If you're brave enough to drive through the centre of Lisbon, once you're on the speedy A5 and A37 motorways you will have an easier drive to Sintra. An alternative route, longer but far more picturesque, is through Cascais via the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais on the A16 and N247.
From the North:
If you're coming from Ericeira, Mafra or then the N247 and N9 routes gives you easiest access.
South and East: Access to Sintra from the South and East is via the A16
Once you've arrived at Sintra, you will need to find somewhere outside the old town to park. Since 2018 the cobbled narrow and steep roads of Sintra are out of bounds for those drivers without a permit. Permits are mostly reserved for residents only.
On the residential side of Sintra, 1.5km east of the old town, close to the Portel de Sintra train station, is a large car park and is the best option during the summer. The maximum fare per day is €1.50. There's a "Park and Ride" system in place. Show your parking ticket to the driver and you'll get a free transfer to Sinta town station where bus connections wait to take you further on. Buses run every seven minutes or so. There's also a fair-sized car park closer to the town train station just behind the Pingo Doce supermarket. From there it's an easy stroll to catch the local bus to take you to where you want to go.
By far, the easiest way to get to Sintra from Lisbon is by train, operated by Comboios de Portugal, Portugal's state railway. Two urban services (comboios urbanos) go from Lisbon to Sintra, one from the central train station Rossio and the other from Oriente, by the Parque das Nações and close to the airport. Both routes are inexpensive and allow an easy day trip to Sintra. The Rossio/Sintra line can get very busy, especially during the peak season. Advice would be to arrive early or take the train from Oriente, which also stops at Areeiro, Entrecampos, and Sete Rios stations within central Lisbon. Oriente is also the inter-city railway hub and has a large coach interchange. Both stations are on the Metro line and easy to get to. Journey times on both lines are less than 50 minutes. When you buy a fare to Sintra it will be loaded onto a reusable "Viva Viagem" card which is used on Lisbon's buses, metro and trams. The cards cost 50 cents but can be reloaded when needed. You must validate your journey using the machines found on the platforms or risk a fine. A good alternative to queueing to get your ticket is to download the free CP App, not only can you buy e-tickets but also check timetables.
If you're travelling from Cascais or Estoril into Lisbon and the changing trains consider buying a 24hr "Tourist Travelcard" which will be cheaper than two separate return tickets. These tickets are on sale from ticket offices and ticket vending machines.
• Azambuja/Lisboa/Sintra line Timetable | Trains of Portugal Website
Flixbus Operate services from Porto, Coimbra, Faro, Madrid & Toulouse
Flixbus Website, Timetables & Buy tickets online
Rede Expressos Operate national and international coach services in comfort:
Rede Expressos Website, Timetables & Buy tickets online
Carris Metropolitana run services around Sintra and Cascais:
• 1242, 1247, 1248 & 1254 – Portela de Sintra – Azenhas do Mar
• 1248 – Sintra (Estação) – Praia Maçãs
• 1249 – Portela Sintra (Estação Norte) - Magoito (Praia)
• 1250 – Sintra – Praia Grande via Colares
• 1253 – Sintra (Estação) via Cabo da Roca | Circular
• 1623 - Cascais - Portela Sintra (direct)
• 1624 - Cascais - Portela de Sintra (via Azóia & Almoçageme)
• 1629 – Estoril - Portela de Sintra
• 1633 – Ericeira - Portela de Sintra
• 2626 – Mafra - Portela de Sintra
• 1241, 1242, 1250, 1253 & 1254 – Colares - Portela de Sintra
Carris Metropolitana Website & Timetables
ScottURB run services to the palaces:
• 434 - Circular route linking Sintra train station, old town centre, the Moorish castle and Pena Palace.
• 435 - Circular route linking Sintra train station, old town centre, Palácio da Regaleira, Palácio de Seteais and Palácio de Monserrate.
Timetables | Scott URB Website