If you are heading to Lisbon and looking to explore the famed Pena Palace, then you are at the right spot. 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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How to get from Lisbon to Sintra Day trip itinerary
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 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
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 any 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 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)
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
- 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
- Traveling in a mini van – 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
- Tour reviews are great and prices are marked for group, rather then individuals
- Pick up and drop off service is included
- BOOK PRIVATE TOUR OF SINTRA CASCAIS SMALL GROUP HERE
|Day Tours from Lisbon (5 to 9 hours)||Book Here|
|Sintra, Cascais & Cabo da Raco||Book Here|
|Sintra - Pena Palace, Regaleira, Monserrate||Book 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 takes 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
You can get down at either Castle of the Moors or Pena Palace and then walk to explore the second attraction. The distance between Castle of Moors and Pena Palace is only 350 metres 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 only aka circular route only.
Prices: 3.90 euros for 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 like the 434 bus in a hop on and hop off style from the historic town center.
You may or may not use this bus – 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 tuk tuk.
Spend 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 other amazing things to do in one day in Sintra itinerary.
Pena Palace and Park – Palácio Nacional da Pena
The bright yellow and red palace in the midst of 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.
What to do and see at the Pena Palace and Park?
The Pena Palace is situated at a height of 480 metres, 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.
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 craved rather then 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 are prohibited.
To explore the Pena Palace gardens or the Park of Pena is a half day task. Parque da Pena is a 200 hectares of lush greenery surrounding the Palacio Nacional da Pena. The park is also home to the peaks of Sintra mountain.
The 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.
There is a King’s gardens and the beautiful Queen’s Fern Valley and the Chalet of Countless of Edla. Many visitors take 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
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 then 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.
Castle of the Moors (Moorish Castle) – Castelo dos Mouros
From the Pena Palace, walk to the Castle of the Moors. It is only 350 metres 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. It was built by the North Africa Muslim rulers – Moors and then was abandoned, when Portugal was occupied by Christian rulers.
Later, when King Ferdinand II revived it, when he built the Pena Palace.
What to see and do at Castle of the Moors?
For one, there is ton of history. It is like seeing layers of Portuguese history and how it had transformed over the centuries. Today this is an UNESCO World Heritage site along with the many others in Sintra.
The “high fortified stone walls” and some towers not only tells a story, but there are doors and windows to absorb amazing views of the city.
There are no interiors or state rooms to admire here. But you can expect a ton of walking and climbing uneven steps.
Recommended Time at Castle of the Moors: <1 hours
Hours: 09:30 am to 08:00 pm
Ticket Price: 10 Euros.
Moorish Castle Sintra can get busy during peak seasons. So book tickets 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 many restaurants to serve tourists. This is also a good time to wander through the town center for food.
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 is also 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 in 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 da Regaleira is a 20th century estate or quinta. What you see at Quinta da Regaleira today was a 20th 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 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?
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 rooms leading to erraces with beautiful views.
Servants quarters were also located at the estate (imagine living here!) Female servants were in the 2nd floor and the male servants were in the basement (I wonder why).
The third floor has the 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).
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.
When you walk out from 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. Many water bodies and Gothic styled fountains can be found 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.
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 style 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 is 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 hours
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.
What to see at the Sintra National Palace?
Sintra National Palace was home to the Moors. But today nothing of the middle ages exist. When the Portuguese rulers came to power (early 14th-15 century), Sintra became important. It was located close to the capital of Lisbon. And its climate and landscape with agricultural and hunting grounds, made Sintra – a summer residence for the royalty.
From the 15th – 19th century, many new additions and expansions were dome to the building.
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 upper gardens. But the main palace can be visited. This Moorish-Portuguese heritage symbol is over thousand years old!
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
One Day in Sintra Itinerary – Road Map
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 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.
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 tons of walking involved at the castle grounds and to reach the site. So wear comfortable shoes.
Sintra – Cascais National 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 National Park.
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 National Park boasts of many historical and natural sites. A must visit!
Sintra offers a very laid back medieval romantic town feeling. It is great for a weekend getaway or a romantic staycation overlooking the gorgeous palaces.
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- A quick guide to Lisbon 2 day itinerary
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Last Update: October 04 2019
Lisbon to Sintra Day trip itinerary: Spend one day in Sintra Itinerary