Sintra Itinerary Pena Palace

Best Day Trip from Lisbon to Sintra – One Day in Sintra Itinerary

Sintra Portugal is a one-of-a-kind destination filled with castles and fairy-tale landscapes. The day trip from Lisbon to Sintra, the former summer playground for Portuguese royals, is a highlight of any trip to Portugal.

Prepare to be wowed and use this one day in Sintra itinerary to plan your visit.

We’ve listed the best things to do in Sintra in order of priority so you can do this as a half day in Sintra, a full day trip to Sintra from Lisbon or as an overnight trip combined with a visit to one of the best beach towns in Portugal.

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Quick Guide For Your Trip to Sintra

Sintra Day Trip

How to Get From Lisbon to Sintra for a Day Trip

Dreamy, palace-filled Sintra is less than an hour on public transport and the best day trip from Lisbon. We took the train but there are plenty of options to get there.

  • Sintra Tour: Have someone coordinate the whole trip for you. In the quick guide above, you’ll find the top tours for Sintra.
  • Train to Sintra: The train from Lisbon to Sintra station is so easy for a day trip. Trains run every 30 minutes from Rossio Train Station and the trip is 40 minutes. Estação do Oriente station is more convenient from the airport. We bought our Sintra tickets right at the station for 5 euros per person round trip or you can buy them online. Easy peasy!
  • Sintra Taxi or Uber: Depending on your location in Lisbon and the amount of traffic, the Lisbon to Sintra taxi cost is between €25 – €50 each way.
  • Driving to Sintra: It’s an easy drive to Sintra. When you get there, you’ll notice the small roads are congested and the parking is very limited. You may want to park for the day and take other transportation.

You may not be a morning person, especially on vacation but this is the time to power through it and get Sintra by 9am.

It’s only one day and you want to make the most of your time in Sintra, right?? If that feels like too early of a start, consider staying overnight at one of the hotel options below.

How to Get Around Sintra Without a Car for a Castle Tour

Walking is one of the best ways to get around Sintra BUT – Pena Palace, the most visited castle, is a 45 minute walk uphill from the Sintra Train station. So it’s a good idea to get a ride up to it by taxi or Tuk Tuk for €5.

After that, the rest of the walking is downhill and enjoyable. And you’ll have the added benefit of not having to wait for the bus or squeeze in with other people.

If walking is difficult, you can buy the hop on/off tourist bus tickets for the Sintra bus 434 outside of the Sintra train station for €6.80.

In my opinion, the bus is a hassle, with a lot of people and waiting time. It’s not worth it unless you have a hard time walking.

If you want to visit Monserrate, it’s on the 435 bus line or catch a tuk tuk there.

One Day in Sintra Portugal Map

One Day in Sintra Itinerary

Since Sintra is crazy popular, there are big crowds all year round. This guide to Sintra will help you make a plan for what to do in Sintra in one day while keeping the crowd issues to a minimum.

I was so excited to meet up with one of my forever besties in Portugal. Coming from England, she had an advantage on me with the time change.

My jet lag from California was rough but walking around and visiting Sintra really pepped me up. Maybe I was meant for castle life!

1. Head to Pena Palace First to Make the Most of Your Sintra Day Trip

Pena Palace Sintra Day Trip

Resist the temptation to see Palácio Nacional de Sintra first, which may be hard because you might walk right by it. but trust me and get to Pena Palace first.

Pena Palace is the most popular so it gets really crowded within the first hour and you will wish you walked in at 9:30 when it opens.

It’s bright colors and German Romantic architecture make this Sintra castle a show stopper. Originally built as a monastery in 1503, King Ferdinand acquired it and began construction of the New Palace in 1843.

The Pena Park grounds are also amazing. When you enter the property, it’s a 5 minute hike up to the palace. There’s a tram available from the gate up to the palace if you need it.

Pena Park and Palace: Hours are 9:30-8:00pm (winter hours Nov 1 – March 27 10am-6pm). Price for palace and gardens €14 adults / €12.5 kids/seniors. Price for gardens only €7.5 adults / €6.5 kids/seniors. We only did the outside. If you want photos without tons of people, head to the back patio first. You can buy a skip the line ticket and choose your entry time to avoid any wait at the ticket window.

2. Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors)

Castelo dos Mouros Sintra Day Trip

Just a 5 minute walk from Pena Palace, you will find the Castle of the Moors built in the 10th century. As the oldest structure in the area, it’s completely different than anything you’ll see in Sintra.

This moorish castle is more of an archaeological site and medieval fortress. You can walk the castle walls and see the incredible views of Sintra all the way to the sea.

When you’re done exploring, if you like a nice downhill walk, head to the back side and walk down the hill into the historic old town. It takes about 20 minutes and it’s so pretty.

Castle of the Moors: Hours are 9:30-8:00pm (winter hours Nov 1 – March 27 10am-6pm). Price €8 adults / €6.5 kids/seniors.

3. Lunch in Sintra’s Historic Town

One of the best parts of this one day itinerary was spending time in the Historic Center of Sintra. You will find tons of little restaurants and shops along the small cobblestone alleys. It’s so charming and quaint.

Grab lunch at one of the outdoor cafes on the tiny winding streets. It’s pretty easy to avoid the tour bus crowd at lunch by going to one of the cute smaller cafes.

5 great Sintra lunch choices (map above shows locations):

  • Villa 6 – The restaurant we found by accident that has 4.5 stars. Food was yummy and the setting on a small cobblestone alley was delightful. Vegetarian options available.
  • Café da Vila – A little cafe for locals that we happened upon for breakfast. It’s not fancy or charming but tasty and authentic.
  • Sabores do Mercado – #1 on Trip Advisor and known for great food off the beaten path in Sintra. People love it and say they would have never found it without being tipped off.
  • Saudade – A fan favorite for breakfast or lunch with huge scones, panini, quiche, soups, salads and delectable pastries.
  • Incomum by Luis Santos is the place to go in town for delicious fine dining.

4. Quinta da Regaleira

My big story from this day was getting lost at Quinta da Regaleira. Loreto and I were taking a photo in the Initiation Well (photo below). Afterwards, she went down and for some reason, I went up.

It took us about 30 minutes to find each other. She had both of our phones so I couldn’t call her. I kept thinking, who gets lost as an adult? Apparently me 😂

Anyhoo, as far as places to spend extra time tooling around looking for your friend, this is a great one. To get to Quinta da Regaleira, it’s a 10 minute walk from town.

Quinta da Regaleira Sintra Itinerary

This UNESCO World Heritage site is definitely one of the busiest attractions. You’ll most likely have to wait in line to buy tickets.

If you like to tour on your own, you can rent an audio guide and steer clear of all the tour groups. To get a photo op, just wait for your moment alone between groups.

Quinta da Regaleira palace above was completed in 1911. The outside almost looks like a haunted mansion while the interior design resembles the style of Pena Palace. There is also a small multi story chapel nearby.

The gardens of Quinta da Regaleira are spectacular. The Portal of Guardians structure has towers at both ends with the Juliet balcony you see above left.

On the right is a photo of the Initiation well where I managed to get lost, haha. It descends into the ground almost 90 feet and connects to a huge tunnel system that runs underneath this extensive property.

Below is a photo of The Gods Promenade, a walkway with statues of greek gods.

Quinta da Regaleira Garden

Quinta da Regaleira: Hours are 9:30-8:00pm (winter hours Oct 1 – March 31 9:30-6pm) Admission €10 adults / €5 kids/seniors. Admission + tour €12 adults / €8 kids/seniors.

5. Monserrate or Sintra National Palace

If you are staying overnight or still have energy to burn there are 2 other notable places to visit. Monserrate or the National Palace of Sintra would definitely round out your itinerary. You most likely won’t have time for both without an extra day.

Monserrate Sintra Itinerary

Why you might choose Monserrate

The romantic, beautiful and lush gardens around an old ruin chapel are reminiscent of the movie Great Expectations. The palace itself has ornate detail that you can see in the photo above which is a mix of Romantic and Moorish styles.

Monserrate Palace: Hours are 10:00-5:00pm. Gardens open until 6pm. Price €8 adults / €6.5 kids/seniors.

Sintra National Palace

Why you might choose Palacio National de Sintra

Palacio Nacional de Sintra (Sintra National Palace) is right in the historic centre so it’s the most convenient palace to see. It’s the best preserved of the palaces in Portugal and has housed multiple Portuguese Royal families.

It is also filled with Portuguese history so it’s the place to go for history aficionados.

Sintra National Palace: Hours are 9:30-7:00pm. (winter hours Nov 1 – March 27 9:30am-6pm) Price €10 adults / €8.5 kids/seniors.

Half Day in Sintra, Full Day or Sintra/Cascais Combined Trip?

When deciding how to spend your time in Sintra, there are multiple options on choosing a half day, full day or two day trip. You can either stay in a Boutique Hotel in Lisbon or Sintra. Here is why you would choose each option:

  • Sintra Half Day Trip – You have limited time on your itinerary but you’d really love to see a castle or two while you’re in Portugal. You can do this tour or your own or take a Guided Half Day Sintra Tour, which may make it easier.
  • Sintra Full Day Trip – You LOVE castles and the idea of spending a full day in this charming fairytale town is a dream come true. You can easily do this trip on your own and I recommend it so you can choose which castles you want to see. If you are happier having someone manage everything for you take this Guided Full Day Sintra Tour.
  • Sintra/Cascais Day Trip – You want to do a day trip that let’s you experience multiple things in Portugal. You’d love to see some castles but you also really want to see the beach. If you want to get to both towns in one day, you either need a car or a tour. Here’s a great Sintra/Cascais Small Group Tour.

FAQs for Visiting Sintra

Is Sintra Worth Visiting?

Wholeheartedly the answer is yes! I’m not going to lie – it’s very touristy but it is so different than any other place in Portugal and you’ll be glad you went.

Where is Sintra Portugal?

Sintra is 28 km northwest of Lisbon and 17 km north of Cascais.

How Long does it take to get from Lisbon to Sintra?

By car it’s approximately a 30 minute trip, and the Lisbon to Sintra train is 40 minutes. The short distance makes it a perfect day trip from Lisbon.

Can you walk Sintra?

Yes and it’s a great thing to do as long as you feel up to the challenge. We took the bus to Pena Palace, walked everywhere after that and logged about 8 miles for the day.

Should I Stay in Sintra Overnight?

There are a few reasons why you might want to stay overnight. First, you may hit the “enough castles” at a certain point if you try to squeeze them all into one day. You also might want to combine your trip to Sintra with a day of golf or visiting Cascais and the coast.

Can you do Sintra and Cascais in one day?

Yes and we recommend it so you can see the beautiful coast in Portugal. Just limit the amount of castles you see in Sintra to one or two and you’ll be fine..

Tips for Your Day Trip to Sintra From Lisbon

  • Get there by 9am to make the most of this day trip.
  • There’s not a best day of the week to visit Sintra but I have heard that Sundays are the busiest so you may want to avoid Sunday.
  • Visit Pena Palace first if it’s on your list and be in line before the gate opens at 9:30am. It’s by far the most popular attraction.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. We walked 10 miles this day!
  • Consider extending your Sintra day trip from Lisbon to two or three days and including a stay at one of the best hotels in Cascais.

Our one day in Sintra was the best day of our week in Portugal. No matter what, don’t miss this incredible fairytale town! This Sintra Day Trip Itinerary should help you navigate your day away from Lisbon to get the most out of it.

If you have any questions about the guide to Sintra, put them in the comments below.

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  • Reply
    September 25, 2023 at 4:23 pm

    Have you any tips for parking?

    • Reply
      September 26, 2023 at 12:17 am

      Since they no longer allow parking up at Pena Palace or the Moorish Castle, you need to park in town and either take a taxi, Tuk Tuk, bus, or walk up to Pena Palace. I recommend a taxi if you are trying to get there when it opens.

  • Reply
    April 28, 2023 at 11:28 am

    Are the entry time as strict as they make it sound on the ticket booking website? If so, do you have an approximate timeline for the stops on your itinerary? Thanks 🙂

    • Reply
      April 28, 2023 at 8:23 pm

      I’m not sure but I would assume it’s true to control the crowds. My advice is to get the first time slot at Pena Palace (the one where you need to show up on time) and then get your tickets at the other places you want to visit on site. That way you can let your day unfold in a way that feels comfortable for you. We did a busy day visiting a lot of places but a lot of people just visit one or two.

  • Reply
    adrian grant
    February 14, 2022 at 11:19 pm

    I’ve been to the castle, much better than Disneyland
    I can’t wait to visit Portugal again with your mother Kara.
    and look forward to you being our tour guide. xoxo

    • Reply
      February 19, 2022 at 7:30 pm

      I’m looking forward to it!!

  • Reply
    Tammi Kaeberlein
    October 22, 2021 at 5:15 pm

    Incredibly beautiful photos and wonderful tips too! Which month did you visit please? I prefer warm weather but also to avoid the crowds a bit. Any suggestions?

    • Reply
      October 24, 2021 at 2:02 am

      We visited in April and went during the week. It was manageable with crowds at that time of year and the temperature was nice. My best advice is a weekday and go first thing in the morning so you can get there right when it opens.

  • Reply
    Lucy Ivan
    September 30, 2021 at 3:24 pm

    Thank you very much for this itinerary! Next week we are visiting Lisbon and planning to visit Sintra as well. Your guide will be very helpful!

    • Reply
      October 1, 2021 at 1:10 am

      So glad our Lisbon and Sintra guides are helpful to you. Have a wonderful trip!

  • Reply
    July 14, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    Sintra in Portugal seems like such a magical place. I love to eat my way around a new city and the lunch choices you mentioned in this article look really interesting. Thanks for sharing your travel pictures with us… you looked radiant during your trip! –

    • Reply
      July 15, 2019 at 6:46 pm

      Thank you for the kind words. Food is such a huge part of travel and you want those meals to be as memorable as the amazing locations. Hope you get to visit Sintra sometime.

  • Reply
    Atsuna Matsui
    July 13, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    Wow Sintra definitely looks so gorgeous based on your photos! You’re definitely making me crave for my next summer vacation.


    • Reply
      July 15, 2019 at 6:42 pm

      It’s even prettier in person – like walking into a fairytale. Hope you’re headed somewhere fun this summer!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    Thank you for this in depth guide! It sounds like such a wonderful place to visit!

    • Reply
      July 15, 2019 at 6:20 pm

      Thank you! It’s such a great place to travel. I’ve now added th Lisbon guide too!

  • Reply
    July 11, 2019 at 10:11 am

    OH. MY. GOD. I fell in love with Portugal the first time I went and now I just cannot wait to get back… this looks like an absolute dream xxx

    mia //

    • Reply
      July 11, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      I feel exactly the same. There are so many great places to see. It definitely seems like a multiple visit country.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    That’s awesome that you met up with your friend! Portugal is beautiful. It is on my bucket list! Also, there was some island off the coast of Portugal that was on The Bachelor, and it was absolutely breathtaking. I forget what it was called!!

    • Reply
      July 11, 2019 at 7:17 pm

      I think they may have filmed in the Algarve, the beach area that’s the southern most part.Portugal has so many places to visit. Hope you get to visit soon!

  • Reply
    July 9, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    WOW, Sintra looks like a magical place. It is one of the places on my bucket list. I love that you shared also restaurants that you recommend. NOw I just need to find the right time to visit Sintra.

    • Reply
      July 9, 2019 at 8:18 pm

      Thanks Miri. So glad its helpful. You will definitely love Sintra so much.

  • Reply
    Kathrine Eldridge
    July 9, 2019 at 11:24 am

    Wow! Would love to visit here. That palace looks amazing. I adore that balcony you stood on in the gardens.

    • Reply
      July 9, 2019 at 2:57 pm

      Thank you Kathrine. The place where the balcony is, Quinta da Regaleira, has the most beautiful gardens! Hope you get a chance to see it in person.

    • Reply
      May 2, 2023 at 1:08 am

      Very helpful itinerary! I’m going with six kids, ages 5,6,9,10,10&14. Any suggestions if we can only manage 3 activities that day?
      Do you have other itineraries for Portugal or the Acores?

      • Reply
        May 2, 2023 at 7:29 am

        With kids, I would visit Pena Palace, Castle of the Moors, and Quinta da Reguleira. They all have great outdoor areas (castle walls, tunnels) that are different from each other that the kids can explore. We have itineraries for Lisbon and Porto too. Madeira is by far one of our favorite places in Portugal and there is a hiking post with lots of fun ones to do with kids.

  • Reply
    Amanda Blackburn
    July 8, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Sounds wonderful we are going in August without the children. My hubby has a friend in Lisbon we are going to a music festival and he has other plans too but I’m not sure what. I’m a bit anxious about going because I’ve never left the kids before. It’s a well needed break for us though.

    • Reply
      July 8, 2019 at 10:53 pm

      I know it’s hard leaving your kids but it’s so important to get away and have couple time. Lisbon will be terrific and Sintra is such a fun day trip that you’ll both love. You’re going to have such a great time!

  • Reply
    July 8, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    Your pictures look stunning is always Jenifer! Sintra looks so beautiful with lots of hidden treasures. I’ve only been to Lisbon and Porto but I love Portugal as much as you do.

    xx Simone

    • Reply
      July 8, 2019 at 8:56 pm

      Thank you! There are so many amazing places in Portugal. I definitely want to go back to see more 🙂

  • Reply
    Barbie Holmes
    July 8, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    What a magical place! I could spend weeks there! I appreciate all your tips and informative posts!

    • Reply
      July 8, 2019 at 6:00 pm

      Thank you so much for reading! Sintra is so amazing.

  • Reply
    July 8, 2019 at 11:50 am

    It looks amazing there!

    Effortlessly Sophisticated

    • Reply
      July 8, 2019 at 6:00 pm

      It is such a special place.

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