10 Awesome Things to Do in Sintra, Portugal


 

Having been and done Lisbon in it’s entirety, I can happily conclude that Sintra is one of the most worthwhile day trips one can do in all of Portugal.

Sintra is a small Portuguese village about an hour out of Lisbon’s center . It can be reached quite easily by trains that run daily, or via taxi cab or Uber. Splitting an Uber ride too Sintra between four people usually works out the same as purchasing individual train tickets — just a thought.

Sintra – by Thomas – Wikimedia Commons

Once in Sintra there are many beautiful ways to spend your day. It’s not possible to do everything in a single day trip, however. Sintra’s mainland is actually huge and stretches out hundreds of miles through from inland through to ocean.

The following are ten worthwhile things to do in Sintra. Remember, it’s a natural valley, so comfortable walking shoes are essential for all visits.

1. Explore the Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra

The Quinta da Regaleira is my personal favorite attraction in Sintra.

It’s an old Portuguese palace than spans across masses of acres of land; visiting the grounds is an adult scavenger hunt of sorts. You’ll be given a map upon arrival and you’ll need to hike your way through the incredible forest to find attractions like grottos, waterfalls, wishing wells and ancient chambers.

The Quinta da Regaleira is suitable for people of all fitness levels including children, don’t let the word “hike” deter you. It’s more of a very green, very pleasant inclined walk.

Quinta da Regaleira – by Shadowgate – Wikimedia Commons

PRACTICAL INFORMATION
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday – 9:30am to 7pm
ADDRESS: R. Barbosa du Bocage 5, 2710-567 Sintra, Portugal
Train STATION: Sintra

2. Climb the Steps to the Castle of the Moors in Sintra

As you arrive in Sintra, whether by car or by train, you’ll gaze up to the beautiful hilltops and notice the escalating rock-made steps that seem to wind through to the summit.

These are the stairs of the Moors, and they lead up to the Moor Castle at the very top. The stairs look a lot like the Great Wall of China; the similarities are uncanny.

The walk up is suitable for both children and the unfit. The Moorish castle is today used as a municipal building but can still be visited daily.

Moorish Castle – by Christoph Wolf – Wikimedia Commons

PRACTICAL INFORMATION
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday – 9:30am to 8pm
ADDRESS: 2710-405 Sintra, Portugal
Train STATION: Sintra

3. Visit a Beach in Sintra

As mentioned, moving deeper into Sintra will eventually bring you to to the coast of Portugal, which holds some beautiful beaches.

The Praia da Ursa is sometimes referred to as the most beautiful beach in Portugal. It remains largely untouched by human life due to the incredible effort it takes to get to, and it shows.

Sintra has many more beautiful cliffside beaches along the coast; one can lose a whole day just exploring these.

Praia da Ursa – by Rosino – Wikimedia Commons

4. Marvel at the Pena Palace in Sintra

Back in the main village, close to the Quinta da Regaleira, is the famous brightly colored Pena Palace that sits high on the hill looking like every Disney Princess’ dream.

The Pena Palace is worth a visit for the architecture and the great views over Sintra from up top. The grounds are much easier to explore compared to the Quinta. 

Pena Palace – by Georges Jansoone – Wikimedia Commons

PRACTICAL INFORMATION
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday – 9:30am to 8pm
ADDRESS: Estrada da Pena, 2710-609 Sintra, Portugal
Train STATION: Sintra

5. Bask in the Monserrate Palace’s Architecture in Sintra

I didn’t know about the Monserrate Palace during my first visit to Sintra; having visited it twice since I sometimes prefer the space to the tumbling grounds of the Quinta.

This is an old Portuguese summer home that was reserved for use by the royals. The architecture is what makes the palace so interesting, holding strong influences from Anglo-Saxon, Indian and Arab cultures.

It’s astounding; unlike anything you’ll see in common Portuguese interiors. It was also official mades into a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 1990s.

Monserrate Palace – by kkmarais – Wikimedia Commons

PRACTICAL INFORMATION
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday – 9:30am to 8pm
ADDRESS: 2710-405 Sintra, Portugal
Train STATION: Sintra

6. Lunch in the Old Center of Sintra

The Old Center of Sintra is the village where you’ll arrive first; it’s where the train station is.

This little town is filled with cafes and restaurants for visitors to enjoy everyday of the week. Some of them are authentic Portuguese, some fine dining experiences (Sintra is a hotspot for Michelin chefs) and others are simply cuisines from around the world.

7. Tour the Air Museum in Sintra

The Portuguese have a major airfare base in Sintra, this has left many discarded planes for collection over the years; the perfect spot for an airfare museum.

It’s a highly education and endlessly cool space filled with planes from years gone by. This is one of the best things to do in Sintra with kids.

Air Museum in Sintra – by Air Museum in Sintra – Uploaded by them

PRACTICAL INFORMATION
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday – 10am to 5pm
ADDRESS: 2715-021 Pêro Pinheiro, Portugal
Train STATION: Sintra

8. Try Historic Pastel de Nata at Casa Piriquita in Sintra

If you’ve taken a free guided walking tour through the Alfama of Lisbon, you’ve already seen the abundant of pastelerias making hundreds of pastel de natas by the day. You’ve probably also tried a good few of them.

Piriquita bakery in Sintra is famous in Portugal. It has been one of the leading bakeries for over 155 years now and is still going strong. It is considered to be one of the all time best places to eat baked goods while in the country, and the line outside the door proves this to be true.

Try one of everything, and of course try a pastel de nada for good measure.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday – 9am to 8pm
ADDRESS: R. das Padarias 1/18, 2710-603 Sintra, Portugal
Train STATION: Sintra

9. Splurge on a Night in a 5 Star Hotel in Sintra

Sintra is known as the 5 star hotel capital of Lisbon and the surrounding villages. Because the village is made up of old, abandoned palaces, property investors jumped at the chance to turn a bunch of them into 5 star luxury accommodation.

10. Take a Photograph at the Westernmost Point of Europe

From Sintra’s Old Center you can hop onto a bus, or catch a taxi, through to the Cabo da Roca.

This viewpoint is the westernmost point of Europe; boasting beautiful panoramic views of the country and oceans. A once in a lifetime photograph opportunity if I ever did see one.

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Cabo da Roca – by Galak76 – Wikimedia Commons