People are always asking me what they need to see in Portugal when they visit for a couple of days. There is way too much to see in a short amount of time, so I always find it hard to answer that question. But if you’re staying in Lisbon for 4 or 5 days, there are some day trips you can take that are worth the visit. Sintra is one of them!
Since I was pressed for time, I could only stop by one of the many beautiful spots in Sintra. Because of how magical the palace looked, I decided to see Pena Palace and I’m so glad I did!
In this blog post I’m going to be talking about Sintra, specifically Pena Palace or Palácio da Pena in Portuguese. Of course if you have the time, there is more to see than just Pena Palace. Below I’ve listed some of the places that I think are worth a visit in the city of Sintra:
Quinta da Regaleira
Cabo da Roca
Castle of the Moors
Park and Palace of Monserrate
Palace of Sintra
Palácio Nacional e Jardins de Queluz
Convento Dos Capuchos
Click here to find other attractions in Sintra!
This romantic palace is one of the 7 wonders in Portugal and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the middle ages, it was a monastery constituting a chapel in it. After being affected by a natural disaster, it was reconstructed by King Ferdinand in 1847. The Islamic and Medieval touches, the vault arches, and the elaborate window in the exterior, were all suggested by the King himself. Built by German architect Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Schewge, the palace displays a blend of Neo-Gothic, Neo Islamic, Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Manueline architectural styles.
The interior of the palace is decorated with tiles displaying amazing stucco sand painted walls. The palace was eventually purchased by Portuguese State in 1889, and after the Republican Revolution in 1910, it was declared as a national monument and turned into a museum.
How to get there
If you’re going from Lisbon, you can take a train which takes 40 minutes to get to Sintra and the round trip ticket costs less than 5€. When you step out of the train station in Sintra, tuk tuk tours and guided tours are all out there waiting for you to book with them. But if you want to visit Sintra independently, there are two sensible ways to get there: by walking, or by taking the 434 bus which stops right outside Sintra train station and will take you to both the Moors Castle and Pena Palace. I highly recommend taking the bus, as the walk can be tough under the hot sun and going up such a steep hill could just ruin your day.
Of course if you’re taking a car, you’re most likely using your GPS like we did. But our GPS wasn’t exactly showing us where the beginning of the hill was. So you need to follow signs to the town centre and once you’re there, follow the Palácio da Pena signs. If you don’t see them right away, ask a friendly local. Even just saying Palácio da Pena should be enough for them to point out the right direction. Once you’ve made your way up the hill, there are some parking lots. If you go in the summer time, go early otherwise those lots will be full and you might need to find another way up like a tuk tuk or the 434 bus. When you get to the main gates to the palace, you can either get into the line to purchase your tickets or you can go straight to the gate where you can show your pre purchased ticket (I mention this in my tips later). Once you’re past the gate, you can choose to take a small shuttle to the palace or you can take a 10 minute walk up. It’s not too steep and it’s a beautiful walk so if you’re able to, walk and wear comfortable shoes!
Adult PARK entry = 7,5€
With this pass you can visit the park and the outside of the palace grounds including the inside of the chapel.
Adult PARK & PALACE entry = 14€
With this pass you can visit the park and all areas of the palace grounds.
Hours of operation
Until 03/23/2019: 10:00-18:00, last ticket and last admission 17:00
After 03/23/2019: 09:30-20:00, last ticket and last admission 19:00
Palace Until 03/23/2019: 10:00-18:00, last ticket 17:00, last admission 17:30
After 03/23/2019: 09:30-19:00, last ticket 18:15 and last admission 18:30
Get there before it closes
My advice for someone who wants to take incredible photos for the gram is to arrive later on in the day. Unfortunately the park opens at 9:30am/10am depending on the time of year, which to me is late. It’s late for people who are used to waking up early and head to a location for their photo with nobody in them. When we showed up at 11am, there was already a long line to purchase tickets and it was January. So in this case, you’re going to want to get there at least a couple hours before it closes. That way you have enough time to actually enjoy yourself and explore first and then get those shots once people start to leave. Plus sunsets pictures at this beautiful palace are stunning.
Purchase tickets ahead of time
Buying your tickets online will help you for two reasons.
You get a 5% discount.
You won’t need to wait in the lineup and waste your time.
Click here to buy your tickets online!
I hope this has given you some helpful information and maybe an added spot on your Portugal itinerary. Oh yes, don’t forget to give Sintra’s famous queijadas (cheese pastries) a try. Delicious!
There are so many beautiful things to see, so try and make your trip to Portugal as long as possible. If you have been to Sintra, what was your favourite place to visit? Did you go to Pena Palace? Let me know how you liked it in the comments down below!