Plan the Perfect Day Trip From Lisbon To Sintra
Wondering how to plan the perfect Sintra day trip from Lisbon? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Our one day in Sintra itinerary has everything you need to plan the perfect day trip from Lisbon to Sintra, including all the tips and tricks to save you time and see the best of Sintra in one day.
Table Of Contents
Sintra does not need any introduction but just in case you haven’t heard about Sintra before, imagine a historic town nestled in rolling green hills, dotted with colorful palaces and ancient mansions where the nobles and royals used to live. Best of all, it’s located less than 30 kilometers west of Lisbon, which makes it the perfect destination for a day trip from Lisbon.
Should you visit Sintra on a Day Trip from Lisbon
Yes and No.
Let us explain. You should definitely add Sintra to your Portugal itinerary, or you’re going to regret it. The mansions and palaces of Sintra are thoroughly remarkable; therefore, the Cultural Landscape of Sintra was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. On our first visit to Portugal, we chose to skip Sintra in favor of one more day in Lisbon, but in retrospect, we should have taken that Lisbon-Sintra day trip. On our recent Portugal trip, we weren’t going to skip it. We planned a one-day itinerary in Sintra at the beginning of our journey, and it was one of the trip’s highlights. However, we wished we had stayed there at least one night since Sintra is a one-of-a-kind destination.
So yes, you should defiantly start planning your visit to Sintra, but if you only have 1 day to see everything Sintra has to offer, be strategic about your itinerary. Do your homework and choose which Sintra attractions are at the top of your bucket list and what’s the best way to visit them in one day.
Top Attractions for Your Visit to Sintra
Many people are not aware that the old town of Sintra is part of the beautiful Parque Natural Sintra-Cascais. This picturesque park includes endless walking trails, cycling routes and various landscapes, including forests, lakes, dunes, a rugged coastline, and of course, stunning palaces and mansions. Fortunately, some of the most famous attractions are located around Sintra’s old town. Here’s a little taste of some of the most famous attractions you can see on your Lisbon to Sintra day trip:
- Palacio Nacional da Pena – Pena Palace is one of the most popular attractions in Sintra.
- Quinta da Regaleira – A beautiful estate with enchanting gardens.
- The Moorish Castle – A minified version of the Great Wall of China. One of the best viewpoints for stunning panoramic views of Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais.
- National Palace of Sintra – The oldest palace in Portugal. Inside you’ll find magnificent chambers with painted ceilings and extravagant decorations.
- Park and Palace of Monserrate – One-of-a-kind palace with unique architectural details surrounded by beautiful gardens.
- Convento do Capuchos – A Franciscan convent whose structures are intertwined with the natural surroundings.
Sintra Portugal Travel Video
If you want to have a little taste of what Sintra and Central Portugal have to offer, check out our Portugal Road Trip Travel Video, including Sintra! We’d appreciate it if you could like it on YouTube 🙂
How to Get to Sintra from Lisbon
Getting from Lisbon to Sintra by Train
The simplest way to get to Sintra is to hop on a train. You can catch a train from Rossio train station which is located at the center of Lisbon (travel time to Sintra is about 40 minutes) or from Oriente train station, which is a bit further away (travel time to Sintra is about 50 minutes). At least two trains depart every hour.
Important Tip: You can’t buy train tickets from Lisbon to Sintra online. You must purchase them at the self-service machines or ticket boots at the station. There are usually long queues so come early!
Travel time: 40-50 minutes Price: € 2.25 one way
Getting from Lisbon to Sintra by Car
Though catching a train is the most convenient way to get to Sintra, you might want to rent a car if you’d rather visit some hidden gems or maybe stop along the way or if Sintra is the first stop on your Central Portugal road trip. It will take you about 30 minutes to drive from Lisbon to Sintra through A37 / A16. The traffic to Sintra can get extremely busy, so start your day as early as possible and avoid visiting Sintra on the weekend.
As for getting around Sintra with a car, some roads are restricted to residents or public transportation only, so park your car at one of the parking lots and take the bus/tuk-tuk to get to the central palaces. For palaces that are not located on the main routes, you will be able to visit them with your car. We’ll elaborate more about the subject later.
Travel Time: 30 minutes Price: Depending on the model, season and demand – prices start from $30-40 a day
How To Get Around Sintra
Getting around Sintra is easy; just choose your preferred means of transportation. As mentioned before, if you arrive by car, it’s better to park it around the old town and continue with other means of transportation from there (recommended parking spots in Sintra). You’d better leave further away palaces like Park and Palace of Monserrate, to the end of the day, you’ll be able to get to them with your car.
Getting Around Sintra By Bus
There are two buses that cover all of Sintra’s main attractions: Line 434 and Line 435. It’s a circular route that starts from Sintra’s train station.
Sintra Bus 434: Take bus 434 to get to Sintra’s old town, the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace. You can buy a single ticket or hop-on hop-off ticket. Note that you can only take the circular route once, which means you’ll have to start from the Moorish Castle or stop first at Pena Palace and walk to the Moorish Castle afterward (a very short walking distance). There are at least four departures every hour during the summer, and the bus operates from 9:15 am to 7:50 pm. Buses run from 9:30 am till 6:20 pm in wintertime with fewer hourly departures.
Ticket Prices: One-way: € 3.90 | Hop-on hop-off: € 6.90 | Sintra Bus 434 timetable
Sintra Bus 435: With line 435 you can get to Sintra National Palace, Quinta da Regaleira and Palácio de Monserrate The first two palaces are within walking distance from the old town, but Monserrate Palace is further away. After Monserrate Palace, the bus continues to Colares and returns to Sintra Station via an outside road so you can’t go back to Sintra’s old town. There’s only a hop-on-hop-off ticket, and you can take the circular route only once. Bus 435 departs every 20 minutes during the summer starting from 9:30 am till 7:50 pm. In winter, bus 435 operates from 9:30 am till 6:10 pm.
Ticket Prices: Hop-on hop-off: € 5 | Sintra Bus 435 timetable
Important Tip: If you are planning to take additional buses during your day, check out the “turístico diário” (meaning “day tourist ticket”) or “Hop On Hop Off All Buses” ticket, which costs € 15.20. With this ticket, you could hop on all of the Scotturb buses during the day. It includes the 434 and 435 buses and the 403 bus to Cabo da Roca and Cascais (departing from Sintra’s train station) and the buses to the beaches that depart from Portela de Sintra station.
Getting Around Sintra With A Three-Wheeler (Tuk-Tuk)
This is our favorite means of transportation, especially during Covid-19. The public buses can get quite crowded, and if you can splurge on a tuk-tuk, you will get fresh air and a private guide. In addition, if you only have one day in Sintra, with a tuk-tuk driver you’ll get to see a lot in a relatively short time. Our tuk-tuk driver was excellent, and on our way to Pena Palace, we stopped along the way in a few historical spots and viewpoints. We also got some fantastic tips from him for our Sintra day trip. If you have a car, you can visit Monserrate Palace, which is located further away and is less crowded, with your car.
You can get in touch with out tuk-tuk driver, Zami, by What’s Up: +351-918297928
Important Tip: There are many tuk-tuk tours you can buy online, DON’T! These are usually overpriced. You’ll have no problem finding a tuk-tuk driver around Sintra and negotiate the price with him directly, depending on your schedule and points of interest.
Getting Around Sintra With A Car
We can’t recommend visiting the palaces and interest points within Sintra’s old town with a car. It’s going to be very crowded, and the roads are not easy to navigate. If you take a wrong turn, it will take you at least 20 minutes to get back to Sintra’s old town since many of the roads are one-way. Also, at the time of our visit, access to some of the main interest points like Pena Palace was allowed only to residents of Sintra or public transportation.
What To See On Your Sintra Day Trip
As mentioned before, you can’t visit all of Sintra’s palaces and attractions in one day. Here are some of the most interesting places to visit on your day trip to Sintra from Lisbon. We will also suggest some possible Sintra itineraries depending on your means of transportation and interests.
Palacio Nacional da Pena
The beautiful Pena Palace, with its brightly colored red and yellow façade, is probably the most famous palace in Sintra. Most people take a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra just so they could visit this unique palace which is on UNESCO list and is also amongst the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Therefore, expect lots of people during your visit. Pena Palace is also a great viewpoint overlooking Sintra Park, especially the Moorish Castle.
Pena Palace’s history dates back to the 12th century. Back then, it was a chapel that later was transformed into a monastery that was almost destroyed completely in the 1755 earthquake. In 1838 King Ferdinand II acquired the former monastery and the surrounding lands and turned it into a summer residence for the royal family.
Not many people realize that Pena Palace and Park are huge and spread over 200 hectares. The palace itself is one the most impressive examples of 19th-century Romanticism in the world. Its architecture was influenced by a mishmash of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Islamic, and Neo-Manueline architectural styles.
Pena Palace Info
Opening hours: park: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm, Palace: 9:30 am – 6:30 pm.
Tickets: park: € 7.5 | park and palace: € 14 (Check available discounts for Pena Palace)
Bus: 434 | Pena Palace Map
Important Tips for Pena Palace:
- Pena Palace is the most famous attraction in Sintra, so plan ahead. It’s better to arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
- There are two types of tickets you can buy, one that includes the gardens and the exterior of the palace and one that also includes the interior. If you’re not sure which ticket to buy, have a look at some of Pena Palace’s inner rooms and decide for yourself. Buy your ticket online in advance on Sintra’s official website. The time slot on your ticket refers to the visit to Pena Palace’s interior rooms. If you want to visit a few other palaces, you’ll get a discount just before your payment.
- If you have more time, explore the beautiful Pena Park. One of the most beautiful parts of the gardens is Vale dos Lagos which starts just below the palace. Follow the paths around the artificial lakes till you get to the lower entrance. Note that the lower entrance has been closed since April 2020 due to Covid 19 regulations.
- If you choose to stroll around Pena Park, stop by the Chalet of the Countess of Edla. The yellow Alpine-style chalet belonged to Ferdinand II and his second wife, Elise Friederike Hensler. Around the chalet, you’ll find groomed gardens dotted with charming sports and artistic features, including the Fern Garden of the Countess, the Garden of Joina, the Arbor and the Chalet’s Labyrinth of Stone. Check out the Chalet of the Countess of Edla’s map.
- If you are short on time, explore the outside of the palace for the beautiful views and pictures. If you’ve been to European palaces before, you can skip the inside tour. In addition, you can also skip the visit to the gardens since many of the palaces in Sintra are surrounded by beautiful gardens, fountains, and lakes.
- The trail from the entrance to Pena Palace itself is pretty steep and takes about 10 minutes to walk. If you think you’ll have a hard time walking or you have a stroller/young children with you, for € 3 you can add a transfer to your online ticket.
Castelo dos Mouros
The Moorish Castle is another one of Sintra’s most famous sites. From afar, it resembles a mini version of the Great Wall of China. The Castle of the Moors dates back to the 9th century, a period during which the Moors occupied the Iberian Peninsula. You can visit the ruins of the castle, but the highlight here is walking on the winding walls of the Moorish Castle for stunning panoramic views of Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Moorish Castle is located within walking distance from Pena Palace, and it’s downhill, so if you want to reach it on foot from Pena Palace, it should take you about 10-15 minutes from the main entrance of Pena Palace.
The Moorish Castle Info
Opening hours: 9:00 am – 6:30 pm
Tickets: € 8. Buy tickets online and check discounts for youth, seniors and families here
Bus: 434 | Moorish Castle Map
For more details and points of interest of the Moorish Castle
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira is one of the most enchanting places in Sintra, so you’d better include it on your Lisbon-to-Sintra day trip. It is located about 15 minutes by foot from Sintra’s old town. The estate includes an ornate palace and a small chapel, surrounded by a beautiful park with lakes, caves, fountains, and wells.
Initially, the estate belonged to the Viscountess of Regaleira but in the late 19th century, it was sold to António Augusto de Carvalho Monteiro, who decided to build a palace that would reflect his cultural, philosophical, and scientific interests. The palace itself is quite impressive with its ornated façade, Gothic and Manueline symbols, and high turrets. If you have enough time, explore the five floors of the palace and visit the small Chapel (located in front of the palace) with its beautiful frescoes and stained-glass windows. However, we suggest starting your visit by exploring the lavish gardens since they contain many treasures and enchanting spots.
The gardens of Quinta da Regaleira are filled with hidden gems. Walk around the gardens to find Grottos, beautiful fountains, ponds, and decorated benches. Look for symbols related to alchemy, Masonry, and the Knights Templar, which were woven into the palace and garden under the instruction of António Augusto de Carvalho Monteiro. Also, make sure to visit the Initiation Well, which looks like underground towers lined with spiral stairs. There is also a smaller well. These so-called wells have never been used as water sources; they were actually used for religious ceremonies.
Quinta da Regaleira Info
Opening hours: 10:00 am – 6:30 pm
Tickets: Adult: € 10 (Check discounts for youth and seniors and buy your online ticket)
Bus: 435 | Quinta da Regaleira Map
Guides: There are guided tours and audio guides if you wish to learn more about the estate.
National Palace of Sintra
Palácio Nacional de Sintra is located at the heart of Sintra’s old town. It is the oldest palace in Portugal. Historians believe that the first building was constructed around the 10th or 11th century, and more buildings and wings were added throughout the years. It was a meeting place for the monarchy with the nobles and foreign ambassadors. Many kings and queens have walked through Palacio Nacional’s decorated chambers.
The most prominent feature of Palacio Nacional is the two conical chimneys that can be seen from afar. Other than the chimneys, the palace’s exterior seems underwhelming compared to some of the other mansions and palaces of Sintra, but once you step inside, you’ll find beautifully painted ceilings and elaborate tilework. Some of the most magnificent rooms include the Swan Room, the Magpie Room, and the Room of the Coats of Arms.
National Palace of Sintra Info
Opening hours: 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Tickets: Adult: € 10 (Check discounts for youth and seniors and buy your online ticket)
Bus: 434/435 | Palácio Nacional Maps
Important Tip for Palácio Nacional de Sintra:
There’s a new 360 VR experience so you can check the place out before your visit and decide for yourself if you’d like to add it to your one day in Sintra itinerary.
Parque e Palacio de Monserrate
One of our favorite places in Sintra is the Park and Palace of Monserrate. Palácio de Monserrate is one of the least crowded places in Sintra, but it is one of the most unique palaces thanks to its one-of-a-kind architecture.
Monserrate Palace used to be a chapel centuries ago and later was turned into an estate. It changed many hands over the years and went through various restoration processes till Francis Cook finally bought it in 1846. Cook, a British trader and an art collector, decided to restore the palace and its unique architecture which combines Gothic, Indian and Moorish influences. Cook also put a lot of effort into the construction of the park. Together with expert botanists and landscape designers, Cook created one of the most beautiful wild gardens in Portugal, where you can find plants from all over the world. The Monserrate gardens are considered one of Portugal’s best examples of Romanticism-inspired landscapes.
The visit to Palácio de Monserrate starts with a walk through the stunningly beautiful gardens. You can take the long road or go straight to the palace. Its exotic exterior with the intricate Arabesque details is a spectacular sight, but the best is yet to come since the inner rooms and hallways are filled with fine details, intricate arches, decorative tile work, and patterned ornaments.
Visiting Monserrate Palace with a car – If you have a car and you are going to Cascais or Obidos after Sintra, it’s best to visit Monserrate Palace at the end of your day since it’s located a bit far from Sintra’s old town.
Monserrate Palace Info
Opening hours: park: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm., Palace – 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
Tickets: € 8 (check for discounts and buy your ticket here)
Bus: 435 | Monserrate Palace Map
Sintra Old Town
Don’t forget to leave some time to explore the beautiful cobbled alleys of Sintra’s old town. You’ll find many souvenirs and arts and crafts shops in Sintra’s tiny streets and many restaurants and coffee shops as well.
Convento do Capuchos
And now for something completely different. If you’ve had enough of the overly decorated palaces and mansions of Sintra, visit Convento do Capuchos. The simplicity of this Franciscan convent is what makes it unique. Here the emphasis was on merging the structure with the surrounding natural environment.
This convent was created as a modest place of worship. The monks intentionally chose an isolated spot where they could live a simple life while searching for spiritual perfection.
Convento do Capuchos Info
Opening hours: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Tickets: € 7 (check discount forand buy your ticket here)
Hidden Gems For Your Sintra Itinerary
The Gardens and National Palace of Queluz
This grandiose 18th-century palace is actually located in Queluz, approximately halfway between Lisbon and Sintra. It is truly one of the most majestic palaces in Portugal and certainly worth a visit if you have the time. The palace was home to three generations of Portugal’s royal families, and its architecture is influenced by the Baroque, the Rococo, and the Neoclassicism styles. Besides the extravagant royal chambers with elaborate decorations, painted ceilings, massive chandeliers, and beautiful carvings, the surrounding gardens are also beautiful to explore.
Palacio Nacional e Jardins de Queluz Info
Opening hours: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Tickets: € 10:00 (check discounts and buy your ticket)
Azenhas do Mar Viewpoint
There are many scenic viewpoints along the Sintra-Cascais Nature Park. One of the best viewpoints is located above a beautiful village, Azenhas do Mar, which is situated about 10 km. from Monserrate Palace. If you have the time, especially at sunset, you can check out this viewpoint for some stunning shots of Azenhas do Mar.
Tips For Your Lisbon To Sintra Day Trip
- Plan Ahead – One day in Sintra is definitely not enough, so plan ahead and choose which palaces are at the top of your list. You should also take into consideration their locations and crowd-factor.
- Visiting Sintra with a car – Visit Sintra’s official site for information about road conditions and parking spots and more. At the time of our visit, private vehicles were not allowed to reach Pena Palace or the Moorish Castle. Either way, we suggest visiting the palaces that are relatively close to Sintra’s old town with a bus, tuk-tuk, or a taxi.
- Opening and Closing Time – For the most famous sites in Sintra, like Pena Palace, arrive a little bit before the opening time since there will be a line for sure. All of the sites have last admission of approximately 30-60 minutes before closing.
- Luggage storage – If your visit to Sintra is not part of a day trip but a stop on the way to another location, look for storage places for your luggage. We visited Portugal during the pandemic and couldn’t find a place to store our luggage. However, usually, you can store your luggage in the train station and at a luggage storage shop in front of the train station called “Tempo de Tradições” (look for the rooster sign).
- Recommended viewpoints – there are two recommended viewpoints for taking photos of Pena Palace – Cruz Alta and Miradouro de Santa Eufémia. We aimed to get to one of them in the morning but missed the turn, which meant we had to drive another 30 minutes to get back to the historic center. Of course, both the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace are perched on a hill, so you’ll have a great vantage point from there as well.
- Packing List – Comfortable Shoes are a must! And also, bring a cover-up since it can get chilly at the highest point, especially in the early morning/late afternoon.
Where to Eat In Sintra – Restaurants & Coffee Shops
Your one day in Sintra itinerary is going to be packed with palaces and monuments, but you must leave some time for breakfast and/or lunch. Unfortunately, many of the places at the heart of Sintra’s old town area a bit of tourist traps but not far from the center, you’ll find some nice restaurants.
For a quick coffee and a sweet pastry, check out Casa Piriquita or Queijadas da Sapa; both are located in Sintra’s old town. Not far from the train station, you’ll find Café Saudade, a nice place to have breakfast or lunch. Another recommended place for breakfast or lunch is Garagem Café.
For lunch or dinner, you can try Nau Palatina, a small restaurant with a Mediterranean/Portuguese menu. For some tapas, check out Tascantiga, which is located on the way from Quinta da Regaleira to Sintra’s old town. Lastly, not far from the train station, you’ll find Incomum by Luís Santos, which has excellent reviews and is perfect for grabbing dinner before you hop on the train to Lisbon.
Sintra Foodie Tip:
You must try the traditional Portuguese sweets that are unique to Sintra. Queijada de Sintra is a sweet pastry made from cheese, eggs, milk, flour, sugar and cinnamon. Travesseiro de Sintra are delicious and crispy local pasteries. They are made from puff pastry filled with rich almond and egg cream.
Suggested Itineraries for Your One Day in Sintra
One Day in Sintra Itinerary for Instagram Lovers
For those of you who need to visit the most famous attractions and take some selfies next to some of the most extravagant palaces in Sintra; we suggest visiting Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira and the Moorish Castle. In addition, take a stroll through the alleys of Sintra’s old town.
One Day in Sintra Itinerary for Architectural Lovers
If you’d like to see the most beautiful facades and interesting-looking palaces in Sintra, visit Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, Monserrate Palace, and if you have a car, stop at The National Palace of Queluz as well.
One Day in Sintra Itinerary for History Lovers
All of Sintra’s palaces have such historical importance, but you really must visit the oldest palace in Portugal, National Palace of Sintra. If you have a car, also try to visit The National Palace of Queluz.
One Day in Sintra Itinerary for Nature Lovers
Try to visit palaces such as Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, and Monserrate Palace because they have such beautiful gardens (or rather parks) surrounding them. You might also enjoy visiting Convento do Capuchos since the man-made structures intertwine so beautifully with the surrounding nature.
Tips To See The Best Of Sintra in One Day
Take an early train and get around Sintra with a tuk-tuk. Renting a car is only necessary if you plan to do a road trip or visit further away locations. Even if you rent a car, use a tuk-tuk to see the palaces that are close to Sintra’s old town.
Pena Palace – you can’t visit Sintra without visiting the most famous palace. However, we suggest seeing only the palace’s exterior. Take some pictures and walk along the walls for the stunning views and one of the best viewpoints for photographing the Moorish Castle. Try and come as early as possible.
Quinta da Regaleira – Start with exploring the gardens since they are the main highlight. If you have enough time, you can also visit the palace, but it will be at the expanse of seeing some of the other monuments. Since you’re starting with Pena Palace in the early morning, we’d leave Quinta da Regaleira for the afternoon to avoid the crowds.
Monserrate Palace – You must visit this majestic and unique palace for its one-of-a-kind architecture and beautiful wild gardens.
If You Have More Time: Try to visit either the Moorish Castle or the National Palace of Sintra.
Organized Day Tours from Lisbon to Sintra
Although personally, we don’t like organized day tours, they can be really convenient and save you some time and the hustle of planning everything yourself. In addition, some of the tours stop at places that will be impossible to reach in one day without a car such as Cascais or Coba da Roca.
Lisbon to Sintra Recommended Tours
Best of Sintra-Cascais Park
- Pena Palace
- Sintra Free Time (you can choose to visit another palace or explore the old town)
- Cabo da Roca
- One of the best tours to see as much as you can
Sintra Top Highlights
- Pena Palace & Quinta da Regaleira
- Monserrate Palace – A Must-Visit in our opinion!
- Great guide and some solo time as well
- Note that the monuments’ tickets are NOT included
Sintra Private Tour
With this highly recommended tour you’ll get to plan your own schedule and visit Sintra’s palaces and the nearby attractions at your own pace. The price for two people is very reasonable.
You can check all of Sintra’s one day and half-day tours in the link below
How Many Days In Sintra Do You Need
Honestly, you need at least 2 days to see most of Sintra’s attractions and these are going to be very hectic 48 hours. If you want to visit the palaces and mansions in a leisurely pace, and even see the views along the beautiful coast, we suggest planning a 3-day itinerary for your Sintra visit. In addition to the beautiful palaces, you can also plan for some hiking or cycling adventures around the stunning Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais. However, if 1 day is all you have for your Sintra visit, you can definitely make the most out of your Sintra day trip, check our suggested 1-day Sintra itineraries above.
Where to Stay In Sintra
Sintra has some very unique accommodation options, so if you’ve always wanted to stay in a historic mansion or a former palace, this is your chance. There are also some hotels close to Sintra’s old town, luxury resorts that are located further away and many B&B’s and guesthouses all over Sintra-Cascais Nature Park. Here are some of our top choices:
If you have a car and don’t mind sleeping outside of Sintra, these two resorts are excellent options:
Check out more accommodation options here