Sintra is absolutely the best excursion to take from Lisbon. Located just a few kilometers from the stunning Portuguese capital, Sintra is the cherry on the cake on a trip to Lisbon.
If you are planning to visit it starting from Lisbon, be aware that it needs to be dedicated at least one day. If you have time, my dispassionate advice is to assume two days, sleeping one night in Sintra.
You might also be interested in these articles:
I wanted to list them all for you because with those 3 articles you can get a really complete overview to really appreciate the city and its cultural heritage, thanks to which it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
But let’s come to the gist of this article, one of the most beautiful and colorful Portuguese towns: Sintra.
Where is Sintra located?
It is located west of the capital. From the windows of the Palacio National da Sintra you can see the ocean. Sintra is only 25 km from Lisbon, by car half an hour while by train 1 hour away Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point on the entire European continent, is only 15 kilometers away.
Where to Stay in Sintra?
The advice is to sleep in the town and be ready to visit its palaces before tourists arrive from Lisbon -> CLICK HERE to see all available hotels in the area.
How to get to Sintra: connections from Lisbon
The most convenient way to get to Sintra from Lisbon is undoubtedly by train. I have to be honest, as a great lover of the ontheroad itineraries i had thought about renting a car (you might be interested in that How to rent a car) and being able to scamper around a bit independently. After some comparison with friends who had visited Sintra before me, I had come to the conclusion that this was not the best idea.
Why? Simple…Sintra is a maze of uphill roads and to get to the various entrances to places of interest you have to make several no small curves. So opt for the train! Trust this advice. If by chance your will be an ontheroad tour to the Portugal, then try to park in Sintra and still take the panoramic bus to visit the various palaces.
From Lisbon to Sintra by train
You have two alternatives when it comes to Lisbon Sintra connections:
- Take the train from Lisbon’s Rossio station to Sintra
- Take the train from Oriente station; it is advisable only if you will have arrived in Oriente via train or if you want to go to Sintra as soon as you arrive from the airport as it is one of the first stops on the red metro that departs and arrives at the airport.
From my point of view, if you will already be in the city opt for Rossio. The small station is located northwest of Praça Dom Pedro IV, that is Praça Rossio. There is a train about every 15 minutes.
By train to Sintra with the Lisboa Card
I have already told you about it extensively in the tips for visiting Lisbon, but in this case I want to suggest it again because the trains to Sintra are part of Lisbon’s public transport network. You can therefore reach Sintra from Lisbon using your Lisboa Card.
**Card can have a duration of 24-48-72 hours CLICK HERE to access and purchase it in advance.**
This is another benefit of owning it, as well as a thousand others while visiting the city. Just pay attention to the hourly expiration because it is valid for 24/48 or 72 hours. It expired for me just before I got my return tickets. A round trip costs €4.50.
Sintra: what to see and how to get around
Once you arrive in Sintra, the search for the bus that will “escort” you along the various routes and points of interest will begin. There is not just one bus, but there are several and each one takes a different tour.
You will find them all between the various stops just outside the Sintra station. It will be super easy because the station is small and outside of it there is only a “village street” where one car passes at a time. Regarding tickets, for example, for the 434 it costs €6.90 to get on and off several times. If you want to do combinations with other buses, the prices will go up.
Small tip: if you have time and want to rely on a guide to visit Sintra -> I recommend this one FREE TOUR (free tour with free cancellation option). The main bus numbers are as follows:
- 434: You will find it on your right as you exit the station. It allows you to visit the Palacio da Pena, the Palacio Nacional de Sintra and the Castillo de los Mouros.
- 435: allows you to visit the Palacio Nacional de Sintra, the Palacio de Seteais, the Quinta da Regaleira and the Palacio de Monserrate.
The road on closer inspection is one-way. Buses whiz by at incredible speed grazing guardrails and rock walls. If by chance you miss your stop, you will have to go all the way around again. So be really careful which stop to get off at.
What to see in Sintra?
The advice is to assume at least one night in Sintra so you can see the various palaces with all the peace and quiet you need. Otherwise you will have to make a choice, but know that, in any case, the choice will be limited. In one day you will be able to see the Palacio Nacional de Pena and at most one other palace.
Among the things to do in Sintra that you absolutely cannot miss are: the Palacio Nacional de Sintra, The Palacio Nacional da Pena, the Palacio de Monserrate, Palacio de Seteais, the Castillo de los Mouros and the beautiful Quinta da Regaleira.
Insight into the Palacio Nacional da Pena and its large park
Set in a huge park, this palace located in an enviable position with panoramic ocean views has been called one of the 7 Wonders of Portugal.
How to blame “whoever made this choice.” It really is as grand as its park is equally beautiful, which features additional points of interest such as the not-to-be-missed High Cross from which you can see both the Palace and the ocean.
Arab, Manueline, Gothic, Baroque…united in a palace with very vibrant colors.
Tip: Use a map of the park because you might get lost in it so big it is.
Length of visit: to best visit the Palacio Nacional, its beautiful interior and take a tour of the park, you will need at least 3 to 4 hours.
The excursion either to Cascais or Cabo da roca
You want to visit Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of the European continent? You will have to take bus 403, past Cabo da Roca the bus will proceed to Cascais. It is great if you want to visit this beautiful Portuguese city as well.
Warning: the travel time is long. Although I wanted to visit Cabo da Roca, I desisted because I would not have made it on time. That is why I recommend sleeping one night near Sintra, at least you will have more time to visit the surroundings in peace. For all the palaces and various excursions, I recommend a three to four days. I understand it is a lot if you then have to combine Lisbon with it, you will have to make choices. I personally opted to see the Palacio National and its wonderful park at its best.
Alternative to visit Cabo da Roca with a wonderful excursion
If you want to experience this little piece of Portugal to the fullest, one of the best ways is to join a 4×4 tour to Cabo da Roca. They will pick you up directly at your hotel and take you on a discovery tour of the area off the tourist trail until you even reach Cabo da Roca CLICK HERE to see the tour. You can choose between the 4-hour tour or the full-day tour.