If you're looking for the perfect place to explore during your next vacation, then Sintra in Portugal should be at the top of your list.
Nestled in a valley of Serra de Sintra, Sintra Portugal is a remarkable town known for its captivating beauty. This stunning locale is home to some of the most exquisite architecture found in Portugal and has been labeled as one of Europe's most romantic retreats.
From the Palacio da Pena to Quinta da Regaleira, the architectural marvel abounds and offers visitors a unique glimpse into Portuguese heritage.
In addition to its renowned palaces, Sintra is also graced with lush vegetation which includes forests and gardens filled with rare botanicals - all of which invite visitors to explore and discover new wonders around every corner.
With its captivating historical castles and vibrant cultural attractions, Sintra provides an unforgettable experience for visitors. From feasting on local cuisine to admiring breathtaking views from some of Europe's most opulent palaces, there's something exciting around every corner!
Let us guide you through all the incredible top attractions and things to do in Sintra Portugal.
Visit Colorful castles and palaces in Sintra Portugal
Sintra is a place that must be visited in order to truly appreciate the world’s finest examples of castles and palaces.
Located in Portugal, these remarkable Sintra landmarks emanate a wonderful colorful atmosphere and show off many different architectural styles including Gothic, Romantic, Manueline and even Moorish-Islamic.
Visitors can take a journey back in time to explore the magical world of medieval architecture or luxuriate in the sumptuous decoration of classic regal palaces.
Sintra is indeed a unique world treasure that could only exist and thrive upon the stonework shoulders of grand forts, romantic palaces, miles of marvelous gardens and lush forests.
Sintra National Palace (Palácio Nacional de Sintra)
The Sintra National Palace is a sight to behold. It is the oldest palace in the town and boasts an incredibly well-preserved medieval royal residence.
It is also home to two stunningly decorated rooms - the Swan Room and the Magpie Room - that were named after the works of art painted on their ceilings.
The palace was originally constructed in a medieval style, and it still stands tall atop Portugal's idyllic Sintra region.
If you're looking for something special to do during your next vacation, a visit to Palacio Nacional de Sintra is sure to impress.
Quinta da Regaleira of Sintra Portugal
Quinta da Regaleira is an illustrious palace and its surrounding park make it a truly enthralling sight worth visiting. Commonly known as the “Palace of the Millions”, it was once owned by an eccentric millionaire who built a romantic palace and chapel, served as his aristocratic residence, and also developed a luxuriant park.
The regal park of Quinta da Regaleira features lavish lakes, mystifying grottoes, elegant benches, romantic fountains and two iconic initiation wells that appear more like towers stuck upside down.
These wells are connected through tunnels to other enormous monuments and caves situated around the property and associated with the Knights Templar, the Freemasons, and divination.
Quinta da Regaleira must be seen in Sintra for those seeking an immersive experience of nature combined with opulence.
Visit Quinta da Regaleira will definitely surprise you, furthermore, its historical landmark was declared a Portuguese National Monument and was also designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Moorish Castle of Sintra Portugal
The Moorish Castle of Sintra Portugal, also known as Castelo dos Mouros is situated within Pena Park above of the beautiful Sintra town, offering wonderful panoramic views of the whole area included Pena Palace and Palácio Nacional de Sintra and even a Quinta da Regaleira.
Legend says it was built by the Moors between the 8th and 9th centuries for defensive purposes. It was later abandoned and run down until it was bought by king Ferdinand II in the 19th century, who restored it again.
The main attraction of the Moorish Castle is its double fortress that leads up to the castle, a 450 meters line of walls with some towers, reminiscent of the Great Wall of China.
Moorish castle is easily accessible, as one can access it either via the Caminho de Santa Maria footpath, or via a road to the Palace of Pena.
The distance between Sintra's historic district and the Moorish Castle is about 3.5 km, and with the exception of some holidays, it is open every day of the year.
If you're looking for majestic ancient castles to explore in Portugal, then the Castelo dos Mouros is your perfect choice.
Pena Palace of Sintra
Pena Palace, also known as the Palácio da Pena is a beautiful Portuguese palace located in Sintra. Originally built in 1847 by Ferdinand II, it was constructed as a royal family summer residence.
This bright and colorful palace has been recognised to be one of “Seven Wonders” of Portugal due its amazing location and architectural styles.
Pena Palace, like the Moorish palace, is located above the town of Sintra, about 4 kilometers from the Old Town, and is easily accessible by car, bus, and train.
But if you want to walk, there is a nice footpath from Sintra to Pena Palace (the same as the one to the moorish palace - Caminho de Santa Maria) that winds through the lush forests of Sintra, through which you could reach Pena Palace in about 50 minutes.
Visiting this palace is an experience that everyone should see when they visit the area. With 19th century rooms and gardens, visitors can explore the history of the Portuguese Royal Family while marveling at architecture trends throughout its time.
Read also: Tour of Pena Palace
A visit to Pena Palace would not be complete without exploring Pena Park. Pena Park is located right next to the castle and is divided into several gardens with more than 2000 different plants.
But in addition to the variety of plants in Pena Park, there are small buildings that you can visit, waterfalls, ponds, fountains and lakes filled with fish and ducks.
Moreover, Pena Park is also home to Cruz Alta, a white cross placed on the highest peak of the Sintra mountain range offering stunning views to the Pena Palace and Atlantic ocean.
Monserrate Palace of Sintra Portugal
The Monserrate Palace (Palacio de Monserrate) in the Sintra region is a hidden gem, recommended for any tourist to visit. Originally built in the 19th century, this site was a summer home for Sir Francis Cook, an English millionaire.
Amazingly enough, all that remained of the original Neo-Gothic castle was ruined when Cook purchased it. He set out to transform Monserrate Palace into what we witness today - with its remarkable gardens, featuring exotic species from around the world, and a palace that embodies Romanticism.
While Monserrate Palace is not as popular as some of the other sites visitable in Sintra, like Quinta da Regaleira, Pena Palace, and Sintra National Palace, Monserrate Palace is definitely worth a visit while in Sintra!
Palace of Queluz
Palace of Queluz, also known as Palácio Nacional de Queluz, is a lavish palace located in between Sintra and Lisbon in the municipality of Sintra. It was one of the last great Rococo buildings to be designed in Europe, with marble and golden stucco lining its walls inside and out.
Worth seeing include the Throne Room, Ambassador Hall, Music Room, and Pedro IV’s Bedroom. Moreover, after viewing the interiors of this majestic palace, guests should take some time for a stroll around its exteriors.
The gardens of Palace of Queluz are some of the most unique ornamented gardens that Portugal has to offer and deserve to be visited.
Read also: Best Tourist Attractions in Portugal
Most spectacular beaches in Sintra Portugal
Sintra is an enchanting destination, boasting fairytale palaces and ruggedly beautiful Atlantic coastline. Underneath the cliffs of Sintra lies a hidden paradise - pristine beaches tucked away at every corner!
The wild, dramatic scenery along with clean surfable waters make for some truly magical beach experiences; Praia da Ursa and Praia da Adraga are especially renowned for their spectacular beauty.
Take in views you never knew existed – explore ancient caves carved into waves by winds from winters past...
Praia da Ursa beach
Praia da Ursa, or 'Bear Beach', is a hidden gem as well as one of the most breathtaking beaches in Portugal.
Located just next to Cabo da Roca - the westernmost point in mainland Europe, it can only be accessed by a short 20-30 minute hike, which may be difficult for inexperienced hikers.
The unique landscape of Praia da Ursa is characterized by beautiful sea stacks, and its name comes from the “Rocha da Ursa” (rock of the bear), which is one of the stacks.
Why Bear Rock? If you look closely at it from the north, its shape resembles a bear (if you have the imagination).
Praia da Ursa offers an unforgettable view and should definitely be on anyone's list of places to visit in Sintra Portugal!
Praia das Maçãs beach
Praia das Maçãs (Apple beach) is one of the most popular beaches near Sintra town, thanks in part to a tram line that connects the two locations during the summer months.
It's on the Atlantic coast and the waves can be quite powerful, but it isn't well known as a surfing hot spot. Although there are some rocks by the sea, Praia das Maçãs is mainly sandy and perfect for families with young children.
It's especially beloved because of its playgrounds, outdoor pool complete with slides, diving boards, and a kid's pool right on the beach.
A multitude of inexpensive restaurants make this beach an even more attractive destination for visitors.
Praia Grande beach
Praia Grande is the largest beach in the Sintra region of Portugal, offering two kilometers of golden sand and some of the cleanest waters in the country.
It’s a favorite spot for surfing and bodyboarding, hosting both the annual World Bodyboard Championship and Surf European Championship.
The northern area of Praia Grande boasts Europe's largest saltwater swimming pool at over 100 meters, owned by the Hotel das Arribas.
The south cliff is also a fascinating sight, containing dinosaur fossils with a sequence of eleven dinosaur footsteps easily visible.
With its grand sandbanks, clean waves and unique cliffs, Praia Grande surely has something to please everyone.
Praia da Adraga
Praia da Adraga is an untamed paradise tucked away in Sintra. Its wild beauty is complemented by its dramatic natural rock formations, and surrounded on all sides by imposing cliffs that guard the beach from intrusions.
The water here is crystal clear, enough to earn it a Blue Flag designation - but the waves can be quite strong, making it less ideal for swimming. However if you're seeking breathtaking scenery for photography or romantic strolls, it's certainly worth visiting.
On the south side is Pedra de Alvidrar is an awe-inspiring rock formation, plunging into the sea with a stunning archway in between. Just when you thought this beach couldn't get any more remarkable - Fojo da Adraga awaits; a natural well 90 meters deep that links up to the ocean below!
At low tide, the adventurous can explore a wondrous array of sea caves before heading to the fish restaurant at the entrance for some spectacularly tasty fare and stunning views of nature's great monument - the Atlantic Ocean!
Read also: Top attractions & Things to Do in Porto, Portugal
Another attractions and sights in Sintra Portugal
Sintra Portugal is a popular destination for visitors hoping to get a glimpse of the country's unique history and colorful culture. In addition to its natural beauty coastline and colorful castles, the city offers an array of interesting attractions to explore.
Visitors looking for another sight in Sintra can enjoy exploring the old 16th-century monastery of Convento dos Capuchos or a 150 height granite cliff of Cabo da Roca.
Or try something unique, book a room at Seteais Palace, an 18th-century palace with a special emphasis on its intricate details, filled with antiques, frescoes and sumptuous furnishings, now serving as a luxury hotel with family rooms, and best of all, with great views of Pena Castle and Castelo dos Mouros.
Stroll through Old Town of Sintra
The small, picturesque town of Sintra in Portugal is a destination that should be on everyone's travel bucket list. It is known for its stunning architecture and beautifully preserved old buildings, giving it a unique historical and cultural charm.
The cobblestone streets in the old town are lined with exotic flora, quaint churches and grand mansions built into the rolling green hills of Sintra - all combining to create a truly unforgettable experience.
While exploring the Old Town of Sintra, visit interesting museums such as the News Museum, inspired by the Washington News Museum, an interactive museum where you can learn about the media and things related to it.
In addition, there are various markets where one can find handcrafted items from local artisans.
Oh, and for a tasty bonus, head over to Casa Piriquita, the family-owned bakery nestled in Sintra. Indulge your taste buds with Queijadas - cheese and cinnamon tartlets that are traditional favorites there – or try their Travesseiro pastries. Packed full of fruit jam, they'll surely satisfy any craving!
Cabo da Roca
Cabo da Roca is an awe-inspiring headland that marks the westernmost point of mainland Europe. It has been a site of myth and mystery since the 14th century, where ancient sailors believed it to be the edge of the world.
Located around 150 meters above sea level and within the Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais, visitors can observe stunning panoramic views from this rugged and remote location.
This is certainly a must-see on any trip to Sintra, with walking trails meandering along the coast, connecting this point of interest to others in the area. Cabo da Roca is certainly one for adventurers and lovers of wild and untamed locations!
Convento dos Capuchos
Situated in the hills of Sintra, the Convento dos Capuchos (Convent of the Capuchos) is a 16th-century monastery intricately constructed with tiny cells together with small windows and doors.
Popularly known as 'Cork Convent', this quaint building was originally created to house 12 monks who opted to live in austere conditions within the tiny spaces.
Convento dos Capuchos was acquired by the state early in the 20th century and is now managed by it, allowing visitors to explore its many features such as a courtyard, hall of retreat and hall of penitence.
Constructed with specially selected rocks from the area, it blends seamlessly into its environment. Today, this naturally beautiful monument is surely well worth seeing for those looking for an unforgettable experience.
Hike, walk, climb to Sintra-Cascais Natural Park
Hike Sintra-Cascais Natural Park and experience its richness! This mountain range in western Portugal rises up to 529 meters near Sintra, covering 16 kilometers from the resort town of Sintra to Cabo da Roca on the Atlantic Ocean.
With its temperate oceanic-influenced climate, it experiences a higher rainfall than Lisbon and is home to nearly nine hundred native species of plants. If you're feeling adventurous, you can explore the slopes and practice mountaineering or climb some of the peaks.
And sightseeing tours also take travelers around many attractions like the Moorish Castle, Pena Palace, Capuchin Convent, Palacio Nacional de Sintra, Monserrate Palace, and Quinta da Regaleira. So whatever your ways of exploration are, come prepared for a memorable experience hiking up the Sintra Mountains!
Take a nostalgic tram ride
Discover the magical landscape of Sintra on a captivating tram ride that winds through forests and countryside before coming to an end at Praia das Maçãs, one of Lisbon's most splendid beaches.
This narrow-gauge tram, also known as Eléctrico de Sintra, was inaugurated in 1887, making it one of the oldest still functioning trams in Europe. Embarking this nostalgic train will guarantee unforgettable memories during your trip down memory lane!
Running along approximately 12 kilometers long route that runs from the center of Sintra town through the Serra de Sintra hillside, into Praia das Maçãs, it's a fun and convenient way to glimpse some of the amazing sights from afar, such as Pena Palace, Moorish castle and Sintra National Palace.
In 45 minutes you can experience not only ancient castles but also lush greenery in Serra de Sintra as well as stunning coastal landscapes when it reaches its destination - perfect for beach-lovers!
For those looking for an enjoyable trip up the hillside, this is it! With its vintage style and charming wooden interiors, the Sintra tram offers not only convenience but also an authentic experience into Portuguese life.
Read also: 11 must-see Places for Everyone visiting Madeira Portugal
How to Get to Sintra from Lisbon
Visiting Sintra while in Lisbon is a must. Sintra is located approximately 25 km from Lisbon, and most visitors choose it as a day trip, even though one day is not enough to see all the attractions and things to do in Sintra.
To make your journey, there are several options to choose from.
Going on a day trip on an organized tour will include transport and some guided Sintra landmarks at an affordable price. But remember that not all sightseeing places are included in the price, for some you may have to pay an entrance fee.
Taking the train is by far the cheapest option, costing less than 5 euros round trip.
Finally, getting a car is quite easy and provides flexibility since you can decide when and where you'll stop along your way in Sintra; however, finding a parking space can be difficult.
Whatever option you choose, exploring Sintra will be an amazing experience!
Read also: Top Attractions & Things to Do in Lisbon, Portugal
And Finally… Sintra is one of the most magical and beautiful places in Portugal. With its fairytale palaces, stunning gardens, and mystical forests, it's easy to see why this small town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you're looking for an unforgettable experience, add Sintra to your list of must-see destinations in Portugal. From exploring the Pena Place to hiking through the lush vegetation of the Park and Gardens of Quinta da Regaleira, there are plenty of things to do in Sintra that will make your trip truly memorable.