique blend of history and beauty, is indeed a possible day trip destination from Lisbon. Ancient castles, royal palaces, and grand estates densely packed into an explorable landscape make Sintra a captivating place. The rich tapestry of Sintra’s culture makes it a captivating place to spend an entire day (if not more). With its unique architectural styles and palatial retreats ornamenting the hillside, Sintra served as a summer sanctuary for Portuguese royalty.

A day trip to Sintra typically starts with a visit to the Pena Palace, situated at the top of the hill. This allows visitors to explore other attractions while walking downhill towards the town. An early start is recommended to get the most out of a day trip to Sintra from Lisbon.

Journey From Lisbon: Reaching Sintra by Train

Reaching Sintra by train from Lisbon
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Starting your Sintra day trip is as easy as hopping on a train. The journey from Lisbon’s Rossio Train Station to Sintra is a mere 40 to 45 minutes (Oriente Train Station is a bit longer), making the trip not only convenient but also fairly quick. Trains to Sintra depart roughly every 20 minutes, starting around 8 am, with the last train returning around midnight. This means you have plenty of flexibility when planning your day trip to Sintra from Lisbon.

It’s easy to travel to Sintra from Lisbon. The Sintra train station is the last stop on the line, and it stops close to the historic center.

The return train ticket from Lisbon to Sintra costs €4.60. To save time and avoid long lines at the ticket machine, consider using a reloadable Via Viagen card or booking it through Omio, which is what we did. Either way, it’s simple and efficient to manage your transportation during your visit.

As for the best time to start your journey, we recommend catching an early train. Not only does this give you ample time to explore Sintra, but it also helps you beat the crowds at popular attractions. So, why not grab that cup of coffee and catch the 8 a.m. train to Sintra? Your adventure awaits!

One Day Sintra Itinerary

One day Sintra itinerary
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When planning a trip to Sintra from Lisbon, you must start early. We suggest either starting at Pena Palace or Quinta da Regaleira. Most visitors start at Pena Palace as it is the most popular. If you decide to do Pena Palace in the afternoon, you can reverse this itinerary and start at Quinta da Regaleira which is closer to Sintra Station.

Ascend to Romanticism: Visiting Pena Palace

Visiting pena Palace in sintra Portugal
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Weekdays, especially in the early mornings or late afternoons, offer the best visitor experience for Palácio da Pena. So, as we said above, you should either book your timed ticket for opening or late afternoon near closing time. If you decide to go in the morning, directly from the train station, you should be ok to book your timed entry ticket for the first entry.

We suggest getting an Uber, taxi, or Tuk Tuk from the train station to get there quickly. You can catch the Sintra bus 454 at 8:50 a.m. and get to Pena Palace in 20 minutes. You can catch the bus right at the train station, but you should be prepared for long lines, especially during the high season.

But be aware that even if you get on the first bus at 8:50 a.m. and get there by 9:10, you still have another 15 to 20 minutes to walk to the palace entrance. You can grab one of the shuttle buses (€3), but if you are cutting it close, it may take you longer than walking after you wait in line to get on one.

Nowadays, like most popular places in the world, you have to visit via a timed entry. You can do this through the official website, where they give you a  15% discount if you purchase at least 3 days in advance, or you can do what we did and book it through Get Your Guide. We highly recommend pre-booking a date and time as far in advance as you can if you are looking to get in on the first or last entry of the day. This is especially necessary if you want to visit the inside of the palace. There are basically 2 ticket options available: the combined palace and park ticket or just park access. If you are not interested in going into the palace, you can opt for just the Pena Park ticket, but I think you would be missing out.

The Pena National Palace is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day, with the last entry typically at 5:45 p.m.

Inside Pena Palace

Pena Palace Sintra Video
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Regardless of whether you enjoy history and architecture, I think if you visit Pena Palace, you might as well go inside. You can expect to see different lavishly decorated rooms and cloisters adorned with traditional Portuguese azulejos, which are those blue Portuguese tiles you see everywhere in Portugal. The real highlight for us was walking the castle walls, admiring the views, and imagining what it must have been like to live here.

The Palácio Nacional da Pena is like stepping into a world of opulence and grandeur, where each detail invites you to immerse yourself in its beauty.

The Park of Pena

The Park of Pena in Sintra
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The enchantment of Pena Palace extends to its surrounding park, Parque de Pena. This park features a diverse array of plant species, contributing to Sintra’s romantic and exotic atmosphere. One of the most popular walks in Parque de Pena is the trail leading to Cruz Alta, a destination worth exploring.

From the Cruz Alta viewpoint, you can enjoy prime views of the palace, while a nearby unnamed peak provides a tranquil spot with uninterrupted views. So, why not take a leisurely stroll and let the beauty of nature captivate your senses?

The Moorish Influence: Discovering the Castle Walls

Moorish Castle in sintra
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The next stop is the Moorish Castle. Also known as Castelo dos Mouros, it is a gem that takes you back to the 8th and 9th centuries. Originally constructed by the Moors, it served as a fortified stronghold overlooking the Sintra region. A pivotal point in its history was when it came under Christian rule following the conquest of Lisbon and Santarém by Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal, in 1147.

Today, visitors to the Castelo do Mouros can walk along its castle walls and discover historical food storage methods, evidenced by silos carved into the castle’s rocks intended for preserving cereals. The Historical Interpretation Centre of the Moorish Castle provides visitors with a rich and interactive learning experience about the early occupants of the site. Despite its historical significance and panoramic views over Sintra, the Moorish Castle often experiences fewer visitors due to its exclusion from most guided tour itineraries.

So, if you’re looking for a quieter yet equally fascinating experience, the Moorish Castle is a must-visit. The strategic castle walls, historic charm, and breathtaking views are sure to make your day trip to Sintra an unforgettable one.

Sintra’s Royal Legacy: Unveiling the National Palace

Sintra National palace
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Stepping into the Palacio Nacional de Sintra is like stepping into a time machine, transporting you back to Portugal’s royal past. This palace has served as a royal residence since the 15th century and is recognized for its mix of Gothic, Manueline, Moorish, and Mudéjar architectural styles. The National Palace of Sintra is an icon of the town, easily recognizable by its large chimneys and striking white Gothic-style exterior.

Among the oldest parts of the palace is the chapel, dating back to the reign of King Dinis I in the 14th century. This chapel is adorned with intricate Moorish latticework, a testament to the palace’s rich Portuguese history. And then there’s the Coats-of-Arms Room, a significant addition by King Manuel I during the Age of Discoveries. The palace’s interior features elaborate tilework, painted ceilings, and rooms like the Swan Room, Magpie Room, Arab Room, and the Coat of Arms room.

The National Palace is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., with the last admission at 6:00 p.m. Adult tickets are priced at €13 and you can even get a discount with your Lisboa Card.

Quinta da Regaleira: A Mystical Journey

Quinta Da Regaleira video
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Quinta da Regaleira was our favorite place in Sintra. A grand house stands at the center of these sprawling gardens with fountains, towers, and even a chapel. Stepping into Quinta da Regaleira is like stepping into a different world, one filled with mysticism and intrigue. It was built in the early 20th century by António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro. Monteiro was a collector of art and rare objects, and he used the Quinta da Regaleira as a showcase for his collection.

The attractions at Quinta da Regaleira include:

Quinta da Regaleira Initiation Well sintra
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There’s so much to discover at Quinta da Regaleira. The main attraction, though, is the Initiation Well. This Gothic spiral staircase looks like an inverted tower descending deep into the earth. The inverted tower was used as an initiation to the Free Masons, symbolizing a journey of rebirth and filled with Masonic symbolism.

We were first in the gate and went directly to the Initiation well to get some photos and enjoy the well with little to no people. After that, there was a steady stream of people walking down the staircase, and guides rushed you along with barely enough time to grab a photo.

If you do want to visit here first, you can reverse this itinerary and head directly to Quinta da Regaleira from the train station in the morning and leave Pena Palace at the end of the day. We recommend this. Quinta da Regaleira is close to the train station and about a 15-minute walk from the city center.

This is another place where you will have to book your ticket in advance. Although there is no timed entry, you can get a skip-to-the-front-of-the-line ticket, which also includes a free audio tour. We highly suggest doing this as it allowed us to go right to the front of the line on our visit. One tip: there are usually 2 lines to get in, one for ticket holders and one for buying tickets on the day. Make sure you are in the right line.

Strolling Through Sintra Town: A Blend of History and Culture

Sintra Town in Portugal
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After exploring the palaces and mystical gardens, it’s time to stroll through the charming streets of Sintra town. The historic town center of Sintra is a beautiful example of Romantic architecture and it is fun to walk the narrow streets and staircases. It is easy to see why The Portuguese Royal Family cherished Sintra as their preferred holiday retreat.

Make sure you stop into some of the local restaurants and cafes that we recommend below, Sintra is a great place to sample some great Portuguese food.

Hidden Gems and Lesser-Known Sights

While Sintra’s main attractions, including its UNESCO World Heritage Site status, are amazing unto themselves, the town also has several hidden gems worth exploring. You may not be able to see all of these on just a day trip, but if you have a few days, you may want to check out some of these lesser known sites.

Monserrate Palace

Monserrate Palace in Sintra
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One such gem is Monserrate Palace, built in 1863, the palace is a blend of architectural styles, including Gothic, Moorish, and Indian, and its really is a sight you won’t forget. It was also once the home of Sir Francis Cook, a wealthy British businessman who was the first Visconde de Monserrat and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Inside the Palace the grand halls and huge rooms are filled with ornate furnishings and the detail is just amazing. Truthfully, the real attraction of the Monserrate Palace is the gardens. These sprawling grounds are a home to some 3000 different species of exotic plants and flowers. Make sure to give yourself ample time to walk through the gardens, they really are some of the most beautiful we have seen in our travels.

Cabo da Roca

And let’s not forget about the stunning sunset experience at Cabo da Roca, Europe’s most westerly point, and the free-access Vila Sassetti Mansion and Gardens with their hiking trails leading to rock climbing areas. So, while you’re exploring Sintra, don’t forget to venture off the beaten path and discover these hidden treasures that add to the town’s charm and allure.

Maximizing Your Time: Structuring Your Sintra Day Trip

Planning a day trip to Sintra from Lisbon can feel overwhelming, with so many things to cover. But, with some planning, you can easily maximize your time and experience the best of what Sintra has to offer. If you start early, ideally catching the 8 a.m. train from Lisbon, you will not only have a head start on the crowds but also get to see these amazing sites without a lot of people. Something that doesn’t happen often these days.

After exploring Pena Palace and its parklands, you can either continue on to the Castelo dos Mouros or return to Sintra town for a lunch break at one of the local establishments.

After lunch, you can visit the Palácio Nacional de Sintra and the Initiation Well at Quinta da Regaleira.

Finish up your day trip with dinner in the city center or near the Sintra train station before catching one of the frequent return trains to Lisbon, which run roughly every thirty minutes until midnight.

Navigating Sintra: Transportation Tips and Tricks

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Getting around Sintra is fairly easy, thanks to a variety of transportation options. One of the most affordable options is the 24-hour hop-on, hop-off ticket priced at €12.50, which can be used for tourist buses 434 and 435. The 434 tourist bus operates on a loop in one direction, just like public transport. Just be aware that it can become quite busy during peak times.

If ou are looking for a more flexible option then maybe a tuk-tuk private tour or hiring an Uber is more suited for you. Tuk-tuk tours can be arranged in advance or on the spot in Sintra, allowing visitors to travel flexibly between sights. However, securing an Uber pickup from elevated locations like Pena Palace can be tricky. We had drivers cancel our ride as we were waiting. If you’re considering taxi or tuk-tuk services, remember to negotiate the fare before the journey to avoid being overcharged.

While driving in Sintra is an option, we don’t really recommend it. The roads are extremely narrow, and parking is at a premium. We suggest leaving the car behind and walking.

That being said we don’t advise walking up to Pena Palace as it is farther than it looks on paper, and it is a steep incline. However, many people opted to walk down back to the city center when leaving Pena Palace. So, depending on your preferences, you can choose the best mode of transport that suits your travel style.

Culinary Delights: Where to Eat During Your Sintra Day Trip

Piriquita Bakery in Sintra Portugal
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As we mentioned above, a day trip to Sintra wouldn’t be complete without indulging in its culinary delights. From traditional Portuguese restaurants to famous local pastry shops, Sintra offers a variety of dining options to satisfy your taste buds. Quinta da Regaleira’s outdoor patio is a great spot to grab food and drinks. For pastry lovers, the Piriquita Bakery, dating back to 1862, is an absolute must-visit. Recommended by a tuk-tuk driver, this family-run bakery is now in its sixth generation and continues to delight visitors with its mouth-watering pastries.

For a delightful dinner experience, consider visiting places like Saudade, Incomum by Luis Santos, and Restaurante Metamorphosis near the Sintra train station. Whether you’re craving traditional Portuguese cuisine or looking to try something new, Sintra’s culinary scene is sure to tantalize your taste buds.

Planning Ahead: Ticket Purchases and Tour Options

Tickets and Tour options for your day trip to Sintra from Lisbon
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When planning your Sintra day trip, the number 1 tip we can give you is to purchase your tickets in advance. This can save you time and just make it a more enjoyable experience.

When it comes to exploring Sintra, you have the option to tour the town independently or choose from private group tours and day tours that include other destinations like Cabo da Roca and Cascais. Guided Sintra tours often save hassle as guides explain the background of the palaces, and private vehicle tours grant access to areas regular vehicles can’t, thus avoiding crowded public transportation.

So, whether you’re an independent explorer or prefer a guided experience, there’s a tour option to suit your needs. Just remember to plan ahead, pre-book your tickets, and consider your tour options to make the most of your Sintra day trip.

When to Visit: Timing Your Trip for the Best Experience

Best time to visit Sintra From Lisbon
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When planning your Sintra day trip, timing is key. The recommended seasons for visiting Sintra are spring and autumn, when the weather is pleasantly warm and the natural surroundings are particularly lush. During these periods, Sintra sees fewer visitors, making it an ideal time to explore the town at a relaxed pace. The weather is still mild during these seasons, making it ideal for exploring all of the attractions mentioned above.

If you have more time available, consider spreading your Sintra trip over two days for a complete and relaxed exploration. The best days to visit Sintra to minimize crowding are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays. Keep in mind that due to its elevation and proximity to the Atlantic, Sintra is generally cooler than Lisbon, especially during the summer.

So, whether you’re planning a short day trip or an extended stay, timing your visit right can significantly enhance your Sintra experience. From avoiding crowds to enjoying the best of Sintra’s weather, your perfect Sintra day trip is just a well-timed plan away.

Accommodations in Sintra: Extend Your Stay

Accommodation options in sintra
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For those who want to extend their Sintra experience, as we did, the town offers a range of accommodations to suit every budget and travel style. From budget hostels like Casa Azul Hostel to luxurious hotels such as Vila Gale Sintra, there’s something for everyone.

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Sintra, here are some options:

Whether you prefer the cozy ambiance of a budget hostel, the modern sophistication of a city hotel, or the luxurious comfort of a resort, you’ll find a place to call home in Sintra. So why not extend your stay and explore Sintra at your own pace?

Sintra promises an unforgettable day trip from Lisbon. Whether you hire a tour guide, book private tours or travel independently, Sintra will captivate and delight. So why wait? Start planning your perfect Sintra day trip today and immerse yourself in the magic of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before we go, let’s round up some of the key questions people have when planning a trip to Sintra.

Is a day trip enough to explore Sintra?

Yes, a day trip is enough to explore Sintra if you start early to avoid crowds and make the most of your time.

How do I get to Sintra from Lisbon?

The easiest way to get to Sintra from Lisbon is by taking a train from Rossio Station, which departs every 20 minutes and takes around 40 to 45 minutes. Enjoy your trip!

What are the key attractions in Sintra?

Sintra’s key attractions include the Pena Palace, Moorish Castle, Sintra National Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, Monserrate Palace, and Quinta da Penha Verde. Don’t miss out on these must-see spots when visiting!

When is the best time to visit Sintra?

The best time to visit Sintra is during the spring and autumn seasons when the weather is pleasant and the town is less crowded. Try visiting on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday for a more relaxed experience.

What are the dining options in Sintra?

In Sintra, you have plenty of dining options to choose from. Enjoy a quick bite at Quinta da Regaleira’s outdoor patio or indulge in pastries at Piriquita Bakery. For dinner, consider trying Saudade, Incomum by Luis Santos, or Restaurante Metamorphosis for a satisfying meal. During the high season, be sure to make a reservation. Enjoy your meal!

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