Sintra is a town in the Lisbon Region of Portugal. Its spectacular setting, 28km from Lisbon, houses a Royal Palace, used by generations of Portuguese royalty prior to the 1910 revolution. The surrounding hills are surmounted by the remains of the Moorish Castle and by the nineteenth-century Pena Palace. Historic Sintra is an heritage patrimony site declared by UNESCO.
Near Estoril, the majestic Sintra Mountains cast a veil of mystery over the town nestling on its northern slopes. The hills and the surrounding area have been classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage site both for their cultural significance and for their outstanding natural beauty.
Sintra rail station may be reached by frequent CP services from several Lisbon stations, including Santa Apolónia, Oriente, Campolide and Rossio (most trains depart from Rossio). It should cost around €3.40 return. Tell the machine that you want a ticket for two trips; you will need one for the outward and one for the return journey. Remember to validate your ticket by touching it to the checkpoint before boarding the return train. Keep the used ticket, as you can re-charge it for other trips in and around Lisbon. For more information, contact:
- CP, Portuguese Railways.
The town proper is a 10 minute walk from the train station. However, tourist-centric buses to the center can be caught from the small bus stop directly on the right as one exits said station. These are the same buses that take circular routes to all the tourist sites, and offer tickets good for all day, so odds are one would be buying one of their tickets anyway. i.e. - no real reason to walk from the station to the town proper, unless just for exercise.
The historic 14km tram route from Praia das Maçãs, mainland Europe's most westerly holiday resort, terminates about 1km from Sintra town centre, at Ribeira de Sintra, which is located about 1km down the hill past the Hotel Tivoli, near the Royal Palace. The service is operated by restored trams dating from the early 20th century; operates F-Su 9:30AM-7:30PM; trams run hourly taking 45 minutes for the journey.
When visited 8th June 2008, the section of tram route Ribeira da Sintra to Praia das Maçãs was 'closed until further notice for technical reasons.' Conversely, the previously unused short section from the town centre down the hill to Riberia da Sintra is the only working section, having been newly restored. Trams run on the afternoons of Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
No information was avaialable as to any planned re-opening. The track is intact but rusting away and the signalling system still working.
Visited on 7th January 2012, the tram was completely closed, a sign explaining that due to 'inclement weather' the tram had been inoperational since 27th October 2011.
For more information, contact:
- Sintra Tram, telephone +351 219238500.
Cycling in Sintra can be an interesting day out for those who are fit and have some experience.
If staying in Sintra and around a local company is a good option for you.
In case you are visiting Sintra then your best bet is to book a tour or rent a bike e.g. in Lisbon, take the commuters train from Rossio station to explore Sintra and/or the Nature Reserve finishing in Cascais, a beautiful day trip on a bicycle, in the end take a train back to Cais do Sodre station in Lisbon where you may drop back your bicycle. Adult return ticket is around 3 or €4 and bicycles travel for free every day of the week.
Cycling-Rentals (Phone: +351 212 424 604, ) is a Sintra based company that offers all types of rental bicycles as well as guided and self-guided road or mountain bike Day Trips in the Sintra area. They will also deliver a hire bike to your hotel anywhere in the Lisbon / Sintra area. There shop is located just outside the historical center of Sintra.
Probably the best for most, is to take one or more of the public bus routes. The routes are circular, with a stop in front of each of the major tourist sights. One ticket is good for all day on that particular bus route. Think a very cheap hop-on/hop-off bus route, and you have the idea. All the buses stop directly at the train station as well (just to the right upon exiting), so they can be caught immediately upon arrival via train.
Why not just get extra exercise and walk it all? Aside from time, the road is windy, narrow, and very very steep. It would be very difficult, not to mention fairly dangerous (Steep, 1.5 lane road with hairpin turns and buses on it!). On the other hand, the bus system is inexpensive and very geared toward tourists.
There are several of these circular routes, but probably for most the 434 and 435 routes are of greatest interest.
434: Route: Sintra Train Station -> Sintra City Center -> Moorish Castle -> Pena Castle -> return. Price: 5 Euro
435: Route: Sintra Train Station -> Sintra City Center -> Regaleira Palace -> Seteais Palace -> Monserrate Palace -> return. Price: 2,50 Euro
The general frequency of the buses is around 20 minutes.
There are also, actual "hop on/hop off" buses (the big red buses one sees in so many cities), but with a significantly higher price, and unclear advantage over their cheaper public equivalents.
Parking is abysmal, the roads narrow & windy, and on a holiday weekend Sintra can be absolutely packed with cars and people. If you must drive to Sintra, park in one of the several parking lots below the town center and walk up into town.
There is a walking trail through the woods to the Moorish castle that starts above the Sintra city center at the wooden turnstile on the Rampa do Castelo; better bring a map (free from tourist information at the train station) or ask for directions as the entrance to this trail is well hidden. Once you have made the journey to the castle, it's only few more minutes walk up the hill on the main road to the Palácio. The walk to Monserrate from the Sintra town center is still approximately one hour but is less strenuous. Also note that the "Linha Monserrate" that picks up passengers in front of the Palácio Nacional de Sintra is only a "sight-seeing" bus, it does not deliver you to Monserrate.
To get to Cabo da Roca (Cape Roca), the westernmost point of mainland Europe, take the Scotturb 403 bus (Direction = Cascais). The journey takes about 40 minutes.
Admission prices and opening times of the sites can be found on the Parques de Sintra website
- Quinta da Regaleira (Regaleira Palace and Gardens), Rua Barbosa du Bocage, 2710-567 Sintra, ☎ +351 21 910 66 50, fax: +351 21 924 47 25, e-mail: email@example.com. M-Su, from 10h00 to 18h30 (last entrance at 18h00). Regaleira Palace, situated at the historic centre of Sintra, is also part of the built heritage included in UNESCO's world heritage list as "Sintra cultural landscape".The origins of this place date back to 1697, when the property was bought by José Leite, but it was only by the late 19th century that the history of the Palace and Gardens begins. In 1892 Carvalho Monteiro, an eccentric capitalist that had made a huge fortune in Brazil, bought the property and hired the Italian architect Luigi Manini to conceive a place that gathered, on the one hand, a sum of artistic currents (Gothic, Manueline and Renaissance) and, on the other hand, the glorification of national history influenced by mythic and esoteric traditions. A great variety of Masonic symbols is present in Regaleira Palace and Gardens. An important example is the magnificent "Poço Iniciático" (Initiation Well), looking like an upside down tower, where at every 15 steps a plateau is reached, in a total of nine leading to the depths of the earth. The nine plateaus remind the nine circles of Hell, the nine sections of Purgatory and the nine heavens of Paradise, as designated by Dante. Everyone seems to get lost looking for the Initiation Well - hang onto the map you get when purchasing your ticket! Prices with guide: 10 € (standard); 8 € (over 65 yr); 5 € (9-14 yr); Free (under 9 yr). Prices without guide: 6 € (standard); 4 € (over 65 yr); 2,5 € (9-14 yr); Free (under 9 yr).
- Pena National Palace (Palácio Nacional da Pena). Beautiful example of pseudo-Moorish Romantic architecture. The facades were completely restored in January 2015, so it is well-worth a visit. You can climb there by foot or using a small train departing from the ticket office. You can see a good collection of furniture and the royal apartments.
- Moorish Castle (Castelo dos Mouros). One of the highlights of Sintra not to be missed. Ruins of a castle built by the Moors from the 9th century onwards. Apparently, when Cascais was under the rule of Sintra, a huge fire would be lit here annually to remind the people of Cascais that the Moorish Castle is there to protect them.
- The Royal Palace
- Convento dos Capuchos: A secluded abbey where monks used to live in close contact with nature. Immersed in a wood, its crude and harsh style points out the importance of spirituality according to these friars and their strict Christian values. It has no electric light, so use your flash on to shoot great pictures! Don't miss the wood carved chapel, the library and the friars' cells. The ticket is valid to visit the Pena Palace and one other building — your choice of the Moorish Castle or the Convento.
Souvenirs and Porto wine are all on sale in the Sintra historic district. There are a number of shops that sell standard tourist items (post cards, t-shirts, etc.) and a number of shops that sell ceramics, pieces of art and hand crafts. If you are looking for gifts for friends and family, Sintra has a broad selection of items to choose from.
To get something truly unique and local, consider cork products that range from wallets to umbrellas. These original products wear like leather and are environmentally sound, as well as attractive.
- Queijadas mainly the ones from "Casa do Preto"
- Travesseiros da Periquita
- Cynthia: Next to the bus and rail stations on the downside of Sintra, there is this small but fine restaurant where you can taste a marvelous codfish ("Bacalhau à brás" or "Bacalhau à grelha"). They are very kind and friendly and don't hesitate to help you in anything you need.
- China Palace. Right next to the railway station there is a cheap and tasty Chinese restaurant. But the best part is that they make very fast take away. Just ask for the 2 minute take away, it's not on the menu, but they will make it just for you!
- Soul Food, ☎ +351 211976517. Open Tu 9AM-4PM, W-Su 9AM-10PM, closed Mon. Vegan, halal, parve, satvic and ital food made using all natural and fresh ingredients (they strive for local); no artificial foods or GMO. Sugar free, gluten free, nut free, soy free, and raw options. Has outdoor seating. Cash only but ATM close by. WiFi free. Inexpensive, €13 per full day menu.
- If you have the chance, you should try the Hockey Club, just in the beginning of the street that goes up to the Piriquita (the most well known coffee shop in Sintra due to its marvelous egg sweets).
- Maggie's Tea Spot. Does wonderful tea (from the Mariage Frères) with friendly pleasant staff. It's fairly new. Sign their wall too.
- Oh Casa Sintra, ☎ +351 218 058 356. This townhouse is set back from the main tourist street amidst the leafy mansions of São Miguel. A pocketful of rooms within walking distance from the historic center.
- Tivoli Palacio de Seteais Hotel, Rue Barbosa do Bocage, 10 - 2710-517 Sintra, ☎ +351 21 9533200. magnificent example of 18th century architecture.
- Hotel Tivoli Sintra, Praça da República - 2710-616 Sintra, ☎ +351 21 9237200, fax: +351 21 9237245. breathtaking panoramic views of old Sintra, one of the most beautiful towns in Portugal and of the Sintra National Palace, the former residence of the Portuguese Royal Family..
- Casa do Miradouro, ☎ +351 21 910 71 00. The Lambregts Family is very pleased to let you enjoy the pleasure of spending your holiday in the beautiful Casa Miradouro. The lady of the house Charlotte will make your stay very comfortable and unforgettable.
Take a look inside and discovered the most pleasant Guest-house in Portugal.
- Pestana Sintra Golf, Quinta da Beloura Rua Mato da Mina, nº 19 2710-692 Sintra, ☎ +351 21 042 4300, fax: +351 21 042 4398, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Nice Way Sintra Palace, Rua Sotto Mayor, 22 (From the town center, facing Sintra National Palace take the road on your left-hand side (Rua do Sotto Mayor) for about 300 meters. You will find us on your right-hand side at No. 22.), ☎ +351 219249800. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Recently opened in January 2011, Nice Way Sintra Palace is in a totally refurbished old palace house in the center of the mysterious and romantic town of Sintra.
The hostel offers private and shared accommodation, a fully-equipped kitchen, and a cozy living room which opens into a beautiful garden.
The hostel affords spectacular vistas of Sintra, crowned by two peaks, the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace. 15-50.