Sintra Map and Travel Guide | Wandering Portugal

Sintra, a UNESCO heritage site, is a popular day trip from Lisbon.

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Sintra, a town of around 30,000 lucky residents, is home to verdant hills studded with palaces and villas, inhabited by Romans, Moors and the Portuguese royal family to name a few, including the traveler and poet Lord Byron, who evoked Sintra as a “glorious Eden” in his epic poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.

If you find yourself in Lisbon, and a day is hot, head out to Sintra to cool off like the landed gentry back in the day. Enjoy the many attractions of this UNESCO-honored town.

A visit, especially if you’re already planning a trip to Lisbon, is mandatory. It’s a short and inexpensive train ride away.

If the centerpiece of Sintra, Palácio da Pena or Pena Palace, is like Neuschwanstein castle, it’s certainly more colorful:

sintra palacio da pena
Sintra: Palacio da Pena - Singa Hitam, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Where is Sintra?

Sintra is located in the Lisbon region of Portugal (see our Portugal Regions Map). It’s a popular day trip from Lisbon, although we’d recommend staying at least a night; magic happens when the day-trippers abandon the town.

What’s interesting about Sintra is not just that there’s a laundry list of interesting buildings to see. The UNESCO Cultural Landscape of Sintra document describes the unique qualities of the place:

“It is a unique example of the cultural occupation of a specific location that has maintained its essential integrity as the representation of diverse successive cultures. Its structures harmonize indigenous flora with a refined and cultivated landscape created by man as a result of literary and artistic influences. Its integrity is fragile and vulnerable to neglect and unsympathetic management and use.”

The above document is worth reading for the wealth of things to see in Sintra, including “The ‘Sacred Mountains” of Varro and Columela and Ptolemy’s “Mountain of the Moon”.

Getting to Sintra

Getting to Sintra By Train: Sintra can be easily reached by frequent trains from Lisbon’s Sete Rios train station. The ride on the line 18400 train the takes around 33 minutes. You can see the tracks to the west of the historic center on the map below.

If you’re coming to Sintra by car, be aware that there are limited parking spaces, which fill up quickly on holidays and weekends. The drive from Lisbon to Sintra is nearly 20 minutes outside of rush hour, when time balloons to an hour or more.

Sintra’s buses mostly leave from the train station; you can get to Cascais, Estoril, Mafra, and Ericeira. There are no buses between Sintra and Lisbon.

Map of Sintra


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Sintra’s Major Attractions

Pena National Palace is Sintra’s most famous building. It’s a fantasy castle, like Neuschwanstein but built in the 1840s (earlier than Ludwig’s castle) and containing all the romantic accoutrements an architect might think of, from drawbridges to turrets to gargoyles. The transformation of the palace to the Summer residence of Portugal’s royal family brought in some fascinating trompe-l’oeil and tile from the 19th century; see the Royal dining room and Noble room, as well as the Kitchen and be impressed. Surrounding the palace is Pena Park, a compendium of exotic plants and trees from the far-off lands of the Portuguese empire observed from its labyrinth of paths—as well as the usual statuary, black swans, a hunting lodge and various villas.

My favorite of the Sintra monuments is the 8th century Moorish Castle crowning Sintra’s highest hill. If you get in the right position, you can make photographs of the walls that folks will swear are part of China’s Great Wall.

Tiny Capuchos Convent features rock-cut cells lined with cork. Silence is golden within these narrow corridors.

Eclectic Monserrate Palace, a pretty unique example of Romanticism in Portugal with a history that goes back to the time Portugal was dominated by the Moors, features romantic subtropical gardens in its unique park. Its dome is modeled on Brunelleschi’s in Florence.

If you don’t want to drive to Sintra, there are tours that will get you there from Lisbon. Wine drinkers might appreciate the Tour Guys Pena Palace Tour and Winery Experience from Lisbon. Viator offers many more Sintra Tours.

Recommended Places to Stay in and around Sintra

It’s convenient to visit Sintra on a day trip—but there’s really a lot to see, so you might consider staying a night or two.

Lawrence’s Hotel is the oldest hotel on the Iberian Peninsula and is located in central Sintra. Guests rate and recommend the hotel and restaurant highly.

For those who might enjoy the country life and a visit to Sintra-Cascais Natural Park, the Bed and Breakfast Quinta Verde Sintra, located north of Sintra, might fit the bill.

For elegance, the five-star Hotel Tivoli Palácio de Seteais allows you to bed down inside an 18th century palace. Why let the ancients have all the fun?

If you’re traveling in a group, have children in tow, or just like to stay a while in a place that’s not a hotel, Sintra has many vacation rentals, from villas to apartments, available on VRBO.


Enjoy your trip to Sintra!

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Categories Cities, Lisbon

Sintra Map and Travel Guide originally appeared on WanderingPortgual.com , updated: Feb 12, 2024 © .