Sintra

Sintra Forest

Photographer: Craig Hansen

Sintra Forest

Described by Lord Byron as “Glorious Eden,” Sintra’s charms have long been celebrated. Once the summer residence of the kings of Portugal and of the Moorish lords of Lisbon before them, today Sintra is a romantic getaway for people from all around the world.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this magical place is dominated by steep mountains and lush forests which create a microclimate, always several degrees cooler than Lisbon. Hosting Disneyland-like palaces with neo-gothic towers, a trip from Lisbon to Sintra is a must.

Sintra’s illustrious past is crowned by two peaks: Moorish Castle, built by Moors in the 8th century, and Pena Palace, the colorful dream-like palace built by a German noble man for his Portuguese wife. These two peaks provide spectacular views over the entire area extending as far as the sea. Right in the center of Sintra is the Palácio Nacional de Sintra. Except its two huge white chimneys it looks like any other ordinary palace, but its real treasures lie inside. Other attractions in the area can be listed as Palacio de Seteais, which serves as a hotel today, and outside Sintra, the Quinta da Regaleira, gardens of Monserrate and Convento dos Capuchos. These places are absolutely worth for a visit for even more opulence.

Sintra Municipality Building

Photographer: Vítor Oliveira

Sintra Municipality Building

A one-day ticket (7 Euro) can be bought at Sintra station and will allow you to get on and off at all the main attractions. Bus #434 takes a circular route from Sintra station to the various attraction including Moorish Castle and Pena Palace. The bus runs daily every 40min between 10.20 am and 5.15 pm. Tickets cost 3 Euro and can be bought on board. Other useful buses are bus #418 that connects Sintra with Estoril and bus #417 to Cascais. Both of these buses have hourly departures at Sintra’s main bus station at Portela da Sintra, the train stop before Sintra itself.

Alternatively, you can hire a horse-drawn carriage and visit the Moorish Castle ruins where you can sit in a turret, read a book or merely enjoy the atmosphere.

Other attractions in the area include Museu de Arte Moderna (Modern Art Museum), Quinta da Regaleira, Monserrate, Convento dos Capuchos, Museu do Brinquedo and Teatro Virtual.

Castelo dos Mouros

Castelo dos Mouros

Photographer: Eda Sirma

Castelo dos Mouros

From Calçada dos Clérigos, for those with the energy, a stone pathway will lead to ruins of the Castle of Moors. Alternatively, a special bus to the castle will take you there through steep roads with sharp turns.
Conquered in 1147 by Afonso Henriques for the Christians, the Castle was a major victory in the reconquest of Portugal. Today the Castle is in ruins, although it was restored in mid- nineteenth century, and offers spectacular views to its visitors from Ponte 25 de Abril to Arrabida, Cascais to Cabo da Rocha, Peniche and the Berlenga islands.

  • June-Sept daily 10 a.m.- 7 p.m. / Oct- May daily 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
  • Bus # 434 from Sintra station or Vila de Sintra
  • 3 Euro

Palácio da Pena and Pena Park

Palácio da Pena

Photographer: Alexandre Fagundes

Palácio da Pena

The upper gate of the Castle of Moors leads the road up to Pena, opposite the lower entrance to Parque da Pena. The Palace of Pena is entered through an impressive stretch of gardens with lakes and follies; a great place for a picnic or a stroll. At the top of the Park is fabulous Palace of Pena, a Disney-esque Palace within its pink, yellow, grey and red silhouette and with monsters guarding doorways. Built in 1840s by German architect Baron Eschwege to the specifications of Dom Fernidand of Saxe- Coburg- Gotha, this fabulous Palace served as a love nest for him and his wife Queen Maria II.

The interior of Palace is no less surprising. The rooms are full of imaginative ornate and in some cases suffocatingly detailed.

The terraces of Pena Palace have a spectacular view over Atlantic and Lisbon.

  • The Palace : Mid June- mid Sept Tues-Sun 10 a.m.- 7 p.m. / Mid Sept- mid June Tues-Sun 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
  • The Gardens: Mid June- mid Sept Tues-Sun 10 a.m.- 7 p.m . / Mid Sept- mid June Tues-Sun 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
  • Bus # 434 from Sintra station or Sintra- Vila
  • Palace and gardens 5 Euro, Gardens only 3 Euro

Palácio Nacional de Sintra (Paço Real)

Palácio Nacional de Sintra

Photographer: Vítor Oliveira

Palácio Nacional de Sintra

Known also as Paço Real and Royal Palace, Palacio Nacional was built I in the 14th century by Dom João who lived in the Palace with his wife Philippa of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt.

Served as a summer house for Portuguese Kings since the early 14th century, the Palace's design became more and more haphazard as new wings added over the centuries. The exterior style is a mixture of Gothic and the Manueline with a good deal of Moorish influence adapted over the centuries. The resulting interiors are also remarkable, including some of the oldest and the most valuable tiles in Portugal.

Today the Palace is a museum and is best seen early or late in the day to avoid curious crowds.

Every room in Palacio Nacional has a different story, which will make your visit even more interesting. Your visit will start with the kitchens having their roofs tapering into the huge chimneys, which distinguish the palace's exterior. Then you will head to the upper floor and discover the first story. Alongside the gallery above the Palace chapel is the room where Afonso VI was confined for six years by his brother Pedro II and where he eventually died. The myth is that the worn floor is a result of his constant pacing up and down.

Beyond the gallery is Sala das Armas, Its ceiling is emblazoned with the arms of 72 noble families.
Attractions in the lower floors include Manueline Sala das Cisnes and Sala das Pegas, which takes its name from the flock of magpies. Painted with 136 of the birds, each bearing a rose and a scroll named 'Por bem'. The story goes that when Queen Philippa wasn't looking, Dom Joao I offered a rose to a lady-in-waiting and a magpie snatched it. The King excused himself by saying 'Por bem' ' All to do good'.

  • Mon, Tues /Thurs- Sun 10 a.m.- 5.30 p.m.
  • 3 Euro
  • Museu de Arte Moderna

    Located few minutes away from the train station in Estefania, Museu de Arte Moderna displays a wide range of collection including popart, minimalism, kinetic art and conceptual art in three floors. As the collection is huge, the exhibitions are changed every two months. The collection include portrait of Judy Garland, Andy Warhol and some of the great works of Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein, Gilbert and George panels.

    On the top floor, there is a café and a reaturant, offering a spectacular view towards Palacio da Pena.

    Palácio de Monserrate

    Palácio de Monserrate

    Photographer: João Morais

    Palácio de Monserrate

    Located about an hour’s walk from the center of Sintra, Monserrate is one of the most romantic sights in Lisbon, a Victorian mansion situated in a botanical garden of exotic trees and tropical plants.

    The gardens were landscaped in the 18th century by a wealthy Englishman William Beckford, writer of the Gothic novel Vathek, between 1793 and 1799 when he rented Monserrate. Around half a century later, another wealthy Englishman Sir Francis Cook bought the place and built the magnificent Victorian mansion inspired by Brighton Pavilion of Nash. Cook also transformed the gardens with a large sweeping lawn, camellias and sub-tropical trees from all over the world. Today Monserrate is one of Europe’s most richly reserved gardens and impresses its visitors with its romantic charm.

    • Tues-Sun from 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. / June-Sept daily 9 a.m.- 7 p.m. / Oct-May daily 9 a.m.- 5 p.m
    • € 7,00 (a guided visit to Monserrate Park is included) / 6-17 years old and >65: € 5,50 /
      Children under 5 do not pay

    Quinta da Regaleira

    Quinta da Regaleira

    Photographer: Eda Sirma

    Quinta da Regaleira

    Situated in the historical center of Sintra, Quinta da Regaleira is classified a World Heritage site by UNESCO. This magnificent estate is designed by an Italian architect Luigi Manini for wealthy Brazilian merchant António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro at the turn of 20th century. Having worked in at Scala in Milan, Manini’s work is a mixture of Gothic, Manueline and Renaissance with sprouts turrets and towers and impressive Art Nouveau tiles. The surrounding gardens host fountains, terraces, lakes with the attraction of being the Initiation Well inspired by the practices of the Freemasons and the Knights Templar. Full of symbolic beauties and mystery Quinta da Regaleira is a must-see!

    • February-April and October 10.00 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. - Last entry at 6.00 p.m. /
      May to September 10.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. - Last entry at 7.00 p.m. / November to January 10.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. - Last entry at 5.00 p.m. / Open daily
    • Guided visits: € 10,00 / Self-guided visits: € 5,00 / 50% discount: 9-14 years old, students>15, Youth card, > 65 year old.