Sintra travel guide

Sintra, jewel in the crown of Sintra-Cascais Natural Park and the ‘Portuguese Riviera’, is the most popular daytrip destination from nearby Lisbon. The town centre, its historic passage lined with traditional houses and shops, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the surrounding area is dotted with at least 10 national monuments.
Aristocrats and artists alike were drawn to Sintra by its cool Atlantic microclimate, and you can see traces of their influence everywhere you look.
The extravagant palaces and estates here inspired Lord Byron, but the wider region around the Sintra-Cascais Natura Park is equally captivating, pine covered mountains leading down to a wild coast, a near paradise for walkers. You might also get your kicks surfing, climbing and cycling in the natural park, indulge yourself with yoga, massages and wine tours, or take a delectable vegetarian cookery class. Interested to learn more? Read our Sintra travel guide for more details.

Sintra is…

a fairytale come to life, magical palaces and castles studding wooded hills, and a beautiful natural park that speaks of adventure and discovery.

Sintra isn’t…

somewhere to rush around. Stay nearby and consider a longer stay close to the park to ensure you can explore its many treasures.

Sintra map & highlights

The town of Sintra is justifiably renowned. If you stay close to the park then you can get in early and leave late, perhaps visiting two or three of the highlights each day. The must sees include the charming historic centre of course, and the lavish Pena Palace, but you won’t regret catching some of the slightly lesser known sites including the richly atmospheric Quinta da Regaleira, and the Capuchin Convent. But the broader Sintra-Cascais Natural Park has plenty of its own attractions, from wild beaches to reams of stunning walking trails, so consider an extended stay that shows you a very different side to Sintra than most visitors experience.
Cabo da Roca

1. Cabo da Roca

Until the late 14th century and the Age of Discovery, many Portuguese believed that the Cabo da Roca was the very edge of the world. This rugged, windswept headland, 18km from Sintra, is actually the westernmost point of mainland Europe, and though marked by little more than a lighthouse is an interesting place to stop for a photo and drink in the brisk Atlantic breeze.
Capuchin Convent

2. Capuchin Convent

This Franciscan convent, close to King Ferdinand II’s former hunting grounds, is built in the minimalist style, its structures blending into the natural environment with complete harmony. As you wander the complex, no doubt marvelling at how the inhabitants tolerated their cramped, humble cells sparsely decorated with cork, you may also note that it’s one of the most peaceful places in Sintra.
Castle of the Moors

3. Castle of the Moors

Balanced on the hilltop above Sintra, this ruined castle may date as far back as the 8th century, but you wouldn’t bet against these formidable battlements still being able to withstand a challenge. The scenic but steep walk up the hill from the town centre takes around an hour, and rewards with sweeping views over the Sintra region.
National Palace

4. National Palace

The well preserved, Gothic-style National Palace, in central Sintra, was a favoured royal residence between the 15th and 19th centuries. Its most distinctive features are the two cone-shaped white chimneys connected to the palace’s kitchens, which would have sent up great plumes of smoke when banquets were in preparation.
Pena Palace

5. Pena Palace

Flamboyantly colourful, with statues of mythological beasts perched above doorways and on the walls, Pena Palace deserves a day to itself, but most people spend only a few hours here, usually at the end of their tour of Sintra. The Romanticist palace is set within beautiful forested grounds atop a steep hill, its interiors and exterior seemingly drawn straight from a fantasy.
Praia da Adraga

6. Praia da Adraga

Now it’s not as though Portugal is starved of lovely beaches, and those along the ‘Portuguese Riviera’ are among the most dramatic. The Praia da Adraga however is a real stand-out, a sandy cove dotted with tunnels and caves, enclosed by steep cliffs. It’s a bit of a local favourite and although far from unknown it’s usually not so busy as other beaches. Careful with swimming though as the waves can get pretty choppy.
Quinta da Regaleira

7. Quinta da Regaleira

Walkable from the town centre, the Quinta da Regaleira is a historic estate with truly enchanting gardens that are strewn with mystic symbols and mysterious features such as deep underground wells lined with stairs and linked to the Tarot, artificial lakes crossed with ornate bridges and stepping stones, tinkling waterfalls and secret tunnels. If it all sounds a little magical, that’s because it is.
Walking trails

8. Walking trails

Guided or self guided walks with detailed maps are available along an abundance of trails in Sintra-Cascais Natural Park. Expect majestic clifftop views, wild beaches, historic sites, peaceful little villages where you’ll find traditional restaurants, and everywhere fresh mountain and coastal air. If you want to detox, or sample rural Portuguese life, or simply see what most people don’t in Sintra then trust us: forget the car and set out on foot.

Our top Sintra Holiday

Portugal cycling holiday, Obidos to Cascais

Portugal cycling holiday, Obidos to Cascais

Cycle beautiful coastal scenery around Lisbon

From €1045 to €1215 6 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Sintra or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Luis Santos] [Is/Isn't: Nicolas Vollmer] [Cabo da Roca: Gleb Makarov] [Capuchin Convent: W.Rebel] [Castle of the Moors: Alex LA] [National Palace: lloydabell34] [Pena Palace: Alina Chan] [Praia da Adraga: nborges] [Quinta da Regaleira: Stijndon] [Walking trails : Vlaimer]