A remarkable and beautiful town with lush hills and valleys scattered with castles and palaces on the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra mountains. Our day trip to the town of Sintra and the Pena Palace was an unforgettable experience as we were mesmerised by the beauty of the palace and surrounding scenery.
Type of Holiday
Day trip from Lisbon
During our three day long weekend in Lisbon, we visited the beautiful town of Sintra on the 2nd day.
There are 2 trains that run every hour from Rossio to Sintra and tickets are very cheap. The 40min journey costs only €4.30 round trip.
Tip: Purchase a ticket card from any metro station and load about €5 on it instead of buying the ticket at the Rossio train station. The lines here are extremely long and there are very few ticket counters. You can use this ticket card in any metro, bus and tram routes in Lisbon and you can keep topping it up.
The train stops at various stops along the way and the final stop is Sintra.
Once out of the station, there are multiple transportation options to choose from. There is the hop-on hop-off bus, private tour vehicles and small electric buggies.
We took the public bus #434 that keeps looping around the 4 major points of interest – it goes all the way to the top of the mountain and back. The bus goes through the city centre with the Natural History Museum, Castillo de los Moros and Palacia da Pena before heading back to the station.
Sintra is a stunning resort town in the foothills of Portugal’s Sintra mountains. Considered one of the most romantic places in the world, this town has 19th century romantic architectural monuments and several majestic and beautiful palaces. This town and the palace grounds are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are so many palaces, castles and gardens that you would need atleast three whole days to appreciate this place in its entirety. We unfortunately had only one day here and decided to spend it visiting the town centre and the Park and Palace of Pena, the most famous of the palaces.
Unless you are extremely fit, we recommend taking the bus as the track up the mountain is very steep plus there is a lot of walking to do once you are at the Park.
The bus journey on its own is extremely exciting! The route goes meandering through a labyrinth of narrow roads and paths through this town.
The palace is the last stop of the bus before it heads back down again. There is a ticket booth right outside the bus stop where you can purchase with card or cash. There is also an automated ticketing machine next to the ATM.
Tip: Use the automated ticketing machine next to the ATM as the queue is generally much shorter as most people do not realise that it is there.
The grounds and the palace are just stunning to say the least! There is a bit of a hike to get to the main palace and the path is a little steep, but very worth it!
The palace sits on top of the hill and is the most colourful and unique palace that we have seen so far. There are various vantage points from which you can see the whole town of Sintra all the way to the sea. Despite the horde of tourists around, there is a real sense of serenity around the place.
We purchased the ticket that included access inside the palace and you can walk through most of the rooms, which have now been converted into more of a exhibition.
A cafe within the palace serves light snacks and drinks and there is also a restaurant attached.
We spent a couple of hours wandering around (there are some amazing photo opportunities!) and admiring the palace after which we headed down a path towards the ‘Valley of Lakes’. The park is humongous and there are many points of interest scattered around but given time pressures we could only pick one point of interest.
The path is through the beautiful ‘Queen’s Fern Valley’, which is flanked by vast collections of ferns, vegetation and floral patches.
The ‘Valley of Lakes’ itself is an area with a collection of five small lakes with castellated duck-houses within them.
After relaxing on a park bench for some time and enjoying the scenery we headed back to the palace bus stop and took the #434 back down to the town centre.
The town centre of Sintra is charming with small stone paths meandering through small houses and buildings with inviting cafes and shops. In a narrow alleyway just a few metres from the museum we came across the buzzing cafe, Piriquita. They have a great selection of pastries and sweets and it is popular with the locals. It can be quite crowded at times although the main crowd was the queue for takeaway. Make sure that you try the local speciality, Travesseiro de Sintra, a traditional pastry which looks like a pillow filled with a sweet almond paste filling.
After a delicious snack we roamed around the town centre for a while before heading back to the train station on the bus #434 to head back to Lisbon.
Sintra was just breathtaking to say the least. The colourful palace and the beauty of the landscape drew us in completely and we wished we had a few more days to explore the rest of the town.
Disclaimer: We did our own research through various internet forums and review sites before making the bookings. We were neither paid or endorsed by anyone to use their services. The entire trip – accommodation and activities – was fully paid for by us.