When we were first planning our trip to Lisbon, we did a lot of reading about visiting Sintra. Many of the blogs we came across made it seem as though it would be a complicated journey and advised booking a tour from the city (which is not really our jam). We knew Sintra was pretty close to the coast and we thought we might also be able to see the ocean on our day trip from Lisbon to Sintra. Again, we kept reading that this wasn’t really possible to do in one day. But I’m here to tell you that it is. Below are my tips on how to take a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra and Cabo da Roca (and be back in Lisbon for dinner).
Getting to Sintra
We began our day early, in the rain, with coffee at the beautiful Rossio Station. The architecture at this station alone makes it worth a visit and I would have grabbed a picture if it hadn’t been pouring rain. You can purchase tickets online ahead of time but we ended up purchasing return tickets from a machine at the station. The journey of 27 km from Lisbon to Sintra takes about 45 minutes and costs just under 5€ (about $7 Canadian).
Getting Around Sintra
When we arrived in Sintra, we headed straight to the bus station. We found this part a bit confusing and really, the station wasn’t that helpful. You can actually find the bus signs near the train station and purchase a hop on, hop off bus ticket right on the bus. There are two bus routes so depending on what you would like to see, you’ll need to choose route 434 or 435. Each route runs in a circle, beginning and ending at the Sintra train station. Each route costs 5.50€ (about $8 Canadian). Sintra is very, very hilly and also quite vast so the bus is a must. It would be quite difficult to cover much ground on foot, especially with only one day.
Bus 434: Pena Circuit
National Palace of Sintra
Castle of the Moors
Bus 435: Villa Express
National Palace of Sintra
Quinta da Regaleira
We did our research ahead of time and knowing there was no way to see all of Sintra in one day, we chose our two favourite palaces and boarded the Villa Express Route 435 bus. I will also note that we purchased our tickets for the palaces ahead of time from Tiqets which allowed us to skip the lines at both locations. I would highly recommend this as even in low season, the lines were pretty long.
National Palace of Sintra
Our first stop was the National Palace of Sintra. The ticket price, with the skip the line access, was 10€ (about $15 Canadian). This palace was amazing. It’s expansive, full of beautiful tile work and incredible views. I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.
After exploring the National Palace of Sintra, we got back on the 435 bus and traveled to Monserrate Palace. This palace is much smaller, more like an ornate home, and much more off the beaten path. It wasn’t nearly as busy as the National Palace and we spent quite a bit of time exploring the beautiful gardens (with a very far off view of the ocean). Sintra almost feels like a rainforest – everything was so lush and green. The ticket price, with the skip the line access, was 8€ (about $12 Canadian). There’s a nice little cafe and gift shop (with really clean washrooms) on the site of Monserrate Palace where we stopped for lunch.
Visiting Cabo da Roca
While eating a (late) lunch in the Monserrate Palace cafe, we were still debating whether we should try to make it to the ocean. The rain had cleared and it was the most beautiful, sunny, blue-skied day. We knew there was a bus from the Sintra train station but getting back to the train station from Monserrate would take some time. Knowing we would regret not seeing the ocean, we ordered an Uber. The Uber ride from the Monserrate Palace to Cabo da Roca was a mere 13€ (about $18 Canadian). This seems comical to me now, that we even debated this, as it was definitely the highlight of my trip. Cabo da Roca, the most western point of mainland Europe was absolutely worth the cost of an Uber (and more).
After sitting and fully enjoying the views for an hour or so, we hoped on the Cascais to Sintra bus route, bus 403 (towards Sintra no Cascais – check with the driver) which took us from Cabo da Roca to the Sintra train station. We were able to purchase tickets on the bus for around 5€ (about $6 Canadian).
All in, our self made day trip from Lisbon to Sintra and Cabo da Roca cost 40€ each (about $58 Canadian) and was seriously one of the best travel days I’ve ever had. It was invigorating getting out of the city and navigating what we thought would be a complicated trip. There is so much to explore in Sintra and we by no means scratched the surface but we left feeling happy with what we did see.
Planning Your Day Trip
To plan a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra and Cabo da Roca:
Wake up early and take the Sintra train from Rossio Station
Upon arriving in Sintra, choose either bus route (434 or 435) depending on what palaces you’d like to see
Purchase your palace tickets in advance on Tiqets to skip the lines
Uber from wherever you end off in Sintra to Cabo da Roca
Savour the ocean views of Cabo da Roca and hop on the 403 bus back to the Sintra Station when you’re done
Take the train back to Rossio Station in Lisbon
Sintra Travel Photos, Europe Travel Photos, Portugal Travel Photos, Day Trip from Lisbon to Sintra and Cabo da Roca, Toronto Photographer, Wee Three Sparrows Photography