A day trip from Sintra to Lisbon is the perfect city getaway and an absolute must! Nestled in the heart of the Portuguese Riviera, Sintra is a vivid little town with a beautiful landscape dotted by authentic castles and palaces. Thanks to its close proximity to Lisbon, Sintra has turned into a must-stop for every visitor to the Portuguese capital. In this article you’ll find enough details for your ultimate day trip to Sintra from Lisbon, covering the finest spots and best things to see in Sintra!
How to get to Sintra from Lisbon
Sintra is located at about 30km from Lisbon. If you decide to go by car, it should take you no more than 30 mins. Keep in mind, though, that if you’re unlucky with the traffic the commute can increase to 2 hours.
The most common way to reach Sintra is by train (which is precisely what we decided to take). You can choose from 2 train services – Rossio and Oriente. Like most tourists, we started our day trip to Sintra from Lisbon at the Rossio station, because it’s closer to the main attractions. The commute takes about an hour, so make sure to start as early in the day as possible! This applies especially during the high season (the beloved summer, of course ☀️), as it gets quite busy and crowded. What’s more – the things to see in Sintra are so many and so lovely, you can easily spend 2 full days there without getting bored. So, as I mentioned, start as early as possible! Of couse, you always have the option to book a guided tour from Lisbon to Sintra and not worry about the travel details.
We got off at Sintra station (which is the last one) and walked about 1km to the historic city center. I know – it sounds like a lot, but thanks to the picturesque sights I promise you’ll enjoy every minute! 📸
How to move around Sintra
To be frank, I don’t think moving around Sintra by car is your best bet… The traffic can get quite bad and it can easily become an obstacle on your way to the Sintra must-see attractions. Moreover, the government has taken measures against the traffic jams and now only the city buses, residents and taxis are allowed to enter the historic center.
The good news is your day trip to Sintra from Lisbon is saved even if you’re without a car, as the city is more than well-commuted. There are two buses you can choose from – 434 and 435. Sintra train station is the start (and end) point for both, but you can also take them from the city center. The two lines will take you to different parts of the best things to see in Sintra, so make sure to check their routes before choosing which one to hop on. To make your life easier, I’ll share their stops here: 434 will take you to Moorish Castle and Pena Palace, and if you want to see Regaleira Estate, Seteais Palace, and Monserrate Palace – 435 is your bet.
You can also ride a tuk-tuk but honestly… it’s not something I would recommend 😃 They drive incredibly fast and you might end up praying for your life, hehe. Get an Uber if you’re in a hurry and can’t wait for the bus.
Now, let’s learn more about these must-see places and make your day trip to Sintra from Lisbon truly unforgettable! 😍
Things to see in Sintra
Time to immerse in Sintra’s authentic medieval ambiance… The tiny city offers a full pack of mesmerizing attractions – from palaces through parks to lovely estates and even a castle! You can take a walk through woods with enormous exotic trees that were planted in the 19th century and go all the way to the jaw-dropping beaches at the coast. 🏖
Since we started our day trip to Sintra from Lisbon from the historic center, our first stop was the iconic Quinta de Regaleira! It’s about a 20-minute walk from the Sintra train station.
1. Quinta da Regaleira
Wrapped around lavish vegetation, this picturesque place is one of the finest things to see in Sintra and offers not one, not two, but several unforgettable sites to admire! 🤩 No wonder it is classified as UNESCO World Heritage.
We started off by taking a walk in the gardens, which undoubtedly are the brightest gem in the villa’s crown. Don’t get me wrong – these are no ordinary gardens with exotic trees and benches. 🌴 With its hidden passageways, caves, and spiral staircases that lead down to the bottom of wells, this four-hectare estate makes you feel like you crossed over into another world, and is well-deserved among the must-see destinations for your day trip to Sintra from Lisbon!
Below you can find out more about the entrance fees, the usual time it takes to visit, and the opening hours. The peak hours for tourists are between 11am and 3pm, so I suggest starting as early as possible to avoid the crowds and enjoy the quiet times (we were there at 09:50!). What’s more, sometimes you might find yourself in queues, especially for Poço Iniciático (Initiation Well). So make sure you don’t waste much time.
Child (>5yo) – Free; Young (6-18) – 5€; Adult (18-64) – 10€;
Senior (65-79) – 5€; Senior+ (80<) – Free;
Typical visit time: 1.5-2hours
Opening hours: 10:00–17:30 (every day of the week)
You can book an audio guide tour skip-the-line ticket here, or if you do prefer live contact, of course, there are amazing guided tours around this place.
Now let’s take a closer look at the various Quinta da Regaleira attractions (and some of the finest things to see in Sintra) that truly set the estate apart from the pack. 👇
Poço Iniciático (Initiation Well)
The first place we visited was Poço Iniciático (the Initiation Well). The secretive spiral staircase resembling an inverted tower took us all the way down (27 meters) to the bottom of the well, where a Templar cross is inscribed on the floor. Like everything else around, the ambiance is captivating and whispers the stories of ancient cultish ceremonies. A fun fact is that this well (just like its less popular sibling mentioned below) was never used to collect water. Instead, they were hosting mysterious Templar rituals.
Poço Iniciático is one of the must-stops for a day trip to Sintra from Lisbon, and there are usually long queues to enter. That’s why we rushed close to the opening time and got lucky to avoid the crowds. I strongly advise you do the same! ☝️
We continued our unforgettable walk through the hidden caves and tunnels underneath the gardens to our next stop -Poço Imperfeito, the Unfinished Well! As I mentioned above, this is another well that never served its true purpose, but hosted cultish rituals instead.
You’ll find this second well near the Waterfall lake and a number of caves hiding bashfully under the gardens. What I enjoyed the most about it (and I believe is its biggest perk compared to the Initiation Well), is that Poço Imperfeito is always less crowded and much, much quieter! 💆♀️🍃
The main building (a majestic villa) was built in the early 20th century by an eccentric millionaire called António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro. It took Monteiro six years to finish it, and the result is astonishing!
One of the first things that caught our eyes was the mind-bending architecture. ✨ The palace was built in a Romantic style, with a strong influence of Renaissance, Gothic and Manueline symbolism. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice the villa is brimming with mystical decorations that uncover the owner’s affection for Knights Templar, Masons, and Gothic symbolism. The main floor is open for tourists (access is included in your ticket), and sometimes the upper floors are open too during exhibitions. We waited for around 15 minutes to enter (yep, the queues), but it was totally worth it and one of the greatest things we experienced on our day trip to Sintra from Lisbon!
Bonus tip: In case you need a quick coffee break at this point – there’s a great place just a stone’s throw away from the palace (with awesome cakes too)! ☕️🥐
Torre da Regaleira
Moving on to the next enchanting sight – Torre da Regaleira! This impressive tower guards the entrance of the Leda cave and overlooks the lavish and spacious gardens. It’s the perfect pit stop before you dive into the mystical atmosphere of the caves below it (just like we did)!
Gruta do Labirinto
Our last stop during this out-of-the-world tour was Gruta do Labirinto (Labyrinthic Grotto). What captivated me most about this place was the sense of magic and mystery. A whole network of underground tunnels overlooking a tiny lake, the quietness and calmness thanks to the surprising lack of tourists… all this will make your day trip to Sintra from Lisbon truly unforgettable. ☺️
2. Park and National Palace of Pena
So now we reach a very gorgeous part of our day trip to Sintra from Lisbon! ☀️ Undoubtedly the national palace of Pena and its surrounding park are the brightest gem in the crown of Sintra’s hills. They’re nestled so high above the town, that you can easily spot them from Lisbon on a clear day. However, due to the altitude, it’s very common to admire them under the veil of a mist… which makes the site even more magical and complements its timeless beauty!
The Romanticist palace and the park were constructed by King Ferdinand II in the 19th century (1854, to be precise). But the history of this place can be tracked all the way back to the 12th century (you can read more about it here). As we were walking around the area, we couldn’t help but notice that the authentic spirit of Sintra’s cultural heritage was whispering to us from every tiny nook and corner. This postcard-like perfection makes you feel like you stepped into a fairytale! 🧚♀️
Another great perk of the site is that it overflows with convenient facilities like dining places and souvenir shops, to name a few. We couldn’t skip the romantic ambiance of the cafeteria that is overlooking the Garden of Queen Amelia from the terrace – totally recommended! You can also enjoy a spectacular view of the park from the Palace restaurant. 🍷
There’s more info about the fees, opening hours, and how much time you need to visit the site:
Entrance fee (palace and park):
Adults (18 – 64 yrs): € 11,50; Youths (6 – 17 yrs): € 9
Seniors (over 65 yrs): € 9; Family ticket (2 adults + 2 youths): € 39;
You can get a ticket here.
Typical visit time: Plan at least 2-2.5 hours for touring
Opening hours: 10:00 – 18:00
Keep in mind the peak hours for tourists are between 11-12 and 3-4, so I suggest avoiding this time frame during the high season. There are also usually long queues and traffic jams before the entrance. I suggest securing a ticket online in advance (from the website above, or elsewhere) to avoid the lines for the ticket machines. You’ll be booking a specific time slot. Whatever you do, don’t miss your time slot! Otherwise, you’ll be denied entry, which won’t be ideal for your day trip to Sintra from Lisbon.
Now that we’ve checked off the practical side of things, let’s pay more attention to what puts the palace and the park among the finest things to see in Sintra…
King Ferdinand II began the construction of this majestic building in 1839 and finished it in 1854. It was acquired by the Portuguese state in 1889, and later turned into a museum (luckily for us).
The palace is an authentic representation of this part of history and overflows with a mixture of Manueline and Moorish symbolism, but also has a strong Oriental influence, such as Indo-Gothic. Vivid colors enhance the beautiful shapes and architectural features, and will make you feel like part of an exotic movie set! 🎨
One of the first things that caught our gaze was the Triton statue at the entrance. We then continued admiring the peculiar exterior, beautiful terraces and moved on to see the lush interior of the staterooms. Wherever you lay your eyes – I promise you’ll be speechless, and get a taste of your day trip to Sintra from Lisbon that will linger!
After spending roughly one hour exploring the lavish interior and terraces of the palace, we moved on to the other exciting part of our tour – the mesmerizing forested park! 🌴🍃 The expansive vegetation surrounding the site was built at the same time as the palace and spreads across 200 hectares. King Fedinand II imported here over 2000 plant species from every continent, and today his manicured gardens cut the edges of the ultimate landscape! Just like in the palace, here you’ll get a taste of Romanticism at its finest. With its huge variety of decorations, ponds, fountains, and lakes with ducks, you’ll surely get a treat for all your senses.
Our romantic walk took us all the way up to the High Cross – the highest point of Sintra hills that gifted us with a jaw-dropping panorama… Other must-see Sintra viewpoints include the Monk’s Grotto, the Little Birds Fountain, the Queen’s Fern Valley, and Temple of Columns.
We decided to wander around and explore the area freely, but you get a guided tour as well. Whatever you choose – prepare for the brightest highlight of your day trip to Sintra from Lisbon. 🙃
3. Castelo dos Mouros
Isolated on the Sintra hills, comfortably sits another must-see Sintra gem – the Moors Castle (Castelo dos Mouros). This medieval castle is a fortification constructed back in the 10th century, during the occupations of the Moors. Its authentic stone walls snake throughout the forests and cliffs, telling stories of glorious times when this rugged castle used to defend the entire region. You can learn more about its majestic history here.
Formerly serving as a strategic viewpoint to the coastline and all the surroundings, today the Moors castle gifts its backpacked visitors with spectacular views. Apart from the panoramas, you can also enjoy the various ancient battlements, climb the towers and really dive into this place. We immediately felt the ambiance was much more different than other Sintra sites that were packed with tourists. The sense of tranquility and glory dominates this lofty perch, making it a must-stop location for your day trip to Sintra from Lisbon.
Adults (18 – 64 yrs) € 8; Youths (6 – 17 yrs) € 6,5;
Seniors (over 65 yrs) € 6,5; Family ticket (2 adults + 2 youths) € 26.
Typical visit time: 1-1.5 hours (yep, the site is surprisingly large!)
Book tickets here
Opening hours: 09:30-18:30
The peak hours are between 12-14, but even then this place hardly gets too crowded.
Bonus tip: If you see that the lines to enter Pena Palace are too long (and you haven’t booked a slot in advance), consider visiting the Moors Castle first, as it’s located just 200m away.
BONUS: Cabo da Roca
In case you have some time left to complement your unforgettable day trip to Sintra from Lisbon – I have just the perfect thing! Cabo da Roca (or Cape Roca) is the westernmost point of mainland Europe, and was esteemed to be the edge of the world until the 14th century. Even today the area is not that developed, drawing admirers of the untouched and raw nature’s beauty from all walks of life. There’s not much to do and see there. A lighthouse, a souvenir store and a coffee shop pretty much sum it up. We spent about 30 minutes there, but it was totally worth it!
If you can, make sure to reach there for sunset and admire the untamed rugged golden shores and water. 🌅 You’ll be among the last people in continental Europe to see the last sun rays! How cool is that?
How to get to Cabo da Roca from Sintra
The cape is located about 18km from Sinta. Going by car is the most convenient way to reach, but there is also a regular bus you can take. Line 403 departs from Sintra train station, and it takes 37 minutes to reach.
Important note: be very careful NOT to miss the last bus from Cabo da Roca, as there aren’t other options to go back and Ubers can take hours to come. You can also directly book a guided tour which includes both Sintra and Cabo da Roca from Lisbon!
The Westernmost point of Continental Europe
As I mentioned above, Cabo da Roca marks the most westerly point in Europe and is a very important navigation point for the sailors in the region. ⛵️🌊 There used to be a fort, guarding the entrance to Europe back in the 17th century. Nowadays, you can simply enjoy the mind-blowing panoramas unveiled at 150m above the sea.
Mirador do Cabo da Roca
The “Mirador do Cabo da Roca” is the main viewpoint from which you can gaze down to the timeless beauty of the shores. Grab the chance to take the perfect shot at 150+ meters above sea level! Be careful, though – this place is quite windy and might feel colder than Sintra. Also, the cliffs are steep, so make sure you don’t step behind the barriers or stand too close to the edges while chasing the perfect photo. 📸
Farol do Cabo da Roca
We finally reached the dessert! Our final stop was Farol do Cabo da Roca – the famous Lighthouse. Situated 165 meters above the sea and built in the 18th century, this lighthouse is one of the oldest in Portugal. We were lucky enough to watch the sunset from there, creating a lifetime memory! Sometimes the lighthouse is open for visitors, but you need to keep an eye for it here.