Best Things To Do In Sintra (That Aren’t Pena Palace)

If you’ve ever been on Instagram, you have probably seen a picture of Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal. The vibrant red and yellow hues of Pena Palace are the image that sticks in everyone’s mind about Sintra, but trust me when I say, the Sintra region is much more than this. Only 25km from Lisbon, it is the perfect place to explore in a day trip, escaping the city buzz and heading to a paradise of greenery and coastline. 


Now, as most things are, Pena Palace is a well-known for a reason. The moorish architecture and exciting colours are unlike anything else and pretty breath-taking. For many people, it is the only thing on their Portugal bucket list and that’s completely fine. If you do decide to visit Pena Palace during your Sintra trip, make sure you get there early to avoid the huge swarms and then leave the rest of the day to explore more. I would not recommend only visiting Pena Palace because you’ll miss out on the charm of the Sintra region and only see biggest tourist attraction. 


As the home of Portugal’s wealthy over the years, Sintra is a fairytale world of extensive greenery punctuated by whimsical palaces. Your time here will undoubtedly be spent exploring palaces, gardens and coastline, in a relaxed and stunning day trip from Lisbon. 




One of Sintra’s most spectacular quintas, Quinta de Regaleira’s 4 hectare estate has palaces, chapels and a huge, mysterious park. Dotted with wells, fountains, grottos, greenery, and lakes, exploring Quinta de Regaleira’s grounds feels like being in a Moorish Disneyland. 

The most well-known part of the quinta is the Initiation Well which are inverted towers connected by a cave. The wells are lined with stairs which provide a satisfying Fibonnaci-eqsue display when viewed from below. It is truly impressive! 

Opening Hours 9:30 – 20:00 (summer) and 9:30 – 18:00 (winter) | Cost €6.00 (adult)





The Castle of the Moors sits atop the hills in Sintra and provides a pretty epic view over Pena Palace and the region. Originally constructed in the 8th and 9th centuries, the snaking walls of the castle are reminiscent of the Great Wall of China and were an important strategic point in 1100. The remnants of the castle and chapel can also be explored, but the crown jewels are the walls and the spectacular vistas. 

Opening Hours 9:30 – 20:00 | Cost €8.00




Driving down to Cabo da Roca with the sun shining, windows down and Desfado playing, it felt like there was nothing wrong in the world. The dreamy landscapes combined with a post-prandial feeling of satisfaction, made us all feel like we were in heaven. Despite the rugged coastline being such a popular place to visit in Sintra, the fresh ocean air will still leave you feeling refreshed. 

Forming the westernmost point of the Sintra National Park, the cape of Cabo da Roca is also the Westernmost point of continental Europe. With a beautiful combination of steep, rocky cliffs and sandy beaches, the cape is a distinctively beautiful place to explore. The mat-like flora of the region has been shaped by years of wind and seawater, contributing to the unique landscape of the area. It’s easy to forget how close to the capital city you really are — it feels like a world away. 

Opening Hours always | Cost free




Praia da Adraga is considered to be one of the best beaches in Portugal, and after visiting it this year, I am inclined to agree. The rugged stone formations, soft sand, and quaint restaurant come together to form a perfect seaside experience. Loved by visitors and locals alike, you will be able to spot people doing a spot of fishing or diving for barnacles. If you can brave the North Atlantic waters, try going for a dip in the waves! 

Opening Hours always | Cost free




One of the many quaint villages in Sintra, Almoçageme has remnants of a Roman villa and still bearing a Muslim name, which both testify to the history this village has lived through. We stopped in Almoçageme for a beautiful local lunch and relaxed in its stunning white-washed buildings. If you want to stop somewhere for good local seafood in a relaxed, non-touristy atmosphere, a visit to Almoçageme is a must. 

Opening Hours always | Cost free 


Sintra is marvellously close to Lisbon and, due to its increasing popularity, there are many options for transport to the region. These are the most popular options and better for the budget, however you can always hire a taxi or private driver as well. 


Sintra’s a popular destination so trains run frequently from Rossio Station (several per hour) and cost €4.50 return. It takes around 40 mins – 1 hour to get to Sintra by train. The train timetable can be found here.

Remember that Sintra is full of steep hills and long stretches of road between attractions, so have a plan about how you’ll explore the region once you arrive by train. You can find taxis and tuk-tuks around Sintra, or can catch the 434 Bus which loops to many of the attractions.


I opted to take an organised tour run by Goodmorning Hostel and it was the best. Having a knowledgeable guide who knew how to safely navigate Sintra’s roads was a godsend. We were able to make it to more destinations than just Pena Palace as we had the freedom of transportation. If your hostel runs a guided tour, I would recommend this option!


If you’re comfortable  driving in Portugal then getting a hire car could be a good option. Sintra is full of hills and narrow, curving roads which make driving slightly tricky, so if you’re not happy with this, then maybe consider public transport, taxi or tour. 



Lisbon is awash with near-perfect scoring hostels — it’s pretty amazing to see! I stayed at Goodmorning Hostel and it was one of the best hostel experiences I have ever had. If you want to find out more about Goodmorning, you can book your stay here.



Sintra Pinterest
Sintra Pinterest


Lucy Owens Travel Textbook


My name’s Lucy and I’m the junior doctor and travel writer behind the blog. If you’re a fan of scratching beneath the surface of travel, visiting interesting destinations, and exploring ethically, then you’re in the right place. Focusing on purposeful budget and solo travel, Travel Textbook hopes to inspire more young people to seek meaningful adventure.


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