My time in Lisbon Portugal was short but one of my main drivers for going to Lisbon instead of any other Portugal city was because I wanted to visit the Sintra castles. It’s super easy to go from Lisbon to Sintra in a day. Let me tell you my experience.

Lisbon to Sintra in a day

We were staying in downtown Lisbon and wanted to arrive at the Sintra castles before they opened for the day. We heard that’s how you beat the rush is to go early and avoid the weekends. That advice might be a little outdated! More on that later.

We started our journey at the Rossio train station. There are several trains a day but we wanted to be on the 8 AM train as most Sintra castles open around 9 and the train takes 40 minutes. The train ticket was really really cheap. I think we paid 6 euros.

Tips for the Lisbon transit cards:

  • Each card is 50 cents. The cards can be reloadable but only after you have exhausted the money and time that you loaded to the card the first time.
  • You have to have one card per person. You cannot load one card for two people to take the same trip. You need two cards with one trip each.
  • The all day cards area great deal and can take you on all the metros, buses and lifts in Lisbon but it won’t get you on the train as that is a separate addition. You can get a pass for the train and metro, just make sure you select that option.

Sintra tourist office

Tourist bus 434 costs under seven euros and will get you a one way ticket on the castle loop. If you want to ride around the loop multiple times you’ll need another ticket. The first bus departs across from the Sintra tourist office at 9:15. The Lisbon to Sintra trip is really popular so the earlier you can get on the tourist bus the better. Take a right after you exit the train station and walk down the street a little bit. The office will be on your left. The bus stop is on the right.

At the tourist office in Sintra you can also get the pass for the castles. With this pass you can skip the line at the ticket office at the castles. If you’re going to Pena Palace you will still have to wait in line to see the inside of the castle. This line is ridiculous. I mean, REALLY ridiculous. It starts when the castle opens and will grow exponentially in that first hour. I can’t tell you when it stops but it didn’t for all the hours that we were there.

Pena Palace line from the outside. Skip the line and save money by not going in.

Pena Palace

We stood in line for at least 30 minutes to get into the castle and we were some of the first to arrive. I can tell you I was able to get and drink a really hot tea way before we got to the ticket taker at the door.

Pena Palace inside

Once inside the castle there is no escaping the line. I felt claustrophobic in there as it was wall to wall people and you couldn’t move anywhere. This is not how I like to enjoy a museum or art space. If that’s you too then just buy the Pena Palace grounds pass. In my opinion it’s way more enjoyable to see the outside of the castle and skip the inside lines. Plus, it’s cheaper!

Moors Castle

To get to the Pena Palace first we skipped the Moors Castle. To get back to the Moors Castle we walked since the bus only goes one way. The walk was short and really scenic. You don’t have to walk on the road as there is a trail.

The Moors Castle is so much less visited. I felt like I could breathe even in the wind. If you’re a person that is afraid of heights I would be careful climbing around on this castle as parts of it are narrow and don’t have safety rails. From this castle you have great views of the Pena Palace and the towns below.

After the Moors Castle we got back on the bus after a long wait. Since a lot of folks get tipped off to go to the Pena Palace first and don’t get off at this stop you may have to wait for a few buses. Please don’t think that driving up here will get you around any faster. There is very little parking and these roads are small and winding. If anything I would suggest doing a car share or tuk-tuk. It’s not much more and you’ll get up and down the hill faster.

Quinta da Regaleira

For me the number one reason that was drawing me from Lisbon to Sintra in a day was Quinta da Regaleira. The photos I saw from this place always intrigued me. I could see in my head the photo that I wanted to take. What I didn’t think about was that I didn’t really have the right lens to take the photo I dreamed of. I got a photo but I’m going to have to go again to get the exact shot that was in my head. I don’t mind this because all these castles were really pretty including the grounds. Make sure to wander the grounds especially if you are a nature lover like me.

Stay tuned for more shots on Instagram.

Quinta da Regaleira a Sintra Castle that's easy to visit from Lisbon.

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If you only have one day for Sintra here's some tips on my trip from Lisbon. Photo by and of Roux Roamer.