Lisbon Portugal Sintra

Day-Trip to Sintra: Moorish Castle & Pena Palace

Palácio da Pena, Sintra, Portugal
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Sintra resembles a fairy-tale: littered with castles, palaces, and gardens. Due to this area becoming a royal favorite from the late 15th century on, courtiers started building their estates in the region as well. And you can still visit many of these today. Our focus, however, will be on the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace.

You could potentially visit more places but considering such a heavy Day 1, I suggest taking it a bit slower here and keep to these highlights:

Moorish Castle > Pena Palace > optional: Sintra Village & National Palace

Avoid going by car, as parking in Sintra is a huge challenge. Access with public transport is extremely easy, as the Sintra line is integrated into the Lisbon transport network. You don't even need a special train ticket, as long as you have enough credit in your Viva Viagem card. As of August 2018, it costs €2.20 each way. The centermost (and likely most convenient) station to hop-on is Rossio.

Sintra is the last station on the line so you can sit back and relax on the journey.

SINTRA #1

Cheat Sheet

  • starting/end-point: Lisbon
  • train tickets: CP/Viva Viagem Card
  • bus tickets: in-person

Itinerary:

  1. train to Sintra
  2. hop-on hop-off Scotturb bus (line 434)
  3. Moorish Castle
  4. Pena Palace
  5. Optional: Sintra Village & National Palace

ARRIVING in Sintra

As soon as you get out of the station, you will see a Scott Urb stop. This is the operator of the buses that will take you around Sintra. Due to the extremely hilly geography, unless you are super fit and properly prepared, I would not try to do all this on foot. Even with the bus, you'll be quite a lot of walking.

For our points of interest, you should catch the 434 (circular) line, also called Circuito da Pena (Pena Circuit):

Circuito da Pena (434), Sintra, Portugal

Timetable here.

Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle)

Castelo dos Mouros, Sintra, Portugal

The Moorish Castle was a military fortress built around the 10th century by the Muslims occupying the Iberian Peninsula. It had been abandoned after the expulsion of its Jewish occupiers at the end of the 15th century. By 1838 it was mostly ruined but Ferdinand II ordered the conservation and improvement of the Moorish Castle, along with the rediscovery of Sintra by the royalty and nobility in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Today you can walk along the battlements and enjoy spectacular panoramic views over Serra de Sintra.

Take note:

  • Opening times: 09:30-20:00 (high season) / 10:00-18:00 (low season).
  • Closed Dec 25 and Jan 1.
  • Ticket prices here. Purchase online and get 5% discount here.

 

TIP: The exit of the Moors Castle is very close to the entrance to Pena Park (which contains the Palace). Consider that it's a roughly 8 minutes walk before losing your time waiting for the bus.

Palácio da Pena (Pena Palace)

Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal

Originally it was a small monastery donated to the Order of Saint Jerome by Manuel I, mostly reduced to ruins after the Lisbon Earthquake. In 1838 it was acquired by King Ferdinand II, who set out to convert it into the royal summer residence.

Palácio da Pena features a mix of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline, Neo-Islamic and Neo-Renaissance architectural styles. It is, therefore, one of the prime examples of 19th-century Romanticism in the world.

TIP: The hike from the entrance of the Pena Park to the Palace is steep and long. Good news is that they offer a transfer bus, departing every 15 minutes, for only €3.

Take note:

  • Opening times (palace): 09:45-19:00 (high season) / 10:00-18:00 (low season).
  • Opening times (park): 09:30-20:00 (high season) / 10:00-18:00 (low season).
  • Closed Dec 25 and Jan 1.
  • Ticket prices here. Purchase online and get 5% discount here.
  • Bus transfer: 09:30-19:30 (high season) / 10:00-17:30 (low season).

Palácio Nacional de Sintra (Sintra National Palace)

In case you still have time to spare after visiting the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace, you can wander around the historic village of Sintra.

Its signature building is the Sintra National Palace, mentioned in texts as early as the 11th-century when it was still under Muslim dominion. Over time, modifications and extensions were made but its outline remains the same since the mid-16th century. The white twin conical chimneys are the symbol of the village.

Take note:

  • Opening times: 09:30-19:00 (high season) / 09:30-18:00 (low season).
  • Closed Dec 25 and Jan 1.
  • Ticket prices here. Purchase online and get 5% discount here.

Have you visited this area? What was your favorite part? Comment below and let me know!

 

See also:

Lisbon 101: Arriving & Getting Around

Lisbon: Top 10 & Day-Trip in One Weekend

 

Pin this post and happy travels!

Lisbon in One Weekend: Day 2 - Sintra (Moorish Castle, Pena Palace & Sintra National Palace), by Travel After 5

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