Often people visiting Lisbon have Sintra on their list of places to visit. As a result, it is a popular day excursion. It's no wonder this fairy-tale town is so highly regarded, as there are countless magnificent sights to behold. Sintra is within easy reach of Portugal's capital and simple to get to using public transport. I would advise against driving as many parts of Sintra are off limits to cars, and parking can be a nightmare. If you are visiting Sintra on a day trip, the secret is to arrive as early as possible. Visit the most popular sights first, before the coach parties arrive. Take advantage of the Lisbon Card or the Lisbon/Sintra Digital Pass, they will not only save you money but also save you from queuing at ticket machines. Purchase these in advance because they are also useful for discounts in Lisbon.
To experience Sintra and the beauty of the surrounding area to the fullest it's best to stay a few days, even a week. Sintra's excellent transport links are ideal for using Sintra as a base for exploring the region's treasures. Here are the 10 top day excursions recommended by us. www.madaboutsintra.com also offer bespoke travel planning for those who desire something unique. [ Email Us ] for further details.
Upon arrival by train, head for the Scotturb #434 bus stop close to the station entrance. There is also a bus stop in the centre of the old town.
The Scotturb #434 bus runs on a circular route that heads uphill from the train station to the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace. Allow at least two hours to visit Pena Palace. You can skip the lines at the ticket office by pre-booking a skip-the-line ticket online beforehand. [ Book Now ► ] you might choose to explore the extensive Pena Park, the gardens surrounding the Palace. There are great places in the park to enjoy a picnic. It is also here where you'll also find the Chalet da Condessa d'Edla and its associated grounds. Entrances for Palace, Park and Chalet are all included in the ticket.
Alternatively, you might choose to head to the Moorish Castle. For additional discounts, there is a Pena/Castle combination ticket is available online. [ Book Now ► ] The Castle is entrance is ten minutes walk from the front gate. Allow an hour to an hour and a half for your visit. Two cafeterias inside the main castle walls offer a simple light lunch.
The #434 bus will return you to old town Sintra where you may choose to visit the National Palace of Sintra or enjoy lunch in one of the many restaurants in the centre of Sintra. alternatively you may choose to take a short walk to Quinta da Regaleira. Visiting three attractions during a day trip from Lisbon is possible if you arrive early enough. Why not use The Lisbon-Sintra Pass for discounts on travel and attractions.
The bus #434 circular (Circuito da Pena) Return: €7.60 | One Way: €4.10 | Timetable
As you arrive from Lisbon, look for the Scotturb #435 bus stop close to the train station entrance. There is also a bus stop in the centre of the old town. This bus heads to the Quinta da Regaleira and Monserrate Palace. Allow at least two hours to visit the Quinta da Regaleira and explore the mysteries of the magical gardens. It's a short walk back to the old town centre to find somewhere for lunch. Whilst in the old town, you might want to visit the Sintra Myths and Legends Interpretative Centre to gain in-depth knowledge of the history of Sintra. Alternatively, if you haven't already visited the National Palace of Sintra, now would be a great opportunity to do so.
Using your bus ticket, it is then possible to travel to the Monserrate Palace. It is a wonderfully attractive mansion and beautifully landscaped grounds. The #435 bus will return you to the train station or the old town centre. Make sure to use a Lisbon Card if you are buying tickets on location to take advantage of discounts offered.
The Bus #435 – Villa Express & 4 Palacios Hop-On/Hop-Off: €5.50 | Timetable
Ten minutes from the Sintra old town train station is the Portela de Sintra train station in the new part of town. Outside the main entrance is the Paragem Rede Expressos - Sintra, where coaches and long-distance buses operate from. Departing from here the number 1633 bus to Ericeira, operated by Carris Metropolitana, runs once or twice and takes 50 minutes to get to the delightful seaside town of Ericeira. The town preserves its medieval centre with narrow cobbled pedestrianised streets lined with white lime-washed houses adorned with traditional coloured door and window trims. Ericeira is famed for its excellent seafood. Restaurants serve the catch-of-the-day of the Ericeira's working fishing port, Porto de Pesca. Yet alongside the traditional side and to Ericeira, there is the hyper-cool surf community. Swanky bars and clubs. Ericeira was awarded the title of Europe's first and only World Surf Reserve in February 2011, a preservation programme whose sole aim is to protect vital environmental, cultural, economic and community attributes of surfing areas.
The Bus #1633 – Ericeira (Centro Rodoviário) – Portela de Sintra Est. Carris Metropolitana Website
Sintra's vintage tramway runs a seasonal service from the centre of Sintra, close to the Museu de Arte Moderna, to Praia das Maças on the coast. This rickety old tram squeaks and judders eleven and a half kilometres (7mi) along a picturesque route up and over the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais, passing through Colares and Banzão along the way. Bones are shaken for about 45-50 minutes before reaching the coast.
Praia das Maças is a pleasant wide stretch of sand with plenty of amenities and facilities for water sports. It is named after the river Rio das Maçãs (Maçã means apple) that empties into the sea at the southern end of the beach. The small town of Praia das Maçãs has developed into a pleasant resort with plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars, and craft shops. Praia das Maçãs makes a great family destination with the addition of a large outdoor swimming pool equipped with slides, diving boards and a children's pool on the beach, along with a playground and a picnic area.
Old Tram Sintra - Praia das Maças Timetable
ONE WAY – Adult: €3.00, OAP & Child: €2.00, Infant Under 6: FREE
Bus #1248 – Portela Sintra - Praia Maçãs Carris Metropolitana Website
In between Sintra and Lisbon is the impressive 18th-century National Palace of Queluz. The Palace and Gardens are masterpieces of Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassicism architectural styles. Its design evolved with the social changes that occurred during its construction. The train which travels between Lisbon and Sintra stops close by. The National Palace of Queluz is a 15-20 minute walk from Queluz-Belas and Monte Abraão stations. You can easily spend three or four hours exploring the Palace and enjoying the magnificent gardens. The Portuguese School of Equestrian Art is part of the estate at Queluz and offers regular performances to the public. It's possible to buy an entrance ticket online before your visit. [ Book Online ► ]
• Azambuja/Lisboa/Sintra line Timetable
Only 16 km (10 mi) south of Sintra is the popular coastal resort of Cascais. Its abundance of sporting and recreational facilities, shops and restaurants make a great day excursion. There are regular buses that leave Sintra train station.
Cascais is a relaxed resort that offers something for everyone. Cascais was once a fishing village and retains much of its original charm with narrow streets, numerous eateries and an altogether cosmopolitan feel. Its beaches appeal to sun worshipers of all ages, the restaurants lure those who want to try the catch-of-the-day, and the shops entice those looking for a memento to take home. You can take bus #1624 directly to Cascais or alternatively break up your journey and stop at Cabo da Roca first on the bus #1253.
Carris Metropolitana Website
A ten-minute walk from the Sintra old town train station is the Portela de Sintra train station in the new part of town. Outside the main entrance is the Paragem Rede Expressos - Sintra, where coaches and long-distance buses operate from. Departing from here the number 220 bus, operated by the Mafrense bus company, takes 40 minutes to travel to Mafra.
The town of Mafra has become famous as the home of Portugal's largest building and possibly the most extravagant; the mighty Palácio Nacional de Mafra. The palace's massive façade dominates much of the town and its total extravagance almost bankrupted Portugal. This vast 18th Century Baroque construction encompasses a Royal Palace, a Basilica and a Convent. It is home to important collections of Italian sculpture, Italian and Portuguese paintings, a unique library, two 68-metre-tall bell towers, six organs and an 18th-century hospital. Mafra is one of Europe's finest palaces and makes a wonderful excursion from Sintra. Save time and money by booking ahead of time online.
[ Book Online ► ] | Bus #2626 – Mafra - Portela de Sintra Carris Metropolitana Website
The Colares wine region is located close to Sintra. It is one of the world's oldest producing areas and one of the most unusual. It is the second oldest demarcated wine region in Portugal after the Douro. The Romans introduced the art of winemaking to Colares. The vines of the Colares wine region grow very close to the ocean, in sandy soils, and the proximity to the Atlantic is such that the vines have to be protected from the winds, humidity and salt from the sea. These vines are so robust, not only do they withstand Atlantic wines, they also survived Phylloxera, a plague that decimated vines across Europe.
There are several wineries in Colares offering wine-tasting tours and opportunities to get to know this unique wine region. Colares also has several great eateries that serve local cuisine.
The Adega Regional de Colares winery is within easy reach of Sintra, Buses #1241, #1242, #1250, #1253, #1254 – Colares - Portela de Sintra Carris Metropolitana Website
A visit to the Capuchos Convent is a step back in time and an experience of an impoverished lifestyle at one with nature. Often referred to as the Cork Convent, Capuchos was founded in 1560 and was occupied by Franciscan monks, who searched for spiritual harmony by detaching themselves from the world and renouncing the pleasures associated with everyday life. The austere design was deliberately made as plain as possible, utilising the lay of the land and natural objects with extensive use of cork for protection and decoration. The resident monks meticulously maintained the landscape surrounding the building. The result is the preservation of Sintra's original flora. Elsewhere in the Sintra forest, foreign exotic plants were introduced to beautify gardens. Out of all of Sintra's attractions, this one is the hardest to get to. There are several narrow roads leading to the convent, ideal if you have your own car or if you're a confident walker. You can rent an e-car or an e-bike for the day and add the Capuchos Convent to your list of places to visit. Alternatively, several travel companies offer guided tours to the site.
LAS Tours e-Car | 9hrs (approx.) [ Book Online ► ]
Park e-Bike | 8hrs (approx.) [ Book Online ► ]
Why not turn convention on its head? Instead of having a holiday in Lisbon and taking a day trip or two to Sintra, stay in Sintra and take day trips to Lisbon. The train service to Rossio takes you to the heart of downtown Lisbon whilst the service to Oriente stops at the former Expo '98. Lisbon might be Western Europe's smallest capital, but it is one of Europe's oldest and most fascinating. There's enough to see and do to keep you entertained for at least two or three days. Discover more about the delights of Lisbon on our sister website www.madaboutlisbon.com.