Sintra is a destination that enchants visitors with its rich history and breathtaking landscapes. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the top five must-see attractions that make Sintra a genuinely exceptional place to explore. From the opulent Pena Palace to the mystical Quinta da Regaleira, get ready to journey through Sintra’s captivating wonders.
This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click on a link and purchase something I recommend, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This helps keep my website up and running and is very appreciated. Thank you for your support! You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Where Is Sintra?
Nestled in the foothills of the Serra de Sintra mountain range, the picturesque town of Sintra sits just a short distance from Lisbon, making it an accessible day trip destination for travellers exploring the Portuguese capital. The quickest and easiest way to reach Sintra is by train, with regular departures from Lisbon’s Rossio station.
Please note – Never attempt to drive into Sintra; the historic centre is closed to traffic, and the surrounding area is usually one big traffic jam!
5 Must-See Attractions In Sintra:
Sintra is filled with beautiful attractions that always leave visitors wanting more. Whether you’re looking to explore breathtaking palaces, admire stunning architecture, or step back in time, Sintra has it all! Fantastic sights surround every corner, from the iconic Moorish Castle to Pena Palace and Quinta Da Regaleira. So, if you’re planning a trip, these five must-see attractions should be at the top of your list!
1. Visit Pena Palace & Park
Nestled in the lush green hills of Sintra, Portugal, lies the enchanting and awe-inspiring Pena Palace and Park. This 19th-century palace is a testament to Portugal’s rich architectural heritage, bold colours and intricate designs. The palace’s neo-Gothic and Moorish architectural styles create a unique and fascinating blend of cultures that will take your breath away.
The surrounding park is just as delightful, boasting stunning landscapes, hidden gardens, caves, and even a small waterfall! Stroll through the enchanting Chalet of the Countess of Edla, an ornate and fairy-tale-esque building, where you can admire the incredible views of Sintra’s rolling hills and forests.
The Pena Palace and Park is undoubtedly one of Portugal’s most treasured gems and should not be missed on any visit to Sintra or Lisbon. However, it is also the most popular attraction in the area, so expect long queues.
I strongly recommend buying tickets well in advance if travelling in high season! Also, get there around an hour before your palace ticket time, as you will need to walk up a very steep hill to get from the park entrance to the palace entrance, which will take around 30 minutes, depending on your fitness level. It’s a nicer walk if you can take your time and not rush and risk losing your allotted time!
2. Visit Quinta Da Regaleira
If you find yourself in the charming town of Sintra, visiting the Quinta da Regaleira is an absolute must! This stunning palace and surrounding gardens are nothing short of magical, with their intricate architecture, winding pathways, and hidden secrets waiting to be discovered.
When you first arrive, stroll through the enchanting gardens, where you’ll find a variety of ornate fountains, towers, and caves, each one more beautiful than the last. And don’t miss the famous Initiation Well, a seemingly endless spiral staircase that descends deep into the earth. If you’re feeling brave, walk through the dark tunnels leading to the bottom of the well, where you’ll find a reflecting pool and a stunning waterfall.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply looking for a unique and unforgettable experience, the Quinta da Regaleira will surely leave you feeling awe-struck and inspired. In fact, out of all the places I visited whilst in Sintra, this place was my favourite; it’s truly magical!
3. Explore The Moorish Castle
If you’re looking to step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich history of Portugal, a visit to the Moorish Castle in Sintra is an absolute must. Perched high on a hill and surrounded by lush greenery, the castle is a testament to the area’s fascinating past.
From the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean to the intricate details of the castle’s towers and battlements, every inch of this historic site tells a story. Be sure to explore the castle’s many winding paths and staircases, including the impressive ramparts and watchtowers. Overall, visiting the Moorish Castle in Sintra is an unforgettable experience that is not to be missed.
4. Visit Monserrate Palace
Few places in the world can rival the grandeur and beauty of the Monserrate Palace. This magnificent palace is a must-see destination for anyone who loves history, architecture, and gorgeous landscapes. As you walk through the palace’s opulent rooms, you’ll be transported back to the 19th century, when the palace was a beloved retreat for European royalty. Explore the palace’s many stunning features, from the intricate tilework and marble floors to the exquisite furnishings and artwork.
Outside, you’ll find sprawling gardens that genuinely feast for the senses. Stroll through the winding pathways, marvel at the countless varieties of flora, and take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
As the Monserrate Palace is a little further away than the other attractions in the area, it will feel like you have this place all to yourself, which adds to the beauty and tranquillity of this beautiful place!
5. Tour The Sintra National Palace
If you plan to visit Sintra, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the gorgeous Sintra National Palace. This charming site dates back to the 14th century and was once used as a summer residence for the royal family.
As you enter, you’ll be struck by the intricate tilework and grand halls decorated with stunning frescoes. Be sure to visit the Swan Room, with its ornate ceiling painted with countless swans, and the Magpie Room, featuring intricate woodwork and a vibrant blue ceiling.
Another highlight is the stunning Coat of Arms Room, which displays hand-painted coats of arms from Portugal’s wealthiest and most influential families. The palace is a must-visit for anyone who wants to step back in time and marvel at the luxury and craftsmanship of a bygone era.
How To Get Around Sintra:
The easiest way to get around Sintra is to use the local tourist buses. You can, of course, take a taxi or even a tuk-tuk. However, these can be very expensive!
I also don’t recommend walking as many sites are uphill and far from the town centre. The walk alone up to the park entrance of the Pena palace takes around an hour and is up a very steep hill. If you have the time and the stamina, walk, but if you need more time, the bus is the best option.
There are two tourist bus routes in Sintra, the 434 & 435. Both hop-on hop-off cost €12.50 for 24 hours (interchangeable on both buses). Both buses run in a one-way circular direction and start and finish outside Sintra train station. Tickets can be purchased from the driver.
434 – Sintra station – Biesten Palace – Moorish Castle – Pena Palace – Sintra National Palace – Sintra Station
435 – Sintra station – Sintra historic centre – Sintra National Palace – Quinta da Regaleira – Seteais Palace – Monserrate Palace – Sintra station
Can You Do Sintra As A Day Trip From Lisbon?
The simple answer is YES! You can easily take a day trip to Sintra from Lisbon by catching a 45-minute train from Lisbon’s Rossio train station. However, as you will be limited on time, seeing everything Sintra has to offer will be impossible. I would always advise spending a few nights in Sintra, but if that isn’t possible, pick out 2 or 3 places you would like to visit and plan accordingly. Booking tickets in advance will also make life easier!
Although Sintra is a small town, many of its attractions are quite a distance from each other and may involve a lot of walking, much of which is uphill! I would either stick to one of the two bus routes and visit attractions along that route or visit the Pena Palace early, then go back to the station, swap buses and see the Quinta da Regaleira and Monserrate Palace.
Where To Stay In Sintra:
Whatever your budget, there are many hotels, guest houses and hostels in Lisbon.
For budget travellers, there are plenty of hostels to choose from; I recommend the Moon Hill Hostel, situated in the heart of Sintra, where you’ll find an abundance of shops, cafes and bars, and easy transport links to all the best attractions.
The hostel has amiable staff, a great kitchen and clean dorms; however, on my last trip, I decided to splash out on a private room, which cost only £50 a night, including breakfast. If you choose to stay in a dorm room, expect to pay around £20 a night, depending on the time of year.
If you have never stayed in a hostel before, then check out my hostel guide for newbies for more information on whether hostel stays are for you. They’re not for everyone but I find the low cost gives me more money to spend on activities and attractions.
For booking accommodation, I recommend using Booking.com. This website offers the best-priced accommodation catering for all budgets and styles. Just pop in your requirements and it will give you a list of available accommodation. Perfect for picking out the best hostels, B&B or even some luxury escapes.Booking.com
After exploring all that Sintra has to offer, it is easy to understand why so many visitors flock to this beautiful and historic destination. From the stunning views of Palácio da Pena to the historical importance of Castelo dos Mouros, you can’t go wrong with any of these top attractions in Sintra. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, an outdoor adventure, or a day filled with activity, there is something here for everyone. So the next time you visit Portugal, consider taking a trip to Sintra, you won’t be disappointed!
Thanks so much for stopping by; I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read and make it to the end! I have lots of exciting new content in the next few weeks, so make sure you pop back to catch up!
Remember to follow our social media accounts for more travel inspiration and updates.