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Guide to the Fairytale City of Sintra, Portugal

If you have more than a few days in Lisbon, you must make the day trip to Sintra.

It’s an enchanting historical town just 30 minutes by train just outside of the heart of Lisbon. The city is filled with Disney-like castles and beautiful, winding forest paths. Come here for a day of hiking and sightseeing on the Portuguese Riviera.

Getting to Sintra from Lisbon

The train station is easy to find, the green metro line to Rossio station leads to a square with a huge pillar with a statue atop it in the center. To the left of the museum with big white pillars is the station. It’s a unique building with a clock on top.

Train tickets are about €4 for a round trip to Sintra and trains leave every 30 minutes on line 1 on the platform. You can buy your train tickets the same day you’re going to Sintra from Lisbon.

One of the main attractions, Quinta de Regaleira is a manageable walk from the bus station and is a beautiful palace estate complete with gardens, fountains and grottos, and caves. It was the best attraction in Sintra that I managed to visit, and only cost 6 euro for entrance. Give yourself plenty of time to explore the palace grounds and gardens.

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Hiking to the main sights in Sintra

The walk to the Castelo de Mouros and Palacio de Pena is brutal, much more physically taxing than the national palace or Quinta. You’ll hike upward about three miles, getting in a great booty-blasting workout with pretty scenery of a fairy forest along the way.

I highly recommend seeing both the Pena Palace and Castelo during a visit to Sintra. You’ll get to see the highlights of Sintra, as well as sweeping views of the countryside. I’d recommend eating in the town center before making the hike, since most of the cafe option around the palace are expensive, and the food choice is limited.

Palacio de Pena

This palace was fantastic to tour in Sintra, with beautiful Romanticism designs on the exterior. The appearance is what makes this palace so notable, while we did a tour inside, I’d say it’s not as impressive on the interior. The grounds around the castle provides stunning views of the rolling hills and villages surrounding it. It’s one of Portugal’s most visited monuments, and you can even see it from some areas within metropolitan Lisbon.

 

I would definitely recommend Sintra as a full day-trip excursion for anyone spending time in Lisbon. It’s a stunning town with tons of things to see. It’s great for travelers who enjoy hiking while sightseeing. You could even book a romantic weekend away if you want to give yourself more time to explore the countryside and relax in Sintra, but book a hotel early since they do fill up, especially in the high tourist season in summer.

Tips for visiting Sintra

Don’t forget your camera. If you use your phone primarily for photos, I’d highly recommend bringing a battery pack to recharge. There are just so many beautiful spots to take photos of, you don’t want your battery to die.

If you don’t want to use up all your energy walking around, there are Hop-on, hop-off buses circulating around the major tourist attractions so you can use those to get through the major legs of travel. There are also buses to take you to the top of the hills to Pena Palace and other spots.

It’s hot in the summertime, be sure to bring water and sunscreen and wear sunglasses.

Wear good walking shoes! It’s a lot of hills and cobblestone streets, up and down, so poor footwear is going to leave your feet sore by the end of the day.

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