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Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip Itinerary & Guide

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If you are heading to Lisbon and looking to explore the famed Pena Palace, then you are in the right place. Lisbon to Sintra Day trip itinerary is ONE of the best ways to make the most of your trip to this capital city. As Sintra doesn’t have an airport, it makes sense to fly to Lisbon. Read to find out how to spend one day in Sintra itinerary.

Lisbon to Sintra Day trip itinerary: Spend one day in Sintra itinerary

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Lisbon to Sintra day trip itinerary – One day in Sintra

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Lisbon to Sintra Day trip itinerary – Transportation Guide

Distance from Lisbon to Sintra is 30 kilometers. You can drive, take a train, or book a day tour to explore Sintra. Regardless of your option, 45 minutes to an hour is your travel time – one way.

In order to explore tourist attractions, a sightseeing bus called bus no. 434 operates from Sintra town center to places like Castle of the Moors and Pena National Palace. Both of these sites are located on a steep hill and walking or hiking up there (and even driving) is not recommended.

Roads are steep and narrow and you should save up all the energy to explore the actual sites because there will be a TON of walking and climbing.  

Pro tip: Wear comfortable WALKING SHOES

Distance from Lisbon to Sintra Map
Distance from Lisbon to Sintra Map

More day trips from Lisbon? Read 17 Day trip ideas from Lisbon

Driving to Sintra

Drive from Lisbon to Sintra is about 40-45 minutes. But we do not recommend driving there. Because parking at Pena Palace is a pain. And you might end up taking the 434 bus anyway to reach the sightseeing locations – so ditch the car.

Train from Lisbon to Sintra – Public Transport Guide 

Trains take 45 minutes to reach Sintra from Lisbon. It is one of the budget options to get to Sintra (2.20 euros). You can catch a train from the Rossio train station (downtown) to reach the Sintra train station.

Trains operate frequently like every 10-30 minutes. 

Once you arrive at the Sintra train station, it will take you 10 minutes (walk) to get to their town center. From there you can take the 434 bus to the sightseeing areas. During peak seasons, 434 buses can be quite crowded (and hot).

Lisbon Rossio Station >>>>> Sintra Train Station 

Duration: 45 minutes – 1 hour (one way)

Estimated Costs: 2.20 euros (or 1.90 euros with Zapping/zap card)

Girl in front of Pena Palace
Lisbon to Sintra Day trip at the Pena Palace

Full-day tours to Sintra Pena Palace 

Tours are a great way to explore Sintra and nearby areas. Day tours cover a guided tour to the Pena Palace (they also use the 434 bus, but it is reserved for tour participants only and not for the public).

You may or may not get any time at the park, it depends. But you are given 2-2.50 hours of free time – this is where you can explore the town center or quickly explore Quinta de Regaleira (rushed).

Estimated Costs: $ 120 -265 (booked online in USD)

Here are a few recommended tours

  • HIGHLY RECOMMEND > Full day tour of Sintra Pena Palace, Cascais, and Cabo da Raco 
    • Guided tour of Pena Palace, Cascais, and Cabo da Raco – 3 destinations in one day 
    • Utilize the free time to either visit the Quinta de Regaleira or Sintra National Palace 
    • BOOK FULL DAY TOUR OF SINTRA – CASCAIS 
  • Sintra FULL day tour > Pena Palace, Quinta de Regaleira and Monserrate Palace
    • Guided tour of Sintra highlights – Pena Palace, Regaleira estates and Monserrate palace 
    • Traveling in a minivan – small group tour 
    • BOOK FULL DAY TOUR OF SINTRA 
  • Private Tour – This is a great option for Sintra Cascais small group tour for families of friends
Day Tours from Lisbon (5 to 9 hours)Book Here
Sintra, Cascais & Cabo da RacoBook Here
Sintra - Pena Palace, Regaleira, MonserrateBook Here
Pena Palace + Regaleira (5 hr tour) Book Here
Highlights of Sintra (5 hr)Book Here

Bus no. 434 Details – Sightseeing bus in Sintra

There are only 2 buses in Sintra – Bus no 434 and 435. Bus no. 434 operates like a sightseeing bus taking you from the historic town center to the Sintra hills to explore the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace. So this is an important bus. And we recommend using it for reaching Pena Palace and other sightseeing attractions whether you drive, take a train or tour to Sintra.  

Driving uphill is not recommended. 

Tourist Bus 434 covers the following route 

Sintra train station > Sintra town center >  Castle of the Moors > Pena Palace > Sintra town center

Bus 434 Sintra to Pena Palace
Bus 434 Sintra to Pena Palace

You can get down at either Castle of the Moors or Pena Palace and then walk to explore the second attraction. The distance between the Castle of Moors and Pena Palace is only 350 meters or .20 miles, so it’s a short walk to reach from one site to another. 

It is also important to remember that buses operate in one direction or in a circular route only. 

Prices: 3.90 euros for a single bus ticket. And 6.90 euros for one loop/hop on and hop off style.

Tickets can be purchased from the bus operator. They run from 09:15 am to 07:30 pm during peak seasons with up to 4 departures in an hour. Find their schedules here

Another bus 435 is useful to explore some of the other sightseeing areas in Sintra, like Monserrate Palace, Seteais Palace, and the Regaleira Estate. It operates the same way as the 434 bus in a hop on and hop off style from the historic town center.

You may or may not use this bus – it depends on your sightseeing agenda. We will include a few options below for one day in Sintra itinerary so that you can choose them based on your interests. 

Sintra tuk-tuk services are quite a thing in the city. They have rides to the Pena Palace and even to Cascais. However, during our trip, we didn’t utilize this service. You can buy tickets near the Sintra train station, if interested. Keep in mind, bus tickets will be cheaper and faster than a tuk-tuk. 

One day in Sintra Itinerary – Pena Palace and more

We understand that the Pena Palace is ONE of the most important reasons to visit Sintra. Totally we get it. But other then the Pena Palace and park, there are many amazing things to do in one day in Sintra itinerary.

Pena Palace
Pena Palace

Pena Palace and Park – Palácio Nacional da Pena

The bright yellow and red palace in the midst of the Sintra Mountains is a delightful sight. Many travelers visit Sintra – for the Pena Palace alone. It takes 2-5 hours to completely explore the palace staterooms and hike the palace gardens or park. To fit everything in a day trip, cut the hike or walk at the park. Instead, go for a short stroll.

We recommend taking the 434 bus at 09:30 am and arriving at the Pena Palace grounds first thing in the morning. In 2 hours, you can take a guided tour of the staterooms and learn about its history, grab a bite to eat at their cafe (try their ham and cheese – its delicious) and take a light stroll at the nearby park. 

Time saved from hiking the Pena Palace gardens can be used to explore the Castle of the Moors. 

Pena Palace Sintra
Pena Palace Sintra

What to do and see at the Pena Palace and Park?

The Pena Palace is situated at a height of 480 meters, at the second-highest point of the Serra da Sintra. The original palace site can be traced back to the middle ages, where a monastery was established. Post-1755 Lisbon earthquake, the site was almost abandoned and untouched. 

Then King Ferdinand II acquired the site along with the Moorish Castle and built this stunning Romanticist Pena Palace in the 19th century.

Pena Palace Views
Pena Palace Views

Definitely check out some of the amazing views of Sintra and surrounding areas from the Pena Palace. The terraces and castle towers are gorgeous.

Don’t skip the guided tour of the staterooms, the interiors are so so beautiful – a rare mix of European and Arab designs (some from Middle eastern origins). Ceilings are carved in beautiful designs rather than frescoes. From their tea room, you can also see the Castle of the Moors.  

Pena Palace is a photographer’s paradise. You can capture stunning work at every corner of the palace’s exteriors. Photography inside the staterooms is prohibited. 

Pena Palace Terrace entrance
Pena Palace Terrace entrance

To explore the Pena Palace gardens or the Park of Pena is a half-day task. Parque da Pena is 200 hectares of lush greenery surrounding the Palacio Nacional da Pena. The park is also home to the peaks of Sintra mountain. 

Pena Park has several sidewalks, gardens with numerous structures, benches, and fountains. There is a statue of King Fernando II which is on a granite top and made stone. 

There are other landmarks like the High Cross (views from here are amazing), Temple of Columns, Valley of Lakes, and more.

Sintra Pena Palace Terrace
Sintra Pena Palace Terrace

There is a King’s gardens and the beautiful Queen’s Fern Valley and the Chalet of Countless of Edla. Many visitors take a quick stroll and then go straight to explore the Chalet of Countless of Edla. 

Recommended Time at Pena Palace: 2 hours 

Hours: 09:30 am to 08:00 pm 

Ticket Price:

There are two different entrance fees for the Palacio Nacional da Pena

  • “Palace and Park Ticket” – Allows entry to the Parque de Pena grounds, the terraces surrounding the palace, and the staterooms. BUY TICKET HERE 
  • “Park Ticket” – Allow entry to the Parque de Pena and the terraces only. (This will be less than 2 hours visit)

We highly recommend purchasing tickets online, rather than waiting in line at the Pena Palace entrance. When you book a day tour (from the ones recommended above), entrance to the Pena Palace is included with a guided tour

Pena Palace line ups
Pena Palace line ups to buy a ticket – buy tickets online

Castle of the Moors (Moorish Castle) – Castelo dos Mouros 

From the Pena Palace, walk to the Castle of the Moors. It is only 350 meters away. 

The Castle of the Moors has been in existence since the 9th or 10th century and it was built to serve as a defensive fort at the city outskirts. The Moorish Castle towers over the Santa Maria e São Miguel municipality in Sintra.

The Moorish Castle was built by the North African Muslim rulers – Moors and then was abandoned, when Portugal was occupied by Christian rulers. Later on, King Ferdinand II revived it, when he built the Pena Palace. 

Castle of the Moors
Castle of the Moors

What to see and do at Castle of the Moors?

For one, there is a ton of history. It is like seeing layers of Portuguese history and how it had transformed over the centuries. Today this is a UNESCO World Heritage site along with the many others in Sintra.  

The “high fortified stone walls” and towers not only tells you a story, but their doors and windows welcome you to absorb the amazing views of the city.

There are no interiors or staterooms to admire here. But you can expect a ton of walking and climbing uneven steps. 

Recommended Time at Castle of the Moors: <1 hour 

Hours: 09:30 am to 08:00 pm 

Ticket Price: 10 Euros.

Moorish Castle Sintra can get busy during peak seasons. So book tickets in advance. These tickets are valid for 1 day. BOOK TICKETS FOR THE CASTLE OF THE MOORS

Historic Sintra Town Center (and lunch)

After exploring the 2 main sights of Sintra – Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle, take the 434 bus to return to the town center. 

The quaint little historic centre of Sintra is very picture-worthy. Alleys are painted in bright (yellow) colors and have restaurants to serve tourists. This is also a good time to wander through the town center for lunch.

Sintra town centre alleys
Sintra town center alleys

For lunch, we stopped by this cute cafe (located only 10 minutes away from Regaleira Estates). The restaurant is called Rotas Ruegelas. They served baked items, sandwiches, salads, ice-creams, and fresh juices. The menu was decently priced (actually very affordable). We had a sandwich, toast, and salad and it was great. The main host of the cafe was super friendly and nice!

After lunch, head to the bus station, this time to catch the 435 bus to head to Quinta da Regaleira and then the Monserrate Palace. If you are not interested in the Monserrate Palace, you can skip the bus and just walk to Quinta da Regaleira. It is a 10 minute walk – but it’s a demanding walk/hike. 

Quinta da Regaleira – Regaleira Estates

Oh, I loved this place. I still think we should have spent more time on it. But you can easily spend 2 hours here photographing many structures inside the estates. But intensive walk-hike is essential to view most of the buildings inside. 

Quinta de Regaleira
Quinta de Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira is a 20th century estate or Quinta. What you see at Quinta da Regaleira today was a rich residential estate. But the site’s history is older than that and had passed through many owners. 

This Quinta is also nicknamed as the “palace of the millionaire” – I mean millionaire who had a unique taste in architecture. To be honest, the Initiation Well is what made me look into the Quinta da Regaleira and little did I know – there is a mini town built in and around it with a chapel, romantic palace, fountains, and gardens. 

What to see and do at the Quinta da Regaleira?

Palace - Quinta de Regaleira
Palace – Quinta de Regaleira

Let’s start with the Palace (and then I will take you to the Initiation Well). The Regaleira Palace is the main estate with cool Gothic architecture. The palace has 5 floors with several rooms and stairways. There are rooms leading to terraces with beautiful views.

Servant quarters were also located at the estate (imagine living here!) Female servants were on the 2nd floor and the male servants were in the basement (I wonder why). 

The third floor has a terrace and that is beautiful. 

Ah, the Initiation Well. The pictures of the well reminded me so much of Indian architecture, particularly Rajput (Rajasthani palaces and forts). 

quinta da regaleira well
Quinta da Regaleira Well

Before visiting the actual site, I read articles that said the well was a bit further away from the main attractions (like the palace and tourist office. There is an exhibition hall near the ticket office too.) 

Yes, it is true it is further away, but still within the same complex. And one entry ticket applies to the whole estate. It is a uphill climb to get to the Initiation Well and a small hole and then you are inside the well.

The Initiation wells (there are 2 of them. We only went into one) was never used for water. Rather, they were used for ceremonial purposes including tarot card initiation rites. 

The place can get pretty crowded, so ensure you are safe getting in and out. You might find mischievous people yelling that the well is doing down or whatever, just don’t panic and run. It’s just a scare tactic for people to take photos. 

Chapel - Regaleira Estates
Chapel – Regaleira Estates

When you walk out of the well area, you will see the Estate Chapel from above. We thought the chapel was beautiful – like it was pure!

There are many tunnels in the estate as well, including water bodies and Gothic styled fountains inside the park. Two artificial lakes also adorn the estate. 

Recommended Time at Quinta da Regaleira: 2 hours 

Hours: 09:30 am to 08:00 pm 

Ticket Price: 6 Euros.

We didn’t get tickets for Quinta da Regaleira in advance and had to line up for 10 minutes. We recommend getting tickets ahead of time. 

Fountains at Quinta Regaleira
Fountains at Quinta Regaleira

Monserrate Palace

From the Regaleira Estates, take the bus 435 to reach Monserrate Palace. The Monserrate Palace is a great place to see the Islamic, Indian and Gothic styles of architecture. And yea, you can get married here too.

The Monserrate Palace is located 3.50 kilometers from the Sintra historical center. So you will definitely need the bus 435. We left it for the later afternoon time so that you can adjust the itinerary accordingly.

What to see at the Monserrate Palace?

The Monserrate Palace is a 19th century palace built by an Englishman in Romanticism architectural style. Just like the Pena Palace, this palace also has a beautiful garden with artsy structures. If you still have some energy left from the sightseeing, then definitely take a quick stroll.

If not, then head straight to the palace. The Monserrate Palace is not very big, so you can quickly explore in 30- 45 minutes. The staterooms with the beautiful architecture are what you should be watching out for, as most of the original items, furniture, etc were taken away from the palace. 

Recommended Time at Monserrate Palace: 1 hour 

Hours: 09:30 am to 08:00 pm 

Ticket Price: 8 Euros.

Sintra National Palace – Historic Town Center

After the Monserrate Palace, take the bus 435 back to the town center. When you arrive at the town center (or when you did in the morning), you will see a beautiful white and yellow building, that’s the Sintra National Palace.

The Sintra National Palace was a royal residence, used by Moorish rulers and then the Portuguese kings. This well preserved medieval royal residence has been in use since the 8th century.

Sintra National Palace
Sintra National Palace

What to see at the Sintra National Palace?

Sintra National Palace was home to the Moors. Unfortunately, today nothing of the middle ages exists. When the Portuguese rulers came to power (early 14th-15th century), Sintra became important, especially due to its close proximity to the capital city of Lisbon. The climate and the landscape of Sintra with a rich agricultural and hunting grounds made it a welcoming place, as a summer residence for the royalty.  

From the 15th – 19th centuries, many additions and expansions were made to the building. 

Some of the unique features of the National Palace include the chapel and wonderfully decorated staterooms. The palace chapel is a gorgeous mix of the Moors and Christian rulers. The Arab room is a beautifully decorated fountain and the Coat of Arms houses the names and lives of Portuguese nobility.

In September 2019, there were on-going renovations at the Manueline Façade, Chapel, Preta Garden, and the upper gardens. But the main palace is still open to visitors.

Recommended Time at Sintra National Palace: 1 hour

Hours: 09:30 am to 07:00 pm (last entry to the Sintra National Palace is 06:30 pm)

Ticket Price: 10 Euros. BUY ENTRY TICKET TO SINTRA NATIONAL PARK

BOOK: GUIDED DAY TOUR FROM LISBON TO SINTRA (PENA PALACE, QUINTA DE REGALEIRA & SINTRA NATIONAL PALACE

Lisbon to Sintra Day trip itinerary – Road Map 

 Sintra Attractions Map and Tips on drafting this one day in Sintra Itinerary.

So we know we have included quite a few things here. On paper, it might seem 5-6 things to do in Sintra, but keep in mind there is a ton of walking and exploring in each attraction. And not to forget the strolling and/or hiking in the palace gardens or park. 

Here is what one day in Sintra Itinerary should look like – 

Start at 08:00 am from Lisbon Station

09:30 am – 11:30 am – Pena Palace 

11:30 am – 12:45 pm – Castle of the Moors

12:45 pm – 1:45 pm – Old Town Center and lunch

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm- Quinta Regaleira

3:30 pm – 4:45 pm- Monserrate Palace

5:00 pm – 06:00 pm – Sintra National Palace

This will free you up by 07:00 pm and you can either have dinner in Sintra (town center) or in Lisbon city center. If you are traveling by train at 07:30 or 08:00 pm, the travel time back to Lisbon is 1.25 to 1.75 hours. 

If you wish to remove any item from the above one day in Sintra Itinerary, we recommend skipping the Monserrate Palace. The only reason we are saying is because of the distance from the town center.

Sintra old town center
Sintra old town center

If you skip the Monserrate Palace you don’t have to take the 435 bus. Rather you can (leisurely) walk to the Quinta Regaleira and later the Sintra National Palace – as they are located in the town center. Quinta de Regaleira is located 10 minutes away from the town center.

So for this combination, take the 434 bus to Pena Palace first, then Castle of the Moors, which are the 2 prime landmarks. Spend 4 – 5.50 hours there and then head to the town center (via 434 bus), eat lunch, and then walk to Quinta de Regaleira.

There is a ton of walking involved at the castle grounds. So wear comfortable shoes.

Sintra – Cascais Natural Park: Ideas for 2 days in Sintra Itinerary and overnight stay

If you are staying in Sintra and wish to explore more, we highly recommend visiting the Sintra- Cascais Natural Park. 

Cabo da Raco - Lisbon to Sintra Day trip Itinerary
Cabo da Raco – Lisbon to Sintra day trip itinerary

The Sintra-Cascais Natural Park is ONE of the 13 National parks in Portugal. The park is home to the Serra de Sintra mountain range as well as Europe’s westernmost tip – Cabo da Raco. 

Sintra-Cascais Natural Park boasts of many historical and natural sites. A must visit! 

BOOK: DAY TOUR TO SINTRA, CASCAIS & CABO DA RACO

Another quick detour from Lisbon to Sintra is to visit Queluz National Palace. Queluz is located midway from both Lisbon and Sintra, so either on your way to or from Sintra you can make a quick stop here. 

Queluz National Palace is an 18th-century palace characterized by beautiful staterooms and gardens with fountains and statues. 

Sintra offers a very laid back medieval romantic town feeling, and with so many stunning world heritage sites it is one of the must-visit places in Portugal. It is great for a weekend getaway or a romantic stay-cation overlooking the gorgeous palaces.  Search for hotels in Sintra here

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Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip Itinerary

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8 Comments

  1. Your pictures are beautiful! I would really like to see the Initiation Well, it’s incredible! Just walking around the historic town center sounds like a lot of fun. Of all the places you went what was your favorite?

  2. What a great post! I haven’t been to Portugal yet but have always wanted to go. I’m officially adding Sintra on my list of must-see sights when I make it to Portugal! Pena Palace looks gorgeous!

  3. Sintra is definitely on my list. I heard that it might be good for doing yoga too so there’s another reason why I really want to visit. Do you know, by the way, if there is a vibrant yoga/hippie crew there?

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