When it comes to Lisbon, I think I could spend months and months in Portugal’s beautiful capital without risking to get bored. But when you only have a few days on your hand and you want to make the best out of the time here, here is my proposal for the best full-day trip from Lisbon to Sintra.
And I wanted to put an emphasis on the “full day” part, because our trip truly filled one entire day, from the very morning to the very evening. However, we chose to see some destinations a bit outside of the usual day trip from Lisbon to Sintra.
Since we only had four days in Lisbon and wanted to make the best out of this period, but also could not have missed Sintra and the colorful and joyful Pena Palace, the plan was to take the train one early morning and explore the area.
But you know how life gets and sometimes what you’ve planned is not what really happens.
And sometimes, life has something better in store for you, as long as you are open and flexible!
That’s pretty much what we were offered: something way better!
This was not something we planned to decide during our journey from our Airbnb to Belem Tower, but fate brought Rui our way.
As a good businessman, he sold us the one day trip from Lisbon to Sintra we were going to enjoy because he was going to drive us not only to Sintra as we planned but also to many other beautiful places.
When you have more time on hand and want to explore more of Portugal, another great option is a day trip to Evora.
The best full-day trip from Lisbon to Sintra
Day trip from Lisbon to Sintra itinerary at a glance
SINTRA OLD TOWN CENTER
QUINTA DA REGALEIRA
AZENHAS DO MAR
CABO DA ROCA
BOCA DO INFERNO
CASCAIS & ESTORIL
Optional destinations to add on the list of things to see in Sintra:
HISTORIC CENTRE OF SINTRA
PALÁCIO NACIONAL DE SINTRA
How to get from Lisbon to Sintra
As previously mentioned, we were planning a whole different way of getting from Lisbon to Sintra and making our escape work. Of course, you can always choose your best suitable way of making your trip work.
- Getting from Lisbon to Sintra by train – there are 2 railroads linking the two, the ride will be a bit over one hour and costs less than 3 EUR one way. Check out the timetables here, but be aware that you cannot book in advance tickets.
Choose to leave from Rossio station which is central and close to most of Lisbon’s attractions, or Oriente Station which is better suitable for those traveling from the airport directly to Sintra.
- Hire a car and drive your way from your accommodation in Lisbon to Sintra. Of course, this would be a more flexible way of organizing your trip, which will offer you the chance to see also other destinations along the way.
- Book an organized tour and forget about the trouble of making your own itinerary. This way you will have a pre-setup day trip from Lisbon to Sintra, without any headaches.
- Book a driver – as we did, an Uber driver will always be an option and the price will no be extremely high when you are at least 3 persons.
Of course, if you choose to travel by public transportation or to book an organized tour, you will most probably get to see the tourist attractions in Sintra alone. However, this guide has been created base on our own experience, with having someone to drive us between the destinations. The same can be applied to those who choose to rent a car.
Getting around in Sintra
As I’ve seen, Sintra is not a huge town and it is most enjoyable to walk around from one destination to the other while in town.
Of course, there are also public transportation options, so that you can be quicker and be more efficient and see more.
Public transportation in Sintra:
- bus 434 – also known as the Pena line, the bus links 3 of the most important attractions in Sintra: Pena Palace, the Center of Sintra, and the Moorish Castle.
The standard one-way ticket costs 3.9 EUR, while a hop-on hop-off (for your way up) ticket costs 6.9 EUR. Check out bus timetables here before organizing your trip.
- bus 435 – this bus adds Palacio de Monserrate to its journey and it costs 5 EUR for a hop-on hop-off ticket. Check out the timetable.
When you choose to visit also other destinations on this list which are outside of Sintra, you will probably need more than one day if you choose to travel by public transportation.
However, for us was pretty easy since we had Rui to help us.
Lisbon to Sintra Itinerary
We started early in the morning, because leaving Lisbon as early as possible is the best if you don’t want to get stuck in traffic, and at the same time arrive before the crowds at Pena Palace, having time to fit everything in one day.
As we left Lisbon behind and wondered on the highway, being lucky to catch a rather sunny day for November, the colorful Pena Palace showed itself quite fast.
Hanging on the top of a mountain, it was easy for us to understand that getting there was going to require some climbing.
But Rui left us just in front of the entrance, once we’ve passed by Sintra and left it on the right, driving through one of the most fairytale-like roads.
Even though we arrived early, there were still 2 lines: one for the tickets, and one for the entrance (people who had already bought the tickets).
Make your trip easyer and buy your entrance ticket in advance and with a discount!
Once the doors opened, everyone rushed in and I can say this place is so popular that it was crowded at 10 AM, during the low season. Pena Palace might just be one of the most eye-striking buildings in the world, competing with some of the most famous out there.
There’s a shuttle bus taking you to the top, right in front of the palace, but the hill is easily done by foot so that you don’t have to wait or get squished inside of the small bus.
As I’ve heard someone saying, Pena Palace is an Instagram Heaven.
Pena Palace is so colorful, filled with pretty tiles, with many balconies and a wide terrace with the most breathtaking view you’ll find. A Romantic dream.
It’s only normal that we’ve spent so much time here, both on the outside, and on the inside.
The inside has deep oriental influences and it’s not that sumptuous as other Palaces might be, but it is still nice.
Once we’ve finished the tour, since we wanted to see so many things in one day, we did not explore the garden of the Palace, but that’s one thing that you should do if you have just enough time to spare.
Palace and Park – 14 EUR / 12.5 EUR / 12.5 EUR / 49 EUR (Adult/child/senior/family – 2 adults + 2 kids)
Park only – 7.5 EUR / 6.5 EUR / 6.5 EUR / 26 EUR (Adult/child/senior/family – 2 adults + 2 kids)
Choose to buy your entrance ticket in advance and save time and money!
Palace – 10:00 – 18:00, last ticket 17:00 and last admission 17:30
Park – 10:00 – 18:00, last ticket and last admission 17:00
Sintra Old Town Center
Our next stop was not far from the Palace, in the small and picturesque town of Sintra.
I have to admit here that the town is really small (or at least what we got to see, but I’m pretty sure there wasn’t much more to it), but has a charm to it.
Something that made me think about the small Italian towns, tucked on hills, with small colorful houses. Just add in the blue and white tiles and you have Sintra.
Since we did not have breakfast, our stop and most of the time we spent in Sintra was at the most famous pastry in town: Piriquita.
Dating from 1862, Rui had told us about this place and about its famous sweet pastry we had to try: travesseiros.
And that’s what we did: enjoyed a cup of coffee with some delicious pastry, to give us power for the next destinations.
Quinta da Regaleira Palace
Not as famous as Pena, but with a whole lot of charm, Quinta da Regaleira is torn from a different kind of fairytale.
When I’ve shown the pictures from our trip to my mother, she loved this place most, with its romantic Gothic style.
Even though the inside of the Palace is not so impressive, and the upper floors are closed to the public, the place sure is worth a visit.
Another thing worth knowing about the place is that a luxurious park surrounds it.
That’s where we got lost and managed to surpass the time scheduled for this attraction.
Maybe the most iconic place to see in the park: the Initiation Well and the Tunnels.
10 EUR / 5 EUR / 5 EUR (Adult/child/senior)
1st April until 30th September – 09:30 AM to 08:00 PM
1st October until a 31st March – 09:30 AM to 06:00 PM
Azenhas Do Mar
No, I had no idea about this place.
That is until the day before our trip to Sintra, when scrolling through Instagram I came across a stunning pic from here.
After carefully checking the map, I realized there was no way we could have the time to get there and left it to that.
Until Rui asked us if we would like to see something else.
Something that people don’t usually see, because it is another extra hour for the trip, and showed us the picture of the place.
Of course, we said YES right away, because wow, I guess life really brings you wherever you have to be, at the right moment.
And we got to this small village. White houses, on a cliff, standing in equilibrium above the ocean.
A large beach with the most perfect sand there is, waves crashing the stones, a natural pool, and almost nobody in sight.
I call that one of the most amazing ways of spending one hour of your life.
And when it comes to beautiful beaches and incredible sea destinations, I cannot stress enough how beautiful Portugal is for a Summer destination, even if we talk about Albufeira or the very popular Algarve.
Cabo da Roca
We couldn’t miss the westernmost extent of Portugal, continental Europe, and the Eurasian landmass. And I suggest you shouldn’t either when visiting Lisbon.
As you’ve guessed already, the place is popular, therefore filled with tourists.
But if you manage to find a remote spot, the ocean will look endless, and the perfect solitaire red and the white lighthouse will charm you.
Boca do Inferno
Close to Cascais, Rui stopped the car and told us to get off and see this cool place called Boca do Inferno.
Restaurants, tourist souvenir shops were in sight and nothing looked that cool to me.
But we listened and took the stairs towards the ocean and saw the interesting cliff formation, like a hole into the cliff’s wall, with the water furiously bursting in, below the arch created during the years.
Cascais & Estoril
Two beautiful villages by the Ocean, Cascais, and Estoril feel like being the same place but actually look at each other across the water.
From what we’ve been told, here is where you will find some of the most expensive houses in Portugal, and where celebrities own villa.
And just by looking around you can easily understand why.
It is a crowded place during Summer and we didn’t have much to do when we stopped here. Just sat and looked at the Ocean, the colorful little fishermen boats, and the cats running around looking for some fresh fish to eat.
Other palaces to visit in Sintra
Castelo dos Mouros – Moorish Castle
The hilltop medieval castle is one of the other famous attractions in Sintra. If I would have had more time to spend in the area, I would have included it on our to-do list.
Built by the Moors in the 8th and 9th centuries, it is s UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s a must for the history passionate. In addition, it also offers a great view from the hilltop.
8.00 EUR/ 6.50EUR / 6.50 EUR (adult/child/senior)
Buy your entrance ticket and save time and money!
Summer season – 9:30-20:00
Winter season – 10:00–18:00
Palacio Nacional de Sintra
Don’t get fooled by the minimalist exterior, once you step inside you’ll understand why this was famous with the Portuguese nobility.
Located in the heart of Sintra’s old town, stop by and see it once you finish your stroll on the pretty streets.
10.00 EUR/ 8.50 EUR / 8.50 EUR / 33.00 EUR (adult/child/senior/family)
Buy your entrance ticket ahead online and save time and money!
9:30 AM until 7:00 PM with the last entrance at 6:30 PM
Monserrate Palace and Park
We did skip this place on our visit, mainly because I had no idea at the time about it. But when you see how impressive Monserrate Palace is, you will want to add it on your perfect one day trip from Lisbon to Sintra.
Does a blend of Arabic, Indian and Gothic architectures sound appealing enough? I would say yes. Totally worth going the 3.5 KM away from Sintra and see this gem.
8.00 EUR/ 6.50EUR / 6.50 EUR (adult/child/senior)
Buy your entrance ticket in advance and save time and money!
Palace: 10:00 – 18:00, last ticket 17:00 and last admission 17:30
Park: 10:00 – 18:00, last ticket and last admission 17:00
PIN FOR LATER!