Sintra is one of Portugal’s best-loved destinations. A trip to Sintra a must for all visitors to Lisbon and Portugal. Sintra is just a 40 minute drive from the centre of Lisbon, atop a verdant mountain range. Here you can discover the various UNESCO World Heritage sites and the fairytale palaces that the town is so famous for.
The Pena Palace and the National Palace complex are the star attractions, though a vast collection of palaces and cultural sites add to the experience. Sintra has been a World Heritage Site since 1995, in the category of ‘Cultural Landscape’. Sintra harmoniously combines its natural and built heritage, and that makes it one of the most popular destinations in Portugal.
Nestled within the Serra de Sintra hills, Sintra has its own ‘sui generis’ microclimate, conditioned by its geographical location, close to the sea, and by the morphology of the terrain. Sintra was the chosen destination for the Portuguese nobility to escape from the oppressive heat of the summer in Lisbon, and for nobility from across Europe.
Sintra, benefiting from its microclimate, provides the ideal environment for a mild temperature throughout the year, with low thermal amplitudes, and lots of vegetation to offer natural protection from the elements.
With its imposing mountain range dotted with palaces, churches and stately farms, which extends for 10km to the Atlantic Ocean, to the west, and the colour to the Saloia area to the north of the county, Sintra is a privileged destination par excellence, of undeniable beauty, cultural significance and natural delight.
Sintra is an enchanted location that really offers something for everyone. Beautiful gardens, palaces, a wonderful historic old town, as well as stunning beaches and coastline. We outline some must-see highlights of Sintra, as well as some great suggestions for when you more time to explore.
The Palácio Nacional de Sintra can be found in the historic town centre of Sintra. The Portuguese monarchy and its court inhabited the palace for nearly eight centuries it. It was much used as a hunting retreat and particularly during the Middle Ages, as a refuge from outbreaks of disease in the capital. Sintra was also a fashionable summer resort for royalty, thanks to the town’s more agreeable climate. We recommend a good 45 minutes to explore this palace.
Many consider the Pena Palace to be the jewel in the crown of Sintra.
The palace represents the pinnacle of romanticism in Portugal. The park and National Palace of Pena are the enduring legacy of Ferdinand II, the “King-Artist”,
The bright colours of the palace, its unique architecture, and its views out over the lush green expanse of the Sierra de Sintra, and the historic town below, make this a unique attraction – still the most popular in Portugal.
You will want at least an hour to explore the palace and gardens.
The Quinta da Regaleira is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Portugal. Conceived and built at the end of the 19th century, it mirrors the sensitivity and cultural, philosophical and scientific interests of the principal owner, António Augusto de Carvalho Monteiro (1848-1920), allied to the virtuosity of the Italian architect and set designer Luigi Manini (1848-1936). The culture and creativity of these two personalities resulted in an eclectic-revivalist architectural ensemble, focusing on the Renaissance, Medieval and Classical styles.
The Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle) is a fortification built in the 10th century during the period the Moors occupied Portugal and Spain. Situated on a high peak above the town, in the Sintra hills, its famous walls snake across the hills with their granite blocks connecting boulders and cliffs.
Its parapet walk provides stunning views over the town, the Palace of Pena and, further in the distance, the greens of these hills contrast with the blues of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Park and Palace of Monserrate are the legacy of British industrialist and art collector Francis Cook. He visited Monserrate in the 19th Century and was intrigued by it. From this fixation emerged this great masterpiece of Romanticism: the Park and Palace of Monserrate. Conceived as a retreat for writers it has drawn visitors for hundreds of years, particularly the British.
Explore the historic centre of Sintra, one of the most romantic villages in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995, Sintra is so rich in history, yet it has an amazingly compact town centre, with some great restaurants. Be warned, Sintra can get extremely busy in the summer and even more so at weekends. It is worth booking a restaurant in advance.
The town centre is about a 15-20 minute walk from the train station.
The Chalet of Condessa d’Edla was built by King D. Fernando II and his second wife, Elise Hensler, Countess d’Edla, between 1864 and 1869. The Condessa d’Edla designed it herself, who was of Swiss origin.
Situated in the west side of the Pena Palace, the chalet is designed in an Alpine style, which was very much in fashion across Europe at that time. The building’s unique facade and interiors, combined with the surrounding garden, create an exotic landscape for you to enjoy, after its recent refurbishment.
Queluz is a city within the Sintra Municipality, on the Portuguese Riviera. It is famed as the home of the Queluz National Palace, the 18th century pleasure palace of the Portuguese Royal Family, as well as notable institutions like the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art.
The Palace and Gardens of Seteais were the vision of the Dutch consul in Portugal, Daniel Gildemeester. He ordered the construction of a manor here in the eighteenth century that was sold to the 5th Marquis of Marialva, equerry of the Kingdom, who had several improvements made, including a new building, and uniting the two by an arch. In the main building runs a famous luxury hotel and, although private property, the outside and part of the gardens can be visited.
The Archaeological Museum of São Miguel de Odrinhas.
A very recent space installed in the Old Casino of Sintra and offers an artistic journey through the figurative art of the Municipal Collection of Contemporary Art, through painting and sculpture produced by Portuguese and foreign artists living in Portugal.
Leading Portuguese architect Dâmaso dos Reis designed the Church and Convent of San Francisco in the 18th century as a Roccoco Gothic basilica and monastery. The breathtaking scenery from Sintra attracts tourists from across the world, who come to make their own trips of discovery through this enchanting region’s storybook villages, rocky mountain ranges.
The church and convent of Santa Maria is Portugal’s most famous Gothic structure, the construction of which was started by Father António Vieira in 1727. The church has an austere style that surrounds its monastic essence, while the interior houses gorgeous works by Titian, van Eyck and Correggio. The monastery also includes a rose garden that borders Parque das Quintas (the Royal Palace of Sintra).
The typical cost of the day trip for an adult is contains:
LISBON SINTRA TOURS