Sintra is a beautiful little town in Portugal that is a short distance away from the capital, Lisbon. From ancient castles to beautiful beaches and delicious food, it is a great place to visit on a day trip from the capital city, Lisbon.
We went to Sintra after 2 days in Lisbon. Why Sintra? Well, you see, I had just left Spain then, and I was spoilt with the beautiful beaches and sea. I needed that again! I know that Sintra has a nice quiet beach (Praia da Adraga) and I decided to check it out.
Getting to Sintra
The train departs for Sintra daily, from Rossio train station in Lisbon. You can take the regular metro (green metro line) or walk to Rossio train station (in the Baxia district).
This train is a regional train, and so you have to purchase your tickets at the ticket counter. A return trip costs 4,30€ and a single tip costs 2,15€ for adults. There is also an additional fee of 0,50€ for the card itself.
The train takes 40 minutes, and passes through the small residential towns. There are nothing much to see, so we spent the time talking. Sintra is the last stop, so you need not worry about missing it.
Trevellers Tip: The last train leaving for Sintra is at 00:20. We bought a single ticket instead of a return ticket because the price is the same. That was great because on the way back, we hitchhiked and could have gotten a ride back to Lisbon for free! But we decided to stay in the city to explore more as recommended by the lady driver.
Sintra Information Summary
Departing From: Lisbon Rossio Train Station
Arriving At: Sintra Station (last stop)
Timetable Schedule: Comboios de Portugal
Cost: 4,30€ (return) or 2,15€ (single trip)
Visit Praia da Adraga (The Beach)
The main reason to visit Sintra, at least for me, is the beach. Praia de Adraga is one of the best beaches in Portugal because of the cliffs and golden sand. It is also the best beach in Portugal according to The Guardian. As a beach person, now you see why I had to visit Sintra.
From Sintra train station to Praia da Adraga
Praia da Adraga is located 13km from the train station. To get to the beach from the train station, you have to take a cab. The buses available do not go to the beach. Luckily I had 2 other friends with me and we paid 14€ to get to the beach with a cab. The cabs are available just outside the station.
Alternatively, you can try to hitchhike. On the way back, instead of getting a cab (because it was very difficult), we hitchhiked back to the city center.
The cabs will alight at the entrance of the beach. There is a café at the entrance, if you need some water. Head towards the right-hand side of the beach for a quieter and more peaceful time, away from the crowd.
What to do at Praia da Adraga
Most people go to this beach to surf. The waves are amazing along Portugal’s coasts. However, after coming from Spain, I was spoilt by the warm Mediterranean Sea. The waters along Portugal, however, are cold because it is water from the Atlantic Ocean. Basically, damn fucking cold. You can also visit the cliffs, called Praia do Cavalo. It was high tide then, so we could not get to that side of the beach.
Other than being in the water, it is also a place to play beach volleyball or to tan under the sun. Well, obviously, I chose the latter. It was funny.
Nudity in Portugal
Many people think that Portugal and Spain are very similar in culture, food and heritage. Well, I thought so too. Turns out, people in Portugal are less open than in Spain. I did not know that until I went to the beaches in Portugal.
Read more about Nudity in Spain
I went to the beach and went topless immediately; that was what I had been doing in Spain anyways. People were shocked, but at least they didn’t stare. We enjoyed the summer sun, blasted music and had some fruits on the beach. The weather was getting good so I wanted to tan well.
Something I learnt in Spain is that if you want to tan nude, you have to go to the end of the beach. So, we started walking all the way to the right. The end of the coast was not too far and there was a family on the beach, nude. So there, we went on fully nude in Portugal.
Not the best move, really.
Perhaps because we were the only 3 Asian girls on the beach, we unknowingly became the spotlight on the beach. We managed to get rid of some people and finally tanned in peace. My girls were tanning nude for the first time, and it was fun.
We waited till sunset before going home. We hitchhiked back with 2 different drivers. We alighted at Sintra city centre to get some food before heading back with the train.
Information about Praia da Adraga
Getting there: Take a cab or rent a car from Sintra train station
To do: surf, tan, chill
Visit Palácio da Pena (The Palace)
Sintra is known for their Romantic-era architecture. One of the finest examples is the Palácio da Pena, which means Pena Palace. This palace is the reason people visit Sintra. It is also one of the most popular sights to see in Portugal. Commissioned by King Ferdinand II in 1842, the palace reflected an opera which the king loved. The king was inspired by Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria, and decided to build one for himself at the top of Sintra.
From Sintra train station to Palácio de Pena
Take tourist bus 434 outside of the train station. It is on the left when you exit the station. The Pena Palace is opposite the Moors Castle, also a popular sight in Sintra.
What to do in Palácio de Pena
The palace’s exterior reflects many styles of design, from North African to medieval gothic. The interior is well preserved to its best times in 1910, when Queen Amélia lived there during the time.
The palace is located at the top of a steep hill, overlooking the city. It is also painted brightly with yellow color with stunning designs. The palace and cultural landscape of Sintra were classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995.
You should expect to spend 3 hours in the palace. As it is a popular place, you can only imagine tourists coming in batches of coach buses. So, you should visit it either in the early morning or when the palace is going to close.
Your ticket allows you to explore the entire palace. If you are not so interested in the history of it, you can consider the cheaper ticket, with only access to the park and terraces at 6,50€ per adult. To save time, you can also buy your tickets online instead. You also get a 5% online discount.
Climb Moors Castle (The Castle)
While you are in Palacio de Pena, you should also visit Castelo dos Mouros, Moors Castle. It is a castle in the lush forest in Sintra, built in the 9th century. It was built by the North African Moors to protect Sintra from the Christians.
From Sintra train station to Moors Castle
Take tourist bus 434 outside of the train station. It is on the left when you exit the station. The Pena Palace is opposite the Moors Castle.
What to do in Moors Castle
The castle was not well kept and ruined. But when King Ferdinand II (the dude above) decided to build his new Neuschwanstein castle in Sintra, he thought he needed to renovate the area too. So he restored the castle and made it part of his Pena Palace. (How convenient right?)
Information about Palácio de Pena and Moors Castle
Getting there: take tourist bus 434 to the palace and castle (they are opposite each other)
Cost: [Pena Palace] 11.50€ per adult, 9€ per child [Moors Castle] 6,50€ per adult, 5€ per child. Buy your tickets here to save 5%. You can also buy a combined ticket of the sights.
Prices also increase by 1€ during summer time.
Opening hours: 09:30 (summer) or 10:00 (winter) to 18:00
Check out Quinta da Regaleira (The Magical Palace)
Have you ever heard about the legendary Quinta da Regaleria? If you have not, I am sure you have seen their stunning well on the internet!
Quinta da Regaleria was built by Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro along with the renowned architect, Luigi Manini. These 2 amazing people created the magical palace, combining 4 styles, Roman, Gothic, Renaissance and Manueline.
Do you know Dante’s Divine Comedy that represents the nine circles of hell, paradise or purgatory? The nine landings in the spiral staircase (in the picture) is supported by carved columns with 9 landings, to represent Dante’s Divine Comedy. The well is connected to laberiticas caves, which leads to a spooky garden surrounded by a lake.
From tourist office to Quinta da Regaleira
It is possible to reach Quinta da Regaleira on foot.
From the tourist office, follow the road (Rua Consiglieri Pedroso) up the hill, past the small church (Igreja Paroquial). At the T-junction outside of Sintra, turn right to Rua Barbosa do Bocage (N375) and the main entrance is 400m on the left.
What to do in Quinta da Regaleira
The grand house has a gothic façade, huge rooms and a massive garden. But the real deal is at the back, with hidden tunnels and symbolism. (Maybe the next Dan Brown will be here)
Be prepared to spend 1.5 hours there, exploring. If you are lucky to visit at sunset, you can capture how the sunrays fall on the castle.
The initiation well is also one of the more popular pictures of Portugal, floating around the internet. The well is an entire stairway that goes around the tower. Have fun taking pictures of each other in the little windows of the stairs.
Information about Quinta da Regaleira
Getting there: walk from the tourist office
Cost: 6€ (adult), 3€ (child)
Opening hours: 10:00 to 20:00 (summer time)
Trevellers is my way to change the world. Through my stories, tips and lessons learnt, I truly hope to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone, see the world and see who you truly are. Travel is more than just taking a selfie at beautiful destinations. Travel is an adventure, where you can truly become who you are, give you the time to reflect and grow to become the person you’ve always dreamt of.