Sintra: Portugal’s Neverland
Sintra, only a couple of hours from Lisbon, makes for a magical getaway. For centuries, the royals and the rich made Sintra their playground. And you can still see it today! You will find whimsical castles, ancient moorish ruins, and everything in between.
Take a day trip to Sintra
If you only have the one day for Sintra, here is what you can do. First, head to the Pena Palace and the Pena Park. This is the famous Disney-like yellow and red castle, and the most iconic attraction in Sintra. Combine the Palace with the 10th-century Moorish Castle and Quinta da Regaleira.
Most people visit Sintra on a short day trip from Lisbon. It’s extremely easy and cheap to access by train, so hundreds of tourists arrive every day. The downside? You just won’t see enough of Sintra.
Or make it a few nights
If you have the extra time, then absolutely stay a few days in Sintra! Pena Palace, the Moorish Castle and Quinta da Regaleira are no doubt spectacular. Yet, there is so much more to see and do in the area.
At a slower pace, you can also stroll through Sintra’s old town and see the Palacio de Sintra. From the old town, there is an awesome hiking path to the Pena Palace and the Moorish Castle.
See the stunning moorish mosaics at Palacio de Monserrate and its gardens. Visit the Capuchos Convent, Vila Sassetti, and the Santuario da Peninha, among other attractions. Plus, you can even stay at a palace, since the Palacio de Seteais was converted into a hotel.
Don’t miss the beaches and the wine
Did you know that architecture is not the only attraction in Sintra? Set amongst lush forests, Sintra is actually close to some wonderful beaches. This setting has also allowed for the production of very unique wines.
The local wines are grown in sand near the Atlantic Ocean. While a phylloxera plague destroyed many vineyards across Europe in the 1900s, Sintra’s survived. So after a day of exploring, unwind with these unique flavoured wines!
When to visit: Any time of year! Mild winters make Sintra the perfect getaway from the cold, while summers are nice for the beach, despite the crowds.
Get in: Most people arrive in Sintra from Lisbon. You simply need to take a train from Rossio station. It takes under an hour and costs only about 5 euros for the return trip. You can also drive, but be prepared for a bit of traffic. However, the advantage is that you’ll be able to explore the region with your own vehicle.
Stay: The old town offers a variety of lovely hotels. Make sure to book in advance as they do fill up, especially in high season. And of course, you can stay at the Seteais Palace, budget permitting.