In my last post, we talked about taking a day trip to Sintra from Lisbon. Question is…HOW?! There’s so many options, so we’ll dive into how to get there and what to do when you get there.
First things first…what is Sintra?
Sintra is a town about 35 minutes west of Lisbon, on the coast of Portugal. It’s most known for a a massive park containing a number of palaces and castles connected by hiking trails and roads going up and down the large hill/mountain it sits on. What you’ll probably see on your visit to Sintra:
Ok so that’s what I’m going to see…now how to I get there?
You have 3 different options to get from Lisbon to Sintra. To make it easy, we’ll break it down into price and duration.
Option One: Train
Price: €2.25 one-way / €5 round-trip (does NOT include price of bus up to the park, which is another €5)
Duration: 1 hour 20 minutes*
Taking the train is the most economical way to get from Lisbon to Sintra and is widely the most popular for that reason. Trains leave Lisbon (roughly) every half hour from 5:30am to 11:00pm and uses a similar schedule on the return trip as well. Once you take the train into the city of Sintra, you still have to take the 434 bus up to the park and castles.
Option Two: Bus – Sintra Express
Price: €10 one-way / €15 round-trip / €20 round-trip + 434 bus ticket
Duration: 30 minutes*
Taking the Sintra Express bus is another popular and economical way to get from Lisbon to Sintra. It leaves every hour on the hour from 9:00am to 7:00pm on both the way to Sintra and returning to Lisbon. This way will also bring you to the city of Sintra, where you’ll have to hop on the 434 to get up to the park and palaces.
Option Three: Uber / Lyft / Kaptan
Price: Varies, but around €15-€20 each way
Duration: 30 minutes*
This is a great option to get from Lisbon to Sintra if there are multiple people splitting the cost. When I visited in November, I was able to split our Kaptan (Portuguese Uber) ride with 2 friends I made at my hostel, so it ended up being around €7 each way from the door of our hostel to the gates of Pena Palace and from the entrance to the Moorish Castle back to the door of our hostel. If you’re traveling with multiple people who are splitting the cost, I HIGHLY recommend checking pricing on all of the car service apps you have access to. It was great getting driven up past everyone hiking up the hill to get from the city to the palaces and dropped right at the ticket office, and even better paying less for the ride than it would have been to take the train.
Got it…How do I choose which castles to visit? Can I go to all of them?
It really depends on what you want to see and what your activity level is. Pena Palace is probably the most ~instagrammable~ locations in Sintra. It’s brightly colored towers and is pretty accessible for those who may have mobility issues. While there are stairs and you do have to walk once you arrive at the palace, you’re able to take a bus from the entrance up to the actual castle instead of walking up the very steep hill that it is perched atop. On the other hand, the Moorish Castle is the exact opposite. Built much earlier than Pena Palace and also on a very steep hill, the entire fortress is a winding walkway that zig-zags up the hill and onto the crest that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. As an asthmatic, I definitely struggled and had to take a lot of rest periods, so just be aware and so your research when deciding which castles to go to.
It is out of the question to visit the entirety of the park in just one day. I recommend taking a look at the official Sintra website, which gives great details about each site and from there, you can make the decision of which you’d like to visit. If you absolutely cannot decide, then I suggest spending 2-3 days exploring all Sintra has to offer.
How much does entrance into sintra cost?
It all depends on which castles you visit. Each castle has separate tickets, and if you’re not interested in viewing the interiors, you can also purchase grounds-only tickets (we did this at Pena Palace). The Parque de Sintra website lists all tickets that are available online for purchase, so take a peek at those while you’re planning your trip (Hint: purchasing your ticket online does not guarantee any sort of “skip the line” access–everyone ends up in the same line regardless). For a grounds-only ticket at Pena Palace you’ll be forking over €7.50 and for the Moorish Castle you’ll be paying €8 to hike the 13th century walls, while at the National Palace and Gardens of Queluz you’re looking at €10 (or €5 for gardens only), €10 for the National Palace of Sintra, €14 for the full Pena Palace ticket, and €8 at the Park and Palace of Monserrate. I recommend picking a couple of places you’d like to visit and getting there early to buy tickets (or just buy tickets online…we simply forgot to).