I had the opportunity to visit the dreamy town of Sintra during my visit to Lisbon in September 2019. Despite only spending one day there, Sintra was a huge highlight of the trip for me and so I thought I would share how to have the perfect day in Sintra!

The beautiful fairytale town of Sintra

Things to Do

Historic Centre
One of the beautiful streets in Sintra
One of the beautiful streets in Sintra

The historic centre in Sintra is a beautiful maze of small streets and gift shops.

Sintra is fond of cork, and every souvenir shop carries something, be it a postcard, handbag or jacket, made of it.

As well as this, there are a myriad of tapas restaurants and cafes to explore. I did not eat in Sintra due to my strict backpacker budget however the prices looked fairly reasonable and the food looked delicious.

Looking out at the view from the Estrada da Pena Hiking Trail
Looking out at the view from the Estrada da Pena Hiking Trail

I stumbled across a hiking trail that begins in the historic centre, along Estrada de Pena.

I was completely unprepared to hike and so did not have a bottle of water or closed-toe shoes however the hike was still enjoyable. Just don’t be me and make sure you stay hydrated!

The hike was stunning and takes you through gardens as well as to most of the main sights.

Castelo dos Mouros

Castelo dos Mouros is a magnificent medieval Moorish castle, or what is left of it anyways, that sits on a hill overlooking the centre of Sintra.

The view of Sintra from Castelo Dos Mouros
The view of Sintra from Castelo Dos Mouros

The castle costs €8 to enter and provides you with stunning views of the town below. The castle walls are stunning and it is delightful to just wander around them. There are lizards scurrying around and beautiful greenery.

The castle is a great viewpoint!

The view of Palácio Nacional da Pena from Castelo Dos Mouros
The view of Palácio Nacional da Pena from Castelo Dos Mouros

Even if you don’t feel like splashing out on a ticket it is still worth a visit! The castle is stunning with great views of it from the Car Park of the Pena Palace lake entrance.

Castelo Dos Mouros from below
Castelo Dos Mouros from below
Parque e Palácio Nacional da Pena

The park and palace of Pena are both stunning, the palace being like one out of a fairytale, and are well worth a visit.

The park surrounding Palácio Nacional da Pena feels magical
The park surrounding Palácio Nacional da Pena feels magical
Walking beside a pond that runs through the gardens of Pena
Walking beside a pond that runs through the gardens of Pena

Park entrance costs €7.50, a bargain as it also enables you to explore the palace walls.

The park surrounding the palace is gorgeous and home to some spectacular walks. I spent about an hour exploring the grounds and slowly made our way towards the Palace itself.

Palácio Nacional da Pena is honestly one of the most gorgeous palaces I have ever seen. It is brightly coloured and stands out beautifully against the green backdrop around it.

If you go to Sintra to do one thing, make it this.

My first view of Palácio Nacional da Pena
My first view of Palácio Nacional da Pena

Whilst you have to pay extra to actually venture into the palace, walking around the castle walls is actually included in the price for the gardens.

These walls reveal stunning viewpoints and are definitely worth having a wander around.

Historic Centre (Again)

Having explored the palaces and done some hiking, I headed back to the historic centre to gaze upon the beautiful architecture and wander more cobbled streets.

One of the things I noticed around the city were signs advertising Ginjinha em copo de chocolate or Ginjinha in a chocolate cup for 1€.

Ginjinha is a Portuguese liqueur make by infusing Ginja berries with alcohol and is a typical drink in Lisbon.

Naturally, being faced with both a new alcohol and chocolate I had to try it and it was, unsurprisingly, yummy.

Conclusion

If you are heading to Lisbon and have time to spare then Sintra is definitely worth a visit!

It is a popular spot and so is not a hidden gem by any means, prepare to be approached by many tour guides at the train station, but compared to the hustle and bustle of Portugal’s capital it is a lovely escape.

Have you ever been to Sintra?

What did you think?

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19 Comments

  1. I have not been to Portugal yet, but Sintra was already on my list, your pictures and insights have confirmed we should go as soon as possible once lockdown is over!

  2. This post takes me back! I absolutely loved Sintra. My only regret was that I didn’t stay longer! Thanks for the memories 🙂

  3. Portugal is on my short list! I’ll be referring back when we are free to travel again! Thanks for the post!

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