Portugal City Travel Guide: Sintra
- Former summer residence of Portugal's kings.
- Stunning views and natural scenery.
- UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Hillside palaces, castles and villas.
- Interesting museums, cafes & restaurants.
- 32km northwest of central Lisbon.
- Recommended half or full day trip.
Sintra, for centuries the summer residence of Portugal's kings and aristocrats, makes for an rewarding day trip from Lisbon or Cascais or as a relaxing base for a longer stay. Sintra's beautiful surroundings of forested hills are the perfect setting for the town's many elegant palaces, castles and museums. There are threee distinct parts to the town: Estefânia (around the station), Sintra-Vila (the old town) and São Pedro de Sintra (for shopping and budget accommodation).
Festivals in Sintra
26-28 June. S. Pedro's annual festival with craftsmen's fair, cattle show, popular dance exhibitions, musical competitions, serenades, etc.
Hotels in Sintra
The Palácio Nacional or Paço Real (open Mon-Tue & Thu-Sun 10am-5.30pm; entrance charge) is Sintra's main tourist attraction and a former royal residence dating back to the fourteenth century.
The palace is an exotic fusion of Gothic, Moorish and Renaissance styles topped with two distinctive chimney cones. Look out for some of the oldest Azulejos (Painted Tiles) in the country and the fine marble fountain in the Sala dos Árabes, the heraldic ceiling paintings in the Sala dos Brasões and the famous painted magpies in the Sala das Pêgas.
The hilltop Palácio Nacional de Pena (open Tues-Sun 10am-4.30pm; small entrance fee) dates from the nineteenth century and is a bizarre mixture of outlandish architectural styles including Moorish minarets and Gothic battlements. Entrance to the palace is through the Parque da Pena - full of small lakes, black swans and exotic plants.
The Castelo dos Mouros - Castle of the Moors - are the restored ruins of an eighth century Moorish castle with stunning views of the area.
(Open daily 10am-6pm in winter or 9.30am-8pm in summer; 8 Euro entrance fee).
The Quinta da Regaleiria (Tue-Sun) estate is accessible by tours, which can be booked on (Tel:219 106 650). The grandiose estate was built at the turn of the twentieth century for António Carvalho Monteiro, who had made his fortune in Brazil. The Palácio dos Milhões and the superb gardens are the main attractions.
The Palácio de Seteais built in the late eighteenth century is now a luxurious, five-star hotel (Tivoli Palacio de Seteais) and plays host to classical concerts during Sintra's Festiva de Música.
Monserrate (open daily 9am-5pm or 7pm in summer) is a charming eighteenth century quinta or estate associated with two previous English residents: William Beckford and Sir Francis Cook. The wealthy Beckford fled here in 1793 to escape a homosexual scandal back in Britain and fifty years later the equally rich Cook built a grand Victorian house and laid out the exotic gardens.
The Convento dos Capuchos (or Cork Convent) is a tiny hermitage built in the sixteenth century for Franciscan friars. Its minute cells, chapel and refectory are cut from the rock and lined with cork - hence its name. Tours to the monastery are available daily but must be booked in advance, details at the turismo.
The Sintra area has some interesting museums well worth a visit. Expect to pay a small entrance fee:
The Museu do Brinquendo (Tue-Sun 10am-6pm) houses an international
collection of toys from around the world built up over the years by João
The Museu de Arte Moderna (Tue-Sun 10am-6pm) opened in 1997 in Sintra's former casino in Estefânia. The diverse collection includes works by Kossof, Lichtenstein, Pollock and Warhol.
The Teatro Virtual (Tue-Sun) is a small cinema showing a recreation of the early Portuguese voyages to Japan.
Sintra along with Estoril and Cascais plays host to the annual classical Festiva de Música from mid-June to mid-July.
Sintra Tourist Offices
23 Praça da República.
Tel: 219 231 157
Fax: 219 235 176
9am - 8pm; June-Sept; 9am-7pm Oct-May
Sintra Train Station
Tel: 219 241 627
9am - 8pm; June-Sept; 9am-7pm Oct-May
Getting to Sintra
There are local buses from Sintra to Cascais (#417), Estoril (#418) and Mafra. From Sintra Station a number of buses run by Scotturb around the sights. Bus #433 (Urbana Sintra) runs into historic Sintra on a circular route. Bus #434 (Pena Tourist) leaves the station 3 (in winter) or 4 times an hour for Sintra Castle, Pena Palace, Vila and Sintra Toy Museum. Bus #435 also connects to various destinations in the historic center. To get to Cabo da Roca take either bus #403 or the open top tourist bus, Circuito da Roca.
There are trains to Sintra approximately every 15 minutes from Rossio on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends, with the journey between Lisbon and Sintra taking 39 minutes. On weekdays after 8.38pm the service is every 30 minutes.
The first train from Rossio is at 6.08am with the last train at 1.08am. The last train from Sintra to Rossio leaves Sintra at 12.44am.
Recommended Accommodation in Sintra
Book Hotel Accommodation in and around Sintra
Tulhas Bar & Restaurante
Rua Gil Vicente 4
Tel: 219 232 378
Speciality veal with Madeira.
Thurs-Tues noon-3:30pm and 7-10pm
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The average high June temperatures for Portugal is between 22 degrees Centigrade and 26 degrees Centigrade.
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