Sintra is a popular day trip from Lisbon and is known for its picturesque buildings and royal history. There are many private tour options that include round-trip transportation from Lisbon and there is also a train that runs to Sintra from Lisbon throughout the day. The train is included with the purchase of the Lisboa Card and the Lisboa Card offers discounts at several of Sintra’s monuments. Like many tourist destinations, Sintra gets busy during the day so it is important to get there early to avoid crowds. We decided to take an early train from Lisbon to Sintra. We used Bolt (Portugal’s version of Uber) to get around town.
Pena Palace is probably the most popular attraction in Sintra. As soon as we had our itinerary nailed down, I bought my tickets to Pena Palace online so I could get the earliest entry time and beat the crowds. For less than 3€ a person, I added a transfer from the gate to the palace to avoid a 30-minute uphill hike first thing in the morning. Lisboa Card offers a discount for entry to Pena Palace. I really enjoyed the view of the Palace from the terraces and exploring the surrounding Pena Park. If you are interested in historic furnishings and royal history, you may have appreciated the interior more than I did.
Pena Palace started out as a monastery but was severely damaged by lightning and then destroyed during the Lisbon Earthquake in 1755. In 1838, King Consort Ferdinand II set out to acquire the old monastery and other nearby estates and turn it into a summer home for the royal family. Construction of the palace was completed in 1854 in the Romantic style and it includes Medieval and Islamic elements. The Portuguese State purchased the palace in the late 1880’s and it was converted into a museum. In 1995 the Palace and the Cultural Landscape of Sintra was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From Pena Palace, we took another Bolt to Quinta de Regaleira. We did not pre-purchase tickets to the Quinta, but the line was short by the time we arrived and we were able to use our Lisboa Card for a discount. Quinta de Regaleira is famous for its Initiation Well (left). The Initiation Well is mysterious because it is a circular stairwell into the ground with no known purpose. It is recommended that if you want to walk down the Initiation Well you get there early because a line forms later in the day. We arrived around noon and had to wait a bit but it was worth it.
Quinta de Regaleira sits on more than nine acres so there is a lot to explore besides the Initiation Well. There are towers near the entrance that can be climbed, and a small chapel that be visited. Parts of the Romantic, five-floor Palace known as “The Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire” can be toured (below).
After we got our fill of Quinta de Regaleira we found a little cafe for a late lunch before exploring some of the shops in Sintra. Then, we did the downhill walk to the train station for our return to Lisbon. There were so many more monuments we didn’t have time to explore. I really wished we had stayed one night in Sintra to really get a feel for the place when all the day visitors leave. As I always say, I guess we will have to go back another time!
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check back next week as we take the train from Lisbon to Porto! To read more about this trip, check out Cruising the Atlantic to Portugal and Spain trip report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.