Sintra is an absolute must-do when it comes to day trips from Lisbon in my opinion.
Even if you only have a few days in this capital, I highly recommend heading out of the city to enjoy the cute town and amazing castles of Sintra.
Looking like something out of a Disney movie, with its brightly coloured towers and epic views, many people head to Sintra as part of an organised tour, which you certainly can do.
But for those who like their travel a little more on the independent side (and a little more on the budget side as well!), then it pays to know you can also get to Sintra independently too.
In fact, it’s both easy and affordable to travel from Lisbon to Sintra by train and here I talk you through the exact steps to enjoying this DIY day trip yourself…
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Where to Catch the Train to Sintra?
The great news is that there are frequent direct trains to Sintra from Lisbon using the city’s commuter rail service.
The journey takes only 40 minutes and the best station to pick the line up from is Rossio.
Rossio is a central station in Lisbon, situated near the Dom Pedro IV Square and, if you’re staying in Barrio Alto or Baxia, is likely to be under a 15 minute walk from your accommodation.
To get the best from your day in Sintra, I recommend getting to the station early if you can, so that you can maximise the time you have for your day trip.
I picked up the 8:41am train which got me to Sintra at 9:21am, but you can check all the train times to pick the best one by checking the official railway timetable in English here.
Just ensure you allow time to walk to the station (or catch an Uber) and then buy your ticket and get on the train.
Buying Your Lisbon – Sintra Train Ticket
Tickets for the train to Sintra from Lisbon can be bought at the station.
You can easily use the automated ticket machines (which have handy instructions in English) or head to one of the manned counters to buy your ticket there.
I recommend buying a return ticket to Sintra because it’s likely you’ll want to come back to Lisbon and it’s easier to just get your tickets sorted all at once.
A return train ticket from Rossio to Sintra costs around 5€ and you can pay using contactless or cash.
Your ticket will be loaded onto a plastic card, which you then simply tap at the barrier to get onto the platform of your departing Sintra train.
Simply check the boards for the platform information, ask a train station attendant or follow the tourist crowds.
Because yes, an FYI, you’re unlikely to be the only tourist making this journey!
Sintra is a very popular day trip from Lisbon and there will be lots of other tourists making the same journey – especially during the summer months or at weekends.
The Train Journey
The trains from Lisbon to Sintra are commuter trains (as I explained) and are modern, clean and comfortable.
Usually red in colour, you can normally sit anywhere on the train – except for first class – as there’s little to no reserved seating.
The journey takes around 40 minutes and you’ll want to get off at the Sintra station.
Again, follow the crowds!
Arriving at Sintra
Sintra station is centrally located in the lovely town of Sintra itself – which is well worth exploring for a couple of hours (perhaps for a bite to eat, to grab a drink or to buy some souvenirs) at the end of your day trip.
And that’s because you’ll probably want to start your time by visiting the castles Sintra is most famous for.
The castles (yes there’s more than one) are located up on a hill above the town within the Sintra-Cascais Natural Park and there’s 2 ways to reach them
Firstly, it pays to know that you can walk up the hill from the train station to reach the castles, but that this is a long and steep hill that will probably take you the best part of an hour and a half to scale.
If it’s hot weather and you’re lugging some gear with you – water, snacks, camera etc – then I’d highly recommend catching the convenient bus that will shuttle you up the hill to the castles in around 30 minutes.
The number bus you need to catch here is #434.
The bus leaves from right outside the train station, making it easy and convenient to find.
Tickets can be bought on the bus – from the driver when boarding – and cost 3.50€ one way. They are payable in cash or by card.
The bus ride is bumpy and windy, so if you suffer from motion sickness, you have been warned!
Personally, I’d recommend just getting a one-way bus ticket at this point, as you can enjoy a lovely walk down the hill (much easier than going up!) at the end of your castle sightseeing.
Otherwise, there are also taxi drivers who can take you up in a private vehicle to the castle. This usually costs around 5€ per person.
Visiting the National Palace of Pena
Whether it’s a taxi or bus or walking method you opt for, you’ll want to go right to the top of the hill where you’ll find the entrance for the Park and National Palace of Pena.
This is the flagship Sintra Castle (as I’ve explained there’s more than one of them) and the brightly coloured-Disney-like structures of this gem are the ones you’ve probably seen in photos of Sintra when researching your trip.
Entrance tickets can be bought at the door using the automated ticket machines and cost 14€ for 1 adult.
There’s a toilet and a café at the entrance you can make use of as well.
Then, it’s time to walk up into the palaces and enjoy your sightseeing and snapping.
I won’t go into further details here, because I’ve included info about this palace and the best bits to explore there in this article, but for now, I’ll just mention that you should climb right to the top for the amazing views over the national park that extend all the way to the coast.
Allow at least a couple of hours to explore the whole site.
Visiting the Castelo dos Mouros
After the Park and National Palace of Pena, I then suggest you head to the Castelo dos Mouros.
This is the second-best castle to visit in Sintra in my opinion and is located down the hill from the Pena Palace.
You can easily walk down the Moorish Castle (as it is known in English) through the lovely hillside trails and then buy your entrance for this second castle at the entrance again using the automated ticket machines.
Scale these old walks and again enjoy the views – this place feels more historic and is in a more dilapidated state, but that does make it more atmospheric in my opinion and you can get some epic photos here.
After an hour or 2 at the Castelo dos Mouros, you can then continue your walk down the hill back to Sintra – this is a lovely walk, again down well-paved trails and is the main reason I only suggest buying a one-way ticket for the bus.
Back in Sintra Town
After all that sightseeing, it’s likely you’ll be ready for some food and a drink and as you reach Sintra town you’ll come across the lovely Villa 6 – a great place to stop for lunch.
Back in the town of Sintra itself, the Villa Craft Beer & Bread is a great place to try some excellent Sintra-brewed beers and is located near the Sintra National Palace if you want to check this out too.
After enjoying all that the town of Sintra has to offer, it’s time to simply jump on the train home – easy as they run roughly every 30 minutes and you already have your return tickets.
Taking a Tour to Sintra
So that’s my full lowdown on how to travel from Lisbon to Sintra by train.
I hope I’ve convinced you it’s both easy and affordable.
If you’d still rather take an organised tour however, so that you don’t have to deal with organising any part of this great day trip, then check out my top picks:
- From Lisbon: Sintra and Cascais Full-Day Tour
- From Lisbon: Sintra, Regaleira and Pena Palace Guided Tour
- From Lisbon: Sintra Highlights Full-Day Tour
- From Lisbon: Sintra and Quinta da Regaleira 5-Hour Tour
When to Visit Sintra?
No question in my mind that the best time to visit Sintra and Lisbon is during the months of April through June, plus September and October.
This is when the warm weather will allow you to take full advantage of these destinations’ charm, but you won’t have you wilting in the summer heat.
5 Packing Essentials for Sintra
- Decent Day Pack
- Supportive walking shoes
- Natural SPF sunscreen
- Good insect repellent
- Sony A6000 camera
Travel Insurance for Portugal
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How Best to Pay for Things in Portugal?
When it comes to paying for things in Portugal, you want to ensure you’re not being charged overseas transaction fees or getting poor exchange rates when using your card abroad, which is why I always take my Wise card away with me wherever I travel.
The easy way to spend abroad with real exchange rates, no markups and no sneaky transaction fees, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card here… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay – sold! Grab yours here.
Where to Travel After Lisbon?
If you still have time for more travelling after Lisbon (and lucky you if so!) then you may want to head to other parts of Portugal.
Check out these articles for some inspiration…
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