The best independent guide to Sintra
The best independent guide to Sintra
Sintra is a delightful town that nestles within the cooling hills of the Serra de Sintra, and is the best day trip from Lisbon.
Found within Sintra are grand 19th-century villas, a pretty historic centre and the extravagant Palácio Nacional da Pena - the finest tourist attraction of the Lisbon region. Sintra is connected to Lisbon by two regular and inexpensive train services, and these make it easy to visit Sintra as a day trip.
The beautiful Palácio Nacional da Pena is always a highlight of a day trip to Sintra
Sintra is 25km to the west of Lisbon, and train is the recommended means of travel there.
There are two rail routes between Lisbon to Sintra, and both are equally useful for tourists. They are:
1) Rossio Station to Sintra
2) Oriente station to Sintra, via Areeiro, Entrecampos, and Sete Rios stations
The Rossio-Sintra route (1) is typically used by most visitors, as it departs from the historic centre of Lisbon, and is close to the popular tourist districts of Baixa, Alfama and Chiado.
The Oriente-Sintra route (2) is generally used by those visitors travelling to/from the airport, the Sete Rios bus station or the Oriente station. Oriente train station is the main intercity train station of Lisbon, and from here are train services to the whole of Portugal. Details of these connecting services are explained later on in this article.
The train to Sintra, in Rossio train station
The trains to Sintra are part of the Lisbon urban train network. They are operated by Comboios de Portugal (CP), the national train company of Portugal.
Both of the train services to Sintra are important commuter routes, and there are multiple hourly departures, and services continue late into the night. The Oriente-Sintra route has a journey time of 47 minutes, while the Rossio-Sintra train takes 40 minutes.
For the latest timetable, please see the CP website:
(the link opens a PDF, and may download on certain phones)
As the Lisbon to Sintra railway is an urban route, tickets and seats cannot be pre-booked, but there is no real need as there is usually plenty of free seats.
Advice: Due to the popularity of Sintra, there can be long queues at Rossio station for tickets. Our advice is to always start a trip to Sintra as early in the day as possible.
The Estação do Oriente train station in the east of Lisbon
All of the train stations in Lisbon are in the same fare zone, so there is no price difference from which station you depart from.
A single from Lisbon to Sintra passes through four fare zones and costs €2.30/€1.15 (adult/child). There are no reductions for a return ticket, and the return fare will be the price of two singles, €4.60. The entire pricing policy can be found on the CP website:
(The link opens a PDF)
The train fare is charged to the reusable “Viva Viagem” public transport ticket, which is used for Lisbon’s buses, metro and trams. The initial purchase price for this card is €0.50. The train fare must be charged to an empty “Viva Viagem” card; if there are any unused metro or tram fares still remaining on the card, a new card must be purchased. The Viva Viagem ticket holds the fare for one person, meaning each traveller in a group will need their own card.
There is a 24-hour unlimited use of CP Lisbon urban trains for €6.00. This provides no savings unless you are using the train for more than three journeys.
Advice: The 24-hour unlimited Lisbon public transport ticket (which excludes the urban trains) costs €6.40, and is exceptional value when exploring Lisbon.
Sintra train station
The train journey between Lisbon and Sintra is safe, but always use the same common sense you would back at home.
The route passes through some of Lisbon’s most deprived areas, and if you are travelling late at night, sit with other passengers, and stay away from dodgy looking people. Also, never show off expensive items.
You should never drive to Sintra. The narrow hill roads are not designed for the heavy tourist traffic, and there is very limited car parking. During the summer season, there is a permanent traffic jam around the historic centre, as frustrated drivers hunt out the few parking spaces available.
Warning: At peak times, the road up to the Palácio da Pena is closed to non-residents.
There are bus services between Lisbon and Sintra, but the journey times are longer than the train. Also for most visitors, the location of the bus stations are not as convenient as the train stations.
Rossio train station (Estação Ferroviária do Rossio) lies just to the north of Rossio plaza in the centre of the Baixa district. The train station is served Rossio metro station on the green metro line, but you have to exit the metro station and across Rossio Plaza to get to the station.
The station is small and easy to navigate around, and all departures from Rossio station head to Sintra. During the peak times (10am-12am), Rossio station can get very busy with tourists, and there can be long queues for the ticket office and ticket machines.
Related articles: Rossio station
Rossio station has an ornate façade
The Estação do Oriente is to the northeast of Lisbon and lies within the Parque das Nações district. This station is just 2.5km from the airport and is connected to the red metro line.
Oriente station is the main intercity train station of Lisbon, and is part of a larger transport interchange, which contains a major bus station and busy metro station. The entire station is always busy, but it is well organised and often easier to travel from than Rossio.
The train platforms are on the top level, and the train ticket offices are on the level below the platforms. Across from the station is the Vasco da Gama shopping centre, which has an excellent food court.
Related articles: Estação do Oriente - Parque das Nações
Oriente is ultra-modern and was constructed for Expo ‘98
Both train lines terminate at Sintra train station, which is partway between the historic centre and the new town of Sintra. The historic centre of Sintra is 1.5km to the west of Sintra station, and the two options to travel there are to walk or catch the 434-tourist bus.
Frequently, as tourists exit Sintra station, they are pounced upon by touts selling, tuk-tuk tours, guided tours, and other random means of transport to explore the hills of Sintra. If you want to visit Sintra independently, either walk or wait for the 434 bus.
Advice: If you want a guided tour of Sintra, a pre-book tour is advisable as it will include transport from Lisbon, and avoids the hassle of public transport. A selection of the best tours provided by GetYourGuide include:
The highlights of a day trip to Sintra are the Palácio Nacional da Pena and the Castelo dos Mouros. Both of these attractions are in the hills of the Serra de Sintra, and it is a very challenging uphill hike to them, from the historic centre or the station.
The 434-tourist bus service provides a one-directional loop, which connects the station, the historic centre and the hill where the Pena Palace and Moors castle are located. A ticket costs €6.90 and the bus departs from outside the train station. There are up to four departures every hour, but there can be very long queues in the peak summer season.
Related articles: 434 -tourist bus
The walk from Sintra train station to the historic centre takes around 15 minutes. The route (if you follow the main road) has no steep hills and is very scenic, with great views over the Palácio Nacional de Sintra and surrounding countryside.
If for your day trip you are only planning to visit the Palácio Nacional de Sintra and the Quinta da Regaleira, then it is easier to walk than catch the 434 bus.
Travelling to Sintra from Lisbon airport
If you are travelling to Sintra directly from the airport, take the metro (red line) to Estação do Oriente and catch the Oriente-Sintra train to Sintra. A single metro ticket from the airport to Estação do Oriente costs €1.50 and is charged to the Viva Viagem ticket. The journey between the airport and the Oriente train station is short (3 stops, 2.5km), and there is no need for a taxi, which will cost much more (€7-10). In the Estação do Oriente, the metro is on the lower level, and the station is on the upper level.
Related articles: Onward travel from Lisbon airport - Lisbon metro.
Travelling to Sintra from an intercity train service
All intercity trains to Lisbon stop at the Estação do Oriente, and this is the location to board the train to Sintra. It is possible to purchase intercity train tickets (eg from Porto, Algarve) that include the Sintra urban route; these can be purchased from any train ticket offices or on the CP website:
Related articles: Porto to Lisbon
Travelling to Sintra from an Intercity Bus Service
There are two main intercity bus terminals in Lisbon; Oriente and Sete Rios.
All international bus services and many private coach companies services terminate at Oriente bus station, which is part of the Oriente train station complex. Onward travel to Sintra would be via the Oriente-Sintra train service.
The main bus company of Portugal is Rede Expressos, and their bus station in Lisbon is Sete Rios. The best means of onward travel to Sintra from Sete Rios bus station is via the Oriente-Sintra train service, which stops at Sete Rios train station.
Other regional bus companies (TST, Mafrense, etc) stop all over Lisbon (Praca Espaniha, Campo Grande), for these head to the nearest metro and take the metro to Rossio or Oriente for the train to Sintra.
Related articles: Sete Rios bus station
The route from Lisbon to Sintra follows the IC19 highway west out of Lisbon. The road can get very busy in rush hours as people commute in and out of Lisbon. The roads of Sintra are very narrow, especially the roads which climb the hill to the Pena Palace. Car parking in the historic area of Sintra is very limited, and the entire area is very busy during the week.
Do not even attempt to drive in the historic section of Sintra at the weekend during the summer months. There are only two car parks in the historic centre, one outside the national palace (20 spaces) and one near the Museu Anjos Teixeira (30 spaces) with only 20 spaces near the Pena-Moorish castles. In the residential side of Sintra (1.5km to the east), close to the terminus of the N249, is a major car park and this is the best option during the summer.
Note for visitors from the USA: Lisbon is notoriously challenging for driving, with crowded roads, erratic drivers and virtually no parking. For a holiday to Lisbon, we strongly recommend not hiring a car. Also, public transport in Portugal does contain the same social stigma as in the US, and is used by all.
Our most popular guides to Sintra