Have you ever wanted to go on a Sintra day trip? Sintra is strategically positioned between the mountains and the ocean, a fairytale-ish municipality in the Greater Lisbon area. The town proudly boasts a rich historical and architectural heritage with its breath-taking landscapes.
Much of Sintra’s charm is due to its fascinating past, attracting more and more international crowds every day. Walking or driving through the area, it is virtually impossible not to be impressed by such a density of architectural attractions for a relatively small territory.
Some of the castles, villas, and vacation residences all date back to the 1800s when wealthy Lisboners chose Sintra as their temporary or – in some cases – even permanent homes. On the other hand, a few of the town’s marvels date even farther back and recently became worthy of the Cultural Landscape UNESCO classification. We are talking, of course, of the Medieval Castelo dos Mouros and Convent of Capuchos. Every year, roughly 20 million tourists flood Sintra to check those out.
Let’s cover the basics before diving into the sights to see on your day trip to Sintra. We’ll also cover the question: is a one-day trip to Sintra from Lisbon worth it?
Packing for Sintra: What to Bring
The weather in Sintra can be a bit of a hit-and-miss. While generally sunny, the area is well-known for its occasional thick fog, impromptu winds, and sudden showers. This is why your Sintra day trip should be planned ahead of time.
Elevated and with a constant Atlantic breeze, Sintra is usually several degrees cooler than Lisbon and Cascais, just along the coast. Summer days can be hot and crowded—so be prepared. If you want to beat the crowds, make sure to arrive early or later in the afternoon. The best time to visit Sintra is spring and autumn when it is still warm but not as busy. The surrounding vegetation is at its greenest during these months, perfect for a rural Sintra hike. Winter in Sintra is damp and windy, but that does lend extra spectacle to Cabo de Roca and wild Guincho Beach. If you plan on visiting Sintra in the wintertime, make sure to put on some extra layer and a warm waterproof, and windproof coat.
Remember to dress for the weather for your Sintra day trip. Sintra’s climate is cooler than Lisbon and much more changeable due to its hillside elevation and proximity to the Atlantic. So what should you bring?
- Layer your clothing
- Bring a good pair of walking shoes – even if you’re not here to hike, they’ll come in handy for pounding the cobbled streets of Sintra’s historic center.
- Please bring a water bottle; you’ll need it, especially during those hot summer days.
- Leave the purse at home instead. Swap it for a backpack that can fit the water bottle and an extra layer that you might take off due to the sudden change in weather.
Now that we’ve got that settled, how can you get here for your Sintra day trip?
Getting To and Around Sintra
We all love Portugal because – while at times preferable – renting a car is not strictly necessary to make the best out of your travel experience. Sintra is, of course, no exception.
There are a couple of ways to get to Sintra, by car, UBER or public transport. A train leaves from Sete Rios station in Lisbon and goes straight to the Sintra central station. A ticket is around 3 euros, and the train leaves Lisbon about once every half hour. More information about train routes can be found here and also here. You can Sintra-Cascais hop-on hop-off travel bus pass here.
Most attractions in Sintra are relatively close to the town’s old center, not to mention many of the palaces and castles are reachable via beautiful but steep hiking tracks. If hiking is not your thing, don’t panic, as public transit options are also available. The bus terminal is located a minute walk from Sintra central station, and for only 2-5 Euros, you will be able to reach most destinations within the town comfortably.
Bus 434 is your best option if you want to visit the old town along with Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira, and the Moorish Castle. If you are interested in checking out the coast boasting some of the best Portuguese beaches, bus 403 will take you to the resort town of Cascais via Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point in mainland Europe and one of the most Instagram-worthy views in the country.
If you want a Sintra day trip to be as worry and hassle-free as possible, rent a Tuk-tuk. Tuk-tuks are also available and eager to greet you at the train station and throughout the town. Some tuk-tuk operators will offer family/group discounts and a guide depending on the specific operator.
Also, the best day to visit Sintra would be a week day to avoid all the weekend crowds.
Sintra Day Trip From Lisbon: Other Things to Consider
As well as being mindful of the unpredictable weather, there are a few more things you should be careful about. On top of the list, we find the narrow and sometimes not properly lit roads that may potentially make you vulnerable to traffic accidents. Some areas of town are also not properly serviced with sidewalks, so if you are walking at night, make sure you are carrying a flashlight or wearing flashy clothing so cars can spot you.
If you choose to drive, you should be aware of the parking restrictions in the old town. It’s always best to leave your car around the Sintra Station area and proceed to the old city on foot or choose alternative means of transit such as buses, tuk-tuks, or a car-sharing app like UBER and Bolt. Also, be mindful that public parking is not free, so make sure that you pay the meter and keep an eye out for when time runs out—or you’ll have a ticket waiting for you when you get back to your car.
Sintra Day Trip: What To Do
Stepping into Sintra, you will immediately be fascinated by its beauty. With the abundance of sights and activities at hand, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Below, we have highlighted a few landmarks you shouldn’t miss on your Sintra day trip:
- Sintra’s main attractions are located very far apart from the central historic town and each other.
- Getting to the castles is a steep and very windy drive uphill. Hiking can be an option if you are only interested in a specific landmark and don’t mind making it a whole-day trip.
- Sintra day trips are best spent visiting the palaces and historical sites. If you’d like to explore the surrounding beaches, consider extending your stay, renting a car, or taking an organized tour.
One thing that shouldn’t be missed on your Sintra day trip is Pena Palace. A powerful landmark of the municipality, the Pena Palace stands tall above Sintra’s old town boasting eye-catching pastel hues breaking with the predominant marble and stone pattern. Ordered in the 19th century by King Ferdinand II, the castle is reminiscent of the country’s Moorish heritage and influenced by the Renaissance Era. Inside, the castle displays extravagant decor ranging from Romantic to Medieval and Islamic design styles. All around the estate, you will be able to appreciate a botanic garden of sorts filled with plants ordered from around the world by the very King Ferdinand II.
The palace is located on a steep hill. You can choose to hike to the top or hop on bus 434 for an extra couple of euros.
Entry fee: 13,90 Euros (book your tickets in advance here)
Initially built by the Moors and renewed during the Reconquista, The Moorish Castle (also known as the Castle of the Moors) and its walls stand tall on a cliff on Sintra’s Northside. Its position was strategically chosen for diplomatic purposes thanks to its privileged view of the ocean. A must-see of the castle is the defensive towers and ancient battlements. The hike is worth your while if only for the fantastic sight you can appreciate from the top.
Entry fee: Adults – 8 Euros. Seniors (65 +)- 6,50 Euros. Kids (Under 6) – free.
Quinta da Regaleira
Your Sintra day trip itinerary wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of its dreamiest attractions. Founded in the 19th century by wealthy Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, the estate is inspired by Masonic aesthetics, which perfectly merge with the surrounding nature. As a result, Quinta da Regaleira makes a great destination for a half-day excursion. The two main attractions of the complex are the Romanic palace and the “initiation wells,” drawing hoards of tourists fascinated by their bizarrely exquisite design. Wandering around though, you will soon notice all Quinta’s secret gems—from interesting sculptures scattered around the property to hidden underground mazes leading to caves and fountains.
Entry fee: Kids up to 6 – Free. 6 -17-year-old 5 Euros. – Adult 8 Euros.
Convent of the Capuchos
Built in the 17th century, this monastery was first meant to be a Franciscan residence. A self-defining “ode to simplicity,” the property is still a testament to the austerity practiced by the Franciscan brotherhood. You will be equipped with audio guides leading you across the food gardens through the main patio and into the individual cells.
Entry fee: Adults- 7 Euros. Seniors (65 +) – 5,50 Euros. Youth (6-17) – 5,50 Euros
Founded in 1856 as a summer resort for the British Cook family, Monserrate Palace is a palatial villa overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Characterized by its eclectic 19th Century architecture, the palace is located about 3 km from the historical town center. Its beauty is mainly due to the interesting mix of Romanticism and Moorish Revival styles, combining pointed domes with colorful stained glass.
The gardens surrounding the villa are by themselves worth a visit. They feature a lake, springs and fountains, and lush greenery composed of local and imported species.
Entry Fee: €8.00/€6.50/€6.50 (adult/child/senior)
Explore Sintra-Cascais Natural Park
Your Sintra day trip should also include a trip to some of the region’s natural attractions. In fact, there’s a lot more to Sintra than just its palaces and historical center, beautiful though they may be. Explore Sintra-Cascais Natural Park using the many excellent walking and hiking trails that spider across the Serra da Sintra, and seek out the Peninha Sanctuary, one of the best viewpoints in the park. Some accommodations will also be able to help you organize everything from wine tasting to mountain biking to yoga sessions and even mindful knitting sessions if that’s your bag.
If you have the time, a Lisbon to Sintra day trip should include one or two hikes within this gorgeous natural park.
Visit Cabo da Roca
It feels like you’re standing at the edge of the world at this remote and rugged headland in Sintra – so it’s no surprise that Cabo da Roca was believed to be the edge of the world up until the 14th century. The cape marks the westernmost point of Portugal and features a notable lighthouse that dates back to 1842. Today, it’s a popular spot to watch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. Nearby, challenging clifftop hiking trails lead to secluded coves, such as Praia da Ursa.
If you LOVE to surf, this region is also famous for its powerful surf conditions throughout the year.
Dining in Sintra
What is a Sintra day trip without food? Sintra offers endless opportunities to indulge in delicious wine, food, and desserts. Here are the best spots for you to sit back and relax and explore the town’s culinary treasures.
Romaria de Baco
Address: R. Gil Vicente 2, 2710-568 Sintra, Portugal | Price: €
Named after the Roman wine God, Romaria de Baco is conveniently located by the National Palace yet tucked away from the crowds. This eatery is committed to bringing you an authentic culinary experience in a relaxed, understated environment. The menu features a broad range of seafood-based petiscos (Portuguese tapas) and traditional main courses such as bacalhau á brás (grilled cod) and stuffed calamari.
Address: Escadinhas da Fonte da Pipa 2, 2710-557 Sintra, Portugal | Price: €€
A self-proclaimed laid-back eatery, Tascantiga boasts one of the prettiest terraces in town, making it an ideal spot to enjoy your appetizers and glass of wine on a warm evening. The simple yet wholesome menu ranges from heartwarming soups to sandwiches and cheese trays. Along with more traditional Portuguese dishes, it also features unpretentious pub food such as chicken wings and French fries.
Address: R. Dr. Alfredo da Costa 22, 2710-631 Sintra, Portugal Price: €€€
Located in the city center, Incomum is likely the most upscale eatery in town. Praised for its impeccable service and elegant atmosphere, the restaurant offers a broad menu ranging from typical Portuguese dishes such as marinated codfish and sauteed shrimp while boasting international delicacies like foie gras and buffalo mozzarella.
Sintra’s Typical Pastries: Queijada & Travesseiro
A Sintra day trip would not be complete without trying its culinary pride – queijadas and travesseiros. Let’s start with Queijada. Despite being available across the country, these delicious tarts owe their origin to this beautiful area, where their first appearance dates as far back as the 13th century. Much like most Portuguese treats, queijadas are milk, sugar, and egg-based, but their wholesome consistency is due to their cream cheese batter.
The famous Travesseiro de Sintra is a sweet made from puff pastry with egg and almond cream. It is shaped, as its name implies, just like a pillow. The pastry was created in the 1940s by Constância Luísa Cunha, the daughter of Amaro dos Santo the founder of the Piriquita bakery. That bakery, which opened in 1862, still exists today and is one of the best places to try the famous Travesseiro de Sintra.
Which one would you be more likely to try on your Sintra day trip?
Fábrica de Queijada Recordação
Address: C/V, Av. Dom Francisco de Almeida 31, 2710-431 Sintra, Portugal
Finding a queijada in Sintra is extremely easy as mostly pastry shops and cafés make sure to get a fresh batch every day. Notwithstanding, once you are in Sintra, why not try the best queijada around? As suggested by its name, Fábrica de Queijada Recordação is dedicated to selling and distributing Sintra’s signature pastry. Whether you want to buy a few boxes to bring home with you or wish to sit down with a coffee and treat yourself to an afternoon snack, this is the place for you. Moreover, the factory’s production is not limited to queijadas, but includes cookies, puff pastries, and even savory options such as quiche.
Address: R. das Padarias 18, 2710-623 | Hours: Open Wednesday to Monday 8:30 am–8 pm
During the Second World War, Casa Piriquita felt the need to innovate, given the difficulties experienced in that period. Constância Luísa Cunha, daughter of the founder, while reading an old cookbook, came across the one from Travesseiro that, even today, gives fame and recognition to the bakery, being an ex-libris of Vila de Sintra.
The travesseiros here have delicate puff pastry wrapped around an egg and almond cream filling. However, this bakery includes a secret ingredient that has remained a secret up until today. The bakery also sells queijadas. However, this is a popular destination for tourists, so prepare to wait in long lines, especially during the summer months.
Casa do Preto
Address: Estr. Chão de Meninos 40, 2710-194 Sintra, Portugal
From Not Quite Nigella, Lorraine argues that the best traveisseroes are located at Casa do Preto, which is in a different part of town and not in Sintra’s old town.
Why are they so good?
Well, because these Travesseiros are warm, and there’s a generosity in the almond cream and sugar. Lorraine writes, “It was everything that I had hoped it would be. Each bite is like a deep sigh; it’s a collapse of pastry, sugar, and cream in the mouth, and suddenly it’s finished, and the only trace of it is in the crumbs and sugar on your dress and the smile on your face.”
Is a day trip to Sintra worth it?
Sintra is considered a must on any Portugal itinerary, and it’s easy to see why. It is not only home to many castles and architectural wonders, but the region as a whole has so much to offer. Whether you are exploring Pena Palace, surfing the waves at Praia da Ursa, or hiking the trails of Sintra, there is something for everyone in Sintra.
It is also only a 45-minute journey from Lisbon, making it the ideal day trip destination from the city—for a list of other Lisbon day trips, read our article here.
So, is a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra even worth it? Definitely. However, don’t be too surprised if you can’t see everything in only one day. Make sure to make a list of the top sights you want to see, and if you are willing, then why not make a weekend trip out of it? There are a lot of stunning hotels, B&Bs, and even hostels in the area that you can stay in.
Final Verdict: Sintra Day Trip Guide
With its impressive Palaces, gardens, historic town, and beautiful surroundings, there’s virtually no limit to what Sintra offers. A Sintra day trip Lisbon is also the perfect addition to your Lisbon vacation.
Along with planning your trip around some of the attractions you are most eager to check out, make sure you also allow some time for spontaneity. Walking around Sintra is, by itself, a fantastic experience.
If you are thinking of taking a Sintra day trip on weekends and public holidays, make sure you take advantage of the arts and crafts along the main road connecting the city center with the old town, especially if you are hunting for authentic souvenirs. The friendly craftspeople will be delighted to show you their handmade jewelry and home decors and some stylish Sintra-inspired clothing items. Furthermore, the scenery alone makes the walk worth it.
In the end, whether you are into history, hiking, the ocean, or all of the above, a Sintra day trip is guaranteed to make the perfect addition to your vacation. Try out one of our suggestions while also allowing some time to stroll around and let this charming town surprise you.
So what do you think about our Sintra day trip guide? Have you ever taken a day trip to Sintra? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.