One Day in Sintra Itinerary

One Day in Sintra, Pena Palace - Sintra, Portugal

One Day in Sintra Itinerary

Sintra is a historically significant town in Portugal and an easy day trip from Lisbon. It is full of unique, regal buildings to visit with robust history. When planning our trip to Lisbon, we knew that we HAD to make time to visit Sintra so we decided to go to Sintra immediately after landing in Lisbon.

The reason we did our Sintra day trip on our first day was due to the fact that we rented a car to drive to Sintra which saved us some time at the beginning of the day versus traveling to our hotel to drop off our luggage and then traveling to Sintra by train (more on driving to Sintra in a moment).

Before visiting Sintra a few friends who had visited Sintra told us that we would probably only have time to visit 3-4 sites there and to be honest, we both brushed it off because we usually travel pretty fast-paced, but this fact was completely true.

During our Sintra day trip, we only had time to visit three attractions, even when arriving there at 9am on the dot! If you wanted to visit all of the attractions in Sintra we feel you would need at least 2-3 days to truly enjoy them to the fullest. We would love to go back to visit more Sintra attractions if we ever have the chance but for now, we will go over the three we visited as well as a few other options for things to do in Sintra.

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Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal
Views from Pena Palace

How to Get to Sintra

Visiting Sintra by Train

Getting to Sintra by train from Lisbon is incredibly easy. Trains run every 30 minutes from Rossio Station in Lisbon and the journey takes about 45 minutes. If you are planning to stay in Lisbon, traveling to Sintra by train is probably the most convenient way to visit Sintra. In fact, when we go back, this is the way we’d visit Sintra again.
Cost: €4.30 (round-trip ticket)


Visiting Sintra by Car

As I said above, we opted to visit Sintra by car because we headed straight there from the airport with our luggage. We used Google Maps to find the best route to Sintra from the Lisbon Airport, which was pretty straight forward. We took the I19 most of the way (it’s about a 30-minute drive).

The car rental was only about €15 for the day but you do have to pay for parking in some areas of Sintra if you plan to take the bus to each attraction. Parking can also be tricky, especially in the summer so unless you already have a car or have different circumstances like wanting to get there early from the airport, it’s probably just as easy to take the train to Sintra.


Visiting Sintra by Tour Group

Another way to do a Sintra day trip is by an organized tour group that will take you to specific sites. Most tours include all admission fees, transportation and occasionally even lunch in their prices so you can enjoy a stress-free day with less walking yet still have plenty of time to explore. Here are a few Sintra tours we found.


Transportation in Sintra

There are a few ways that you can get around Sintra including Uber/taxi, tuk-tuk, driving yourself by rental car, or public bus. As I said above, we decided to drive to Sintra since we were visiting on our first day in Lisbon and the rental car was only around 15 euro for the day.

But there really isn’t a need to drive since public transportation is pretty efficient and inexpensive. Because we were unsure if there would be enough parking at each place we visited (it was pretty limited!) we decided to park at the station and take the bus to each stop.

When we were on the bus we noticed a number of parking spots close to each attraction but we did get there prior to 9:30am when most attractions opened and as the day went on the spots became few, plus if you drive to each spot there is still a lot of walking involved. Our suggestion would be to take the bus while in Sintra if possible. In the summer, buses can become incredibly packed with people so Uber/taxi or tuk-tuk are additional options.

Here are the two buses that operate for the attractions in Sintra:

Bus 434 (runs approximately every 20 minutes)

  • Sintra Train Station (Sintra Estacion)
  • National Palace of Sintra (Palacio Nacional de Sintra)
  • Castle of the Moors (Castillo de los Mouros)
  • Pena Palace (Palacio de Pena)

Bus 435 (runs approximately every 15 minutes)

  • Sintra Train Station (Sintra Estacion)
  • National Palace of Sintra (Palacio Nacional de Sintra)
  • Quinta da Regaleira
  • Seteais Palace (Palacio de Seteais)
  • Monserrate Palace (Palacio de Monserrate)

Cost: €10 for bus 435, €6.90 for bus 434, €15 for a combined pass for both buses (prices are for day passes)


Key Things to Know when Visiting Sintra

  • Bring a picnic lunch, snacks, and water! Your day is going to be pretty jam-packed no matter how many attractions you visit and taking the bus back to the station area to enjoy a lunch will take a lot of time out of your day, not to mention the food offered at the attractions is quite overpriced. Instead, bring a lunch with you to enjoy at or outside one of the attractions and stay hydrated! Those hills can be killer. 
  • Wear sensible shoes. I mentioned this in our Lisbon guide but I’m mentioning it here too because you’ll be doing a lot of walking while in Sintra. The grounds at most of these attractions have many hills and slippery sidewalks/roads.
  • Buy your tickets online. Not only does this save paper and time, you’ll also be granted a 5% discount on each admission as well. Simply pull up the ticket barcode on your phone, scan, and you’re good to go. 
Palacio de Monserrate in Sintra, Portugal
Palacio de Monserrate

One Day in Sintra Itinerary

The key thing to know about visiting Sintra is that you will most likely only have time to visit 3-4 attractions, even if you arrive early in the day. One of the things we loved the most about Sintra is that each attraction is entirely different from the next including the designs, colors, and history. Because of this, we wouldn’t blame you if you want to come back and spend more than just a day in Sintra. In fact, we’re right there with you. 😉


Palacio Nacional da Pena (Pena Palace)

Pena Palace - Sintra, Portugal
Visiting Pena Palace.

The first place we visited in Sintra was Pena Palace. Pena Palace is probably the most iconic spot in Sintra. The vibrant colors of the structures are very eye-catching and there are so many fascinating corners to explore. 

There are two different tickets available to purchase a park only ticket which will allow you to see the grounds of Pena Palace or a park and palace ticket which will allow you to see the grounds and the interior of the palace. We arrived right before opening (9:30am) and it was already getting incredibly busy. 

If visiting the inside of the palace is important to you, you might want to do that first otherwise the line will be INCREDIBLY long. Otherwise, buy the ticket for the park to enjoy the view around the grounds, there is still plenty to see!

No matter what, there are bound to be many tourists visiting because of how popular it is so if you’d like to visit when there are less people try to go right when it opens (9:30am) or after 4pm. Tour buses usually start arriving around 10:30am and leave by 3pm.
Hours: 9:30am-8pm daily (summer), 10am-6pm daily (winter)
Cost:
Palace and Park: €14.00 and Park: €7.50


Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira - Sintra, Portugal
Initiation Well at Quinta da Regaleira.

The Quinta da Regaleira was a residence built in the late 19th century. To us, this World Heritage Site felt very mysterious and romantic. The grand house is of ornate gothic appearance surrounded by lush greenery. But the main attraction for us was the luxurious gardens and beautiful structures throughout the grounds.

One of the most well-known places at Quinta da Regaleira is the Initiation Well which is 88-feet deep but has never once been used for water. Instead, this well was used for secret ceremonies by the owner of the grounds, Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro. History tells us that he was a wealthy businessman and Freemason who designed his property to be full of mystery and we found that to be true considering all of the secret, hidden tunnels.
Hours: 9:30am-7pm daily (summer), 9:30am-5pm daily (winter)
Cost:
€6


Palacio de Monserrate (Park and Palace of Monserrate)

Palacio de Monserrate - Sintra, Portugal
Palacio de Monserrate

After visiting two of the more crowded attractions in Sintra we headed to one of the further attractions in Sintra, Palacio de Monserrate. We loved Palacio de Monserrate because we found it to have far fewer crowds but just as much beauty as the other attractions we visited during our one day in Sintra.

The palace itself is quite a sight to see with stunning tile designs and arches blending gothic, Arabic, and Indian architecture, but make sure you take some time to explore the grounds of Palacio de Monserrate as well. There are beautiful gardens, ornamental lakes, small water features, and a large lawn to rest on. After spending most of our day walking in Sintra, it was a nice relief to simply sit on the lawn and rest.
Hours: 9:30am-8pm daily (summer), 10am-6pm daily (winter)
Cost:
€8


Other Attractions in Sintra

Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors)

Castelo Dos Mouros in Sintra, Portugal
Castelo Dos Mouros

When trying to decide which attractions to visit we actually opted out of Castelo dos Mouros because of the beautiful views we saw of it from Pena Palace and it was pretty busy upon first glance. But if we had time we would have loved to have seen it in person.

Castelo dos Mouros is a 9th-century ruinous castle set on a hilltop. It was originally a military fort due to its vantage point over the Tagus River. After a series of natural disasters, Castelo dos Mouros was set to be left in ruins until it was restored in the 19th century by King Ferdinand II. It’s safe to say, that this Sintra attraction is extremely rich in history and should be considered when planning one day in Sintra.
Hours: 9:30am-8pm daily (summer), 10am-6pm daily (winter)
Cost: €8


Tivoli Palácio de Seteais (Seteais Palace)

Seteais Palace is a neoclassical palace that has been transformed into a luxury hotel in Sintra (talk about a gorgeous place to stay!). It was built between 1783-1787 for the Dutch consul Daniel Gildemeester, but is currently owned by the Portuguese government.

Although we didn’t get to visit this beautiful place, we were told that even if you aren’t a guest of the hotel, the grounds of Seteais Palace are open to the public during the day. If all else, it’s worth a quick stop for the spectacular views of Pena Palace and Castle of the Moors. If you have some extra time when you visit, be sure to have a cocktail on the terrace or wander through the gardens.


Palácio Nacional de Sintra (National Palace of Sintra)

Palácio Nacional de Sintra
Palácio Nacional de Sintra

The National Palace of Sintra is a medieval royal palace that sits in the center of Sintra and has been beautifully preserved. On the palace grounds, you’ll see a near-pristine white building and two massive chimneys. The inside of the palace is even more lavishly decorated with golden details and wallpaper with various birds. 

This Sintra attraction has a long history with the royal families of Portugal, who lived in the palace from the early 15th to late 19th century which makes it the most lived-in royal palace in Portugal.
Hours: 9:30am-7pm daily (summer), 9:30am-6pm daily (winter)
Cost:
€10


National Palace and Gardens of Queluz

National Palace and Gardens of Queluz - Sintra
National Palace and Gardens of Queluz

Another less-visited attraction in Sintra is The National Palace and Gardens of Queluz which was the royal residence of Queen Dom Maria I and her husband, Dom Pedro III during the 18th century. After her husband and eldest son died, the queen understandably lost her mind in grief. Due to this, she was kept in what is called “Maria’s Pavillion” and away from the public eye. It’s truly a sad story, but worth visiting to learn more about the history of the palace and see the beautiful details.

The National Palace and Gardens of Queluz features exterior colors of blue, white, and yellow pastels but the interior decorated elaborately with many baroque designs. Visitors of the palace can also visit the gardens, fountains, and lakes that are featured on the property as well.
Hours: 9am-7pm daily (summer), 9am-6pm daily (winter)
Cost: Palace and garden €10, garden only €5


Which of these attractions would you like to visit one day in Sintra?

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Sintra is the perfect day trip from Lisbon! Here is our complete guide to visiting Sintra including helpful tips, attraction, and transportation information.
Sintra is the perfect day trip from Lisbon! Here is our complete guide to visiting Sintra including helpful tips, attraction, and transportation information.
Sintra is the perfect day trip from Lisbon! Here is our complete guide to visiting Sintra including helpful tips, attraction, and transportation information.

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