Day Trip: Lisbon to Sintra

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For our last day in Lisbon, we took a day trip to Sintra, which is only a 40 minute train ride away. I decided to do this day trip on a Tuesday, since I heard Sintra is crowded on the weekends. (It was crowded on this Tuesday as well). After browsing through Instagram, I was super excited about Pena Palace. But I ended up falling in love with a different Sintra site.

Getting There

We left from Rossio train station, which is different from the Rossio subway station. The train station is above ground and looks like this:

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Once inside, we took the escalator up to the main train platform. Tickets can be purchased from the counter or from a vending machine — employees were standing at vending machines ready to help people buy tickets.

We purchased a roundtrip ticket for 4.50 euros.

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The journey is an easy 40 minutes by train:

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Pena Palace

There’s a bus for tourists that basically makes a large loop around Sintra. It starts at the train station, heads up to Pena Palace, then comes back. It’s relatively inexpensive (I think a ticket costs something like 5 euros) but the line was sooo long when we get off the train.

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Instead, we paid a tuktuk driver 5 euros per person to take us directly up to Pena Palace. Pena Palace is located at the top of a mountain, so I would not recommend walking there from the train station!

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Pena Palace

Once we arrived at Pena Palace, we headed to the ticket kiosk to purchase tickets. While we were in line, I checked my phone and saw that we were able to buy tickets online. We ended up doing that and ditching the line.

We bought tickets for both the palace park and the interior palace tour. If I were to do it again, I would just purchase a ticket for the grounds and skip the interior tour. A ticket for the palace park is enough to explore the colorful exterior architecture:

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The interior tour is a single file walk through the interior of some of the rooms inside the palace. There are placards that detail the history of the palace as well as what life was like for the residents inside.

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Unfortunately, there were several choke points throughout the tour which meant a buildup of tourists just standing around in a line:

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If you’re only in Sintra for a day, chances are that you’ll come to Pena Palace for the architecture (and the gram). I recommend skipping the interior tour so you have more time to enjoy the views.

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Quinta da Regaleira

After Pena Palace, we headed to another palace: Quinta da Regaleira. This time, we skipped the actual palace and spent a couple hours exploring the beautiful gardens and grounds.

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We went across ponds, through underground tunnels, and climbed up the inside of a well.

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Started from the bottom…of a well

The palace grounds are huge, and it’s much less crowded than Pena Palace. We were able to explore several tunnels and only encountered a few other people.

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Climbing up columns

Bottom Line

Easily accessible by train, Sintra is a great day trip from Lisbon but be prepared for crowds! Skip the Pena Palace tour so you have more time to enjoy the colors of the palace exterior. And don’t miss Quinta da Regaleira!

 

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