A half-hour drive from Lisbon is Sintra, a place full of castles and palaces declared a World Heritage Site and a setting worthy of a fairy tale. Its main attraction is the Pena Palace, the greatest exponent of romanticism in Portugal.
Book an organized tour from Lisbon
The Pena Palace is the main tourist spot in Sintra, but it is not the only one. This town has many more palaces and corners that are well worth a complete visit. I leave you here a guide of all the options day trips to Sintra from Lisbon.
You have different options and all prices; I recommend that you take a look and choose one that includes free time to visit at your leisure the historic center of Sintra and a specialized guide who can enlighten you about the history of places like the Pena Palace, the National Palace of Sintra, the Quinta da Regaleira or the Moorish Castle.
Day tour to Sintra and the Portuguese Riviera
With a day tour of Sintra from Lisbon you will see the most important sights of the town including the Pena Palace. You can do it in English, Portuguese or Spanish and includes hotel pick-up in Lisbon, transfer, visit to the Pena Palace (entrance fees are separate), and a guided tour of Sintra.
This option is one of the most complete and the most suitable if you are looking to see Sintra in depth without missing its main sites. The best, undoubtedly, the services of an expert guide that will make you discover the Pena Palace in a very different way than if you visit it on your own.
Day trip to Pena Palace, Quinta da Regaleira and Lisbon tour
In this option, you do have the entrance to the Pena Palace included in the package, as well as Quinta da Regaleira. However, you will explore both palaces on your own and the guide's explanations will focus on other sights of the Sintra tour. This day trip to the Palaces of Sintra including a visit to the center of Lisbon is ideal for small groups and for those travelers who do not have much time during their trip.
How to buy tickets online for Palacio da Pena
In the official website of Sintra Parks you can buy tickets for adult, child, youth or retired at different prices depending on the season. With these tickets, you will not have to wait in line, but keep in mind that they include only access to the Palace, without a guided tour.
Book a guided tour of the Pena Palace from Lisbon
If you are traveling to Sintra from Lisbon, it is best to book online an organized tour or a guided tour that includes the Pena Palace. These day trips include the transfer to and from Lisbon, the visit to the Pena Palace (sometimes with entrance and sometimes without an entrance), and a tour of other emblematic points of the region that are also a must-see.
How to buy tickets at the ticket office for the Pena Palace
The Palace opens at 9 am, although opening hours may change depending on the season. If it is the high season I advise you to arrive early to avoid queues. The risk of going directly to the ticket office is that the queue you find is too long, so I do not recommend this option. Regarding the price, at the box office tickets cost $ 16 per adult.
If you do not feel like visiting the Palace inside (which I consider a mistake, since you are there), you should know that there is the option to visit only the gardens, the Da Pena Park. In both cases, there are discounts for seniors over 65 and under 18 and also a special price that combines tickets for two adults and two children for a reduced price.
Tips to organize your visit to the Pena Palace
How to get to Sintra from Lisbon
The Pena Palace is located in the town of Sintra, very close to Lisbon. If you are staying in the capital and want to get to Sintra there are two ways to do it: you can take the train from the Rossio station in Lisbon and get to Sintra in 40 minutes for a price of $ 6 or you can book an organized day trip for a day that besides showing you the Pena Palace will show you the highlights of Sintra.
Climbing up to the Pena Palace
You should note that the Pena Palace is on top of a hill. From the center of Sintra, you can reach the enclave by bus (you can't miss it, it's the main tourist spot in town), but once there you'll have to climb a fairly steep hill (for two or three euros you can save the walk and go up in a transfer). Private vehicles can't go up to the top, only tourist vehicles, so if you go by car you will have to park at the bottom.
Duration of the visit
The visit to the Pena Palace includes the interior, the exterior, and the gardens. The latter are immense, so if you want to see everything well reserve about two and a half hours of your trip.
Although closing and opening times may change depending on the season, normally the palace opens at 9:30 am and the gardens at 9 am. The park closes at 8:00 pm and the palace at 6:30 pm but the last ticket for both sites will be sold one hour before closing. If you are going to buy tickets at the box office, I recommend you go early enough to avoid running out of tickets or waiting in long lines.
When to go
The Pena Palace receives tourists every day, but on weekends during the high season, it tends to be much more crowded. As for the weather, it will not be an impediment to go since the gardens have enough shade, and temperatures in Sintra, with some exceptions, do not reach extreme figures in summer.
Where to eat
The restaurants you will find in the vicinity of the palace will be expensive and focused on fast food. Because of the influx of travelers that Sintra has, I recommend that you book in a restaurant in the center with something more quality where you can try typical dishes of Portuguese cuisine. The Palace also has a cafeteria with obviously quite inflated prices.
The Pena Palace with children
Children will have a great time touring the halls inside the Palace and will also be struck by the bright colors of its facade. Don't hesitate to take them on this visit, but keep in mind that they may not be able to handle the climb up the entrance, although they can always go up by transfer.
What to see at the Pena Palace in Sintra
The Sintra Palace was ordered to be built by Ferdinand II of Portugal on the ruins of an old monastery devastated by the earthquake of 1755. During a trip with his wife Maria II of Portugal, the monarch fell in love with the town of Sintra, and created this marvel of which I recommend you not to miss the following:
The exterior architecture of the Pena Palace.
It is something that will not go unnoticed by those who visit Sintra. To the fact that the palace is located on top of a risco, something that in itself is already a visual attraction, add its striking and original colors. Art history experts will also be able to see a mixture of neo-Manueline, neo-Gothic, and neo-Arabic styles on its façade. In short, a spectacle for the eyes and a privilege for photographic lenses.
The Palace gardens
It has more than 500 types of trees and plants from all over the world. Get a map of the gardens before starting the tour, because there are different fountains and buildings worth visiting. The most outstanding of all is the Chalet of the Countess or Casa do Regalo, a two-story wooden building commissioned by Ferdinand II for his second wife.
Interior of the Palace
As attractive as the exterior of the Palacio da Pena is, you can't miss visiting the interior of the palace. If you go on an organized tour the guide will tell you everything you need to know for your tour, otherwise get a map at the entrance and get the audioguide for a price of $ 3.
Building of the old Jerónimo Monastery
It is the first thing you will see once you pass the central cloister. Before it was a winter palace for the use of Portuguese monarchs, there was a monastery in what is now the Palacio da Pena and this is one of the few remaining rooms from that monastery.
The Hexagonal Room
Also called Sala dos Brasoes. Its walls are full of ** tiles** and its ceilings of different emblems of the nobles of the Portuguese court.
The Magpie Room
It is one of the oldest parts of the palace and is painted with 136 different species of birds. From what is known as the Queen's Terrace you will get the best views of the Pena Palace. Be warned, though, you'll find it quite crowded.
One of the most outstanding rooms of the Queen's quarters. Take all the time you need to contemplate its ceilings, and don't miss the Triton Window, designed as an allegory of the creation of the world. It is a kind of monster half man and half fish and from the terrace of the queen, you will have a close view of it.
Ana's Traveller Tip
From the ticket office to the palace entrance there is a steep slope, you can go up it in a transfer for 3-4 dollars. Private cars are not allowed to drive up.