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Where and what is Sintra?
Sintra is a town and municipality just outside of Lisbon in Portugal. It’s part of the Greater Lisbon region, and Sintra is known for its palaces, historic castles, parks, gardens, and stunning beaches. It’s one of the most popular tours from Lisbon, and there are many Sintra day trips from Lisbon to choose from. It usually takes less than an hour from Lisbon’s city centre to get to Sintra.
Benefits of booking Sintra day trips from Lisbon
If time is short, the easiest and best way to visit Sintra is with an organised tour. Everything will be ready from start to finish with the Sintra day trips from Lisbon, and you can fully enjoy the day in this magical place. Your guide will know all the ins and outs of the locations you visit. That makes it not just a beautiful day out but also an educational one. Many tours offer hotel pick-ups or have a central meeting point in Lisbon. Booking a group tour is also a great way to meet new people. Or book a private tour for your travel group, so you enjoy a personalised day out. Especially for the first trip to Sintra, an organised day trip to Sintra is the ideal way to discover the sights.
Drawbacks of excursions to Sintra
Sintra day tours from Lisbon are more expensive than organising the trip yourself. It will also take some time to plan out your day. Which palaces do you want to see? Which sights are to be noticed? On the other side, visiting Sintra independently allows you to visit whichever place you want and when you want! A day tour to Sintra can feel rushed, and you can only see the most popular sites in Sintra as the excursions have a pre-set itinerary. This probably means you’ll run into big crowds in the high season and miss hidden gems in Sintra.
Organised Sintra day trips from Lisbon
Most Sintra day trips from Lisbon combine a couple of places and other sights in the area. One of the most popular routes is a visit to Palácio da Pena followed by Quinta da Regaleira. You’ll visit the cliffs and lighthouse in the afternoon at Cabo da Roca. The last stop is a visit to Cascais before heading back to Lisbon.
Other popular combinations are Palácio da Pena, the Moorish Castle and Quinta da Regaleira. Or Palácio da Pena, Palácio Nacional de Sintra, and Quinta da Regaleira. Below are some of the most popular options and excursions to Sintra.
Skip the line tickets in Sintra
Booking your tickets online is always recommended when you visit the palaces and sights. So when you make a Sintra day trip from Lisbon independently, and not with a guided tour, be sure to be prepared. Especially in summer, chances are there are no more tickets available to the palaces. When you come to Sintra without an organised tour, be sure to book your tickets in advance. If you book an organised tour, the tickets are usually included.
What can I see in Sintra?
Sintra is a unique place full of palaces, villas, museums, and natural beauty. If you have time, it’s a place not to miss when you’re in Lisbon. Below you’ll get an idea of places you can visit in Sintra, but there is a lot more!
Sintra Town is a charming place in the hills of the Sintra Mountains. Woods, hills, villas and palaces surround the municipality of Sintra, and the old town is a labyrinth of small streets, cosy restaurants and lovely shops.
There are numerous museums to visit in the little town. Examples are the Natural History Museum, Ferreira de Castro Museum House, Anjos Teixeira Museum House, the News Museum, Museo de Bonsai, and the Sintra Art Museum MU.SA. Please note that the museums are closed on Mondays.
Parque e Palácio Nacional da Pena
The number one spot people visit is Parque e Palácio Nacional da Pena. Pena Palace stands on top of a hill, and it was once the summer residence of the Portuguese Royal Family. During your visit, you can visit the palace and the park. In the park, you’ll discover Templo das Colunas (Temple of Columns), Estátua do Guerreiro (the Warrior Statue), and Cruz Alta (the High Cross). Don’t forget to visit the mesmerising Valley of Lakes and Little Birds Fountain (Vale dos Lagos e Pateira) below the palace. Read more about Pena Palace.
Castelo dos Mouros
If you plan the Sintra day trips from Lisbon yourself, seeing Castelo dos Mouros first and Palácio da Pena second is more manageable. Castelo dos Mouros is located just below Pena Palace, built on the same hill. The easiest way to get here is by tuk tuk. The distance between the two is walkable, and many people visit the two places simultaneously. The Moorish castle was built in the 10th century, and from the castle walls, you’ll enjoy a stunning view over Sintra and the mountains. Many organised tours have both the castle and Pena palace included.
Parque e Palácio de Monserrate
A little further out of town, you’ll discover the beauty of Parque e Palácio de Monserrate. Even in the height of the season, the park and palace are much quieter than the most famous Sintra sights. The garden is simply stunning and a tranquil paradise. The palace has a rich history which you’ll discover during your visit. The building has Indian, Gothic, and Moorish influences. If you travel independently, you can reach Parque e Palácio de Monserrate by bus, car, or taxi. To read the whole post, please click here to read it.
Convento dos Capuchos
One of the most challenging places to get to (unless you take a taxi or drive) is Convento dos Capuchos. The Convent of the Capuchos is situated in the middle of the forest of the Sintra Mountains. The Franciscan convent, also known as the Convent of Cork, was first built in 1560. A lot of cork was applied as a finishing, hence the nickname. Read more information about this tranquil place here.
Palácio Nacional de Sintra
On the other hand, Palácio Nacional de Sintra is extremely easy to get to. The palace is located in the heart of Sintra town, and the structure is hard to miss. The Moorish palace has two striking towers, and inside, you can visit several rooms. Many tours also include a visit to Sintra National Palace.
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira is within walking distance from Sintra Town. It’s a mysterious place full of magic and mystery. You can visit the villa’s interiors, and the park has many hidden secrets. One of the most famous sights is the Poço Iniciático (the Initiation Well), with a spiral staircase which leads to the Templar Cross on the floor. Can you decipher all the symbols with links to masonry, alchemy, and tarot? In the gardens, you’ll also discover Waterfall Lake (Lago da Cascata), Poço Imperfeito, a chapel, Gruta do Labyrint and Leda’s Cave underneath the Regaleira Tower. For more information, check the blog about Quinta da Regaleira here.
Palácio e Parque Biester
Have you seen the movie The Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp? Then Biester Palace might look familiar to you as it was used as a film set. After extensive renovations, the palace has been open to the public since April 2022. It was first built in 1880, and the neo-gothic windows look out over the mountains and Pena Palace. From Sintra Town, it takes around 15 minutes by foot to reach Biester Palace.
Trains from Lisbon to Sintra
It’s super easy to travel from Lisbon to Sintra by train, so it’s pretty straightforward to plan your own Sintra day trips from Lisbon. If you stay in Lisbon’s city centre, you can take a train from Rossio Station. Sintra is the last stop on the route, and from the station, it’s a short and stunning walk to Sintra town. The other service comes from Oriente Station, which also offers a direct line to Sintra. The train is the easiest way to travel to Sintra, and renting a car is not advisable if you visit Sintra town only.
You can purchase a Navegante card for only € 0.50 to claim discounted public transport tickets in Lisbon. The card is reusable and must be validated at the station. A single ticket from Rossio-Sintra and Oriente-Sintra costs € 2.30 and can be purchased at the counters or machines at the station. Lisboa Card includes public transport, and the card has many more benefits. Bus 434 stops at most places and sights in Sintra. A 24-hour unlimited Lisbon public transport ticket costs € 10.70 and can be bought at Lisbon urban train ticket offices and ticket vending machines at the station.
The Sintra Green Card for your Sintra day trips from Lisbon
The Sintra Green Card is fantastic as it’s an all-in-one ticket for your visit to Sintra. The Sintra Green Card 1 includes a Sintra line train ticket, the Pena circuit (bus Scotturb route 434), admission to the Pena Palace and Park, Sintra National Palace, and a museum of your choice. The price is only € 31,00 per person. The Sintra Green Card 2 includes the same, but additionally, you can visit Queluz Palace. This ticket costs € 39,50 per person.
How long do I need to visit Sintra?
It’s a recommendation not to visit more than two palaces or sights per day if you wish to explore Sintra fully. You’ll need around half a day to see any of the areas. The two most popular places in Sintra are Palácio da Pena and Quinta da Regaleira. It can get jam-packed here in summer, and you’ll need to prebook your ticket (this is for tours and individual tickets if you visit Sintra independently) to ensure you can see the palaces. You’ll also be walking at the sights, although tuk-tuks and buses are available to and from the palaces. Be sure to wear good walking shoes! Booking an organised tour will ensure you get to see a lot in one day!
Other places to discover in Sintra
Sintra doesn’t just include the town and the palaces. Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is a favourite hiking spot by many, and the coastline is simply gorgeous! If you’ve rented a car and you’re fit to walk, you can discover Praia da Ursa. It’s a little hike to the beach, but it’s oh-so worth it! Or visit Cabo da Roca, the most western point of mainland Europe. Favourite coastal towns are Azenhas do Mar and Praia das Maçãs.
The easiest way to discover the rest of Sintra is by car. If you plan to visit Sintra town and the palaces, a car is more of a nuisance than a help. When you want to discover the tiny seaside towns, hidden beaches, and waterfalls, a car is needed. Bonus tips: also visit Fervença waterfall, Praia do Magoito, Colares, and the Sanctuary of Peninha.
Staying overnight in Sintra
Sintra town has many beautiful places where you can stay. And there are many benefits to staying in Sintra overnight. You won’t have to travel back to Lisbon, meaning you can enjoy a lovely dinner in Sintra. The town is quieter at night, and the same goes for the early morning. You can be the first in line at the palaces and sights. It’s easy to spend 2-3 days in Sintra if you want to visit more than two places. Renting a hotel or B&B is the perfect way to make the most of your fairy tale trip to Sintra.
Some of Discover Portugal’s favourites are Tivoli Sintra and Chalet Saudade in Sintra Town. Quinta das Murtas is perfect if you like to sleep in Sintra style! Vila Município is just outside of the town, and MouraLua is perfect if you want to stay within budget.
Depending on your time, there are several ways to visit Sintra. If time is scarce, and you don’t fancy organising it all by yourself, an organised tour is the best value for money. You get to visit anywhere from 1 to 3 palaces, and your tour might include a visit to Cabo da Roca and Cascais. If you have time, staying the night has the benefit that you can visit more places. If you want to visit Palácio de Monserrate, Azenhas do Mar, Convento dos Capuchos, and other sights less visited, booking a private tour will be your best option. If you’d like to book a personalised trip to Sintra with Discover Portugal, please send us a message to check prices and availability. We love showing you some hidden gems in the Sintra Mountains!