Day Trip From Lisbon to Sintra Portugal

Palace of Pena in Sintra, Portugal

The sun is shining on us and we are headed to the Rossio Train Station to catch the train for a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra. On the way we walked down this really steep hill that has some colorful graffiti and tram also covered in bright graffiti.  This tram’s only route is to go up and down this hill all day. (That could get old real quick.)

Lisbon Graffiti Hill and Colorful Tram

I’d definitely take this tram up, rather than walk it if I had to go up it every day.

At the Rossio Train Station

You go up a series of escalators before you get to the top where the ticketing booths are located.  There were also some ticket machines, but the booths operated by people seemed to be faster. We got our tickets and then headed out to the train headed for Sintra, Portugal. It was already waiting on the platform. (They have regular departures, so no need to reserve in advance.) Also if you happen to have the Lisboa Card, I believe this train’s fare is included with that card.

Arriving in Sintra, Portugal

The train to Sintra takes about 40 minutes from Rossio station.  When you arrive you will exit the train station and turn right. Pass all the tuk-tuks and walk over to the buses to find Bus 434.  We spent 6.40€ to ride the bus 434 loop that will take you to the Palace of Pena, stopping at the Moorish castle and making a loop back down to let you off by the National Palace of Sintra before returning you to the train station.  It was the best money we spent! Sintra is hilly! And the Palace of Pena is way too far to walk to from town for our day trip.

Originally I had planned on visiting the National Palace of Sintra first, but the bus took us straight up to the Moorish Castle and then to the Palace of Pena. However, it worked out as I learned that getting to the Palace of Pena earlier is really the way to go. There were a lot fewer crowds and the weather was better earlier in the day.

Sintra town square with monument

Purchasing Tickets:

The bus drops you off by the ticket offices which are located about a 10-minute walk below the Palace of Pena. We purchased a combo ticket that included both the Palace of Pena as well as the Palace of Sintra.

Alongside the ticket office, you can choose to pay a tuk-tuk, take a shuttle or walk the remaining way up to the Palace of Pena.  We chose to walk and although it is uphill, it was a very scenic walk thru the trees.  If you are in decent shape and the weather is good, I would recommend it. It took us about 10 minutes to walk up to the palace.

Palace of Pena

The Palace of Pena is unlike any other palace we had visited before. This one is so playfully designed and so colorful it is really something special!

Palace of Pena in Sintra, Portugal

For me, it was definitely worth the day trip to Sintra.  However had the weather been really awful and rainy, I probably would not have gone.  There is a considerable amount of outdoor walking and viewing involved in appreciating this castle.  You also get to tour the inside, but the outside is really what most people come to see.

Archway entrance to the Palace of Pena

On the backside of the palace, you’ll find the below chapel.

Palace of Pena Chapel

This is the palace chapel found on the rear side of the Palace of Pena.

There is also a pathway that circles behind the chapel and leads you along the palace walls.  You can walk all the way around the palace along the wall and catch wonderful views of the Moorish Castle as well as the town of Sintra.

Moorish castle from palace of pena

Views of the Moorish Castle from the Palace of Pena walls

We walked back down the hill from the palace to the bus stop. We caught the next bus (keep your ticket handy to show the driver) and were off to see the Palace of Sintra.

Snack Break

We got off the bus and decided to take a snack break before heading to the National Palace of Sintra.  So we stopped at Piriquita, a bakery that was recommended on the Netflix show Somebody Feed Phil.  They have a local style pasteis that are a little different than the kind we ate in Lisbon (click here to read more on that). They were good, but honestly, they don’t hold a candle to Pasteis de Belem.

We tried both the version that was unique to Sintra as well as the regular Portuguese pasteis. They are served cold – which makes a difference, the one that is long and has a flaky sugar-coated crust was pretty good, it sort of reminded me of a strudel.

Pasteis de nata and pastries in Sintra Portugal

Sintra National Palace

The Palace of Sintra is unique in its own right.  It has two cone-shaped chimneys and a big open square out front with views of the city below.

Palace of Sintra with two distinct cone shaped chimneys

Notice the unique cone-shaped chimneys.

We timed our visit just right as we pretty much had the palace to ourselves. Which was very apparent when I would attempt to walk across the floors and my shoes would squeak, squeak, squeak with every step.  It was really funny and annoying at the same time.

Wooden desk with tiled fireplace

The Sintra National Palace has rooms with unique ceilings and wood furniture, walls with beautiful tiling, an enormous Murano glass chandelier, a garden, it’s own chapel and much more.

Blue & White Tiled Walls

I know most people will probably come to Sintra to see the Palace of Pena, but I highly recommend also visiting the National Palace of Sintra.

Murano glass chandelier at Palace of Sintra

Afterward, we left the palace and walked back down the street to where the bus had let us off before and got on the next bus (showing our receipt again) that soon dropped us off at the train station.

Back in Lisbon

We ended our last night in Lisbon doing laundry.  Yeah I know, real glamorous, but you have to do it sometime!  Also, a laundromat is a great place to meet people. We met a Brazilian man who was in Lisbon studying to get his Master’s degree.  It was great learning about his perspective on living in both Lisbon and in Brazil.

For more on how we spent our first two days in Lisbon read about it here on Things to Do in Lisbon. And if you’re looking for a great place for dinner in Lisbon check out my experience at Cantinho Lusitano.

Useful Info:

  • Rossio Train Station & Oriente Tran Station are the two main train stations for getting to Sintra from Lisbon.  Check out their timetables here.
  • Bus 434 in Sintra will take you on a loop starting at the train station going to the Moorish Castle, Palace of Pena, National Palace of Sintra and back to the train station.
  • Uber in Lisbon is very affordable, you can check out Uber fares.

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