Anyone who visits Sintra agrees that it isn’t a common place. If you ask why, they’ll say ‘Because there’s something different about it, something magical.’ In fact, there is. There are stories written and heard about it, stories of love and ghosts, of violence and redemption. It is a place as inspiring as it is beautiful.
It is deeply loved by the Portuguese people and cherished by those who visit it. Its outstanding beauty seems to have come from the heavens and no one can be indifferent to it. Sintra is incomparable to any other place but it will remind you of scenarios you’ve seen in movies or magic places you’ve imagined as a child when you were reading fairy tales. Because it’s very close to the center of Lisbon, Sintra is usually visited by day-trippers who are staying in the capital.
However, it’s very difficult to see everything in Sintra in just one day, as it is full of amazing places that deserve your time to be fully appreciated. That’s why we’ve made a top 10 of the best things to do in Sintra to make sure you do everything that you should definitely do during your visit. Ready?
1. Visit the stunning Park and National Palace of Pena
The National Palace of Pena is set on top of one of the highest points in Sintra and is located in the eastern part of the Park of Pena, which you have to cross in order to reach it. The palace is one of the most famous attractions in the country and is a symbol of the Romantic architecture, with its painted terraces, decorative battlements, and mythological statues. The inside of the palace is as beautiful as the outside and it is imperative that you visit it. It can get very crowded, especially during the summer, but this is the place you can’t miss when visiting Sintra.
Park and National Palace of Pena
Address: Estrada da Pena, 2710-609 Sintra, Portugal
Website: Park and National Palace of Pena
Opening Times: Park: 9:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Palace: 9:45 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Prices: from 17 USD (14 EUR)
2. Follow the footpath through Vila Sassetti
The Villa Sassetti Footpath will take you to the National Palace of Pena and the Moorish Castle from the historical center of Sintra. You’ll love every step of the way; this footpath has a unique design that will make you forget you’re climbing a hill with its amazing landscape and gardens. There are restrooms and a snack bar along the way and it’s definitely the best path you should take in order to get to the palace.
Vila Sassetti Footpath
Address: Estrada da Pena 12, Sintra, Portugal
Website: Vila Sassetti Footpath
3. Find Vale dos Lagos at Palace of Pena
If you’re traveling with your other half, you have to find this place. Vale dos Lagos will take you right into a fairyland covered in green from top to bottom. It is a quiet romantic place that will make you feel as though you are dreaming. You’ll have to walk about half an hour from the palace in order to find it and when you get there, you’ll be transported to a green paradise you will never want to leave.
Vale dos Lagos
Address: Estrada da Pena, 2710-609 Sintra, Portugal
Website: Vale dos Lagos
4. Lose yourself in Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira is a 20th-century residence that is loved by everyone who visits it. Its Gothic architecture is incredible but what really makes it special are its wonderful gardens. These gardens were designed to represent ancient secret orders, with hidden tunnels, lakes, statues and even caves.
This place is full of stories and it looks like it has preserved its magic throughout the decades, regardless of the hundreds of people who visit it. You may recognize The Initiation Well, a series of spiral tunnels resembling a labyrinth and something taken from a fantasy novel, which is one of the most famous areas in Quinta da Regaleira. This is one of those places you’ll never forget, no matter how many years pass.
Quinta da Regaleira
Address: Rua Barbosa do Bocage 5, 2710-567 Sintra, Portugal
Website: Quinta da Regaleira
Opening times: Monday - Sunday: 9:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.
5. Watch the most beautiful sunset from Castle of the Moors
The Castle of the Moors (or Moorish Castle, not to be confused with the one in Gibraltar) is what’s left of the 9th-century fortress built by the North African Moors to protect the town of Sintra. After the Christian conquest of Portugal, the castle fell into ruins but was restored 10 centuries later and is still standing tall within the beautiful forests of the Serra da Sintra. The Castle of the Moors is one of the major attractions of the gardens of the Pena Palace, offering fantastic views of the region. Make sure you visit it at sunset and you’ll get to see the day turning to night over Sintra from a spectacular standing point.
Castle of the Moors
Address: 2710 Sintra, Portugal
Website: Castle of the Moors
Opening Times: Monday-Sunday: 9:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Prices: from 9.50 USD (8 EUR)
6. Wander around Monserrate Palace
Monserrate Palace is another Portuguese architectural gem and symbol of the Romantic style. The palace is a clear combination of Gothic and Indian influences, which stretch onto its lush gardens. The gardens feature plants from all over the world, which make them one of the richest Portuguese botanical gardens. This exuberant place will daze you with its beauty and will make you want to come back time and time again.
Address: 2710-405 Sintra, Portugal
Website: Monserrate Palace
Opening Times: Park: 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Palace: 9:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Prices: 9.50 USD (8 EUR)
7. Discover Praia da Ursa
Put your most comfortable shoes on and prepare yourself for a good hike to reach one of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal – and perhaps the world. Although it’s not easily accessed, this beach will present you with outstanding natural beauty that you will want to remember forever. This is one of those places you’ll never see if you don’t make an effort and it is also one of those places that will remind you why you are so lucky to be alive on this planet.
Praia da Ursa
Website: Praia da Ursa
8. Explore the historic center
With so many monuments away from the heart of Sintra, the town’s historic center may go unnoticed. However, the historic center of Sintra is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a stunning place to explore. The unique architecture of the buildings and the narrow lanes are charming enough but the display of trees and flowers will impress you.
There are great spots from where you can get incredible views of the town and its surroundings and it’s only a matter of choosing your favorites. The historic center has plenty of restaurants where you can taste the best Portuguese dishes and lovely specialty shops where you can buy unique souvenirs. Make sure you don’t forget to explore the heart of Sintra!
Sintra historic center
Address: Sintra, Portugal
Website: Sintra Historic Centre
9. Ride a tram all the way to the beach
Riding a tram (or elétrico in Portuguese) will be a great way to see the city slowly without tiring yourself too much. For a very small fee, you’ll get to go on a romantic trip all the way from Sintra to the beach. You’ll get to see see the lovely landscape of the hillsides, orchards and the old houses in the historic center. It’s cheaper than going by bus and much lovelier. Enjoy your ride!
Website: Sintra Tram (in Portugese)
Timetable: Click Here
Prices: 3.50 USD (3 EUR)
10. Experience NewsMuseum
The NewsMuseum in Sintra is a museum for everyone, but if you’re traveling with kids, they’re going to love it even more than you. The museum is very interactive and you’ll get to see how the television news works and even get to be a TV reporter for awhile! It is a true journey through the past and future of the media.
Address: Rua Visconde Monserrate 26, 2710 Sintra, Portugal
Opening Times: Monday - Sunday: 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Prices: from 9.50 USD (8 EUR)
Sintra: A portal to a magical land
Sintra is a collection of monuments from different times and a place full of mysteries to be solved. It is a place where stories were written and a magical land that seems to have come from an epic fantasy novel.
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