Daytrip to Sintra
One of the most popular day trips from Lisbon is the town of Sintra. The small town is a 2 hour train ride from Lisbon and is famous for all its castles. The town is located on a 300 m high mountain also called Sintra and in its surrounding there are plenty of castles. I went to Sintra for a day trip and had time to visit three of the castles.
From the train station in Sintra you can either take the bus to the center or walk. I chose to walk since it was a while before the first bus would leave. From the walk I saw the Palace of Sintra which is located in the middle of the town.
In the center I had time for some croissants for breakfast and to look at the palace from the outside.
The most visited castles are located very high up and I don’t recommend trying to walk to them. But the bus from the station that goes to the center then continues to the castles. Keep your ticket as it is valid for the return way too!
When you are done with all the castles I recommend staying for a while in Sintra. Just walk around in the narrow alleys, check out the shops and eat on any of the nice restaurants.
The Pena Palace
The first castle I visited is the most famous fairytale castle The Pena Palace. Outside the palace are ticket machines where I bought a ticket with entrance to two castles. I got here when it opened and I was the first person to get to the castle. From the entrance you have to walk uphill for a while in the park before you reach the colorful building. There are shuttles inside the park for those who have problems walking.
And the castle is really beautiful and colorful. It has many terraces that offers views over the sea and surrounding fields. There’s also a café where you can buy some food to enjoy on a terrace with a view over the landscape.
Unfortunately it was being renovated when I was there so it wasn’t possible to visit all of the terraces. Parts of the inside was closed too. But there were still many rooms open for visitors inside.
The castle is from around 1850 and was then used as a royal summer residence. The style is Romanticist and the king and queen at that time were very much involved in the decoration of the castle. The Pena Palace is a national monument and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Also, since 1995 it’s been classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Don’t miss the small pathway around the castle that gives you a beautiful view over the Moorish castle.
Castle of the Moors
You have to walk a bit downhill from The Pena Palace to reach the next stop, The Castle of the Moors. The Castle of the Moors is a medieval castle built in the 8th and 9th centuries. It has been an important strategic point in parts of the Portuguese history.
Basically the castle is just walls with towers and squares. I really liked this castle because you could walk on the walls and get a great view all over and you could see at least four other castles from there.
Here the Sintra Palace and town of Sintra with the sea in the background:
Quinta da Regaleira.
Don’t know the name of this castle though…
It was quite windy when I was here, but once I reached a terrace directed towards the Pena Palace it was calm and I had to sit down for a while and enjoy the sun and the view.
When I was done with the Moorish castle I went outside the entrance and took the bus back to town. From here I walked for a bit to the third castle I wanted to visit.
The Quinta da Regaleira
This castle was constructed in 1904. It has a gothic facade and looks very different from the Pena Palace. The castle has 5 floors and the estate covers 4 hectares.
Parts of the castle was closed for restaurations when I was there. Unfortunately it was the upper floors and all of the look out towers. Those would have been interesting to visit as well.
I walked around for a bit in the garden and visited some towers and caves, but I didn’t stay here long. I was a bit pressed for time and didn’t see the whole garden. I think the garden would look really pretty in the spring and summer. I’ve seen on other photos that the garden is magical, I just wish I would have had time to see it all.
As I mentioned in the beginning Sintra is a very popular day trip from Lisbon. As always it’s best to be at the place early or just before closing. When I arrived at Pena Palace we weren’t many people there, but as I left there were bus loads coming. It’s always worth it to get up early in the morning. 🙂 I had a nice day in Sintra, but one day felt enough for me.