Of all my days in Portugal, including everyone else’s favorite Óbidos, today was my favorite. I had high expectations and Sintra did not disappoint.
How to get to Sintra
We took the metro to Rossio (€1.50). From there we bought a train ticket for €2.25 (€4.50 return) and took the 40 minute train ride to the last stop.
When we exited the train station there were dozens of people trying to get us to book a ride or tour, but no signs saying which way to go if you wanted to walk.
We finally headed to the right and down the hill and came to the Sintra City Hall.
We followed the road to the left and soon saw the National Palace of Sintra and knew we were heading in the right direction.
Sintra Historic Center
We followed the well maintained walk next to the road
past some nice sights
until we reached the historic center.
I think many people skip the historic center and take the tourist bus to see Sintra’s three main attractions – Pena Palace, Castle of the Moors and Quinta de Regaleira. But I feel they are missing out.
We didn’t want to take the tourist bus so we headed toward the Tourist Information Center and ask how to get to those three sights.
After some directions and a map we were on our way.
Quinta de Regaleira
The road came to a T. Two destinations to the left; one right so we went right first. After another five minutes we came to Quinta de Regaleira.
It was a very unique site. It is apparently the least popular of the three sights
but it was my favorite.
We continued a couple minutes past Quinta de Regaleira and came to Palace of Seteais.
Looking back through the arch, if you look closely you can get a glimpse of Pena Palace up high on the hill.
We turned around and went back to the T in the road.
We were told it was about a one hour uphill climb from this point but we were determined to do it. After a brief walk, it looked like the road ended.
so we went through the gate into Vila Sassetti. From there we started climbing continually. But it didn’t seem bad as the gardens were beautiful
and the path smooth and easy to follow in most places.
We eventually reached the Vila.
You could get a glimpse of the Castle of the Moors but could tell you still had a long way to go.
The well maintained path continued past the Vila for another 5 minutes or so.
Then we left the property and the terrain changed and became steeper, often having to climb stairs.
This was the toughest part of the climb and took about 15 minutes.
Castle of the Moors
After about 45 minutes total we reached our destination.
From the ticket booth (€8) it was another 400 meters to the castle entrance.
We looked around a little while and took the path back to the ticket booth.
From the Castle of the Moors ticket booth, we followed a road for five minutes to the entrance to Pena Palace.
Entrance fee €14 (€7.50 to only tour the grounds).
After Pena Palace we retraced our steps back down through Vila Sassetti and spent some time in the historic center.
(Because earlier we were too anxious to get to the castles and didn’t spend any time)
Sintra was the highlight of our Portugal trip. We liked it even better than the walled city of Obidos.
In hindsight, we would not have just done a day trip. We would have spent at least two nights in the historic center of town instead of in Lisbon, as we liked the Sintra much better than where we stayed in Lisbon.