National Palace of Pena view from garden in Sintra,Portugal

Day Trip To Sintra: Portugal’s Town Of Castles and Palaces

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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. 

Water fountain at the National Palace of Queluz in Portugal
National Palace of Queluz on the way to Sintra

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 Palace of Pena view from tower in Sintra,Portugal
National Palace of Pena view of gate in Sintra,Portugal
Gargoyle statue National Palace of Pena in Sintra, Portugal
National Palace of Pena view of gate in Sintra,Portugal

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

Temple of columns at the National Palace of Pena in Sintra, Portugal

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. 

National Palace of Pena view from garden in Sintra,Portugal

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 Portugal's Castelo dos Mouros as viewed from National Palace of Pena
View of the Moorish Castle from the tower at the National Palace of Pena
Sintra Portugal's Castelo dos Mouros stone tower
three towers of Castelo_dos_Mouros in Sintra Portugal
View of the town of Sintra from the Castelo dos Mouros in Sintra, Portugal
walkway at Castelo_dos_Mouros in Sintra Portugal
Castelo_dos_Mouros in Sintra Portugal

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. 

View of the Sintra National Palace from Castelo dos Mouros
View of Sintra National Palace from Moorish Castle

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. 

Sintra National Palace domed chimneys
Ceiling at Sintra National Palace
Elaborate archway and tiled room at the Sintra National Palace in Portugal
Curved stone stairway at the Sintra National Palace in Portugal
Blue tiled wall Sintra National Palace, Portugal

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. 

Town of Sintra, Portugal
Villa Nogueira lighhouse building in Sintra, Portugal

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. 

View of Quinta da Regaleira

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