Destinations Europe

A Visit To The Pena Palace Sintra, Portugal

The Sintra mountains are only a 30-minute drive west from Lisbon. With its lush green mountains, medieval castles and romantic 19th-century palaces it is easy to understand why Sintra has been classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As the region is so picturesque and relatively close to Lisbon, Sintra is unsurprisingly, a popular tourist destination. So the basic travel rule applies, “go early“.

Getting To Sintra

You can easily get to Sintra in about 40 minutes by train but you then need to get the bus (434) to reach the Pena Palace. Don’t even think of walking unless you want to arrive in a sweaty mess, as it is at least a 60-minute walk uphill.

As we didn’t want to waste too much time travelling and finding our way around we opted for the easy option. We took a small guided tour from Lisbon (only 6 of us in the group), this proved to be an excellent way to visit Sintra and the Pena Palace.

The Pena Palace grounds

Approaching the Pena Palace through the beautiful grounds.

A Brief History Of The Pena Palace

The Pena Palace was built in the 19th century on the ruins of a much older monastery. All that was needed to build such a grand palace was one German-born prince – Ferdinand II, a Portuguese queen – Queen Maria II, an ex-mining engineer – Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege and quite a bit of money.

Next, throw in a mishmash of architectural styles including Portuguese Gothic, Neo-Islamic and a bit of Renaissance Revival for good measure. Amazingly you end up with a beautifully colourful palace. A ‘Disneyesque‘ creation sitting in a stunning national park.

The palace was used as a royal summer residence so that the family could escape the heat of Lisbon.

The Red Facade of the Pena Palace

The palace is a UNESCO world heritage site

On a clear day, it is possible to see the city of Lisbon and its suburbs from the palace walls.

The Front of the Pena Palace

Triton features on the front of the Pena Palace

From the palace, you can also get an excellent view of the nearby Castle of the Moors. This was originally constructed in the 9th century during the Muslim rule of the Iberian Peninsula.

Castle of the Moors

Overlooking the Castelo dos Mouros, Sintra

Sintra Tower

The eclectic styles of the Pena Palace

The palace is surrounded by 500 acres of beautiful parkland and exotic gardens. Most of the plants and trees were brought in from around the world, these include species from Japan, New Zealand, North America and Brazil.

Trees in the Park

The Pena Palace grounds

Other Places to Visit In Sintra

As well as the Pena Palace and the Castle of the Moors other places to visit if you have time are.
Quinta da Regaleira – A grand old decorative house and gardens constructed in 1904 by Portuguese businessman Carvalho Monteiro. The fascinating gardens feature subterranean tunnels, ponds and wells.

Monserrate Palace – Another beautifully eclectic palace surrounded by beautiful gardens and manicured lawn. A mix of Gothic, Indian and Islamic styles restored in 1858 by Englishman, Sir Francis Cook.

Sintra National Palace – The palace sits in the centre of Sintra town and is easily recognisable with its two distinctive chimneys which resemble Morrocan tagines.

Sintra Town Portugal

Sintra town in the foothills of the Sintra Mountains

Summing Up Sintra

So should you make the trip to Sintra when in Lisbon? It’s a definite yes from us and actually, one day isn’t really enough to properly see all of the sights.

We will definitely be going back when we are next in Lisbon and look forward to spending more time in the luscious Sintra woods and gardens.

Have you been to Sintra, what tips, tricks or must-see sights do you recommend?

The Pena Palace in the Sintra Mountains, near Lisbon Portugal.

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  • Punita Malhotra
    May 6, 2017 at 10:43 am

    I loved the vibrance of Sintra Pena Palace and I loved the walk up through the park even more. Its more of a forest than a park actually.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 6, 2017 at 9:03 pm

      Yes, the woods are beautiful. Nearly all of the plants are not native but imported from around the world.

  • Mike Cotton
    May 6, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Great video. I love the fact that Lisbon is appearing more and more on travel bloggers radar. And to know that there are some beautiful landscapes within 30 mins of Lisbon is even better.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 6, 2017 at 9:05 pm

      We loved Lisbon, there is so much to do around the area as well. We will definitely be going back.

  • Megan Jerrard
    May 6, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Wow, so many cool architectural styles, I would love to visit Pena Palace, it sounds like Sintra is a great day trip from Lisbon. Amazing view of Castle of the Moors, and crazy to be able to see all the way over to Lisbon! Would love to visit 🙂

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 6, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      It’s really quick to get there from Lisbon. You could easily spend a few days in Sintra exploring the woods and other castles and gardens.

  • Ben
    May 7, 2017 at 2:46 am

    We are heading to Portugal this summer. Can’t wait to visit Sintra, Lisbon and all the other cool towns there.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 7, 2017 at 7:24 am

      It’s a must see place, go early to avoid the crowds and when the temperature is cooler.

  • Iza Abao
    May 7, 2017 at 4:06 am

    I enjoyed watching your video. The scenery was awesome. The palace looks stunning. I’d love to visit this place someday.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 7, 2017 at 7:24 am

      Yes, it’s a beautiful part of Europe.

  • Siddhartha Joshi
    May 7, 2017 at 4:17 am

    I had not even heard of Sintra but looking at your pictures I am loving it already. Plus I think I would really enjoy Castelo dos Mouros also 🙂

    By the way, good tip about taking the bus instead of walking…

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 7, 2017 at 7:25 am

      The hills are quite steep so taking the bus is definitely the best option especially in the summer sun.

  • Raksha Nagaraj
    May 7, 2017 at 5:17 am

    Sintra looks so beautiful, especially the Pena Palace. I would love to visit this place sometime. Your post gives a complete information about how to reach and what needs to do. Thank you for this post. I will definitely bookmark this link and will refer when I plan my visit to Lisbon.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 7, 2017 at 7:26 am

      Its quite close to Lisbon but there are just a few little things to make the trip run smoothly and avoid the main crowds.

  • Darlene
    May 7, 2017 at 10:07 am

    Palaces and castles! Wow this place is really a must see in my book. Do you think a solo traveler wont have problems going around here?

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 8, 2017 at 7:33 am

      It is very easy to see the area for groups or solo travellers.

  • elisa
    May 9, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    I have been to Sintra twice but I was always lazy to visit Castelo Pena. By the views you show from the top it seems it is worth it! I totally agree with you that Sintra is a beautiful day trip from Lisbon, especially in summer when Lisbon is too hot

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 10, 2017 at 6:59 am

      We were lucky to have perfect weather for the trip to the castle. They often have more clouds and rain in the mountains. You must go again when you are next there.

  • Nisha
    May 10, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Very nice photos and article. I am going to bookmark this guide for future use. The red part is probably the frontside and looks so different from the rear yellow part.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      May 11, 2017 at 8:51 pm

      It’s a real mix, you actually approach up a steep hill to the yellow part and the tiled front.