๐Ÿฐ One Epic Day in Sintra From Lisbon: Efficient Itinerary

A woman standing in front of a historic yellow and purple castle.

Sintra is a small town near Lisbon with fairytale-like palaces, historic charm, and picturesque natural surroundings.

It is one of Portugal’s most popular day trip destinations. With one day in Sintra, you have enough time to see the town’s top attractions and other nearby landmarks.

My sister and I separately visited the historic town of Sintra and here, I share our practical tips on planning a day trip there. This post shares:

  • โญ๏ธ Top things to do in Sintra
  • ๐Ÿ—“๏ธ 2 optimized full-day itineraries
  • ๐ŸšŒ How to get there from Lisbon
  • ๐Ÿ“ Sintra map with key places

Planning a trip? Here’sย what to know about Portugal.

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Sintra at a Glance

Hereโ€™s some general information on Sintra to help you plan your trip.

๐Ÿฐ What Is Sintra Known For?

The town of Sintra is known for its historic palaces and castles, stunning views, natural landscapes, and quaint town center. It’s considered a beautiful place with a mystical ambiance.

The landscape of Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its well-preserved historic monuments and cultural significance.

Colorful houses at the bottom of a green, lush mountain.
A view of Sintra.

๐Ÿ“ Where Is Sintra Located?

Sintra is located 21 miles west of Lisbon in the western peninsula of Portugal. See below for how to get to Sintra from Lisbon.

The town is located within the lush and scenic Sintra-Cascais Natural Park.

See great things to do in Lisbon.

๐Ÿ—“๏ธ How Long To Spend in Sintra?

Sintra is most often visited as a full-day trip from Lisbon. This will give you enough time to visit approximately three to five of Sintra’s top attractions.

You can also spend two days in Sintra to give yourself more time to visit less popular attractions and enjoy the surrounding natural park.

โ˜€๏ธ Best Time To Visit Sintra

The best time to visit Sintra is during the spring (March to May) and the fall (September to October) to avoid the peak season crowds in the summer and still catch good weather.

  • During the spring, Sintra’s weather averages 50 ยฐF to 70 ยฐF. I visited Sintra in May and I could wear a tank top with long jeans, with the occasional light jacket.
  • During the fall, Sintra’s weather averages 57 ยฐF to 77 ยฐF. My sister visited Sintra in September and wore a similar outfit to mine.

๐Ÿ’ฐ How Much Is a Day Trip to Sintra?

The cost of doing a day trip to Sintra from Lisbon depends on how you get there and the number of attractions you plan to see, as many of them have at least an $8 entrance fee.

You can expect to spend at least $70 when visiting Sintra for a day.

I spent $88 visiting Sintra for a day. This includes transportation, tips, and the lunch I had in Quinta da Regaleira.

See all my travel expenses in this Portugal budget breakdown.

All prices mentioned in this post are in USD ๐Ÿ’ต .

A woman taking a selfie on a balcony; the background shows a colorful town that's lush.
Sintra’s historic center.

How To Get To Sintra From Lisbon

From Lisbon, you can get to Sintra in four different ways.

๐Ÿš† Option 1: Take Public Transportation

Taking the train to Sintra is the most budget-friendly way to get to the town, but it’s also one of the most inconvenient modes of transportation.

Take the state-owned CP train from Lisbon’s Rossio station to the Sintra train station.

The train ride takes 40 to 50 minutes and leaves every 10 to 15 minutes (see the train timetable here). The Lisbon to Sintra train tickets cost โ‚ฌ2.30 (a little less than $3) each way.

๐Ÿš– Option 2: Call a Taxi or Uber

You can call an Uber from Lisbon and take it to Sintra’s town center. The drive will take 30 to 45 minutes depending on traffic and can cost more than $100.

My sister took an Uber in the fall and paid $90 to get to Sintra and $47 to get back to Lisbon.

Due to the high cost, taking an Uber from Lisbon to Sintra is only recommended if you’re traveling in a group of three or more people.

๐Ÿš Option 3: Book a Sintra Guided Tour

The most convenient way to get to Sintra from Lisbon is by booking an organized tour, which includes private transportation.

A Sintra full-day tour starts at $60 and is usually closer to $90.

I booked a Sintra tour, which I found convenient. There was a road blockage to Pena Palace, Sintra’s #1 attraction, when I visited. My local guide efficiently reorganized our itinerary to make sure we still got to the palace by the end of the day when there were fewer crowds.

๐Ÿš™ Option 4: Drive a Rental Car

You can rent a car and drive to Sintra, but this is generally not recommended for most visitors. Driving to and in Sintra can be challenging for various reasons:

  • Parking is not allowed in the town’s historic center, so there’s limited parking and if you find any, you’ll likely have to pay for it.
  • The roads are winding, hilly, and narrow.
  • You’ll be stuck if you run into a road blockage, which may be infrequent, but it happened when I visited Sintra.

If you plan to drive, the main advice I’ve received when driving to Sintra is to leave Lisbon early (before 9 am) to beat the crowd.

How To Get Around Sintra

Once you arrive in Sintra, you can get around in five different ways.

๐Ÿ‘Ÿ Option 1: Walk

Once you get to Sintra, it is possible to walk to certain attractions that are close by. However, you won’t be able to reach all of the attractions on foot and it’s not an efficient way to get around.

For example, here’s how long it takes to walk between Sintra’s top three most famous attractions:

RouteWalking Time
Pena Palace โ†’ Moorish Castle20 mins
Pena Palace โ†’ Quinta da Regaleria40 mins
Moorish Castle โ†’ Quinta da Regaleria30 mins
Walking Time Between Sintra’s Top 3 Attractions

๐ŸšŒ Option 2: Take the Shuttle Bus

Sintra has two tourist buses, 434 and 435, that make stops at popular attractions.

The buses costs โ‚ฌ12.50 (around $13) for a ticket that lasts 24 hours. They start operating around 9:15 or 9:30 am and stop running at 7:50 pm.

Shuttle BusFrequencyStops
Shuttle Bus 43415 mins– Pena Palace
– Moorish Castle
– Sintra’s town center
Shuttle Bus 43520 mins– Pena Palace
– Quinta da Regaleria
– Monserrate Palace
– Sintra’s town center
Sintra’s Shuttle Bus Information

During the peak summer season, you might have to wait for a while to get on the bus. Keep in mind that you also arrive at popular attractions at the same time as everyone else.

A map showing two bus routes in green and orange stopping at different attractions Sintra.
A map of Sintra’s 435 and 434 bus routes. (Photo credit: Discover Sintra.)

๐Ÿš• Option 3: Call an Uber or Taxi

You can also call an Uber or taxi to get around Sintra. Depending on how crowded the destination is on that day, you might have to wait a bit before you get a ride.

๐Ÿš Option 4: Book a Sintra Tour

Booking a Sintra tour is the most convenient way to get around the town. There are hundreds of guided tours to choose from that will take you to different combinations of attractions.

Here’s my curated list of highly-rated Sintra tours that I would consider booking if I were to do it again:

  • If you are most excited by Pena Palace, this Sintra tour with close to 1,000 five-star reviews focuses on Pena Palace by dedicating two hours to it. It also stops by the historic center and three coastal places.
  • If you are most excited by Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira, this well-rated Sintra tour gives equal time to each. It also stops by Sintra’s historic center and two coastal places.
  • If you don’t care for the Pena Palace hype, this well-rated Sintra tour skips the Pena Palace altogether and gives visitors more time in Quinta da Regaleria and the historic town, while also doing three coastal stops.
  • If you want to see the Moorish Castle, this Sintra tour is one of the few that includes it and skips Cascais. Despite the high cost, this is the Sintra tour I would most likely book if I had to do it all over again because it features my ideal stops.
  • If you want to visit Pena Palace at the end, this highly-rated Sintra tour does that and also has several other stops. Most tour groups visit Pena Palace in the morning; my tour group visited towards the end when it was significantly less crowded.
A group of either people posing in front of a white castle.
With my Sintra tour group.

๐Ÿš™ Option 5: Rent an Electrical Car

You can also rent a small electric car for a day to get around Sintra.

The smaller size of the car makes it easier to drive around the winding roads and park in the limited spots near the attractions.

Sintra Map

This Sintra map has all the recommended places mentioned in this post.

Sintra Day Trip Itineraries

Below are two great ways to organize a Sintra day trip from Lisbon if youโ€™re doing it on your own and not through a guided tour.

These Sintra itineraries are the improved version of my and my sister’s day trips. Iโ€™ve included some of our actual timestamps, so you can plan and sequence activities efficiently.

Itinerary Option #1: Pena Palace Early

This Sintra day trip itinerary prioritizes getting to Pena Palace early to beat the crowd and seeing many of Sintra’s top attractions on foot.

The tradeoff with this one-day itinerary is that you may not have much time to go outside of Sintra to see a coastal view or visit a beach town.

This itinerary is similar to what my sister did and is prefilled in the Portugal trip planner below.

Morning๐Ÿฐ Beat the crowd at Pena Palace (9:30โ€“11:15 am)
๐Ÿ‘ฃ Walk to Moorish Castle (15 mins)
โ˜€๏ธ Visit Moorish Castle (11:30 amโ€“12:45 pm)
Afternoon๐Ÿ‘ฃ Short walk to Sintra’s center (15 mins)
๐Ÿฅ˜ Get lunch and explore Sintra’s Historic Center (1โ€“3 pm)
๐Ÿ‘ฃ Short walk to Quinta da Regaleira (15 mins)
๐Ÿฐ Visit Quinta da Regaleira (3:15โ€“4:45 pm)
๐ŸšŒ Take the 435 bus or Uber to Monserrate Palace (15 mins)
๐Ÿฐ Visit Monserrate Palace before closing (5โ€“6:30 pm)
Evening๐Ÿš— Uber to Cabo da Roca, Cascais or back to Lisbon (6:30โ€“8:30 pm)

Itinerary Option #2: Pena Palace Later

This full-day Sintra itinerary prioritizes getting to Pena Palace later to minimize the crowd before closing time. It relies on taxis and Uber rides to get from one attraction to the next.

This itinerary also breaks up Sintra’s attractions by going to a beautiful ocean view in the middle of the day. This is similar to what I did.

Morningโ˜€๏ธ Visit Moorish Castle (9:30โ€“11:15 am)
๐Ÿš— Uber to Quinta da Regaleira (15 mins)
Afternoon๐Ÿฐ Visit Quinta da Regaleira (11:30โ€“1 pm)
โญ๏ธ Walk to Sintra’s Historic Center, have lunch and explore (1โ€“3 pm)
โญ๏ธ Alternatively, have lunch at Quinta da Regaliera and then drive to Monserrate Palace (1โ€“3 pm)
๐Ÿš— Uber to an ocean view (30 mins)
๐ŸŒŠ Views at Cabo da Roca or Praia da รgua Doce (3:30โ€“4 pm)
๐Ÿš— Uber back to Sintra (30 mins)
๐Ÿฐ Visit Pena Palace before closing (4:30โ€“6:30 pm)
Evening๐Ÿš— Uber to Cascais or back to Lisbon (6:30โ€“7:30 pm)

This one-week Portugal itinerary shows how to sequence a Sintra day trip.

Top 5 Attractions in Sintra

Having taken separate Sintra trips and visited many of its top attractions, here are my and my sister’s combined recommendations on the best things to do in Sintra in rough priority order.

1. See Colorful Pena Palace, Sintra’s #1 Attraction

๐Ÿค” Why: One of the Seven Wonders of Portugal and a UNESCO Heritage Site, the National Palace of Pena is Sintra’s most famous palace and gets close to two million visitors annually. The palace is known for its colorful and photogenic exterior.

Due to the palace’s popularity, Pena Palace is almost always included as the last or first stop in Sintra tours.

A woman peaking out of a castle's colorful arches.
Exploring Pena Palace.

๐ŸŒŸ Top Things To Do: At Pena Palace, you can:

  • Walk through the palace’s interior and take a guided tour to learn about its history and about the monks and royal family who lived there. The palace was built by King Ferdinand II and was inhabited by the last queen of Portugal.
  • Spend significant time exploring and taking pictures of Pena Palace’s colorful exterior.
A woman standing in front of a historic yellow and purple castle.
The exterior of Pena Palace in Sintra.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: The National Palace of Pena is located at the top of a steep hill. You’ll need to take a 15 to 20-minute uphill walk or pay about $4 for a bus ride to the top of the hill.

Pena Palace almost always has huge crowds. To minimize the crowds, visit the palace early (around opening time at 9:30 am) or an hour before closing time (it closes at 6:30 pm daily).

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Pena Palace has a โ‚ฌ20 entrance fee (roughly $22). Tickets are timed, so you’ll need to select the date and entrance time in advance.

If you want to get near the Pena Palace, you must buy tickets to the palace, not just to the park. If you only buy park tickets, you won’t be allowed to see the exterior of the palace up close.

โฐ Suggested Duration: Budget one to two hours exploring Pena Palace.

๐Ÿ€ My Take: Pena Palace’s interior, even when enhanced with a guided tour, is average in my opinion (I found the tour at Sintra National Palace more interesting). But Pena Palace’s exterior is worth the hype and there’s a lot more to explore than I expected.

2. Explore the Beautiful Quinta da Regaleria

๐Ÿค” Why: Another UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered one of the best Sintra attractions, Quinta da Regaleira is a large, beautiful estate. It’s home to beautiful gardens, a Renaissance-style palace, a lake, and a famous inverted tower.

A woman standing in front of a white ornate castle.
In front of the palace in Quinta da Regaleira.

๐ŸŒŸ Top Things To Do: Quinta da Regaleira’s estate is about the size of five and a half football fields, so you can take a stroll through its garden or head straight to some of its top attractions:

  • The Initiation Well is Quinta da Regaleira’s most popular attraction. The “well” is an inverted tower with a spiral staircase that leads to underground tunnels built under the gardens. The well is said to have been part of a mysterious Knights Templar ritual.

During the high season, expect long lines for the Initiation Well.

A man-made underground tunnel made out of rocks.
A tunnel connecting to the Initiation Well.
  • Palacio da Regaleira is the palace in the estate and is a five-floor structure that’s pretty to look at from the outside. Visitors can only access the main floor.
  • Regaleira Chapel is the estate’s chapel and is worth a quick stop.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: Quinta da Regaleira can be reached by walking, taking the bus, calling an Uber/taxi, or driving.

  • Walking. The estate is a 30-minute walk from Sintra’s historic center and a 15-minute walk from the Moorish Castle.
  • Bus: Quinta da Regailra is a bus stop for the 435 tourist bus.
  • Driving: If you’re driving, Quinta da Regaleira has a parking lot that gets filled up during the peak season. It’s about $4 per hour for parking.
  • Uber. If you’re coming from Pena Palace, the best way is to call an Uber or taxi.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Quinta da Regaleira has a โ‚ฌ12 entrance fee (about $12) and you don’t need to buy tickets in advance.

Quinta da Regaleira also has a cafe in case you need to grab a snack or lunch. The food is not bad, but it’s also not amazing, so you should only stop here if you need a quick bite or if your visit aligns with lunchtime.

โฐ Suggested Duration: Budget one to two hours walking around Quinta da Regaleira.

๐Ÿ€ My Take: Walking through Quinta da Regaleira feels like walking through a nice, gated park. If you’d rather prioritize seeing views, consider visiting the Moorish Castle instead.

3. Check Out the Views at the Moorish Castle

๐Ÿค” Why: Castelos dos Mouros, also known as the “Moorish Castle” or “Castle of the Moors”, is a medieval castle originally built to defend the region and now offers the best views of Sintra. Like Quinta da Regaleira and Pena Palace, it’s considered a national monument.

A white castle wall lining going through a forest.
Castelos dos Mouros in Sintra. (Photo by my friend, Alison Lau.)

๐ŸŒŸ Top Things To Do: The Moorish Castle has no meaningful interior places to explore. You’re primarily outside exploring the castle walls, walking on its cobblestone stairs, and looking out at some of its highest viewpoints.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: Castelo dos Mouros can be reached by walking, taking the bus, or taking an Uber/taxi. There’s no parking near the Moorish Castle, so driving is not recommended.

  • Walking: The Moorish Castle is a 15-minute walk away from Sintra’s historic center and Quinta da Regaleira.
  • Bus: The 434 tourist bus makes a stop here.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Castelo dos Mouros has a โ‚ฌ10 entrance fee (about $11) and you don’t need to buy tickets in advance.

โฐ Suggested Duration: Budget an hour to 90 minutes exploring Castelo dos Mouros.

๐Ÿ€ My Take: The Moorish Castle is different from the other Sintra attractions in that there’s no interior to explore, making it a great place to walk around for some of the best views of Sintra.

4. Walk Around Sintra’s Historic Center

๐Ÿค” Why: Sintra’s picturesque historic center is packed with small, cute shops in narrow, winding streets. It’s a great place to walk around, window shop, or grab a meal.

A woman standing on a narrow, cobble stone alley way with an orange building in the background.
In Sintra’s historic center.

๐ŸŒŸ Top Things To Do: Walk around the streets of Sintra’s historic center and look for views and stores that pique your interest.

One of my favorite places in the town center is Casa Piriquita, which serves the famous travesseiro, an almond pastry that translates to “pillow.” Many Sintra tours will highlight this place.

A flaky pastry with almond custard in the middle.
Holding a travesseiro from Casa Piriquita.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: Sintra’s Historic Center can be reached by walking, taking the bus, calling an Uber/taxi, or driving. Both the 434 and 435 tourist buses stop here.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Sintra’s historic center does not have an entrance fee, so it’s free to enter.

โฐ Suggested Duration: You can spend anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours walking and eating around Sintra’s old town. I spent closer to 30 minutes and my sister did closer to three hours.

๐Ÿ€ My Take: Sintra’s historic center is not always called out as one of Sintra’s main attractions, so it can surprise visitors when they end up spending several hours there. I recommend budgeting one hour here because it’s a really pretty area to walk around.

5. Visit the Stunning Cabo da Roca

๐Ÿค” Why: Called the “edge of the world”, Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point of Europe and features stunning, plunging cliff views of the Atlantic Ocean. Cabo da Roca is not in Sintra, but it’s often considered a must-stop in many Sintra itineraries and tours.

While Cabo da Roca is the most famous, it’s also the most touristy. There are alternatives to Cabo da Roca that will give you similar views with fewer crowds, including Praia da รgua Doce, which is where I went.

The blog's author standing on rocky sand by a teal ocean while the wind blows her hair.
At Praia da รgua Doce.

๐ŸŒŸ Top Thing To Do: Once you’re at Cabo da Roca, spend a moment staring at the breathtaking view. The ocean waves are strong, so swimming is not safe here.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: Cabo da Roca can be reached by driving, taking a bus, or calling an Uber or taxi. Since driving is the easiest way to get here, many Sintra tours will stop here.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Cabo da Roca is free to enter, but you will need to pay for your transportation. A taxi or Uber from Sintra can cost anywhere from $15 to $30 one-way depending on the season.

โฐ Suggested Duration: You can spend 15 to 30 minutes admiring the views.

๐Ÿ€ My Take: I went to a less crowded, but equally beautiful stop at Praia da รgua Doce. If you have a car or are taking a tour, this is a beautiful must-stop area.

3 Other Notable Attractions in Sintra

Here are three other Sintra attractions that are also popular.

1. Learn History at the National Palace of Sintra

๐Ÿค” Why: Located at the center of Sintra, the National Palace of Sintra (also called “Palรกcio Nacional de Sintra”) is the oldest palace in Portugal that has been built over several centuries. The guided tours there are fairly interesting.

A white building with the Portugal flag that says "Palacio Nacional de Sintra".
In front of the National Palace of Sintra.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: The National Palace of Sintra is at the center of Sintra, so it’s easy to get to it. It’s about a 3-minute walk from the historic center, a 15-minute walk from the Moorish Castle, and a 35-minute walk from Pena Palace.

Two women standing in front of an arch window.
Inside the National Palace of Sintra.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: The National Palace of Sintra has a โ‚ฌ13 entrance fee (about $14).

โฐ Suggested Duration: Budget 30 to 90 minutes walking around the National Palace of Sintra.

๐Ÿ€ My Take: The National Palace of Sintra is much better with a guided tour. It’s not a particularly beautiful or interesting building, so what made the visit interesting was learning about its history and amusing stories (ask your tour guide why the Magpie Room is named so).

2. Visit the Beach Town of Cascais

๐Ÿค” Why: Cascais is a seaside town that’s often a popular stop for visitors making their way back from Sintra to Lisbon. Cascais offers beach vibes, shops, art, and a lot of ice cream.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: Cascais is 30 minutes west of Lisbon and 20 minutes south of Sintra. You can get to Cascais by calling an Uber or taxi, taking a Sintra tour (many of them stop at Cascais), train, or bus.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: Cascais doesn’t have an entrance fee, but expect to spend some money shopping or eating.

โฐ Suggested Duration: You can visit Cascais as a full-day trip on its own or make it as a short one-hour stop on your way back from Sintra to Lisbon.

๐Ÿ€ My Take: Even though many people seem to like visiting Cascais, I found it to be the most underwhelming stop during my Sintra trip. After seeing all the beautiful palaces, gardens, and ocean views, Cascais felt like an average beach town that you can easily find in other places of the world.

3. Go Further Out to Monserrate Palace

๐Ÿค” Why: The Park and Palace of Monserrate include a beautiful, fairytale-like villa on top of a hill.

๐Ÿš— Getting There: The Park and Palace of Monserrate is about a 15-minute drive west of Sintra’s historic center. The 435 tourist bus makes a stop here as well.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Expected Cost: The attraction has a โ‚ฌ12 entrance fee (about $13) and you don’t need to buy tickets in advance.

โฐ Suggested Duration: You can expect to spend one to two hours looking around this palace.

๐Ÿ€ My Take: I didn’t make it to Park and Palace of Monserrate, but if I had to do my trip all over again, I would have prioritized this over Cascais.

A century-old castle wall made out of stone, high up on a hill.
Castelos dos Mouros in Sintra. (Photo by my friend, Alison Lau.)

Portugal Trip Planner

To make your travel planning easier, download the trip planner below and use it as a starting point. The planner has country-specific travel information, an itinerary, a packing list, and a map with key places pinned.

The trip planner is built on Notion, which I use for all my travel planning (I genuinely love this tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.

Three Notion template screenshots are shown: travel information, itinerary, and map + packing list templates.
Preview of Portugal trip planner.

If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below.

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