Here are some of our recommendations on Things to see and do in Sintra. What to do in Sintra (Portugal) and around.
Our short vacation to Portugal started with this lovely romantic town. We had only a short amount of time to spend in Portugal and we didn’t want to stay just in Lisbon.
Sintra looked like the best option for us.
We took the train (3 euro) directly from the airport and drove about an hour to the center of the town. The sun was shining and while walking towards our hotel we felt the peaceful atmosphere of the place, categorized by the diversity of green trees, singing birds, and local artists sharing their art of music and paintings.
Sintra is also known for its amazing architecture, royal palaces, and castles, No matter where you look something is interesting to see and explore. As being a famous touristic destination, the town is full of local restaurants and cafes to choose from, with high-quality Portuguese food and wine selection.
So if you asked yourself if Sintra is worth visiting, here are some of our recommendations on the things to see and do in Sintra (Portugal).
Things to see and do in Sintra:
Pena Palace – Things to see and do in Sintra
Probably the most iconic place in Sintra and rightfully so. The palace is so unique and impressive that you can’t stay apathetic to it, with its special different colors and mixture of architectural styles. The structure itself is not very big, and you can explore it quite fast, observing the rooms where the Portuguese royalties use to spend their time.
Beside the palace itself, the whole compound is huge, covered with gardens, ponds, boulders, and greenhouses. We spent at least 4 hours there but you can easily spend the whole day strolling around and enjoying the amazing surroundings.
The palace is located high up on one of the hills and if you’re not in a walking mode you can go with one of the many tuk-tuk drivers in town or order Uber Taxi like we did which is a bit cheaper. Entry to the Pena Palace will cost you 14 euros, gardens included.
Castelo dos Mouros – Things to see and do in Sintra
After 10 minutes walk from Pena Palace, we went to check another impressive medieval castle. The Castle of the Moors was built in the 8th century and since then has gone through a lot of history and wars, and its architecture really takes you back to the past in times of kings, queens, and knights.
While exploring the castle complex, you will see some gardens and estates and walk along the ancient brick walls and towers enjoying a great panoramic view of the Sintra area. From the castle, we walked back to Sintra, a special path took us directly back to Sintra center.
The walk down was a great way to avoid going back through the main road and also a perfect ending to our full-day experience of Unesco Portuguese monuments.
Quinta da Regaleira
Another impressive palace that shouldn’t be missed (yes, Sintra is full of them) is the mystical Quinta de Regaleira. Sintra used to be a resort town for rich Portuguese people, which build very prestigious estates to show their wealth. One of those royal estates is Quinta de Regalaira.
The main palace was planned at the beginning of the 1900s, by the Italian architect Luigi Manini, for Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro’s. The main house, which is not inhabited for a while now has a gothic style and it really is a thing to see. First, you see the ‘house’ and then you continue to the most interesting part… The gardens. What most people come here for.
Take time to explore the huge, mystical garden: smell the exotic flowers, lose yourself in the dark labyrinths, see yourself reflected in the small artificial lakes, or just relax on a bench and listen to the birds.
Cascais – Things to see and do in Sintra
Just half an hour bus drive from Sintra center, Cascais is a great seaside town to spend an afternoon. The town is a bit more hectic, full of people, tourist restaurants and shops but prices are cheaper than Sintra.
After a nice lunch and a glass of wine, we went for a hike along the promenade, observing the locals enjoying the warm wheatear and especially admiring the huge waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
We ended our day in the famous Boca do Inferno to watch the sunset and catch a bit more action from the waves crashing on the rocky cliffs splashing water with full force.
Cabo da Roca (Europe’s Westernmost point)
We decided to go there spontaneously to watch the sunset. A local recommended us to go there due to the great weather and clear skies. We took a bottle of wine and 2 glasses and headed to Cabo da Roca. The most western point of Europe couldn’t be more perfect for this special occasion.
The endless horizon accompanied by huge rocky cliffs, picturesque lighthouse, and green fields made it all ideal for sharing a romantic moment. The sunset was one of the most beautiful we ever saw and it was a very nice experience.
We recommend saving a whole day spent at one of the amazing beaches around and for the desert to finish at Cabo da Roca viewpoint.
Praia da Ursa – Things to see and do in Sintra
On our last day in Sintra, before heading to Lisbon we wanted to experience some of the nature the area has to offer. After a bit of research, we decided to go to Ursa beach.
From reading on the internet we saw that the access to the beach is a bit sketchy and steep. We were a bit worried cause we had with us all of our stuff and bags so when we arrived at the descending point from the cliffs Tjasa was a bit skeptical. The spectacular views of the beach and its famous rock formations didn’t give us any choice but to just go for it.
In the end, the hike down wasn’t as hard as we imagine but did require some effort and safety. The beach itself is mind-blowing beautiful with soft sand and many rock features to look at and admire.
Also due to the ‘not so easy access,’ the beach is almost empty, with no people and you can find your private spot without being bothered (we even saw some nudist people wandering around carelessly).
Romantic and peaceful
If you ask what is special about Sintra, for us it was defiantly the romantic and peaceful atmosphere that this special town carries. The easy-going lifestyle of the locals, the unique architecture, and the delicious Portuguese food all contribute to the wonderful and short experience we had.
Besides the town itself, we also enjoyed the surrounding of Sintra and discovered some magical spots that we will never forget, all of them just less than 30 min drive from Sintras center. So next time you visit Lisbon or just planning a short romantic vacation with your spouse, you should definitely visit Sintra.