Sintra is a popular place in Portugal where the famous and beautiful Pena Palace is located. Sintra is a great place to visit for the day for those traveling to Lisbon. Lisbon is is only a short 30-40 train ride from Lisbon.
I think Sintra would take about 2 full days to accomplish all the monuments, museums and palaces during the busy times of the year, typically June-August. Also, the busiest day for travel in Sintra are typically Mondays, so if you can avoid it try. We ended up visiting during the high season of August and a Monday, yikes! Lol
How to get to Sintra
You take the train from Lisbon to Sintra. Most people take the train from Rossio Square which is the busiest train stations to travel to Sintra from. If you choose to travel from Rossio Square, I recommend you buy your tickets in advance the day before. We rode the train from a different station because of where we were located in the city. Our station didn’t have a long line to get to Sintra as expected.
How to get around Sintra
There are many options for getting around Sintra which includes the bus which is often the cheaper route with €5.50 for the circuit. There is the 434 bus which takes you from near the Train Station > National Palace of Sintra > Moors Castle > Pena Palace or the 435 Bus which takes you from near the Train Station > You can only do the circuit once so you must stop at the first stop and work your way to the last stop. After you leave Pena Palace they will punch your ticket and it will no longer be valid. We made the mistake of thinking we could hop on and off and start at Pena Palace and be able to work around the circuit again. We were confused because no one got off the buses to visit the other locations.
I must forewarn that the wait for the bus can be from an hour or even longer even early in the morning when you first arrive. This can put a delay on your travel plans when visiting. The bus delayed us because we had to wait for long periods for an available bus free of passengers. The bus would often take longer to get to the other locations. There is a lot of traffic in Sintra getting to the Palace in the morning. You often will have to wait in traffic on the bus. Since the buses were so crowded, were we weren’t able to discover all of the places we wanted to on our list.
A second option which we ended up doing later in the day which is to take a tuk tuk which costs €5 to anywhere in Sintra. The good thing about this is you can pick and choose where to go for your tourist attractions instead of just following where the bus will take you.
Places to see in Sintra
The National Palace of Sintra is filled with gorgeous corridors and beautiful details including many different types of hand-painted tile. This location is a place to see and is less crowded in the afternoon. We arrived around 2pm with practically no one in site and were able to wander the grounds. It was a nice slow pace compared to the busy and chaotic Pena Palace.
This is a beautiful little medieval castle. It reminds me a lot of game of thrones. There is a lot of beauty to this castle. Warning: if you have a hard time hiking or walking up a lot of flights of stairs, this place may not be for you. This location requires walking up quite a bit of stairs to get some of the best views.
Many people travel to this beautiful palace and are attracted to its bright and vibrant colors in the midst of the rolling hills of Sintra. I recommend you purchase your tickets in advance. The line for tickets is usually quite chaotic, long, and it is more expensive to purchase tickets day of. By purchasing your tickets HERE, you can bypass the lines and enter directly through the gate. You start off at Pena Park and walk uphill to Pena Palace or you can choose to pay €5 to take a small shuttle up to the palace and back once you are done.
The palace is filled with tons of tourists so be prepared to stand in line for a long time prior to entering the palace. The weather can be fairly cool to hot depending on when you travel and cloud coverage.
Although we didn’t have time to see this, I think it is important to note how beautiful this location is. It is a highly recommended location from many travelers and I can’t let my readers go without know about this gem.
Enjoy yourself at a famous port wine bar, the Bar do Binho – The House of Port, near the National Palace of Sintra. You cannot go to Portugal and not have a port wine. This wine bar is famous to Johnny Depp and other celebrities. They have some of the oldest port wine dating back to 1815. Order a wine flight or two to get a taste of Portugal. They have the Classic Flight for €15 that are younger wines and then the Premium Flight for €25. We decided to do one of each flight and share them together to get a taste of everything. Believe me this was the one of the most memorable parts of our trip. The staff made us feel welcome and showed so much passion for what they did, it was truly a magical experience.
We had lunch at the cafe in Pena Palace since we were starving and didn’t want to go back into the city for food. They have sandwiches, coffee, water, juices and other small snacks. There is also a terrace right outside to sit and eat your food.
One of our drivers, Diogo from Sintra Lovers (BTW I highly suggest him as a guide, he was very kind, informational and made you feel like you were at home) highly recommended going to Apeardeiro for dinner. Their food is excellent. It was empty when we went in which was around 5:00-6:00pm but it filled up quickly around 7:00pm. Locals say that the city is for the tourists before 8:00pm. But after 8:00pm the city belongs back to the locals who live there.
If you are looking for souvenirs in Sintra or Lisbon, the most famous souvenirs are the beautifully hand-painted tiles, cork jewelry, pouches, etc., and hand-painted metal roosters. Oh and don’t forget the port wine at Bar do Binho, they usually have a bubble wrap cover to protect your investment when checking your wine in your luggage.
Well there you have it a day in Sintra. Let me know what you think about Sintra in the comments below!
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Let me know what you thought of Sintra in the comments below!