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Discover the beauty of Sintra
A fairytale in the Sintra hills
Palácio da Pena was once the summer residence of the Portuguese Royal Family. The palace is like a crown, lying on top of a hill in the Naturpark Parque Nacional da Pena. Palácio da Pena looks like it comes straight out of a fairytale! It’s colourful, it’s super romantic, and the views are outstanding! When you visit Lisbon, it’s kind of like a must to see this beauty!
How to get to Sintra by train
Palácio da Pena is located in Sintra, in the Greater Lisbon area. It’s relatively easy to get to Palácio da Pena, but I’ll share some tips to make your visit easier, stress-free and potentially more comfortable.
From Lisbon, you can take a direct train to Sintra town. The most convenient way is to take a train from Rossio station in the heart of Lisbon. The trains run every 15 or 30 minutes (sometimes 60 minutes on Sundays in winter), and it takes around 40 minutes to get to the train station in Sintra. A round-trip ticket costs only € 4.30 with the Viva Viagem Card (price € 0,50), or you can easily use your Lisboa Card to get to the station in Sintra. There is a train service from Oriente Station also.
Comboios de Portugal has a unique combo ticket for €16 that is valid on the train and the bus. You can buy this “Train & Bus” ticket at the station in Lisbon. Most tourists use the Lisboa Card, which gives you free unlimited rides on the Lisbon-Sintra and Lisbon-Cascais trains.
How to get from Sintra Station to Pena Palace
Once you arrive in Sintra town, you can reach the palace in several ways. One of the easiest, probably most expensive, is by taxi or TukTuk. The price is often around €20 one way, depending on the driver, the number of passengers, and the season. Driving to Palácio da Pena yourself is not recommended as the roads are only accessible to busses and tour companies. Also, there are barely any parking spots, and driving the narrow windy roads can be challenging.
Outside the station, however, a bus will take you to Palácio da Pena. Bus 434 departs outside the station, and a return ticket costs €7.
On the way to the palace, it also stops at Castelo dos Mouros (the Moorish Castle) if you want to visit this site. The bus doesn’t stop there on the way back from Pena Palace.
Sportive travellers can hike up to the palace. On the maps, it looks like the walk is just over an hour, but don’t forget, Palácio da Pena lies on a hill, and it’s a beautiful but pretty tough climb. Also, there are plenty of hiking opportunities at the palace, so maybe you’d like to keep some energy to discover the palace gardens.
The last option is to go on an organised tour. Everything is organised for you, and it’s one of the easiest ways to visit Palácio da Pena. This way, you can sit back and enjoy the ride. As a bonus, you’ll also visit Cabo da Roca and Cascais. It’s a favourite day trip from outside Lisbon! Click here to read more about tours and places to visit in Sintra.
Book your day tour from Lisbon to Sintra
Tickets for Palácio da Pena
No matter which season you visit Palácio da Pena, chances are, it’s busy! Especially in the high season, you can expect some long queues. Not only to buy a ticket but also inside the palace. You can buy your ticket at the counter or a ticket on one of the machines. Palácio da Pena opens at 9:30 AM, so it’s advisable to come here as early as possible or later in the day. The sunset here is magical, after all! Another tip: buy a skip-the-line ticket so you don’t have to wait! In summer, you’ll have to book ahead of time to ensure you have a timeslot to visit Pena Palace.
The palace closes at 18:30, and the park closes at 19:00. The ticket price is €14 per person, and children and seniors receive a discounted price. There are family tickets for two adults and two children for €49. This ticket gives you access to the park and the palace, the Chalet and Garden of the countess Edla, the Valley of Lakes and Little Birds Fountain, and the Sentry Walk. A park-only option is also available.
A little bit of history
The history of Pena Palace goes back to the 12th century. Back then, there was a small chapel. Until King Manuel I decides to build the Royal Monastery of Our Lady of Pena. The Sintra hills became a place of even more beauty!
When the earthquake struck in 1755, the Monastery was heavily damaged and was left in ruins. For over a century, the Monastery remained active, but it had to be abandoned. In 1836 a royal change came to the Monastery.
Queen Maria II married Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and they changed the ruins into a beautiful fairytale palace. It became a summer residence for the royals, and although the idea was simply to restore the buildings, the construction changed considerably! There are many Moorish influences and thousands of colourful tiles, and the rooms are out of this world.
Since 1910 the Palace of Pena has been classified as a National Monument. Known as the Jewel of Sintra, it’s easy to see why! In 1995 the palace received classification as World Heritage by UNESCO.
5 sights you shouldn't miss
As well as Palácio da Pena, there are more places to visit that you shouldn’t miss. First up is the Sentry Walk. This walk leads to the outside of the castle towers, and the views are just stunning! You can see the Moorish Castle, the Regaleira Estate and Sintra town. When the sky is clear, you can see the Sintra beaches, the Convent of Mafra, Ericeira, and even the Berlengas Islands on the coast of Peniche!
The second place is the Vale dos Lagos e Pateira, or Valley of Lakes and Little Birds Fountain. Around the palace, you’ll find this peaceful garden, and it’s a beautiful walk down. You’ll surround yourself with gorgeous flowers and immense trees.
Number three on the list is the Manueline Cloister. You’ll see the types of Hispano-Mudéjar tiles and beautiful geometric motifs.
Lastly, hike to the Temple of Columns and the Warrior Statue. They are relatively short walks, and the views are oh so worth it! You will most likely at least stay half a day exploring Palácio da Pena and the surrounding gardens. Visiting the palace is a perfect day trip from Lisbon. Back in town, you can have a look at Palácio Nacional de Sintra, or you can combine the palace with the Moorish Castle. You won’t forget the beauty of Sintra, that’s for sure!
Bonus tips for your visit to Pena Palace
Tip number 1: The weather is always a little different in Sintra. Bring a jumper even on warm days; the clouds and wind can make it chilly up there!
Tip number 3: This one ties in with tips 1 and 2. In summer, forest fires in the Sintra hills may occur. On risky days, Pena Palace will not open for obvious reasons. Did you buy a ticket in advance? Contact your ticket provider to reschedule your visit or get your entrance refunded. The same might happen with heavy rains or other treacherous weather conditions.
Tip number 4: in Sintra, there is SO much to see. Don’t go back to Lisbon yet, and stay the night! In the evening, you have Sintra town to yourself, and you can be the first person to visit the next site the following day. Other places of interest are Quinta da Regaleira and the Initiation Well, Convento dos Capuchos, Palácio Nacional de Sintra, MU.SA – Museu das Artes de Sintra, and Parque e Palácio de Monserrate.
Where to Stay
I hope these tips for visiting Sintra and Palacio da Pena will help you during your holiday. Don’t forget to comment on how your trip was! Or maybe you have any other tips we can all enjoy when we visit this beautiful place.
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Is a visit to Pena Palace worth it? Absolutely! Many people combine a visit to Palacio da Pena with Quinta da Regaleira. Two sights can be visited in one day, and you’ll need around 2 hours at Pena Palace and 3 hours at Quinta da Regaleira, depending on the season. Some travellers like to add more sights in Sintra, but this could be extremely tiring unless you book a tour. Also, you’ll only see a small area of each palace as mostly the gardens are huge! And well worth it! So for a stress-free visit to Sintra Town, it’s even nicer to spread your plans and stay the night! Don’t forget your camera!