a yellow and red tower of pena palace in sintra portugal
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In this post, I’m sharing a full guide for planning a Lisbon to Sintra day trip. 

Last week, I posted a 3 day Lisbon itinerary. In the guide, I shared how I’d map out three perfect days in Lisbon. I mentioned in the post that one of those days should be wholly reserved for a day trip to Sintra. 

Sintra is one of my favorite areas we have visited in Europe and a place that should absolutely be prioritized on any Lisbon/Portugal itinerary. Sweeping views of the Portuguese countryside and the Atlantic beyond, fairytale castles, and an endearing old town: what’s not to love? 

There are many factors to be considered when putting together a Lisbon to Sintra day trip, so I’m breaking it all down in this post. We found all of the information to be a bit overwhelming when we planned our own visit, so I am keeping this Lisbon to Sintra day trip itinerary as straightforward as possible.

a yellow tower on pena palace in sintra
ruth nuss looking out at quinta da regaleira in sintra portugal
girl walking up the stairs at quinta da regaleira in sintra

Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip

Sintra is a charming town nestled in the Sintra Mountains west of Lisbon, Portugal. Sintra marks the westernmost point in continental Europe and is famous for its historic “fairytale” castles and picturesque landmarks. Also known as the Moon Hill, Sintra was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. 

quinta da regaleira palace in sintra portugal
view of portugal from pena palace
tyler nuss and his daughters at pena palace as part of their lisbon to sintra day trip
quinta da regaleira portugal

In this guide, I’ll talk about how to get to Sintra from Lisbon, how to get around SIntra (it is quite spread out!), and which sites to prioritize (there are many!). 

I’ll also share a few tips for visiting Sintra with kids throughout the post. We had our 3 and 5 year olds with us on this trip, and they LOVED Sintra. I’ll open the guide with a few general planning tips, and these tips are even more important if you are planning to visit Sintra with kids. 

two girls walking up a tower in sintra portugal

A few tips for visiting Sintra 

Start your day early

I always give the same advice when planning a visit to a tourist attraction of any kind, and that is to GO EARLY. A Lisbon to Sintra day trip is no exception. You’ll want to start your day as early as possible. Many of the sites in Sintra get quite busy in the middle of the day, and there is so much to see and explore! 

The tour buses within Sintra begin their routes around 9am, so, in a perfect world, I recommend heading to the Rossio station to board the train to Sintra a little after 8am. 

Wear sunscreen + bring a hat

We all love that Southern Portugal sun, but make sure to bring extra sun protection on your day trip to Sintra. Many of the sites and gardens are in direct sunlight, and there will be moments of waiting around for the next bus, etc. 

Wear comfortable shoes 

Even if you are planning to rely on the tour buses to take you from place to place in Sintra, you’ll still walk quite a bit throughout the day. I recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes for your big adventure. 

Pack snacks and water

There are plenty of restaurants in the town of Sintra, but the day is long and refreshments are limited to vending machines up at the main attractions. I wish we had packed way more snacks and water for this day. 


Start with Pena Palace, then do Quinta da Regaleira 

If we are talking about your plan for the day “at a glance,” I recommend starting with Pena Palace and then heading to Quinta da Regaleira. Pena Palace is the most notable and visited site in Sintra, and you’ll want to hit it as early as possible. Quinta da Regaleira is actually my favorite site in Sintra, BUT it is more spread out and doesn’t feel as crowded, even in the middle of the day. So you don’t necessarily need to get there ASAP like I would say you do for Pena Palace. I’ll get into all of the details about this in a minute. 

Ruth Nuss in a tower in Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra, Portugal

How to take a Lisbon to Sintra day trip

The train from Lisbon to Sintra takes about 40 minutes. The train departs from the Rossio train station in Lisbon and runs as many as six times per hour in the high season.

I do not recommend driving a car to Sintra. The roads are narrow and largely closed to public traffic. The train is easy enough, and you can rely on the tour buses or tuk tuk drivers within Sintra to get from site to site. 

You can check the train time tables here and buy tickets at either the kiosks or counter at Rossio. Each leg of the journey costs €2,40. Make sure to purchase a return ticket in the morning to save yourself the trouble later. 

In my research for this post, I came across a Scotturb combo ticket that includes the train ticket to and from Sintra as well as access to the tour buses within Sintra. Find more info on this page. However, I would recommend asking about this ticket in person at Rossio rather than purchasing it online, as I saw a couple of reviews that said it didn’t work. 

Getting around Sintra

I recommend relying, for the most part, on either the tour buses or the tuk tuk drivers that hang out near each of the attractions. You can purchase a day pass for the tour buses for €13,50 at the office opposite the Sintra train station or while boarding the bus. Make sure to have cash on hand for purchases like this. 

You can get around Sintra by foot, but this could add hours to your day. (more on this below). 

How to spend 1 day in Sintra: 

Once you arrive at the train station in Sintra, head to the bus stop outside of the station and look for the 434 bus. The 434 bus runs in a one directional loop and hits several stops throughout Sintra. (Find more info on the 434 bus line here). 

This bus will take you up to Pena Palace, our first stop of the day. 

Side note on walking in Sintra: 

IF you do choose to walk (and by all means, more power to you!), the uphill walk from the train station up to Pena Palace should take a little less than an hour. We would have never attempted this with our small kids, especially with the long day we had planned, but I could see walking/hiking around Sintra being absolutely lovely if it was just Tyler and I (and if the weather was nice). 

Pena Palace 

Pena Palace is the crown jewel of Sintra, perched high in the hills and boasting yellow and red jewel tones that you can spot even from the train into Sintra.

Built in 19th century Romanticism architecture, Pena Palace is the legacy of Ferdinand II of Portugal. The property’s origins stretch back into the 12th century when a chapel at this location was dedicated to our Lady of Pena. Later, a monastery was constructed. It was on this land that Ferdinand II chartered the design and construction of the Pena Palace we see today. 

sintra travel tips

Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschweg, the architect commissioned for the project, drew inspiration from Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany as well as various sites within Portugal itself (you’ll see that the red tower resembles the Tower of Belem in Lisbon!). 

yellow and red pena palace in sintra portugal

After you’ve toured the exterior and interior of Pena Palace, make sure to leave some time to explore the garden and grounds surrounding the palace, otherwise known as Pena Park. 

ruth nuss and her daughter in an arched white walkway in pena palace in sintra
a tower in pena palace sintra

Pena Palace hours + tickets

Pena Palace is open from 9:30am to 6:30pm. The last entrance is at 6pm. Adult tickets cost 20€, ages 6-17 and 65+ cost 18€, and children under 6 are free of cost.

You’ll want to buy your tickets to Pena Palace prior to your visit. You have to reserve a timeslot with your ticket, and some slots do sell out in advance. Buy tickets here. Make sure to purchase the “plus transfer” option which includes the bus ride to the top of the hill (not a deal breaker if you are able bodied and ahead of schedule but this was necessary for our family at this stage in the day!). 

Entrance to the gardens/Pena Park costs an additional 10€ for adults and 9€ for seniors and youth between 6-17. 

the side of pena palace. lisbon to sintra day trip

Lunch in Sintra

Following your visit to Pena Palace, hop on the 434 bus which will take you back to the historic center of Sintra (also known as São Martinho). 

At this point, you might want to have a bite to eat and fuel up before the second leg of the day. We heard amazing things about Casa Piriquita (walk past the lines at the front counter and make your way to the dining room). And Tascantiga nearby is known for their tapas. 

Tyler and I are just about as basic as it comes in regards to our afternoon coffee habit, so I happen to know that the Starbucks in Sintra is top notch–if you’re into that kind of thing.  

Quinta da Regaleira 

After lunch (and coffee), it’s time to head to Quinta da Regaleira

The walk from the center of Sintra to Quinta da Regaleira takes 15-20 minutes. We walked with our kids from the town up to Quinta da Regaleira, and this was lovely and no big deal. 

Quinta da Regaleira is one of my favorite sites we have visited in Europe. Known for its Romantic palace and gardens full of mysterious grottos and stone towers, Quinta da Regaleira is an explorer’s wonderland. The property is lush and mysterious and feels like a magical land that only exists in books. 

ruth nuss next to a stone well in quinta da regaleira in sintra portugal
a tower between some trees in quinta da regaleira in sintra
day trip to sintra and the quinta da regaleira

I first visited this site over 10 years ago and specifically remember thinking that I just had to bring my future kids back here one day. Watching the girls run around and play pretend throughout the grounds of this beautiful place was so fun for me. 

two girls at a well in quinta da regaleira

António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro purchased the estate of Quinta da Regaleira in 1892 and commissioned architect Luigi Manini to bring his vision to life. The palace and surrounding gardens were built between 1904 and 1910, and the finished product features a unique blend of Romantic, Gothic, Manueline, and Renaissance architecture. The property was restored in the 1990s and opened to the public in 1998. 

The palace at Quinta da Regaleira is very unique and certainly worth a walkabout, but the real magic of the property is in the gardens and paths surrounding the palace. It’s a wonderful place to get lost in, and I suggest doing just that. Download this map beforehand or purchase a physical copy at the entrance for 0,50 € and just make sure to note the exit before you start wandering. 

initiation well in quinta da regaleira on a lisbon to sintra day trip

Initiation Well

Don’t miss the Initiation Well and the caverns at the bottom. There was a long line when we were there, but it moved really quickly. And once we were in, it didn’t feel crowded at all. The caves are so fun to explore, and the girls LOVED this. Also, they have installed lights along the ground that make it way less scary. 

two girls walking in the initiation well in quinta da regaleira in sintra
tyler nuss and his daughters walking through a grotto in sintra portugal

If you have small kids with you and only have the bandwidth to only one site on your Lisbon to Sintra day trip, my personal choice would be Quinta da Regaleira. It is such a beautiful place to let kids be kids and spark their sense of wonder and imagination. Without getting too sappy, it is experiences like this that make me feel so grateful that we are able to travel with our kids during these golden early years. 

At the end of your visit, you can make your way back down the hill to Sintra and the train station. 

Quinta da Regaleira hours + tickets

April through September, Quinta da Regaleira is open from 10am to 7:30pm (last entrance at 6:30pm). October through March, Quinta da Regaleira is open from 10am to 6:30pm (last entrance at 5:30pm). 

There are no entrance time slots for Quinta da Regaleira, but it never hurts to purchase tickets ahead of time and avoid a line. Tickets to Quinta da Regaleira cost 12€ for adults, 7€ for those 65-79, and are free for children under 5 and adults over 80. 

a waterfall in quinta da regaleira during a lisbon to sintra day trip

If you have more time…

If you have extra time and the capacity to take on more attractions in Sintra, here are a few options to add to your 1 day Sintra itinerary: 

Moorish Castle 

The Moorish Castle is a medieval castle located on the hills adjacent to Pena Palace. The Moorish Castle is situated at a lower vantage point but still has spectacular views and provides travelers with a one-of-a-kind experience. 

We skipped the Moorish Castle this time, but I remember loving it the first time I visited Sintra. 

view of southern portugal on a lisbon to sintra day trip

The easiest way to work the Moorish Castle into your Lisbon to Sintra day trip itinerary would be to actually put it first on your list. The Moorish Castle is the one of the first stops that the 434 route makes. From there, you can either walk to Pena Palace (15-20 min) or hop back on the 434 bus to Pena Palace. Alternatively, you can visit the Moorish Castle after Pena Palace. The bus route goes the opposite way but you could walk to the Moorish Castle and then back down to the town after your visit. 

Moorish Castle hours + tickets 

The Moorish Castle is open from 9:30am to 6pm (last entrance is 5:30pm). Tickets for adults cost 12€ and 10€ for those over 65 and youth between 6-17. Children under 6 are free. 

Sintra National Palace

Sintra National Palace would be my next choice if I wanted to add something else to the itinerary. You could, in theory, squeeze in an evening visit before heading to the train station if you have the time and energy. 

Sintra National Palace hours + tickets 

The palace and gardens are both open from 9:30am to 6:30pm (last entrance is 6pm). Tickets for adults cost 13€ and 10€ for those over 65 and youth between 6-17. Children under 6 are free. Entrance to the garden is free. 

Should you visit Sintra and Cascais on the same day?

Cascais is a popular beach town on the coast near Sintra and happens to be on the same train line as the one out to Sintra. I saw a few people recommend a stop in Cascais during a Lisbon to Sintra day trip, and technically I suppose this is possible. However, I have a hard time seeing how one could have time to really enjoy both areas if it was all crammed into a single day. 

One suggestion I came across was to do a private tour of both Sintra and Cascais. This tour in particular seems highly reviewed, but I did notice that the itinerary only includes Pena Palace and not Quinta da Regaleira which, as discussed, is a nonnegotiable for me. Just my two cents on the topic! 

If you want to visit Cascais during your time in Portugal and Lisbon, I recommend saving a separate day for the trip so you have time to fully enjoy it. 

Alright, I think that covers everything. Thanks for checking out my tips for planning a Lisbon to Sintra day trip. I hope this was helpful, have the BEST time! 

lisbon to sintra day trip

More posts from this trip: 

Our 2 week Spain and Portugal itinerary 

The Perfect 3 Day Lisbon Itinerary 

Everything I wore in Spain and Portugal 

For more travel guides, family travel tips, and itinerary inspo, click here

Lisbon to Sintra Day Trip

Portugal

I write about travel, books, and beauty (and everything else, kind of). I live in San Diego with my husband Tyler and our two little girls, Charlotte and Emmie. 

I'm Ruth

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