Sintra castles are some of the most beautiful castles in the world. Additionally you can easily spend a day in Sintra from Lisbon. It is one of the easiest and most beautiful Lisbon day trips you can make.
The Sintra castles include Pena Palace, The Moors Castle, The National Palace of Sintra and Quinta da Regaleira. Each of these Sintra castles features its own unique architectures, styling and history. Your Sintra itinerary simply must include them all.
How to get to Sintra from Lisbon
Sinta is an easy Lisbon day trip. Trains depart at least every 30 minutes and the journey takes around 40 minutes one way. The bus journey takes longer than the train and the stops are less convenient. A day in Sintra is best spend exploring, so don’t travel by car. The roads are narrow and windy and the parking is limited. During peak periods there are traffic jams and it is almost impossible to park.
Sintra’s township is a UNESCO site due to its significant architecture and history. It’s castles are its key attraction, however the old town is also worth exploring. It was also an ancient strong hold during Medieval times. Many of the ancient structures still stand today. They are mixed in with more modern buildings that have been erected over time. Sintra is the sight of battle, important marriages and controversial deaths.
Sintra day trip itinerary
The best way to explore Sintra is by the tourist bus (number 434). You can catch the bus directly from Sintra train station. It isn’t immediately obvious where the township is, so don’t be fooled into taking a tuk-tuk or a guided tour. A Sintra day trip can easily be conducted on your own without a guide.
Set out to see the Sintra castles early as the bus wait times can be as long as 45 minutes during peak season. The best way to see Sintra is to visit the Pena Palace first. It is by far the busiest of the four Sintra castles. The order of exploration after this is totally up to you, however Quinta de Regaleira is an easy walking distance from the town centre, and less busy in the afternoon which makes it a good option for the end of the day.
The Pena Palace was built in the 19th hundreds, so its relatively new compared to the other Sintra castles. However it is listed as one of the 7 wonders of Portugal. Iconic views include the arched windows, balconies and of course that beautiful burnt umber tower.
In addition to its famous facade, the interior of the palace is also spectacular. The gardens also feature hidden pathways and beautiful views. Grounds tickets are a great way to explore the exterior of the castle, battlements and gardens without the expense of the stateroom entry fee.
PLAN | Palace and park tickets are €6.90 / €12.50 / €49 for an adult / child / family
Park only tickets are €7.50 / €6.50 / €26 for an adult / child / family
Allow 10 minutes to walk from the gate to the castle, 30 minutes to enjoy the balconies and exterior and at least 40 minutes to enjoy the staterooms.
The Moors Castle
The Moors Castle is a short walk from Pena Palace. It is perched high up on top of the mountain. The Castle of Moors is a military outpost that was constructed during the 8th and 9th centuries. It differs from the other Sintra Castles as it is partially in ruins. It features stone fortifications, turrets, towers and perimeter walls that can be climbed. The views are breathtaking. You can see Sintra, Mafra and as far as Ericeira on a clear day.
PLAN | Castle tickets are €8.00 / €6.50 for adults / children
Allow an hour to explore The Moors Castle. There are a lot of steps at this site, so a good level of fitness is required.
The National Palace of Sintra
The National Palace of Sintra is located in the centre of town. It has been a royal residence since the 15th century. This Sintra castle is a blend of architectural styles, however its most noteworthy features are its white facade and oast house like chimneys.
The giant chimneys are unique as they rest over the kitchens below. Instead of covering just the fire place, they cover the entire kitchen. The exterior whitewashed walls are in stark contrast to the ornate interiors. The wall freizes are particularly stunning.
PLAN | Palace tickets are €10 / €8.50 / €33 for adults / children / families.
Allow an hour to enjoy this Sintra attraction.
Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira is a 10 minute walk from the town centre. The property features a romantic palace and chapel and a lush park. A day in Sintra would be incomplete without exploring the Initiation well, a 23 metre inverted structure located in the gardens.
The palace was built in the 20th century. It is 5 storeys tall and open for exploration. The majority of your time however will be spent in the garden. In addition to the well the garden features a series of tunnel systems, grottoes and caves.
The Initiation Well
The main draw card for visiting this Sintra castle is the Initiation Well. It was built to connect the forces of the earth with the land. The structure is well like, with a mosaic floor and a stone spiral staircase around the exterior walls. You can enter the well from the top or the bottom.
The walk down is quite easy. Mottled sunshine streams in from above as you make your way down. The stone arches are an excellent spot for travel photos. It has a serene vibe, even during busy days.
Exploring the grounds and palace
When you reach the bottom, make sure to look up and enjoy the view. The exit is through a cave system. You’ll step over some stone stepping stones and a bridge as you exit.
The gardens are lush and jungle like. The grottoes and statutes can make you feel like you are in an Asian temple at times. The vibe of this Sintra attraction is unique compared to the other castles.
The palace is more of a mansion than a palace. The building was quite different to that of the rest of the grounds. It is very grand and ornate mosaic floors and decorative walls.
PLAN | Castle tickets are €6 / €4 for adults / children
Allow 1.5 hours to explore the palace and the grounds thoroughly.