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Sintra Castle

Farah's Guide to Visiting Portugal's Magical Town of Sintra

Our importer team at Farah Trading Co first visited Sintra in 2008, when we were fist scoping out the Colares region for its wine. We were stunned! There’s something magical about Portugal's magical town Sintra, with its medieval castle, underground tunnels, and fairytale-like palaces nestled amid the mountains.

Sintra is only 40 minutes away from Lisbon, yet it feels worlds apart from the Portuguese capital. We often get asked about visiting Sintra, which is why we created this guide to help you plan your trip. 

Sintra Castel
The Moorish Castle

What to do in Sintra

Tour Sintra's old town

Take your time walking through the winding cobblestone streets and admiring the picturesque buildings in the old town.

Old Town Sintra

Old Town Sintra

Sample Sintra's local Portuguese pastries

Head over to Piriquita to sample the traditional local sweets. Try the travesseiros, a puff pastry stuffed with an almond filling, or the queijadas, a little cheese tart.

Visit Sintra's monuments

Sintra is full of historical monuments that deserve a visit. The most iconic attraction here is the Palácio da Pena, a romantic palace that draws visitors with its stunning pastel-colored walls. It’s worth exploring the surrounding gardens and stopping to capture the Chalet of the Countess of Edla.

Nearby is the Castelo dos Mouros, an ancient Moorish castle overlooking the mountains and the coast.In the town center, you can visit Palácio de Sintra, a former royal palace that stands out with its twin white chimneys. From here, you can walk to the Quinta da Regaleira.

This enigmatic park is famous for its underground tunnels and an initiation well with a striking spiral staircase. Other lesser known sights include the Palácio de Monserrate, the Miradouro da Vigia and Convento dos Capuchos in nearby Colares. 

Sintra Castel

Sintra lunch break

When you get tired of sightseeing, you can stop for a meal at one of the local restaurants. We recommend Tira Tapas or Cantinho do Picadeiro.

Go hiking in Sintra

Sintra is part of a protected natural park home to several hiking trails. You can try the Peninha trail, which starts at the top of the Peninha sanctuary. Alternatively, you can venture down the coast by following part of the Atlantic path.

Sintra

Fabulous hiking paths await

Explore Sintra's coast

It’s worth exploring some of Sintra’s coastal towns and beaches, especially if you’re visiting in the summer. Some of our favorite spots include Azenhas do Mar, Praia da Adraga and Praia da Ursa.

Join a wine tasting near Sintra

If you read our Lisbon day trips article, you know that we love to combine our tours with a wine tasting. You can sample delicious local wines at the historic Adega Viúva Gomes in nearby Colares (one of our favorite wine regions!).

Wine Tasting

 Adega Viuva Gomes 

How much time should you spend on a day trip to Sintra?

You should dedicate a whole day to visiting Sintra to cover the main sights. If you have a car, you can be a bit more selective and combine your monuments tour with a visit to the coast or the nearby vineyards. 

How to get from Lisbon to Sintra

There are several ways to get from Lisbon to Sintra. The easiest way is to get the train from the Rossio station, which takes about 40 minutes. You can also get a taxi, which is usually quite pricey or drive yourself. Just keep in mind that it will be hard to park.

How to get around Sintra

  • On foot: It’s possible to explore most of the area on foot. However, there are a few steep hills, especially from the center to Palácio da Pena.
  • By car: You can rent a car and go at your own pace (parking is limited) or use transportation apps like Uber or Bolt to reach sights further away. 
  • By bus: Bus 434 and 435 take you from the Sintra train station to some of the town’s main attractions.

Sintra

Peak hours in Sintra can make for crowds

Things to know before visiting Sintra

  • To avoid the crowds, head to Sintra as early as you can. Peak visiting hours are usually from 11 am to 3 pm.
  • If you know what you want to visit in advance, you can buy tickets for most attractions online through the Parques de Sintra website. For Quinta da Regaleira, you have to get it here.
  • Bring comfortable shoes and a bottle of water, especially if you're planning to hike.
  • Avoid visiting on weekends as that's when most tourists and locals come in.
  • The weather in Sintra is usually a bit cooler than in Lisbon. Bring a few layers if you’re coming in fall or winter.

Where to spend the night in Sintra

If you decide to spend the night in Sintra, you can either stay within the center or book a hotel in the nearby coastal areas, like Cascais or Ericeira. Sintra Inn provides information about accommodation in the district.

Don’t miss our post on top things to do in Lisbon to see what else you should visit while you’re in town as well as our Lisbon beach guide which offers insights on a few incredible beaches right outside of Sintra!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joana Taborda

Hi! My name is Joana, I am a travel writer from Portugal, based between Lisbon and Madeira Island. I love hopping on a train to little-known towns and drinking the local craft beer wherever I gets off!

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