Sintra, Portugal  |  October 31, 2017

One of the many fascinating—and undoubtedly most popular—day trips from Lisbon is the picturesque town of Sintra. In the pine-laden hills of Serra de Sintra, there lies multiple stunning castles and palaces. If you come to Portugal, please don't forget to add Sintra to the itinerary.

After an hour-long train ride to the Sintra train station, I went straight to the buses that take you to all the main sites. When I was there, two buses took the eager tourists around—the 434 and 435 bus lines. The bus I took started by taking us to its first stop, the National Palace of Sintra (Palácio Nacional de Sintra). This thousand-year-old palace has influences from the Moors, the Muslim invaders who occupied the Iberian Peninsula.

The next destination was the Moors Castle (Castelo dos Mouros), another alluring, old Moorish castle. This one is on top of a mountain and offers all-encompassing views of Sintra. Built of stone in what seemed like a lifetime ago, this castle has stood the test of time.

From the castle, you can see other gorgeous landmarks, and on a bright and clear day, you can see for miles. It is here where you can get a stunning view of the iconic Pena Palace (Palácio da Pena) and other awe-inspiring castles.

On this tour of Sintra, it would soon be made clear that the best was saved for last. As previously mentioned, Pena Palace (Palácio da Pena) is an extremely colorful 19th-century Romanticist palace that also offers panoramic views of the parkland below. People come far and wide to visit this palace, getting a sensory overload upon arrival. When I write my "Top Palaces in Europe" post, Pena Palace will surely be on there.

From the palace, you can get great views of Castelo dos Mouros. Pretty much everywhere you go in Sintra has impressive views, as you can see from the photos above. Now do you see why Sintra is such a popular day trip?

Quick Tips:

  • Purchase your train tickets to Sintra as soon as possible. When you get to one of the many Lisbon train stations, there is often a queue of over 30 minutes. And if you're in a rush to beat the crowds in Sintra, this can set you back a bit.
  • Get there early!!!
  • A few people mentioned how they skipped the bus and enjoyed hiking up through the hills of the national park to Castelo dos Mouros and Pena Palace. There are many beautiful viewpoints and religious monuments on the way. It is a pretty steep hike from what I was told, so be prepared.

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