Guide to Sintra’s Most Popular Castles
If you’re visiting Lisbon, Portugal you must make the time to take a day trip to Sintra, Portugal and visit the gorgeous Portuguese castles. Sintra is a royal hideaway complete with lavish gardens, colorful castles and gorgeous weather. I got my entire life walking back through time and exploring ancient castles for a day. IT felt like a modern-day fairytale.
Lisbon to Sintra – How to get there
Don’t panic! The direct non-stop train ride to and from Sintra is only an hour. A train departs every 15 – 30 minutes from several stops in Lisbon.
Cost of Train – Less than €10 ($11) per person, round trip
Travel Size Tip – Get on the train in the morning and beat the rush of tourists going to Sintra. It was standing room only when I went but, the ride was beautiful and went by quickly.
What to Bring
You must bring comfortable walking shoes! Sintra has many hills and requires endurance to get around. Also, pack hand sanitizer, sunglasses, snacks and a small backpack for souvenirs. Elders with mobility issues should weigh the pros and cons before visiting Sintra. The area is not wheelchair friendly.
After your quick train ride you’ll have the option of exploring the city on your own or hiring a guide that will be a personal driver. I decided that this would be the best option because I didn’t want to spend the majority of my time getting lost in the winding roads in a foreign place. This cost about €60 for a full 8 hours of exploration. Totally worth it in my opinion. The guide drove us to the most popular castles and told us the cool history of the region. Another plus to having a guide is that we didn’t have to wait on the local bus in the heat and hopped in an air conditioned van. I saw a few people that were tiiiiiiired and looked absolutely exhausted from walking around all day.
Pena is the most iconic castle in all of Sintra. The vibrant colors are absolutely gorgeous and the entrance fees goes to its upkeep. Once in the castle, you can take a self guided tour exploring. There are sooooo many gorgeous spots to take pictures, explore and meet other tourists. There’s a cafe, souvenir shop and plenty of staff to help you if you get lost.
Quinta da Regaleira
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Quinta da Regaleira is another standout estate in Sintra. The most popular feature of this property is a famous well that you can find after winding your way throughout the trails. Honestly speaking, I wasn’t too impressed with the well and got lost searching for it. Feel free to search google for pics of it. This estate looks more like a Cinderella type castle complete with winding staircases, lush gardens, grottos and fountains.
I spent about an hour walking around and enjoying the weather. After all that walking, a sista was hungry and to my delight, a full cafe was on site. The cafe had wine, beer, a variety of sandwiches and the best part was that I ate outside with a spectacular view of the castle. Is this real life? How could this be any more gorgeous? At a cost of only €6 ($7), this gorgeous estate is a must stop while in Sintra.
Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors)
Our guide advised us not to go to Castle of the Moors because he said it is very underwhelming and not as impressive as Quinta da Regaleira or Pena Palace. We took his word for it because he’s a local. However, I was still able to get a good view of it from a distance while visiting Pena Palace. Maybe on my next visit to Sintra, I’ll pay that castle a visit.
I hope this guide to Portuguese castles prepares you for your upcoming trip. Make sure you tweet me at @TravelSizeTips!