You must go to Sintra!
Don’t you dare miss Sintra when you visit Portugal!!
You’d be crazy to go all the way to Portugal and NOT go to Sintra!!!
These are phrases that we heard from every single friend that had ever visited Portugal.
There are not many things that blow us away, but the day we spent in Sintra (while we were visiting Lisbon) was one of the best days we have spent abroad.
What we learned however is that we did Sintra the RIGHT way, while others did it the WRONG way; and we didn’t even know we had done it the right way until we returned to Lisbon!
We were under the impression that Sintra was a small area, that had one colorful castle within that area and you could see the town in a few hours.
Sintra is MUCH more than that.
Sintra is known for its Romantic 19th century historical monuments, as it was the summer retreat for Portuguese’s royalty years ago.
It houses palaces, hiking trails, gardens, a convent and a Moorish castle. You can also visit the most western most point of Europe overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
There are two ways to visit Sintra in a few hours:
The Wrong Way
- Buy your train ticket the morning of
- Wait in line for up to an hour for the city bus
- Only see the Palacio National de Sintra (Colorful castle)
- Wait in line for up to another hour for the city bus
- Leave after 4 hours of barely scratching the surface of Sintra
The Right way
- Buy your train ticket in Lisbon the day before to avoid long lines
- Rent a small vehicle/ electric bike/ mode of transportation to take you around
- Explore Quinta Da Regaleria, the 4 palaces, the Convent and the Moorish castle
- Drive along the coast to see 3 main picture spots, including the most western point of Portugal
Before heading north to Sintra, we asked the staff at the Travelers House to give us a basic idea of what to see and do.
Luckily, they told us not to miss the Quinta Da Regaleria and that the lines for the buses would be very long. We are forever grateful that we listened to them.
How Do You Get The Most Out Of Your Sintra Day Trip?
To get to Sintra, take a train, avoid driving
If you drive, parking will be hard to find. Take the one-hour train from Lisbon to Sintra. The train is clean and comfortable and cost €4.30 for a round trip ticket.
Buy your ticket the day before
Don’t make the mistake of purchasing your tickets the day of, and end up missing the train time you want to take due to the long lines at the station.
Forget about taking the city bus
There will be very long lines at the city bus terminal in Sintra. Stop at Go Sintra to rent an electric car.
The Go Sintra staff inputs all the must-see locations into your google maps, provides you with a mi-fi (so your WIFI works on your smart phone) and even checks in on your every few hours to see how everything is going.
There are also jeeps, electrical bikes and other modes of transportation you can rent.
Each location has an admission fee to enter, ranging from €10 – €18, so we opted to only see the Quinta Da Regaleira, the grounds of Palacio Nacional de Sintra (€10) and spent time driving along the coast to explore the beaches.
First, tour the grounds of Quinta da Regaleira which is a maze of trails to get lost in, beautifully crafted buildings and caves to explore.
Next, drive to the beach for some lunch and breathtaking views. There are three different stops along the coast, two of the stops you can put your toes in the sand, and the third is the westernmost point in Europe located on a cliff.
Last, go to the Pena Palace (colorful palace) which has a sprawling garden that surrounds the grounds. There is a fee to enter the grounds, and a fee to enter the castle.
We opted to just tour the grounds, as you can still walk around the castle and take pictures without paying a fee for a tour of the inside.
Once we returned to Lisbon that day, we learned that our fellow housemates took the train, waited for the city bus an hour each way, just to only see Pena Palace!
The total time they spent in Sintra was six hours and they saw only one of the many beautiful sites to see.
Sintra is too beautiful for words.
You’ll see things like this:
We spent 7 hours in Sintra, visited 5 sites, ate a delicious lunch, and even had a chance to put our feet in the ocean!
Follow our plan, take as many pictures as possible, and you will be VERY happy, trust us!
Did this post help you on your visit to Sintra? Tell us all about it in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.