Sintra is known as the most romantic city in Portugal, and it does not disappoint. If you are in Lisbon, you must come here! It is full of palaces and castles nestled in the trees. You can easily spend the whole day exploring this fairy tale town. This post is a guide how to spend a day in Sintra, including a visit to Quinta da Regaleira and Pena Palace.
Getting to Sintra
Sintra is a 45-minute train ride from Lisbon. It is the last stop on the line, so you don’t have to worry about where to get off. When we got off the train in Sintra, we followed the crowd of people into the city centre and were soon amazed at how beautiful it was. Sintra is so lush with all its trees and greenery and mountains.
We walked around a bit and took in some of the scenery, but we were starving, so we stopped for pizza at Paco Real. It was right on the main road and was probably geared for tourists, because it was quite overpriced in my opinion. Nonetheless, we were fueled up and ready to explore!
If I had to describe Sintra in three words, I would say: colourful, beautiful and lively. Walking around the tiny streets and going into shops was a lot of fun. Plus, how can you not be happy when there are colourful garland strands hanging above you everywhere you go?!
Quinta da Regaleira
The first attraction we went to was Quinta da Regaleira, which is a World Heritage Site. Not only is it a gorgeous castle, it also has some of the most impressive grounds and gardens. Such a magical place!
Pena Palace is also a World Heritage Site, but it is much different than Quinta da Regaleira, which I would consider more of a traditional castle. Pena Palace is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It is so colourful and so grand. It sits high in the Sintra Mountains, overlooking the whole region.
The day we were there it was so foggy we could barely see the trees around us, so we didn’t get to see the incredible view, but it was still a really cool experience. Like Quinta da Regaleira, Pena Palace also has a huge property you can explore, but by this point we were pretty exhausted, so we stuck mainly around the palace itself.
Getting to and from Pena Palace
We did not want to walk an hour up a steep mountain to get to Pena Palace, so we ordered an Uber. Best. Decision. Ever. The Uber cost €4 and took 15 minutes. Meanwhile, on the drive up, we saw dozens of people walking up the mountain, which is a very narrow, winding road, and looked quite unsafe to walk on. There is also a bus that takes people up there (and back down) if you wanted to look into that option.
We couldn’t get an Uber to take us back down from Pena Palace, and we didn’t want to wait for the bus, but we also didn’t want to walk down the road we drove up. The woman working at the gate of the palace told us we could walk to the Moorish Castle (Castelo dos Mouros), then take a short cut via a path down the mountain.
We walked a few minutes down the road, and right past the ticket office for the Moorish Castle is an entrance to a path in the forest. It took about 50 minutes to get down, so I wouldn’t necessarily call it a short cut, but it was definitely a much safer and much more enjoyable walk than going down the windy road. I would recommend getting a taxi or an Uber or some other form of transportation up the mountain though, because it’s pretty steep.
By the time we got back to the town centre, we were STARVING! #hangry. We didn’t want to make a rash decision with dinner like we did with lunch, so we stopped at Ale-Hop and got an espresso for the hubs and a pastel de nata to share. Best decision ever. I don’t know about you, but I cannot make a decision on an empty stomach.
For dinner, we went to Restaurante Matamorphosis. The food was amazing, the people were nice, but the service was so slow. I recommend it for the food, but not if you’re in a rush or expecting to be fed within a reasonable amount of time.
Back to Lisbon
Finally it was time to get back on the train and head back to Lisbon. We spent about 9 hours in Sintra, and we had such a good time! It was the perfect day-trip from Lisbon, and I highly recommend checking it out.
Planning a trip to Portugal soon, or just have a serious case of wanderlust? Save this post for later!