A Visit to the Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra

When I first moved to Lisbon, I was told by a handful of different people that the Quinta da Regaleira should be visited ASAP.

Unsure about what it actually was, or where it was situated, I never really took these recommendations to heart. That was until a friend of mine came to visit me for a week and we needed to fill an itinerary.

Quinta da Regaleira – by Velvet – Wikimedia Commons

Our day trip to Sintra remains one of my favorite days in Portugal, and exploring the Quinta da Regaleira was the highlight. I am now the person telling other people to visit “ASAP”!

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

What is the Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra

To understand the Quinta da Regaleira one needs to understand Sintra.

Sintra is a lush, natural valley about forty minutes north of Lisbon. To put it simply, this is where the royals of Portugal used to vacation in the summer, and they would build grand residencies through the rolling hills.

The Quinta da Regaleira is but one of these royal estates that is still standing despite having not been inhabited for years.

Quinta da Regaleira – by Susanne Nilsson – Wikimedia Commons

The main house is an elaborate gothic style building that spans across five incredible floors. The towers creep high into the sky, above the things jungle-like greenery below and over the rest of the estate.

This is but one part of the Quinta da Regaleira; the real kicker are the enchanted gardens that surround the property and hillsides nearby.

The gardens are what most people come to see. They were designed under secret orders, and feature an intricate network of hidden tunnels and concealed symbolism. It’s absolutely mind blowing, to put it mildly.

Quinta da Regaleira – by Husond – Wikimedia Commons

What to do at the Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra

Because of the nature of the grounds, exploring the Quinta da Regaleira becomes a bit of a self-guided treasure hunt.

The different attractions are separated by acres of land, and you’ll have to use the natural pathways to find them in the foliage. Some of them are so well concealed that hiking through bushes and up rocky ridges is totally normal.

It’s also not unusual for pathways to lead you down into caverns, and underground tunneled coves.

Quinta da Regaleira – by Husond – Wikimedia Commons

As mentioned, there is a lot to see throughout these gardens. The maps and signage will eventually bring you to a descending well that you’ll spiral around as your make your way down into the depths of it.

To exit, you’ll meander some stone hallways and use stepping stones to cross over small ponds.

Quinta da Regaleira – by Lusitana – Wikimedia Commons

I enjoyed exploring the grotto, too; though this was quite a difficult attraction to hunt down. I don’t think you’re supposed to, but take off your shoes and wade through the thick green water up to your knees — it’s so refreshing during the summer.

The grounds cover a total of 4 hectares. Give yourself the better part of the day to tackle this Sintra castle. Also make a point of grabbing a map from the reception area as you come in — the signage through the actual grounds can be confusing.

Best Time to Visit the Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra

I visited the Quinta da Regaleira in July; the depth of summer and peak of tourist season.

While I loved every minute of it, there were moments when the heat made it impossible to continue up the mountain. I missed out on all the hilltop attractions because of this.

Quinta da Regaleira – by Pepolino83 – Wikimedia Commons

If you are going to visit in the height of the summer, bring along enough water and sunblock to keep you comfortable. Suitable walking shoes and hats are also a must.

The best time to visit the Quinta da Regaleira would either be from early morning (as they open at 9:30am) or late afternoon. Avoid the midday sun if you can, and consider eating lunch in the main town by the train station.

Getting to the Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra

The Quinta da Regaleira is relatively easy to get to as a day trip out of Lisbon.

There are multiple trains throughout the day departing from the Rossio-Lisboa train station in the city center.

Return tickets cost under €10 per person, and the journey (one way) takes just over an hour.

Quinta da Regaleira – by tomasz przechlewski – Wikimedia Commons

If you are traveling along, the train is the most cost effective method of getting to the Quinta da Regaleira. If you’re traveling in a group, splitting the cost of an Uber or taxi will actually work out cheaper per person, and will get you there in almost half the time.

Something to keep in mind is that the Quinta da Regaleira is on the outskirts of Sintra, just as you arrive in the nature valley. One can move much deeper into the area and explore for days. Sintra holds hiking trails, cliffs, untouched beaches and rural villages all begging to be explored.

If your day trip has the potential for extension, renting a car comes highly recommended.

Quinta da Regaleira – by Duca696 – Wikimedia Commons

Nearby Attractions to the Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra

Because you’ll be in Sintra, just about everything in close proximity to the Quinta da Regaleira is going to be a tourist attraction.

One of Portugal’s Seven Wonders lives here in Sintra: the National Pena Palace.

This hilltop castle looks like something out of a Disney film. The bright orange and red facade makes it one of the most identifiable monuments in the country, and the reason why thousands of people come to Sintra every day.

Pena Palace – by Georges Jansoone – Wikimedia Commons

The Castelo dos Mouros, or the Castle of the Moors, is a medieval castle at the top of a main hill as you enter Sintra. The stairway winding up to the summit looks somewhat like the Great Wall of China, and it’s a relatively easy hike for families with children.

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