The beautiful castles and palaces of Sintra
Pena Palace is Sintra’s most notable landmark. This is due to the bright colors and the creative architectural style. Pena Palace is the former summer palace of the royal family and has beautiful domes, towers, gates and azulejos (ceramic tiles). The architectural style is a mix of Moorish and Manueline influences.
Not only the palace but also the location is impressive. Pena Palace is built on one of the highest points of the Sintra mountain. Therefore, you are treated with insanely beautiful views over the entire area, including the huge green park, Parque da Pena, surrounding the palace. Here you will find more than 500 species of plants and trees that the king imported from all over the world. From the entrance it is a 15 minute walk through Parque da Pena to get to the entrance of the Summer Palace.
There are two types of tickets for the Pena Palace. A ticket for Parque da Pena and the inside of the palace (€14) and a single ticket for Parque da Pena (€7.50). If you choose to only visit the park, you can still walk around the palace to admire the colorful exterior and enjoy the beautiful viewpoints over the green surroundings. We only saw the exterior. Get your tickets in advance and skip the line!
Castelo dos Mouros
The Moors conquered the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century. To defend this area, they built the castle Castelo dos Mouros in the 9th and 10th centuries. On top of a mountain, so they could see enemies coming from afar.
Walk the remaining walls of the castle. From here it is possible to see the other castles and palaces. A visit to this special castle costs €8 per person. Buy here tickets for Castelo dos Mouros.
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira is a mysterious estate with a huge, lush garden and a castle. The estate was bought in 1892 by a Brazilian coffee and gemstone merchant. His goal was to show his wealth with this estate.
You will be surprised by the many hidden tunnels, paths and passage. Be sure to take a look at the 27 meter deep Initiation Well, which is actually an underground tower. The spiral staircase leads you through tunnels to other parts of the garden full of fountains, towers and a chapel. A visit to this mysterious palace costs €10 per person. This price includes a visit to the palace. Book a guided tour to learn everything of this mysterious estate.
The romantic Monserrate Palace is definitely our favorite place in Sintra. The palace is often skipped by Sintra visitors which is too bad! The good thing about that is that it is less crowded here than at other places in Sintra. Explore the enormous exotic garden with flora from all over the world and a very special chapel. In the palace you can expect beautiful Arabic and Indian influences in the Gothic architectural style. You will also find a huge main hall, galleries with arches and detailed rooms. A ticket for Monserrate Palace costs €8 per person. This price includes a visit to the palace. Get your tickets here.
Besides the impressive castles and palaces, it is also very nice to walk through the narrow streets of Sintra Town. Here you can get a delicious lunch in one of the many restaurants. In the historic center you will also find the National Palace of Sintra. The palace has a special architecture and beautifully detailed rooms with coats of arms of families who have lived there, ancient objects and painted ceilings. A ticket cost €10 and you can buy the tickets here.
Buy your tickets in advance
Do you already know which places you want to visit? Then it is useful to buy your tickets in advance. This saves you time, especially at the popular palaces. You will also receive an online discount at most palaces and/or you will receive a discount code that you can apply to your other ticket(s). With an online ticket, you skip the line at the cash desk and just have to queue to get in. If you prefer to explore Sintra on a guided tour, check out the offers below.
How to visit Sintra
Most people visit Sintra by train from Lisbon. A train to Sintra departs every 20 minutes from Rossio station. The train ride takes 40 minutes and a return ticket costs about €5. Are you traveling with the Lisboa Card? Then the train tickets are free. You can also take bus 417 from Cascais to Sintra. The ride takes about 45 minutes.
Are you traveling through Portugal with a rental car and are you going to Sintra by car? Then know that parking in Sintra is very hard. At Pena Palace and the Moorish castle there are no parking spots at all and at the other sights there are only a few small parking spaces that are often already full. There is a car park close to Sintra station, called Parque de Estacionamento Estacao de Sintra. Or park your car outside the center and walk the last part from here to the Hop-On Hop-Off buses (if you don’t want to walk everything yourself).
Getting around in Sintra
The easiest way to discover the highlights of Sintra is with the Hop-On Hop-Off buses. There are two different bus lines that both start and end at the bus stops next to the train station. You can buy your ticket for €11.50 per person at the bus stop (you can pay with your debit card here) and you can take the bus all day long.
Also read: 13 Best things to do in Lisbon
Bus line 434 takes you to the historic center, the Moorish castle, Pena Palace and back to the train station. Note! Pena Palace is the most visited landmark in Sintra. If you want to avoid the big crowds, we recommend going early in the morning or towards closing time. We chose to go to Castelo dos Mouros first. It is still so quiet there, because most of the tourists go directly to Pena Palace. After this you can easily continue by bus to Pena Palace. If you first visit Pena Palace it is only possible to walk to the Moorish castle (this is about a 15 minutes walk from the exit of Pena Palace)
Bus line 435 takes you to the historic center, Quinta da Regaleira, Monserrate Palace and back to the train station.
How much time should you spend in Sintra?
You can easily spend a whole day in Sintra. There are many sights, and because everything is quite far from each other, it is unfortunately impossible to visit everything in one day. We were in Sintra twice and recommend you to plan a maximum of 2-3 sights per day. In this way you can fully enjoy and discover the castles and palaces at your own pace.