Everything You Need To Know For A Day Trip To Sintra
Sinatra is a MUST DO day trip from Lisbon. It’s unbelievable that a place like this even exists. It is a longtime royal sanctuary set upon beautiful forested terrain that is covered in pastel-colored villas and palaces… lots of them! It’s only a 45 minute train ride or half an hour Uber or Taxi ride. Now, there’s a lot of tricks to tackling Sintra in one day. Most of which will save you tons of time. Nick and I did an immense amount of research for our day trip to Sintra, and I’m bringing you all the must knows from that research and our day spent here alllllll in one place! This is EVERYTHING you need to know for a day trip to the incredible, Sintra.
The easiest and most inexpensive way to get to Sintra is to take the train. It’s super easy because there are regular trains that leave from Rossio station in Lisbon that take you directly to Sintra. The trains run every 10 minutes in the summer and every 30 minutes other times of the year.
Everything we read said that 2 palaces was enough in a day. It’s a lot of walking and is definitely tiring. There were 4 that we REALLY wanted to see, and since we only had one day, we decided we didn’t have a choice but to MAKE IT WORK! We successfully saw 4 palaces and wouldn’t have had it any other way. The day was exhausting, but well worth it. We walked over 10 miles that day (much of which is on A steep incline or decline ( and there were tons of stairs). Even in the comfiest shoes, our feet hurt, so make sure to wear your most comfortable sneakers to make the long day more pleasant!
Here is the KEY to doing Sintra in a day. You MUST get there early and you MUST buy tickets ahead of time. The palaces open at 9:30am and there WILL already be lines. To skip a lot of the lines, make sure to buy your tickets online in advance (buy them HERE). This will save you a ton of time and will make your day run more smoothly with less stress.
The Pena Palace on the Portuguese Riviera, exemplifies the 19th century Romanticist style of architecture, and was constructed starting in 1836. It is absolutely the busiest of all the palaces, so start your day here. I recommend arriving right when it opens. To do so, it’s best to take an 8 or 8:30 am train from Lisbon. When you arrive in Sintra, walk straight through the train station (those lines are people waiting to buy tickets who didn’t already) and exit the front and walk left outside the doors of the station and jump in a taxi. There will be taxis there, then head via taxi to Pena Palace. It was about 10 euros from the train station to Pena Palace, and we got there quicker than HUNDREDS waiting for busses or other forms of transportation. If you don’t want to spend the extra $$$ for a taxi which I totally understand, there are bus lines that run from palace to palace that you can easily take as well! These are the busses you have to look for depending on which palace you’re headed to.
Sintra Train Station
National Palace of Sintra
Castle of the Moors
Sintra Train Station
National Palace of Sintra
Quinta da Regaleira
Pena Palace was better than the photos. This sounds cheesy, but being here was the closest I ever felt to being a Disney princess. This place is INSANE.
Castelo dos Mouros
This hilltop Medieval castle used to be a military fort, serving as an outpost for the city of Lisbon, and was constructed between the 8th and 9th centuries. It’s really easy to get from Pena Palace to Castelo dos Mouros on foot. When you exit Pena Palace, it’s about a 20-minute walk down the hill towards town to get to Castelo dos Mouros. If you take a left out of the Pena Palace gates and head down the road, about 5 minutes down on the right side you will see a gate to a dirt path. Follow the path about 10 minutes, and it will drop you directly to the entrance of Castelo dos Mouros. If on foot isn’t an option for you, you can get there by tuk tuk or cab, but it was explained to us that it was a little longer to do it this way because it’s a one-way road.
Quinta da Regaleira
The property consists of a romantic palace and chapel, and is known as "The Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire", which is based on the nickname of its best known former owner. Construction was started in 1904. Getting here wasn’t quite as simple. From Castelo dos Mouros, you walk to the town center and look for the “signs” that are supposed to be there…we didn’t find signs, but the town is bustling with people, and we asked a nice local shop owner how to get there, and they gave us simple directions. It was a bit of a hike, probably a total of 35 minutes from the last castle on foot. If you’re trying to minimize walking time, Quinta da Regaleira is the castle I would eliminate from your day in Sintra. It’s absolutely beautiful, but it’s an entire compound and is extremely spread out, so it adds a lot of time and steps to your day. If you’re up for all those steps and a very long day, definitely go see it!
Palacio de Monserrate
The palace is a beautiful summer mansion that blends Arabic, gothic and Indian architectural styles and is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Construction started in 1863. Based off of everything we read, the best way to get to Palacio de Monserrate was by taxi or tuk tuk. When we left Regaleira, there happened to be a tuk tuk right outside. Tuk tuks are priced per person, so slightly more expensive than cabs. Some had a 20 euro minimum, but we were able to get one from Monserrate to Regaleira for 10 euro. It’s just about a 10-minute drive down the road to get to Monserrate and then another 10-minute walk from the entrance to the palace. This was my second favorite of all the palaces; it was very different, more quaint and much quieter than the others. The grounds are absolutely breathtaking, and if you have the time, I would highly recommend a visit here to cap off your day in Sintra.
Our plan to get back to Lisbon was to take a cab to the train station and take the train back, but when we called an Uber, after a few minutes of chatting, he told us he would take us all the way back to Lisbon for 20 euros. And after 11 miles and 8 hours on foot, that sounded pretty nice! So that’s exactly what we did! Sintra surpassed all of my expectations! It’s an absolutely magical place, and you absolutely must take a day to visit while you are in Lisbon! As always, let me know if you have any questions, and I hope this is helpful for your visit to Sintra!