One of my favorite days in Portugal was our day trip to Sintra. Sintra is a town outside of Lisbon accessible by a 30-minute train ride. The day felt like I was living in a fairytale, Colorful palaces, luscious gardens, winding paths, ornate architecture, grottoes, wells, tunnels, castles, there’s so much to explore! It’s pretty much impossible to experience all the sites in one day in one visit, but here are some highlights. Want to see what Sintra is all about? Looking for things to do in Sintra? Follow me on this photo journey. Let’s see if you can make it to the end before looking into booking a flight to Portugal.
How to get there
Getting to Sintra is pretty easy. The best and recommend means of transportation is to get there by train. You can take the Rossio station to Sintra and use their trains. Since Sintra is a popular destination among tourists, I would recommend getting there as early as possible. Instead of waiting in line, I recommend purchasing tickets at the automatic kiosk at the train station. Roundtrip tickets are approx 5 euros. Trains operate approximately every 30 minutes. If you are staying in Lisbon area for several days, I also recommend the Viva Viagem. You can add money to it and it will deduct whenever you use for trams, trains, and busses.
Getting around Sintra
Good news. The city of Sintra is situated at the foothills of the Sintra mountains which is picturesque and has gorgeous views. Bad news. This mountainous terrain makes it tricky to get around to key sites afoot. Upon exiting the station, don’t be lured by the tuk-tuk drivers, and “private tour” rides up to sites like Pena Palace. The best bang for your buck is to take the tourist bus. (Yeah, I know. You are a tourist. Embrace it. ) The 434 bus lines run by key sites, like Pena Palace, and runs in a continuous loop.
So where to go? Here are the no-brainers…
I would recommend going to Pena Palace first to beat the crowds. I am getting giddy just thinking about this magical fairytale-like palace. The colorful building, Moorish influenced architectural details, beautiful Portuguese tile… total EYE CANDY. And I ate it all up. Delicious.
There’s SO much to see on the Pena Palace site. Gardens, trees, wells, and more. I would resist the urge to explore the whole grounds and head straight to the palace and get in line to tour the inside of the palace. Some of the spots have gorgeous views that you can only access from inside the building. (Like the image above).
Inside is pretty cool too…
Oh and did I mention, you are surrounded by forests? Gorgeous.
Once touring inside, I encourage you to explore some of the grounds. Depending on how tight your schedule is, I would shortly start making your way over to Castelo dos Mouros.
Castelo dos Mouros
After visiting the Pena Palace, Castelo dos Mouros is just a short walk downhill. Castelo dos Mouros was established by North African Moors in the 9th century. Its geographic location was ideal for overlooking the city of Sintra to guard. After the Christian conquest of Portugal, it is now an extension of the Pena Palace. Oh, and it totally gives off the Great Wall of China vibes. And the views are stunning.
Once you get some of those steps in, I would take the shuttle back down to the city. The shuttle drops you off in front of Palacio Nacional. If you have time, I would recommend visiting. We did not, so we went ahead to Quinta da Regaleria and took our time to soak in all the sites there.
Quinta Da Regaleria- Initiation Well
At Quinta da Regaleria, I recommend initially checking out the initiation well, and then continue exploring the grounds. This well was intended for initiation rites. There are two winding staircases, you can choose to travel up into the light or travel into darkness. Traveling into the dark depths was quite a dramatic experience!
Once you emerge from the well, there are lakes, caves, wells, grottoes, fountains, and more to explore. Did I mention, this city felt like a fairytale?
Quinta da Regaleria
Once you lose yourself in the majestic palace grounds, make your way back to the palace of Quinta da Regaleria. The estate’s architecture is a blend of Gothic, Roman, Renaissance, and Manueline styles.
The palace’s ornate architectural details are Neo-Manueline style. The influences are often nautical. You can see carved into the stone coral, seaweed, barnacles ropes. The dramatic details were certainly eye-catching!
Convinced? This was one of the best day trips I’ve ever taken. Want to see for yourself? Check out my travel video to Portugal here.
Which place above would you like to visit the most? Let me know in the comments!