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Whether you love art, architecture, or just looking for stunning Instagram worthy photos, a day trip to Sintra should be on your bucket list. The collection of castles and palaces in and around Sintra will make you feel like you’re walking through a fairy-tale. It’s mystical, magical, and unlike anywhere you’ve ever been before.
Though we did Sintra on a day trip from Lisbon, as many people do, there is a lot here. We’d actually love to go back one day. If you have the time, it may be worth slowing down a little and enjoying this gorgeous town. Plus, don’t underestimate how much walking you will do. You may want a little extra time to give your feet a break.
Getting Around Sintra
On our day trip to Sintra from Lisbon, we took the Sintra line train.
We actually stopped along the way at the National Palace of Queluz, at the Queluz-Belas station. The palace is managed by the same organization as the attractions in Sintra, so discounts for combined tickets are possible.
From the Sintra train station, we took the Scotturb bus #434 to the National Palace of Pena. From there, we walked to each destination.
Even if you drive or take taxis, the attractions in Sintra require a lot of walking. There is, however, a free trolley at the National Palace of Pena which helps with getting from the entrance to the palace, if you’d like.
At the end of the day, we used the Sintra line again to return to Lisbon.
National Palace of Pena
Sintra has many fairy-tale features, but “THE” reason people go is for the National Palace of Pena. It is one of the most striking buildings. Not only for the brightly colored walls, but its elaborate details.
Though it may look like it belongs in a theme park, I assure you this beauty is 100% genuine palace. Built upon the second highest point in the Sintra hills, the palace was once an 18th century monastery. King Ferdinand then expanded upon the building, in roughly 1843, to form the castle type structure seen today.
It’s an interesting mix of German Romanticism, with a Portuguese flair. Especially with the brightly colored blue tiles which decorate the central tower.
Be sure to make your way to the top of the towers for breathtaking views..
National Park of Pena
Just below the palace, and included with your ticket, is the National Park of Pena. A maze like park with several attractions, such as the Temple of Columns and Warrior Statue.
Most guests with limited time skip the park, but we found it the best place to get a view of the palace. In the park, south of the palace’s large yellow tower, is a rocky out cropping. It has a chair carved into the rock. The view is well worth finding in the labyrinth.
Also included in your ticket is the Chalet of the Countess of Edla, and a hop-on hop-off train around the park and to the palace.
Moorish Castle Of Sintra (Castelo dos Mouros)
With a Great Wall of China feel, the 10th century Moorish Castle runs along the boulders of the Sintra Hills. It’s more like a large castle wall with towers than what you may think of as a “castle.”
Honestly, pictures just can’t do this historic location justice. The views are jaw-dropping and the hike cannot be beat. However, it does require a lot of stairs, but well worth it if you can do it.
Sintra National Palace
From the Moorish Castle we continued our walking journey down the hill towards the town center. It only took about 25 minutes to reach our next stop, the Sintra National Palace. With the two massive stone domed fireplaces, it’s easy to find.
Sintra does it again, another breathtaking fairy-tale palace. Not only is the architecture of the Sintra National Palace beautiful, but the details in the decor, and even furnishings are astonishing. The ceilings elaborately painted, the walls elaborately tiled. Even the stairwell and door frames are picture worthy.
Enjoying The Town Of Sintra
To finish our day in Sintra we wandered around the town. Peeking into a few of the shops and awing at the local architecture. One of our favorite local shops was Cantinho Gourmet, where we sampled Ginja wild cherry liqueur and picked up a few local meats and cheeses.
We also purchased gorgeously painted and reasonably priced Portuguese tiles from Dupo’s Azulejos. However, we’ve seen several online reviews stating they purchased tiles which the store never shipped. As we took our tiles with us, we personally had a fantastic experience and therefore cannot comment on issues others had. I mention this so you can do your own research.
Other Attractions Worth Seeing In Sintra
Though that concluded our day trip to Sintra, there are several other attractions worth seeing.
The most notable is Quinta da Regaleira and it’s Unfinished Well. This UNESCO world heritage site will likely be among the reasons we return to Sintra one day.
Also worth considering on a second day or second trip is the Park and Palace of Monserrate (Quintinha de Monserrate). Another gorgeous palace, a little further out of town.