Summary: Just 40 minutes by train, Sintra is a "must do," day trip from Lisbon. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the home of several palaces and castles, three of which we visited on our visit, namely: Pena Palace, Castle of the Moors, and Sintra National Palace. The exterior of the palaces and the landscapes they sit are the main attraction. From the train station, we traveled by Uber to Pena Palace, then made our way down on foot to Castle of the Moors, and then ended with Sintra National Palace in historic Sintra. We ended our time in Sintra with an espresso and sweet treats at a café before taking the train back to Lisbon.
Getting There. From the Rossio Station in Lisbon's Baixa neighborhood, the train to the Sintra Station is just 40 minutes. Comboios de Portugal is the name of the train company that will take you there. It was bit confusing for us when we first arrived the station because the regular Metro line is located here as well. Look for the green ticket boxes (photo below) to buy your tickets. Trains run every 30 minutes during the week and hourly on weekends.
Tickets to Palaces and Getting Around Sintra. When we arrived in Sintra, we took an Uber to Pena Palace, where we were dropped off near the entrance. From there, we walked up the hill and to the front gates where automated ticket boxes are located. Here, we purchased passes for Pena Palace, Castle of the Moors, and Sintra National Palace. To return to the train, we simply walked from Pena Palace to Castle of the Moors to Sintra National Palace. From there, the train is just five minutes further down the road.
Palacio da Pena. In ~1840, Ferdinand II turned the ruins of a monastery into a palace with the Gothic, Egyptian, Moorish, and Renaissance architectural influences. Pena Palace sits high on a mountain peak. This colorful palace can get quite busy. We recommend starting here right when it opens as the interior tour was packed even though we arrived early.
Entry into the Palace grounds includes a timed self-guided tour of the interior. Inside, we viewed royal family's living quarters with original furniture and furnishing.
After exiting the interior tour, walk along the exterior before exiting to the main grounds again where we headed down the hill to Castle of the Moors.
Castelo dos Mouros. The ruins from this Moorish-era (8-12th century) castle is situated just below Pena Palace. Bring sturdy shoes because climbing up and around these ruins is super fun. This fun spot would be especially perfect for grade-school aged kids.
Palácio Nacional de Sintra. Next, we walked further down hill to the National Palace of Sintra. This Palace is located in central old town Sintra. Most of the palace originates from King John I who built major sections in the 15th century.
Central Sintra. Right outside the Palace is Sintra's historic district. Here we stopped for a sweet treat in a café and an afternoon espresso.
Dinner in Baxia. Back in Lisbon, we went out to dinner in our Baxia neighborhood. This little Italian spot, Prima Pasta, we found while strolling by was lovely and quite affordable for a Baxia restaurant.