Top Things to Do and See in Sintra, Portugal – Day Trip from Lisbon

(Last Updated On: August 31, 2018)

Nestled amidst the verdant forests of Sintra mountains is the lovely town of Sintra a mere 40 minutes train ride away from Lisbon. Once a summer retreat for the Portugal rulers, the beautiful resort town today is one of the popular day trips from Lisbon.

The town of Sintra is dotted with some of the lavish and magnificent palaces and grand castles. One of the other major draw for the tourist and travelers to Sintra is the gorgeous coastlines. If you have a few days in Lisbon or at least a 3 days in Lisbon you should definitely plan to visit this beautiful town of Sintra in Portugal.

Lisbon to Sintra Train

The Lisbon to Sintra trains starts from the Rossio train station in the historic center of Lisbon near the Rossio Square and Oriente station which is close to the Lisbon Oceanarium and the Lisbon airport. There are kiosks on the platform for buying train tickets. There is a good frequency of direct trains from Lisbon to Sintra that take around 40 minutes to reach Sintra from Rossio train station and about 50 minutes from Oriente station. The main train station to visit the historic center of Sintra is the last stop on the line.

Getting Around in Sintra

The major points of interest in Sintra are spread across the town so exploring them on foot is not feasible, you will waste a lot of time and can be exhaustive too. Each of the attractions again requires a bit of walking inside the premises so the better option is to save your energy traveling between the attraction using a transport. There are plenty of HOHO buses that cover all the major points of interest in Sintra. We had used HOHO buses several times before so we chose to do city sightseeing Hop on Hop Off bus tour which saved us a lot of time. The HOHO buses start at the Sintra train station exit. The buses run on two different routes and are backed by pre-recorded commentary in 12 different languages which offer loads of information on the Sintra attractions. The buses have free Wi-Fi onboard. Book HOHO tickets here.

Another option is to take the tour buses which run round trip on a predefined circuit. For eg the 434 buses start at the train station and cover National Palace of Sintra, Castle of the Moors, Pena Palace and return to the station. Similarly, the 435 covers National Palace of Sintra, Quinta da Regaleira, Seteais Palace and Monserrate Palace.

If you have a car traveling between Sintra attractions is even easier but make note that the roads winding through the hills are narrow which may be challenging to drive. And if you visit during the peak season getting parking would be difficult. Taxis and tuk-tuks are also an option to travel in Sintra but are pricier.

Top Things to do in Sintra

Cabo da Roca

Our first stop was Cabo da Roca or the Cape Roca, the westernmost point of continental Europe and the mainland Portugal. A stone monument with a cross on the top marks the end of the European mainland into the Atlantic ocean. The inscription on the side of the monument describes Cabo da Roca as the point ‘Where the land ends and the sea begins’ as quoted by the famous poet Luis Camoes.

Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip

There is a Cabo da Roca lighthouse on the headland which was originally built in 1772 and is said to be the first purpose-built lighthouse in Portugal. The lighthouse is located 540 ft above the ocean and is still active under the supervision team of three lighthouse keepers.

There is also a small coffee and a gift shop near the lighthouse. Interestingly visitors can take back a certificate confirming you have visited Cabo da Roca – the westernmost point of Europe continent as a souvenir from the shop. We had no idea when we visited but worth a check in the gift shop whenever you visit if you covet such a certificate souvenir.

Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip

The Cape Roca is located within the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. The headland or the plateau of the cape is covered with ground creeping succulent plant which looked lovely in hues of green and red. We lingered along the cliff top watching the stunning views of the everlasting stretch of azure sea and rugged cliffs below. The coastline is dotted with small sandy beaches, jagged rocky cliffs, and huge granite boulders.

According to the Portugal Tourism website, there is evidence to believe that a fort existed on Cabo da Roca in the 16th century whose strategic position helped defend the city of Lisbon.

The weather was just awesome and we could stay there for a long time bewitched by nature’s charm. But it can be very windy and chilly at times so carry warm clothes. Cabo da Roca is also a popular sunset spot so if possible visit in the evening for spectacular play of light over the blue sea.

The HOHO bus stops here for about 10 minutes so we quickly wandered around took plenty of pictures. Enjoyed the views and board the bus back to the next stop.

Also Read: Top Things to Do and See in Belem Region of Lisbon along the Tagus Riverfront

Pena Palace

The next stop on Sintra sightseeing was the iconic landmark of the town of Sintra the prismatic Pena Palace. The striking bright colors of the palace draws the eye from great distances and is easily noticeable from most parts of Sintra and Lisbon too. We spotted the palace perched high on the hill amidst the lush Sintra Mountains resplendent in yellow and red hues on the way from the bus. It was a breathtaking vista to behold.

Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip

We were enthralled by the sense of exuberance and magic that emanated from the vivid hues and extravagantly ornate exterior architecture of the palace. The 19th century Pena Palace is an exemplary Romanticist castle featuring a various architectural style of the Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic and Neo-Renaissance architectural styles. The colorful palace with turrets, domes, gargoyles, drops, twisted columns looks like it has been taken straight out of a fairytale. Many a time the palace is a reminisce of the fairytale Castle of Neuschwanstein in Germany.

Pena Palace built as a summer palace for Portuguese monarch is a national monument, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.

Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip

Pena Palace History

The Pena Palace was built on the site of a former monastery and a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pena. The monastery was severely damaged in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. In 1838 King Ferdinand II acquired the old monastery and the surrounding lands and commissioned the building of Pena Palace which would serve as the summer residence for the royal family of Portugal.

Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip

Pena Palace Tickets

You can buy the ticket to the palace and park at the Kiosk at the entrance gate. You can buy tickets either for the palace museums or gardens or both. The tickets to the palace grounds and park do not include access to the museum and the chapel which have equally stunning artworks on display. Interior of the Palace has some of the embellished furnishings, porcelain and paintings collections.

Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip

From the entrance gate where the HOHO bus would drop you the path to the main palace entrance is a little uphill walk. We choose to walk exploring some part of the Pena Park surrounding the palace. If you do not want to walk you can take a shuttle up to the entrance for a small fee.

Moors Castle or the Castelo dos Mouros

At a walkable distance from Pena palace is the Moors castle or the Castelo dos Mouros, a medieval ruined castle. The Castle of the Moors dates from 8th and 9th centuries but was severely damaged in the earthquake of 1755. The castle was restored by King Ferdinand II during the building of the Pena Palace. The Moors Castle is a National Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lisbon to Sintra

A walk along the castle walls offers stunning panoramic views of the city Town Square, the Sintra National Palace and the forests of Sintra Mountains.

Sintra National Palace

The main Town Square is dominated by the National Palace or the Town Palace which is about 10 minutes walk from the Sintra Train Station. The palace is imposing edifice with a bright whitewashed facade, gothic arches, and two massive conical chimneys.

The original palace built by the Moors dates back to the 10th-century which was expanded several times. The palace features an eclectic mix of Manueline, Mudejar, Moorish and Gothic architectural styles. The palace rooms are decorated with Mudejar Azulejos (colored glazed tiles) that date from14th to 18th centuries, paintings and intricate motifs.

Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip

Due to lack of time, we couldn’t visit the interior of the palace. Like Pena Palace, the National Palace of Sintra is also a national monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are plenty of cafes and restaurants around the Town Square if you are looking for a place to eat. If you are not around the Town Square then the Pena Palace has a good restaurant. And if you visit the town in winter a sweet aroma of the roasted chestnuts will welcome you everywhere.

Quinta da Regaleira

Around ten minutes away from the city center is the amazing mansion of Quinta da Regaleira. Instead of wasting time waiting for the HOHO bus we decided to walk all the way to Quinta da Regaleira.

Quinta da Regaleira, a UNESCO World Heritage site is a top tourist attraction in Sintra. The palace facade features Gothic pinnacles, gargoyles, turrets and an octagonal tower which looks otherworldly. Visitors can tour the rooms of the palace which were sumptuously decorated with bright colors and lavish stucco work.

Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip

Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip

The most important attraction of the estate is the exotic estate garden which gives an impression of being ethereal, The garden is a tranquil oasis with hidden pathways winding through the exquisite lakes, grottos, wells, towers, fountains and the gothic mansion.

Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip

There is also a small and lovely chapel in the garden near the main palace. The chapel called Regaleira Chapel is a Roman Catholic Chapel with similar architecture to the palace. The facade and inside of the chapel are richly decorated with frescoes, stained-glass windows, and stuccoes.

Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip

When we visited there was a piano performance held in the main hall of the palace. Once we finished the tour of the interior of the palace we sat outside in the garden enjoying the tranquil surroundings and the lovely music which filled the air with invigorating charm.

Other Sintra Attractions

These are few Sintra attractions we missed as we had only one day in the town. To cover all the Sintra attractions and landmarks we recommend you spend at least two days in Sintra.

Monserrate Palace and Gardens

Other significant points of interest are the Monserrate Palace yet another exotic summer resort for the Portuguese rulers. The palace was built on the site of a 16th-century chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Monserrate.

One can see an influence of Romanticism in Monserrate Palace like other palaces of Sintra. The palace features Mudejar, Moorish, Gothic and Indian architectural styles. The landscape garden surrounding the palace is also worth a stroll for the beautiful fountains, and a pond decorating the lush green scape.

Seteais Palace

Seteais Palace is a palace turned luxurious hotel with some remarkable antique furnishings and artworks.

Praia da Adraga

The tour bus also stops by a vast stretch of blue beach Praia da Adraga which is a picturesque beach with vistas of cliffs and sandy beach.

Where to Eat in Sintra

From Moors Castle, we took a bus back to the city center and wandered around the Town Square and the grounds of Sintra National Palace. We had a quick lunch in a restaurant near the Town Square.

There are plenty of cafes and restaurants around the Town Square if you are looking for a place to eat. If you are not around the Town Square then the Pena Palace has a good restaurant. And if you visit the town in winter a sweet aroma of the roasted chestnuts will welcome you everywhere.

We had the last round of roasted chestnuts and walked back to the railway station and boarded a train back to Lisbon.

Have you visited Sintra on a day trip from Lisbon? What are your favorite most recommended places to visit in one day? Share with us in comments.

Suggested Sintra Tours

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36 thoughts on “Top Things to Do and See in Sintra, Portugal – Day Trip from Lisbon

    • mm
      March 19, 2016 at 7:26 pm
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      Yes it is beautiful indeed and worth a visit ☺

      Reply
  • March 19, 2016 at 7:35 pm
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    Absolutely beautiful. Great post, thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • mm
      March 19, 2016 at 7:41 pm
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      Thanks Tescha… glad you liked it!

      Reply
  • March 19, 2016 at 9:18 pm
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    I was sold from the first picture! Seems like a beautiful place to visit

    Reply
    • mm
      March 19, 2016 at 10:14 pm
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      Thank you Alex.. It is a wonderful place to visit 🙂 We loved it too.

      Reply
  • March 19, 2016 at 10:19 pm
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    Ahh that looks lovely! Was great reading this!

    Reply
    • mm
      March 19, 2016 at 10:28 pm
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      Thanks George. Glad you liked it 🙂

      Reply
  • March 19, 2016 at 11:56 pm
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    Having never seen a palace like these, I find them very fascinating. Whenever I see photos, I can’t help but admire and yet, sometimes, when I think about what it’s like at night… I wonder if my imaginatin will run wild with thoughts of ghosts?

    Reply
    • mm
      March 20, 2016 at 12:06 am
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      Thats an interesting point of view.. that may be a reason the visiting hours close by dusk . On the other note Sintra has wonderful palaces and mansions which will leave anyone in awe for sure.

      Reply
  • March 20, 2016 at 3:03 am
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    Such beautiful pictures, it looks like a perfect place to go visit… thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • mm
      March 20, 2016 at 11:29 am
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      Yes it is a wonderful place to visit with its lovely palaces and beaches. Thanks for stopping by to have a look 🙂

      Reply
  • March 20, 2016 at 6:29 am
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    I like to read travel posts as that adds to more knowledge ..You have used nice words in your post.

    Reply
    • mm
      March 21, 2016 at 12:04 pm
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      Thanks Mini Noms.. Glad you liked it 🙂

      Reply
  • March 20, 2016 at 2:34 pm
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    Looks beautiful, a great read thank you!

    Reply
    • mm
      March 20, 2016 at 2:46 pm
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      Thanks Kerry.. 🙂

      Reply
  • March 20, 2016 at 3:00 pm
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    OMG that place is beyond beautiful ! I love your post

    Reply
    • mm
      March 20, 2016 at 3:04 pm
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      Thank you so much Denisa 🙂

      Reply
  • March 20, 2016 at 5:54 pm
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    How stunning is Sintra I love the medieval architecture and the colourful buildings are stunning too. My parents are Portuguese too so I would love to visit.

    Reply
    • mm
      March 20, 2016 at 6:00 pm
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      Agree with you Ana.. Sintra and its architecture are stunning enough to marvel anyone. Nice to know that your parents are from Portugal! Do keep us updated if you plan to visit we would love to know of your visit 🙂

      Reply
    • mm
      March 21, 2016 at 12:03 pm
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      Thank you so much. Yes Sintra is magical indeed. Thanks for sharing your post we would love to read through. Happy Travelling!

      Reply
  • March 20, 2016 at 11:30 pm
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    Wow this really does look like a place out of a picture book. I am fascinated by architecture, and have never seen such grand majestic castles in such beautiful and vivid colors. The ruined moor castle is amazing, great photo btw, I love the way the warm light hits the ruins. The mansion of Quinta de Ragalia is like a dream, I can spend entire weeks exploring those beautiful grounds. Really make me wonder about the people that actually got to live there once. Thank you so much for an awesome virtual trip!

    Reply
    • mm
      March 21, 2016 at 12:07 pm
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      We are glad you liked it Karina. And we are overwhelmed by the way you have put it up, love it. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your valuable thoughts 🙂

      Reply
  • March 21, 2016 at 1:54 am
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    The architecture is so remarkable. I loved the castle looking one half way down.

    Reply
    • mm
      March 21, 2016 at 12:09 pm
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      Thank you so much Felita. Sintra does have treasured architectural wonders worth a visit 🙂

      Reply
  • March 21, 2016 at 2:11 am
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    Oh my goodness, the buildings are absolutely gorgeous. The craftsmanship that went into it is amazing!!

    Reply
    • mm
      March 21, 2016 at 12:11 pm
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      True Ashley. The beauty and splendour of the castles and mansions are beyond our imagination. Thanks for stopping by to read 🙂

      Reply
  • March 21, 2016 at 5:57 pm
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    I think I could live at the Quinta da Regaleira. What a magical place!

    Reply
    • mm
      March 21, 2016 at 6:01 pm
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      True Dave, Quinta da Regaleira is a marvellous estate and walking through its gardens is no less than exploring a fairytale land 🙂

      Reply
  • March 21, 2016 at 9:42 pm
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    Absolutely stunning! I love the gothic architecture and detailed ornaments – it makes me want to go back in time, really 🙂

    Reply
    • mm
      March 22, 2016 at 9:09 pm
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      Thanks Kati.. Agree with you completely, Sintra has well preserved architectural wonders stunning enough to leave anyone in awe 🙂

      Reply
  • March 23, 2016 at 1:34 pm
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    I’ve never been there but your photos gave me the feel of being there.. you know what I mean? Would love to visit and see this place someday!

    Reply
    • mm
      April 19, 2016 at 6:55 pm
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      Thats very sweet of you Gecca. Sintra is indeed beautiful and we suggest you to visit and experience the wonder for yourself. We are sure you will love it 🙂

      Reply
  • September 7, 2017 at 2:00 pm
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    What a beautiful place! So much detail and decoration in every building!

    Reply
  • September 7, 2017 at 10:00 pm
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    Portugal is on my must see list. And Sintra will definitely be a stop on our trip when we get there! Thanks so much sharing all of your images with us

    Reply

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