If you’re planning a trip to Portugal, Sintra is a must-see destination. Located just outside Lisbon, this enchanting town is home to several historical landmarks, fairy-tale castles, and lush greenery that will transport you to another world. With so many attractions to choose from, it can be challenging to plan your itinerary, especially if you only have one day to explore. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on what to see in Sintra in one day.
Getting to Sintra
Before we dive into the attractions, let’s talk about how to get to Sintra. The easiest way is to take the train from Lisbon’s Rossio station, which runs every 20 minutes and takes approximately 40 minutes. Once you arrive at Sintra station, you can take a bus, tuk-tuk, or walk to the town center, where most of the attractions are located.
No visit to Sintra is complete without a visit to the iconic Pena Palace. This colorful castle perched on a hilltop is a prime example of Romantic architecture and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. We recommend arriving early to beat the crowds and taking the shuttle bus to the top of the hill. Make sure to explore the palace’s different rooms, gardens, and terraces, each with its unique charm. Palácio da Pena official website
Castle of the Moors
After visiting the Pena Palace, head over to the Castle of the Moors, another medieval fortress that offers panoramic views of the region. The castle dates back to the 9th century and served as a strategic point for defending Lisbon during the Muslim occupation. Take your time to walk along the castle’s walls and towers, and admire the stunning scenery below.
Sintra National Palace
If you still have time in the morning, visit the Sintra National Palace, located in the town center. This former royal palace has a blend of Gothic, Manueline, and Mudéjar styles and is home to several noteworthy features, such as the Swan Room and the Magpie Room. The palace also hosts temporary exhibitions and events throughout the year, so check ahead for any ongoing shows.
Quinta da Regaleira
After a busy morning, take a break and enjoy lunch at one of Sintra’s local eateries. Then, head over to Quinta da Regaleira, a magical estate that feels straight out of a fairy tale. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts several gardens, grottoes, and lakes, all designed to evoke a sense of mystery and symbolism. Make sure to explore the Initiation Well, a spiral staircase that leads down to an underground chamber, and the chapel, decorated with esoteric symbols. Quinta da Regaleira official website
Another gem of Sintra is the Monserrate Palace, a 19th-century mansion that blends various architectural styles, including Gothic, Indian, and Moorish. The palace is surrounded by a lush park and gardens, home to exotic plants and trees from around the world. Take a guided tour of the palace’s different rooms, such as the music room and the dining room, and stroll along the various trails in the park.
Cabo da Roca
If you have some time left before sunset, we recommend taking a detour to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of mainland Europe. This dramatic cliff offers spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and is an ideal spot for taking photos. Cabo da Roca official website
As the day draws to a close, head back to Sintra’s historic center and explore the charming streets and alleys. There are plenty of cafes, restaurants, and shops to discover, so take your time to soak up the local atmosphere. We recommend visiting the Santa Maria Church and the Toy Museum, both located in the town center.
If you’re in the mood for some nightlife, Sintra has plenty of options to choose from. You can enjoy a drink at one of the many bars or nightclubs in the town center, or head back to Lisbon for a more extensive selection of venues.
Sintra is undoubtedly one of Portugal’s most beautiful and enchanting destinations, and one day is not enough to see everything it has to offer fully. However, with this comprehensive guide, you can make the most of your time and visit the town’s top attractions. Remember to wear comfortable shoes, bring a water bottle, and take plenty of photos along the way.
What is the best time to visit Sintra?
The best time to visit Sintra is during the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) when the weather is mild, and the crowds are thinner. Summer can be quite hot and crowded, while winter can be rainy and cold.
How much time do I need to visit each attraction?
Plan to spend at least 2-3 hours at each attraction, including transportation time. Keep in mind that some places may have long lines, especially during peak season.
Can I visit all the attractions in one day?
While it’s possible to visit all the attractions listed in one day, we recommend prioritizing your top picks and spending more time at those places. Consider booking tickets in advance to skip the lines and save time.
Is it easy to get around Sintra?
Yes, Sintra is a compact town, and most of the attractions are located within walking distance from the town center. You can also take a bus, tuk-tuk, or taxi to get around.
What should I wear when visiting Sintra?
Wear comfortable shoes and clothing suitable for the weather. Bring a light jacket or sweater, even in the summer, as some places can be cooler due to the altitude.