Sintra is a village north of Lisbon and it is packed with castles! What to do in Sintra Portugal? These are the most beautiful sights.
Sintra: an introduction
Sintra is a village north of Lisbon and lies at the foot of the Sintra Mountains. It has a rich history and is over 2000 years old. Why do you want to visit Sintra? It is full of palaces and there are also several impressive castle gardens to discover. Thanks to all these amazing sights, the historic center of Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I’m sure you want to visit Sintra! What to do in Sintra Portugal? 9 tips.
Palácio Nacional de Sintra
The National Palace of Sintra is one of the first Sintra castles you see when you arrive in the village. It stands out because of the two large white chimneys. It has been there since the fifteenth century, has Moorish details and several Portuguese kings have lived there. You can also admire beautiful tableaux in the castle with typical white-blue Portuguese tiles (azulejos).
Buy your ticket for Palácio Nacional de Sintra here.
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira is an estate located on the west side of the village. The estate contains a house, a park full of fountains, a crypt, and several pavilions. Very impressive are the deep wells, which you can view from different angles. There are underground passages that lead to all kinds of hidden places. A very adventurous place to visit!
Buy your tickets for Quinta da Regaleira here.
Palácio da Pena
The most notable of all Sintra palaces is Palácio da Pena. It is located on top of a mountain with bright red and yellow colors. This colorful palace was built in the mid-nineteenth century and was used for a long time by the Portuguese royal family as a summer palace. It is not only cool to see the castle from the inside, but also from the outside. The castle is so beautifully situated on a hill that you have a beautiful view. On clear days you can see the sea from here.
Buy your ticket for Palácio da Pena (+ park) here.
Park Palacio da Pena
Do you not find it very interesting to view the inside of the palace? The park of the same name is also very beautiful! A great castle garden full of hiking trails and beautiful viewpoints. This way you can see the palace, Sintra, and other castles beautifully. You can also choose to only buy a ticket for the park, which is cheaper than a ticket for the castle.
Buy your ticket for the Park of Palácio da Pena here.
Castelo dos Mouros
Right next to Palácio da Pena is Castelo dos Mouros (Moors Castle). This is the oldest castle in Sintra, it was built in the ninth and tenth centuries. Although this is mainly a ruin, it is a huge complex. There are several towers and walking on the castle walls is amazing. The views from the castle are stunning.
Buy your ticket for Castelo dos Mouros here.
Palácio de Monserrate
A little further west of Sintra is Palácio de Monserrate (Palace of Monserrate). This is again an estate with a beautiful palace. The palace looks very special, it has an oriental architectural style. The gardens contain plants from all over the world. The palace was a summer residence of the English Cook family. Not a bad place for a vacation!
Buy your ticket for Palácio de Monserrate here.
Convento dos Capuchos
The Convento dos Capuchos is not a castle but a monastery from the sixteenth century. Capuchins, a branch of Franciscan monks who live very frugally, lived in this monastery from 1560 to 1834. The Convento dos Capuchos is also known as the Cork Monastery because parts of the walls, doors, and ceiling were covered with cork. This has an insulating effect and it is also less humid.
The monastery is very dilapidated and looks like a ruin. Because the plants and trees just kept growing, this place looks very mysterious.
Buy your ticket for Convento dos Capuchos here.
Palácio de Queluz
The Palácio de Queluz (Palace of Queluz) is the only attraction in this list that is not located in the village of Sintra, but in Queluz. The village of Queluz does belong to the municipality of Sintra and is very close to Lisbon. The palace has a mixed style of rococo and baroque and was built in the eighteenth century.
The palace and the surrounding gardens are huge and very special to see. It is also sometimes called the Portuguese Versailles (although it is a lot smaller than the French Palace of Versailles).
Buy your ticket for Palácio de Queluz here.
More things to do in Sintra
In addition to visiting the castles, it is also wonderful to stroll through the village itself. Around the town, there are some beautiful hiking trails. You can walk to some of the castles, and there is a good chance that you will find yourself alone on the hiking trails. This is nice because most places in Sintra can be very crowded.
How much time do you need in Sintra?
Do you want to visit all the castles and also go on a hike in the Sintra area? Then it is advisable to stay at least two nights (2 to 3 days) in Sintra.
How to get around in Sintra
The sights in Sintra are quite far apart. Although there are many (beautiful!) hiking trails, I can imagine that you don’t want to walk everywhere. If you don’t have a car, you can use a hop-on hop-off bus in Sintra that can drop you off at all the beautiful places.
How to get to Sintra?
Most people travel from Lisbon to Sintra. That can be done in different ways.
From Lisbon to Sintra by train
The easiest way to get to Sintra is by train from Lisbon. You can take it from Roma-Areeiro station. From there, the ride takes about 40 minutes. How much does a train ticket from Lisbon to Sintra cost? €2.30 for a single journey, €4.60 for a return. You can buy a ticket at the station.
Check Google Maps for train times.
From Lisbon to Sintra by car
Of course, you can also travel from Lisbon to Sintra by (rental) car. The ride is 30 kilometers and it takes about half an hour. There are several large parking lots next to the station where you can park for free.
Go on a tour from Lisbon to Sintra
Do you want to make it as easy as possible for yourself? From Lisbon, you can also visit Sintra on a tour. There are several options:
- Day trip from Lisbon by van: visit and guided tour Pena Palace, Sintra, Cabo da Roca and Cascais.
- E-bike tour from Lisbon to Sintra and Cascais.
Where to stay in Sintra
Do you really want to get the most out of your visit to Sintra? Then it is wise to stay here for one or more nights. These are nice places to stay in Sintra:
- Moon Hill Hostel – perfect for travelers on a budget. Simple but cozy hostel with dormitories and family rooms.
- Villa das Rosas – guest house with swimming pool in buildings of the nineteenth century.
- Chalet Saudade – a beautiful guest house with a picturesque view.
- Sintra Boutique Hotel – luxury 4* hotel with modern and spacious rooms.
Would you rather search for suitable accommodations yourself? Check Booking.com for an overview of available hotels, guest houses, and apartments.
Visiting Sintra: a few more tips
Sintra is beautiful and because of that, it can also get very busy. A few additional tips:
- Avoid the crowds. Most castles are open from 10 am to 6 pm. Make sure to get there either before 10 am or after 4 pm. Those are the quietest times.
- The lines at the cash registers can get very long. It is therefore wise to buy your ticket online beforehand so you can skip the line.
- Save money with combination tickets. Do you want to visit several castles? There are combination tickets with which you can save.
- Do you combine a city trip to Lisbon with Sintra? Then see if the Lisbon-Sintra Pass is advantageous for you. With this pass, you not only get the Lisboa Pass (free access to many Lisbon sights and public transport) but also access to some Sintra castles.
- You can travel to Sintra by car, but do not do this in the high season (July/August). Then it is so busy in the town that you can hardly park or move. In that case, the hop-on hop-off bus is a better idea.
- The best time to visit Sintra is in spring (March to June) and autumn (September/October). Then the temperature is pleasant and it is not too bad with the crowds (especially if you come during the week). In July and August, it is very busy and the temperature can rise to about 40 degrees!
Book a trip to Portugal
Is a trip to Portugal on your wish list? Plan it now! These are useful websites for booking your trip:
- Vliegtickets Lisbon has an international airport with connections from all over the world. Check Skyscanner for an overview, times, and prices. TAP, the main Portuguese airline, is good and usually pretty affordable. Booking directly with the airline often provides some extra benefits and makes changes easier.
- Car rental Do you want to go on a road trip to Portugal? Check Discover Cars and Rental Cars to find the best deals.
- Tours & activities You can do a lot of tours and activities in Portugal. Check out Get Your Guide for all the options.
- Travel insurance It is always wise to take out good travel insurance when you go on holiday. Insubuy has good prices and good conditions.
Read more about Portugal
Do you fancy a trip to Portugal after seeing all these beautiful Sintra castles? These travel guides are full of additional tips:
Insight Guides Portugal (Travel Guide with Free eBook)
I myself have lived in Portugal for more than half a year and that is why you can find a lot of information about a trip to Portugal on this website. Check out one of these articles:
- The best things to do in Cascais | 13 tips!
- The top things to do in Lisbon
- What to do in the Algarve? 26 tips!
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