I recently came back from a getaway to Lisbon, Portugal which you may have known if you follow me on social media. While looking up things to do once we got there, I kept seeing Sintra being mentioned but didn’t look too much into it. My boyfriend has this mindset before we go places in which he doesn’t like to look into the destination too much as he likes the element of surprise and I kind of adopted that attitude as I like the idea behind it. Having said that, I did follow a Lisbon orientated Instagram account and was pretty much stalking it as the excitement built before our trip, with the stunning Sintra making quite a few appearances.
Outside Rossio Train Station
On the second evening of our getaway, we decided that a visit to Sintra was a must for the following day, just a simple google image search of this place is enough to sell it to the vast majority. Another selling point for me was that it is known for usually having a slightly cooler climate to Lisbon city and during a serious heatwave, every little degrees lower was going to help.
As we were lucky enough to be staying in a hotel very central (I’ll give you all the deets about that in an upcoming post), our nearest train station was Rossio Train Station, which is certainly in contention for being one of the most beautiful stations I’ve ever been in. Sintra is about a 40 min train journey from there and cost us just €5 each for a return fare, so definitely worth it!
Cityscape from Rossio Train Station
The Historic Centre of Sintra
Sintra is located amongst the hills of Serra de Sintra. It attracted the nobles and wealthy people of Portugal due to it’s cooler climate, with palaces, castles and mansions dotted throughout the hills. It is hands down one of the most stunning places I have been to or ever will ever be to. I’m sure anyone who has been will agree.
From the train station we took a 15/20 min walk into TheHistoric Centre of Sintra. Here you will find bars, restaurants and gift shops within the narrow historic streets. You can also find the National Palace of Sintra right here in the centre. We grabbed some breakfast after a quick wander of the streets and then went to catch the 434 bus after looking into it. You can hop on this bus in the historic centre as we did or you can get it as you walk out of the train station and head right, however, the que here was a lot bigger than at our stop.
The 434 bus does a one way loop and stops off at Castelo dos Mouros & Palácio da Pena, which were the two attractions we wanted to see most based on the images we had seen. This bus cost us €6 each and you could hop off where you liked and just wait for the next one once you had finished at your destination.
Our first stop was Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors) which gave us pretty epic views of the surrounding area. It is the ruins of a medieval castle and is set amongst the forests in the hills. It was originally built as a watch tower and you can certainly see why once you take in the breathtaking views. There was an abundance of steps to be climbed but I certainly can’t say they weren’t worth it. Admission to the castle cost us €8 each and tickets can be purchased at the entrance to the castle or at a ticket office before you enter the grounds.
Our next stop was Palácio da Pena (Pena Palace) which I was especially excited for after having a creep on its’ location over on Instagram. The architecture and the colours…WOW. You can actually see Pena Palace from the Castle of the Moors and vice versa. It is the perfect example of 19th century Romanticism style of architecture. It really is spectacular.
As I mentioned, there was a heatwave in Portugal while we were there and forest fires were happening in other parts of the country, so for that reason, a lot of the gardens were closed off for our safety. We still went ahead and purchased the lower priced ticket which gives you access to the gardens and park but also the terraces of the palace. The terrace of the palace was the main selling point for me. So the ticket we got cost €7.50 and the ticket that gives you access to inside the palace costs €14.
The design and colours are like nothing I’ve seen before, I was in complete awe at its’ beauty. Again, you get spectacular views from the palace like you do the castle. The question going around in my head the whole time I was wandering around the teracces, was simply, “when can I move in?”. I cannot recommend it enough just for its’ sheer ‘wow’ factor.
We would have loved to have gotten to see more of Sintra’s attractions, however, time slipped away from us unfortunately and we decided it was time to head back to lovely Lisbon. If you haven’t already gathered from this post, I would 110% recommend that you take the time to visit this spectacular town or you’ll most likely regret not doing so. I couldn’t be happier that we decided to take this trip and just thinking back of how amazing it was is giving me serious holiday blues. So my number one piece of advice if you’re heading to Lisbon?…VISIT SINTRA!
My tips for a day trip to Sintra
– go as early as you can as we would have loved to have had the time to see more, trains start pretty early and run pretty late so you can get lots of time there if you wish
– wear comfy shoes, (this is essential for an enjoyable time) – there are quite a lot of steps and slopes to climb
– take note of what buses go to each attraction so you know exactly what one you need to be getting as there are a few different routes running through Sintra
That’s it really! I hope you liked this post and keep an eye out for my upcoming Lisbon post..