Sintra Itinerary: How to Best Explore Sintra in 1, 2, and 3 Days (Map + Flexible Itinerary)

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Are you confident about your Sintra itinerary? Sintra, Portugal, is one of the places where you are pampered with a lot of options. But it is also the kind of place where you never plan an extended stay. Sintra is also one of the most popular day trip destinations (I hope now you get why? Because the internet says it’s a day trip location). Well, it’s a bit true and a bit not.

Sintra is a small town, so you would only need a day if things went smoothly. But here’s the thing. It is also filled with palaces and castles, among other things, and you know what? They are super popular and will be flooded with tourists most of the year. And that is why your Sintra itinerary might fall apart because you haven’t considered the time involved in visiting each place. What might look like it is possible to be done in a day might not be achievable in the end. Hence, people are disappointed.

And that is why I have made a realistic Sintra itinerary considering the average amount of days people have for their trip. This could suit you if you have just a day in Sintra or up to 3 days. (The 3rd day is not very packed, giving you the time and flexibility to modify it to a 2-day itinerary). There is a complete section at the end giving you all the best possible ways to alter this Sintra itinerary and yet have a satisfying and enjoyable visit to this charming fairy-tale town in Portugal.

Tip! If you are spending just one night and want to make the best choice, my personal preference is spending 2 days in Sintra by combining Sintra 1-Day Itinerary and Day 3 in Sintra 3-Days Itinerary.

If you are here for just two days and want to see a change of scenery, you could skip day 2 and do day 3 (or more like half a day). It’s all your choice, well who is to ask? Well, I surely would love to know how your trip went, though. Feel free to modify the itinerary at your convenience and time availability.

How To Use The Map?

The orange suitcases are the locations from the itinerary. If required, zoom in and click on a suitcase to view brief details about the location. Click ‘View in Google Maps’ to view the location’s complete details in Google Maps.

Are you on a budget? Don’t worry! We are also on a budget and are frugal wherever possible. We research the best ways to explore a place while spending as little as possible. Sometimes we learn the trick the hard way. But you don’t have to, as I have mentioned loads of tips based on our experience to save you a lot of money and time. (Also, time is money, folks! Sometimes you will have to spend more and sometimes less to fit the trip into your budget.)

Okay, let’s begin right away!

Day 1 of Sintra Itinerary

If you reached Sintra the previous night, it’s great. But I will start from Lisbon like we did on our actual trip.

Reach Sintra From Lisbon

There are trains from Lisbon Oriente and Lisbon Rossio station to Sintra quite frequently. 

Tip! Usually, I recommend getting the day pass for whichever city you visit as they are more economical. But this time, I would have to suggest otherwise. Buy the tickets instead of using the Lisbon card or 24hr day pass of Lisbon, as these won’t work for the rest of your trip in Sintra. Day passes are coming up in Sintra, though! See, I never completely give up on them. They give the best value, trust me! I have done so many not-so-interesting excel sheet calculations. (Ugh! They are boring.)

What About Train Tickets?

The one-way train fare from Lisbon as of 2023 is €2.30 for an adult. You can use your Viva Viagem card and load tickets in it. (Check out this post for more information on the Viva Viagem card.)

You can find the train timetable from Lisbon to Sintra here.

When to Start?

This is a complete game-changer, folks. I am not at all kidding. Take the earliest train possible from Lisbon to Sintra. The earlier, the better. You don’t want to spend half your day standing in queues which can affect your overall experience.

Okay, I have researched for you to find that the first trains from Lisbon to Sintra are at 6:01 am from Rossio and 6:08 from Oriente. The journey takes around an hour, and you should reach around 7:00 am. This gives you time to grab breakfast, explore the old town a bit, and take pictures without the crowd.

Psst! Try to reach Sintra by 8:45 am as it gives you enough time to buy your tickets and board the first bus to Pena Palace.

Note for folks who want to visit Sintra by car! You can drive to Sintra, but consider taking the bus and public transport for the rest of your journey. It is not advisable to drive in Sintra, and it is almost impossible to find a parking spot near any of the tourist attractions.

Big Note! You can no longer drive to the Pena Palace and Castle of the Moors. The only possible options are to take bus 434 or hike up to the palace.

Always check for the latest information in the official website.

First Stop is Pena Palace

Pena Palace is the crown jewel of Sintra and the MOST CROWDED place in Sintra. (I was quite reminded of one of the most crowded and popular religious destinations back home, which was used as a reference to indicate the crowd). So, I am already prepping you up for what to expect. I already had an idea before my visit. However, I still underestimated it as I was visiting in the fall, which is off-peak time. (I am not at all exaggerating!)

Is it worth it? This is always up to one’s personal preference. Still, I would regret it if I hadn’t visited the Pena Palace, so the simple answer is yes, it is worth it. But you could enjoy the place a lot by following all my tips.

How to Reach Pena Palace Park’s Entrance?

I believe you have reached Sintra by train. As soon as you step out of the station’s main entrance, immediately to your left, you can find the stop from where the 434 bus, which covers the Pena Circuit, starts.

Buy your tickets from the driver directly. Make sure to get the 24-hour economical ticket, which costs around €11.50. (If you have the time, get the paper map of the bus route from the ScottUrb office on the station lane, or a quicker option would be to click a picture of the map on the bus stop.)

Your stop! Pena Palace’s stop comes after the stop for the Castle of the Moors. And I hate to say it, but I do not trust the stops suggested by Google maps. It made us get down at the wrong stop. Also, it is not easy to miss the stop. The entire crowd from the bus will get down at Pena Palace, and also they make an announcement on the bus.

Good to know! As the Moorish Castle comes first in this route, do not get tempted to get down here and cover Pena Palace later if you are starting in the morning. The crowd will increase in the Pena Palace if you do so. I advise you to complete Pena Palace and walk downhill to Moorish Castle.

Tip! Carry some cash with you. If you don’t, you could withdraw it from the ATMs in and around the station.

Public Washrooms! The cafe opposite the Sintra station has a clean washroom that is free for customers and costs €1 otherwise. Also, there is one available in the Sintra station itself.

What About Tickets?

Buy the tickets online (and ensure you can reach the palace entrance well before the time slot). The tickets sell out and make sure to buy yours a day or two before, preferably.

As of 2023, adult ticket is €14 (€13.30 online), youth/seniors ticket is €12.50 (€11.88 online), and family ticket is €49 (€46.55 online).

For our Sintra itinerary, I advise you to take the day’s first slot (9:30 am or 10 am). You could enjoy the palace easily 10 times better than a mid-day slot. (To all not-so-morning people like me – overall experience matters, it is not so much fun to wake up early, but we gotta do what we gotta do).

Bonus! Plus you get a little discount for buying it online. And also, you could skip standing in the ticket line, which is separate from the entrance line. (Whoo! 2 lines already, and it’s not the last. Time as well as a money saver.)

What to Expect at Pena Palace Park’s Entrance?

Be sure to be there in the provided time slot, which is for entering the palace. The provided time slot is not for entering the park. It will take around 20 minutes to walk from the park entrance to the palace entrance, provided there is no queue to enter the park (the waiting time will be less around the opening time). Well, there are two ways to get to the palace entrance:

  • One is by walking for around 15 to 20 minutes from the Pena Palace park entrance, where you have just validated your ticket. (Many sources would say it is a steep walk and should take around 30 minutes, but it is not; it should only take you half the time, and it is not difficult).
  • The other way is to take a shuttle to the palace entrance, the ticket for which can also be bought along with your Pena palace entry ticket. But the shuttle is very small and can only carry a few people at a time (which means another QUEUE), so I suggest walking if you can so there is less crowd for people who need the shuttle.
  • When you reach the palace entrance, check with the security staff at the gate to identify the queue for your time slot. If people have already queued up, then join the lines. For example, you could see the queue for 13:30 already in line before the people from the 13:00 slot are allowed inside. This means another 30 to 45 minutes of waiting based on the time of the day. Taking the first slot of the day saves you this time, and you will have the entire day to yourself to check out other places.

Facilities in Pena Palace

Public Washrooms

There are multiple public washrooms available, starting from one at the entrance. There is also a WC with disabled access provision.


There is a €1 coffee available from the machine, which is quite tricky to operate (but also has options to choose syrup), and a couple of vending machines at the main entrance.

There is also a small cafe on one of the terraces in the palace. You may grab a quick bite while enjoying the views.

Wheelchair friendly! The park and the palace of Pena are wheelchair accessible. Also, some of the cafes are undergoing renovation to be wheelchair accessible.

How Long Does It Take to Tour Pena Palace?

It would easily take around 2 hours to just enjoy the palace and admire its beauty at a nice pace (including the time taken to click your dream pictures). When everything works in your favor, you will take at least an hour to get inside the palace, considering you bought your tickets online. So dedicate at least 4 hours for the entire visit.

Ideal time! Dedicate half a day in your calendar for a visit. If you put in so much effort, it is also better to enjoy the views. 

If you have a lot of time, you could also explore the park of the palace, which is very beautiful indeed. Take a map of the place from the entrance of the park.

Walk Through the Moorish Castle (Castelo dos Mouros)

After exploring Pena Palace and its park, head to the Castle of the Moors. This millennium-old castle is constructed strategically with a vantage point overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Sintra Hills, and the surrounding plains.

How to Reach Moorish Castle?

Since the buses operate in a loop (owing to the narrow winding roads), you can’t find a bus coming from Pena Palace to the Castle of the Moors. But it is a very short walk downhill from the Pena Palace Park entrance and should take around 10 minutes.

From the main entrance where the bus stops, you have to walk a little further to the actual entrance. There are signboards at every intersection, so you will stay aware of the walking trails.

Note! There is considerable climbing involved, and the castle is at the top of a hill, so if you are afraid of heights or have vertigo, consider skipping it.

What About Tickets?

As of 2023, adult ticket is €8 (€7.60 online), youth/seniors ticket is €6.5 (€6.18 online), family ticket is €26 (€24.70 online), and free for children under 6.

You can book your tickets online here.

Tip! Buy your tickets online, as this is the next popular tourist attraction after Pena Palace. You wouldn’t want to be standing in another queue. And also, dear budget travelers gotta save every penny that we can. (The online ticket gets you a discount. Hurray!)

Facilities in Moorish Castle

Public Washrooms

There are a few washrooms inside the castle. Also, there is a free and clean washroom on the opposite side of the road at the Castle’s entrance.


The official map shows a few cafes inside the castle, but I couldn’t find any open when I visited. Make sure to carry some snacks or try to have something while in Pena Palace. It could be a while before you can get to any restaurants.

How Long Does It Take to Tour Moorish Castle?

You will easily spend 2 hours visiting the castle.

Return to Sintra Station and Grab Lunch

Get back to Sintra station, where we will get to the next destination.

Catch the Bus to Sintra Station

You take bus 434, which will go to Sintra station from the entrance of Castle of Moors. On the opposite side of the road, look for the sign for the bus stop. The bus will go to Sintra station via Pena Palace and the National Palace of Sintra (which we will visit later).

Tips for hiking enthusiasts! There are trails from the Moorish Castle leading to the National Palace of Sintra, which is closer to the center of the town. You could take this trail on the way back after visiting the castle or hike up to the castle.

Could We Call It Lunch if It’s Not Lunchtime?

If you have only one day in Sintra, I would advise you to quickly grab something to eat from the cafes or burger joints near the Sintra Station before heading on to the next stop. It is probably a bit late for lunch, but today is the day we go on having multiple small bites rather than one nice meal.

Get Charmed by the Monserrate Palace

Monserrate Palace is not usually the first choice for many tourists. I really wonder why, though? Probably they may not be aware of it. I presume because it is really a hidden gem and is worth traveling a bit more to see it. It is smaller than Pena Palace, but it is very charming, and it’s a must-visit place in Sintra, which is why it made it to day one.

Tip! You could visit Monserrate Palace after the National Palace of Sintra on Day 2 of our Sintra itinerary if you stay more than a day and visit everything more relaxedly. I added this to Day 1 of our Sintra itinerary, especially for people on a day trip to Sintra. Alternatively, you could explore the local town on the evening of Day 1.

How to Reach Monserrate Palace?

You could easily take a tuk-tuk or bus to the park’s entrance. It is not far away from the town of Sintra. Bus 435 goes to Monserrate Palace, and the bus stop is the first one on the right of the Sintra station. 

Psst! I guess it may not be popular because this route is unfamiliar to tourists. Sometimes you can see that the bus is disguised as a small van. So don’t dismiss it as a private vehicle, and look out for the bus number stuck on the windshield.

What About Tickets?

You could get the tickets from the front desk, which is not very crowded. But hey! We gotta save a few bucks, so get that discount by buying it online.

As of 2023, adult ticket is €8 (€7.60 online), youth/seniors ticket is €6.5 (€6.18 online), family ticket is €26 (€24.70 online), and free for children under 6.

You can book your tickets online here.

Good to know! Monserrate Palace has a very well-curated tropical garden which makes you feel that you are in a tropical forest, but you are actually not. As you walk towards the palace’s entrance from the gate, your path will separate into different routes, each indicating the distance to the palace. Take the longer route if you are not pressed for time, and you will thank me later.

Facilities in Monserrate Palace

Public Washrooms

There is a washroom within the palace compounds, as well as one inside the main palace as well.


There is also a cafe located inside the palace compound.

End of Day 1 in Sintra

That’s it for today. If you are spending the night in Sintra, enjoy a nice dinner in a restaurant around the main town as you wouldn’t find many others outside the main center. Also, make sure to have dinner before returning to your stay, especially if you are walking. 

If you are on a day trip, you could take the train back to Rossio or Oriente Lisbon from Sintra station.

Where to Stay in Sintra?

Sintra has a lot of stay options, but you need to decide what suits you best when you plan a trip to Sintra. Let me answer a few questions regarding the stay options.

I Have Decided to Stay a Day Now, but Where?

During our trip to Sintra in early November, we spent a night in Casa do Valle, a lovely place for the price. It is around a 10 minutes walk from the Sintra station, so it will be perfect if you do not have a car and want to stay close to the center.

The place was very cozy and comfortable and had a common dining area with a kitchen; if you wanted to cook or heat up the takeaway. The hosts had an adorable dog (Cleo, if I remember correctly) who just bonded with us immediately. She belonged to the welcome committee, as we were told (just kidding).

Oops, I did it again. I could keep talking about how sweet the dogs are and won’t shut up. But let’s move past it for now.

Tip! Not just this place, but for any stay options in Sintra, which does not have a restaurant option, this holds true. Have your dinner before returning to the stay, as you won’t find any place to eat nearby. However, this stay is pretty close to the center. The walk includes slightly steep roads, and it could become difficult to walk back when it is dark.

We had gotten takeaway from a burger joint in the center. The hosts were surprised that we had already researched about the place to know this. (Me putting up a proud face!)

The hosts were also happy to keep our luggage before and after our checkout so we could happily roam around without worrying about it.

Tip! If there is no option to leave your luggage during your stay, do not worry! There is a souvenir shop opposite the Sintra station where you can keep the luggage for the entire day for a cost of €10 per bag. If you store your luggage in their shop, you also get a 10% discount on anything you shop there. That’s pretty sweet!

What if I Have a Car or Do Not Mind Staying Far From the Center?

Consider staying at Azenhas do Mar (Azenhas do Mar West Coast Design and Surf Villas or Azenhas do Mar Valley House).

Please, do check out this place. It looks SO DAMN GOOD. The location, the ambiance, and the views are top-notch and stunning. I can already imagine myself enjoying the sunrise and sunset from this place.

They have different options for different budgets. Rarely available, but if you are like me and plan your travel well ahead, you could get this place at an excellent price. This place literally looks like a mini Santorini.

Alternative Options




Want to explore more options? Please search in here. We use to book all our stays and have always had a good experience.

Day 2 of Sintra Itinerary

Let’s continue to explore more of Sintra today. We’ll start by exploring Quinta da Regaleira.

Explore the Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira is such an intriguing 19th-century villa located in Sintra. What sets Quinta da Regaleira apart from the others is that this palace has a lot of secretive passages and spiral staircases down to a well. The entire place gives you a mystical vibe.

The palace has a lot to explore around the main palace as well. By visiting it at a slow pace, you get to enjoy everything it has to offer and obviously take stunning pictures.

How to Reach Quinta da Regaleira?

You could easily take a tuk-tuk or bus to the entrance. It is close to the town of Sintra. Bus 435, which goes to Monserrate Palace, stops at the Quinta da Regaleira first. This is the same bus (maybe a van) you take for Monserrate palace.

What About Tickets?

This is one of the popular tourist attractions, unlike Monserrate, so you could expect big queues. It is best to arrive here first thing in the morning and for tickets, make sure to buy them online. I hate to break it to you that you don’t get to save money purchasing tickets online for this one. But sure you will save time waiting in the queues.

As of 2023, adult ticket is €11, youth/seniors ticket is €6, and free for children under 5 and seniors above 80 years.

You can book your tickets online here.

Visit the National Palace of Sintra

Located right in the middle of the town, you can instantly spot this palace once you are in Sintra. If you are puzzled looking at a big white building with two inverted funnel-shaped towers and wondering what it is, yes, that’s the one.

This building holds a lot of history of entire Portugal. Are you a history buff and want to know more? There are many guided tours that can give you more insight into the place during your visit.

What About Tickets?

As of 2023, adult ticket is €10 (€9.50 online), youth/seniors ticket is €8.5 (€8.08 online), family ticket is €33 (€31.35 online), and free for children under 6.

You can book your tickets online here.

How to Reach National Palace of Sintra?

The quickest way to get from Quinta da Regaleira to the National Palace of Sintra is to walk about 1 km. You can reach the destination in 15 minutes. You could also explore the neighborhood as you are walking. To get back to the Sintra station, you could take bus 434, which stops at the National Palace of Sintra before returning to the Sintra Station.

End of Day 2 in Sintra

You have the rest of the day to explore Monserrate Palace if you haven’t already visited it on Day 1. Or you could do some souvenir shopping and dine at a nice local restaurant. (Skip the touristy ones!)

Day 3 of Sintra Itinerary

Let’s change the scenery, shall we? I think I have already hinted at what we are gonna do today.

Chill at Cabo da Roca

Cabo da Roca or the Cape Roca, located 18 km west of Sintra, marks the westernmost point of mainland Europe. It’s one of those places that is right out of a painting. You just feel like you are inside one.

Good to know! Do not go beyond the fencing, even for a picture, as the winds are very strong and unpredictable. You could be literally blown away and injure yourself.

Tip! Consider bringing a light jacket even in warmer months, as the winds could be chilly up here.

How to Reach Cabo da Roca?

Take the 403 bus that goes up to Cascais from Sintra station, and it takes a while but not that far. You could also drive up to this place.

What About Tickets?

There are no tickets and no entry timings as well for visiting Cabo da Roca. It’s a public place open to all. Yay, that is good for the pockets!

Facilities in Cabo da Roca


Nearby there is a little cafe. You could enjoy incredible views while sipping your coffee from here. Also, there is a souvenir shop selling personalized certificates that you visited Cabo da Roca.

Public Washrooms

There is a washroom near the bus stop, which charges around 50 cents if I remember correctly.

Wander Around Cascais (Optional)

You could also go to Cascais from Cabo da Roca and enjoy the remaining part of the day if you have the time and energy.

Cascais is where the action is. It is a busy, cute little old fishing town filled with white-washed houses and cobblestone streets along the beautiful coast. It gets more alive in the early noon. Still, it is mostly peaceful early in the mornings when you can enjoy walking around the picturesque old town. It is also filled with shops to take back cute little souvenirs. Cascais has beautiful beaches and also has a few popular surfing spots.

It is also possible to enjoy the entire place on foot, and there are many excellent options to enjoy biking. Being well connected with Sintra and Lisbon attracts many tourists and locals on the weekends.

End of Day 3 in Sintra

And that is all we have for our Sintra itinerary. It is time to get back to Lisbon!

How to Get Back to Lisbon?

Assuming that’s where you started this part of the journey, let’s get back.

From Sintra

From Sintra station, hop on a train to Lisbon Rossio or Oriente.

From Cascais

You could take the train from Cascais to Cais do Sodré, Lisbon, and take a metro to the main city.

From Cabo da Roca

You could either go to Cascais and proceed as above or take the same 403 bus heading in the opposite direction towards Sintra. From Sintra station, hop on a train to Lisbon Rossio or Oriente.

For more information on how to use public transport and tips, check our post about some useful information to know before you visit Sintra. Also, do check out the best things to do when you are in Lisbon.

Kiki from RooKiExplorers posing in a field of pink hyacinths in the Netherlands.
The Face Behind the Post

Hey, I am Kiki! A full-time software developer and hardcore travel enthusiast who is always up for a new adventure and the author of RooKiExplorers. I love to travel the world and enjoy talking about it, helping everyone around me plan their trips, and avoiding making the mistakes I made.

10 thoughts on “Sintra Itinerary: How to Best Explore Sintra in 1, 2, and 3 Days (Map + Flexible Itinerary)”

  1. Kiki this is such an awesome post! The detail you give is amazing, I have traveled to Sintra and still learned a lot from this. I wish I had gone to Cabo da Roca…I will save your post for a future trip back to Portugal! Great pictures!

    • Thank you very much, Sierra! Hope you get to visit Cabo da Roca next time when you are in Portugal. It is a magical place! 🙂

    • Yeah, it is a hidden gem in Sintra and hence it is not very crowded. It also lets you have a quiet time to yourself. 🙂

  2. What a great itinerary, and your photos are absolutely stunning! I keep hearing about Sintra and have definitely been convinced to visit someday; now I know exactly what to do when I go 🙂. Xx Sara

  3. I love Sintra and always stay the night! I’m lucky cos I live very close but I try to visit just one palace and enjoy nature. There is just so much to see in Sintra! Thanks for your comprehensive list! Great tips!


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