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Things to See and Do in Sintra Portugal

Book A Guided Walking Tour

How to Get Here

  • Trains from Rossio Station (40 min) trains depart every 10-20 min
    • Another station - Estação do Oriente
  • Accompany Take Lisboa (9:40 am departure from Rossio Thur, Sat-Mon)
  • Leave early (trains start just before 6 am - I think)
  • Guided Tours from Lisbon
    • On bus
    • Usually include skip-the-line tickets to several attractions

Plan Your Visit

  • Stay here if you can.
  • Simply can’t do everything.
  • CitySightseeing has 2 routes (map)
    • The blue route is the same as 434 bus
    • The red route has all the stops of 435 bus + a few extra.
    • All lines can be caught outside of the main Sintra train station
  • 434 and 435 split off at the National Palace
  • Take Lisboa’s Tour is 2 hours 30 min long
    • Doesn’t enter any of the buildings
    • Covers the city center and two nearby palaces
    • Stops 2-8 on the map is essentially their tour.
  • 20 min walk from the train station to city centre and 45 min uphill climb from city center to Pena and/or Moors Castle
  • 2-3 hours to explore Moors Castle and Pena
    • can easily spend all day if you take in the surrounding park, the cross, Chalet of the Countess of Edla

Fast Track Tickets

It may be helpful to buy tickets ahead of time for a few of the busier sites. Lines to enter can be quite long, especially in the high season and on weekends, and these tickets can save you up to a few hours.

After buying the ticket you will get a barcode that you are able to scan for entrance.


Sintra Train Station

Dating from 1887, this charming railway station a short walk from the center of town sees trains coming in from Lisbon every 15 minutes on weekdays and 30 minutes on weekends.

Note the orange brick, terracotta roof, and Portuguese tile facade on this easy to navigate station.

Just outside are local buses as well as a Hop On Hop Off option.


Câmara Municipal de Sintra (Sintra Town Hall)

What looks to be a small castle close to Sintra’s train station, with its many spires and neo gothic exterior, is actually the city’s town hall.

It was completed in 1910 and has since then inspired a “wow!” response due to it’s decorative tower, ornate turrets, and Neo-Manueline windows. Although one can’t tour inside, at times it’s allowed to visit the foyer.


Fábrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa

Just past the town hall, this bakery has been famous as the provider of sweets to the Spanish royal family since 1756.

They are most known for their Queijadas, lightly-sweet cinnamon-tasting cupcake-like cheese pastries.

They also serve almond tarts, coconut tarts, bean tarts, meat tarts, scones, savory items and other delicious treats along with coffee. There is a small tea room inside and seating outdoors on the sidewalk.


Moorish Fountain (Fonte Mourisca)

Found on the road between the train station and National Palace, is this ornate Azulejos-tiled Arabic-influenced fountain.

It was sculpted in 1922 by Jose da Fonseca, the master sculpture of Sintra.


Palácio Nacional de Sintra

Also known as Palacios de Vila, this UNESCO World Heritage site is the former home of Portuguese royalty. Royal families were in residence for almost 500 years, though it was Moorish rulers who laid the foundation over 1000 years ago.

One finds the Moorish influence in the style and decor, through its arched windows and tiled floors, along with a blend of Renaissance and Gothic architecture. It is truly one of the best-preserved medieval palaces in the country and well worth a visit.


Igreja de S. Martinho (St. Martin’s Church)

The church originally built on this site in the 12th century, erected by King Afonso Henriques, did not survive the great earthquake of 1755.

The replacement is what you see today, a rather plain church on the outside, with a Romanesque and Gothic styled interior.There is a small museum, and a bell tower that can be visited with a guide.


Quinta da Regaleira

This castle was built as the summer residence of Dona Ermelinda, first Viscountess of Regaleira. She and an Italian architect designed the castle in the 1900s, blending Italian Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Gothic design together. 

On the almost 10 acre grounds are a large romantic garden, secret passages, hidden caves, a chapel, a well with a spiral staircase wrapping it, qgargoyles, grottos, waterfalls, towers, art nouveau design, hidden masonic and Templar symbolism, and more. It is a gem of creativity and mysteriousness.

Hours:

  • April 1-September 30 - Monday-Friday - 9:30 - 20:00 (8:00 PM)  
  • October 1 - March 31 - Monday-Friday - 9:30 - 17:00 (5:00 PM)
  • Closed December 24, 25 and January 1

Tickets:

  • Free           child (0-5)
  • €5.00         child (6-17)
  • €10.00       adult (18-64)
  • €5.00         senior (65-79)
  • Free           senior+ (80 and older)

20% off with the Lisboa card.

Guided Tours:

  • Free           child (0-5)
  • €8.00         child (6-17)
  • €15.00       adult (18-64)
  • €8.00         senior (65-79)
  • Free           senior+ (80 and older)

20% off with the Lisboa card.


Vila Sassetti

Vila Sassetti is a 19th century Lombard style villa, one recently restored to its former glory. Most folks discover it while walking the hillside footpath, situated between Moorish Castle and the historic city centre.

It is a good place to stop and rest. While the grounds are small, the garden is beautiful and the view of Sintra is stunning.

Hours:

  • High season 10:00-18:00 (6:00 PM)
  • Low season 9:00 - 17:00 (5:00 PM)

Tickets:

  • Free to walk the gardens

Park and National Palace of Pena

This red, yellow and stone palace with towers and turrets sits atop a hill in Sintra.

It was built to be visible from any point in the surrounding parklands and is a fine example of 19th-century Romantic architecture, with influences both Manueline and Moorish.

Built around the ruins of a 16th-century monastery, it was originally meant to be a summer residence for the royal family.

Inside one finds a cloister, marble alcoves, carved wooden windows, Moorish servant statues, a stag room, kitchens and family quarters, a clock tower, and more.

These stand surrounded by vast grounds with winding paths, a chapel, grottos, fountains, many types of flowers and trees, and again stunning views of Sintra.

It is one of the busiest tourist sites in Portugal so be prepared for lines. Buy tickets ahead of time if possible. Restoration is ongoing so access to some areas can be limited at times.

 Hours:

  • Park -  daily - 10:00 - 18:00 (6:00 PM)
  • Last ticket and admission 17:00 (5:00 PM)
  • Palace - daily - 10:00 - 19:00 (6:00 PM)
  • Last ticket 17:00 (5:00 PM)
  • Last admission 17:30 (5:30 PM)
  • Closed December 25 and January 1

Tickets - Park and Palace

  • Free           child (0-5)
  • €9.00         child (6-17)
  • €11.50       adult (18-64)
  • €9.00         senior (65 and over)
  • €39.00       2 adults + 2 youth       

Tickets - Park Only

  • Free           child (0-5)
  • €6.00         child(6-17)
  • €7.50         adult (18-64)
  • €6.00         senior (65 and over)
  • €26.00       2 adults + 2 youth

To benefit from a reduction on your visit to several sites, you can buy combined tickets for several sites.


Cruz Alta (High Cross)

This cross, designed to look at an entanglement of tree trunks, was placed at the highest point of the Sintra Mountain Range within Pena Park.

While not the original which was placed on the same spot in 1522, it has become part of a line of replacement crosses marking the best spot to view the surrounding area. 

A hike to this point leads to scenic and panoramic views of Sintra, the Atlantic Ocean, the Serra Mountains, and lush vegetation.

See above for the hours and the cost of tickets to the park.


Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors)

The ruins of Castelo dos Mouros sit atop of steep Serra de Sintra, near Pena Palace. 

As one can imagine, this was the best location for the Moors invaders to build an 8th century fortiment due to the views of the water and city.

Over the years the castle saw a sacking by crusaders, neglect by royals, a fire, and an earthquake, and some restoration in the 1800s.

Here you can hike stairs to turrets and ramparts and walk the walls of the castle. Of course, the view is stunning.  

Hours:

  • March 28-October 30 - daily - 9:30 - 20:00 (8:00 PM)
  • November 1-March 27 - daily - 10:00  - 18:00 (6:00 PM)
  • Last admission is one hour before closing

Tickets can be purchased at the entrance:

  • Free            child (0-5)
  • €6.50          child(6-17)
  • €8.00         adult (18-64)
  • €6.50          senior (65 and over)
  • €26.00       2 adults + 2 youth

About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: August 21st, 2022
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