Things to do in Sintra

29 April 2022
Things to do in Sintra

What to do in Sintra depends naturally on the time available to surrender to this village, whose cultural landscape was elected a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Sintra is romance, it is literature and history of Portugal. It's mysticism, it's nature and especially beauty.

What to do in Sintra? The options are numerous and you will certainly want to come back. Get to know our suggestions.

A story that is lost in the memory of the times

The history of Sintra begins very early, with a record of population traces before the Neolithic, and it is a fact that this village has signaled its presence in the most diverse moments in the history of Portugal.

Roman philosophers and writers called it The Moon Mount, Ptolomy recorded it as Serra da Lua and Al-Bacr, an Arab geologist, characterized it as "permanently immersed in a mist that does not dissipate".

At that time, around the 10th century, it was Shantara or Xintara, and the Castle was claimed in 1109 by the reconquest movement led by Count D. Henrique, but only in 1147, after the conquest of Lisbon, would Sintra be definitively integrated into the Christian space, already by D. Afonso Henriques, that in 1154 grants charter to the village establishing, then, the municipality.

From then on, Sintra would grow and occupy the place of primacy in the destinies and tastes of the entire Portuguese monarchy not only as a place of refuge and rest, but also of reflection and encounter with herself.

Monuments sintra

There are numerous in Sintra and, if you are deciding what to do in Sintra, the best option will be  to select those that are a must visit and establish a itinerary so that you can enjoy the maximum of each of the visits.

1. Moorish Castle

Muslim foundation, it has a privileged view over the Atlantic coast, the floodplains and the Sintra mountain range, having represented a strategic position of defense of the territory and access to Lisbon by sea.

It was inhabited until 1147 by the Moors, who then gave it definitively to D. Afonso Henriques. Already in the nineteenth century, it was restored by D. Fernando II, representing a fundamental element of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra, classified in 1995 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. 

Moorish Castle
Time: 09:00 to 18:30 (last entry at 18:00)
Tickets: Between 6.50€ and 8.00€


2. Palace of the Village or National Palace of Sintra

It is the oldest palace in Portugal, with more than a thousand years of history and through which virtually all portuguese king and queens passed, making part of the history marked by them and inscribed in the national memory.

It suffered the architectural influence that was accompanying the change of times, with emphasis on gothic and Manueline styles, being still strongly marked by the Mudejar style.

Both the palace and the village and the territory of Sintra were granted by D. Dinis to Queen St. Elizabeth. If she belongs to the crown, the queen would henceforth be the direct beneficiary of the economic proceeds that came from there. 

It was also here that, after being imprisoned for six years in Angra do Heroísmo by his brother, D. Afonso VI spent the last nine years of his life, imprisoned in the room that still holds his name today. With the fall of the monarchy in 1910, the Palace of Sintra ceases to serve as a royal residence, having as last inhabitant queen D. Maria Pia, who from there left for exile.

Still in the same year the palace would be declared a National Monument but would open to the public only in the late 1930s, the 20th century. 

Sintra National Palace
Time: 09:00 to 18:30 (last entry at 18:00)
Tickets: Between 8.50€ and 10.00€


3. Pena Palace

It is one of the greatest charms of Sintra and among all the options on what to do in Sintra, the visit to this palace that rises in the sintra mountain range will be guaranteed one of the best choices. 

Its history is born in the 12th century, with the existence of a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Pena. D. Manuel I would have the Royal Monastery of Our Lady of Pena stood there, that the earthquake of 1755 would ruin, maintaining, after all, its functions as a monastery and being left to abandonment from 1834, when the religious orders of the territory of the Portuguese were extinguished. 

It would be D. Fernando de Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, consort of Queen Maria II, who would fall in love with Sintra and who would acquire the 16th century monastery and erect a palace there. Its design was the responsibility of Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege. In the park were already planned the tours, with meanders that led to the discovery of places of reference and absolutely enchanting views.

The native plant species of all continents are currently on 85 hectares of Pena Park, which makes it the most important arboretum in Portugal. 

Its last residents were Queen Amelia of Orleans and D. Carlos I. It would be here that the last Portuguese queen would be informed of the proclamation of the republic, on October 5, 1910. Highlight to the Deer Room, the Saxe Room, the Noble Hall, the Office of King D. Carlos, the Queen's Terrace, the Manueline Cloister, the Smoking Room, the Living Room and the Passage Rooms.

Pena Palace
Time: 09:00 to 18:30 (last entry at 18:00)
Tickets: Between 12.50€ and 14.00€

4. Queluz National Palace

The beginnings of what would become the National Palace of Queluz transport us to 1654, when D. João IV created the House of the Infantado, which one day D. Pedro III would turn into the magnificent monument that we now know. 

The Palace of Queluz would be inhabited by the royal family, who, from the fire that destroyed the Royal Tent of Help in 1794, moved there permanently, until its departure to Brazil.

It was the site of joyful celebrations and aureno us days that no longer returned after this exile. Highlights include the state rooms such as the Throne Room or the Ambassador's Room and the gardens, with décor evoking classical mythology.

Also in the gardens of the palace is installed the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, which promotes the teaching, practice and dissemination of traditional Portuguese equestrian art, holding the only national library dedicated exclusively to this art.

Queluz National Palace
Time: 09:00 to 18:00 (palace) and 18:30 (gardens) (last entrance at 17:30)
Tickets: Between 8.50€ and 10.00€ (palace and gardens)

5. Quinta da Regaleira

Situated on the slope of the Sintra mountain range and close to the historic center of the village, Quinta da Regaleira was classified as a property of public interest in 2002, also part of the cultural landscape of Sintra, a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Its design is by Luigi Manini, who built the palace, gardens, lakes, caves and places with alchemical symbols similar to those that Freemasonry, Templars and Rosicrucians evoke, in a composition that combines Romanesque styles, Gothic, Renaissance and Manueline. 

Quinta da Regaleira
Hours: 10 :00 am to 6:30 pm (last entry at 5:30 pm)
Tickets: Between 5.00€ and 10.00€

6. Chalet and Garden of the Countess d'Edla

Chalet located in Pena Park and designed by the second wife of D. Fernando II, already widowed, and at a stage after the ascent to the throne by D. Luís. It is a construction of great romantic sensitivity, inspired by the then much appreciated Alpine chalets.

The Countess d'Edla, who won the title shortly before marrying, had been an opera singer who had arrived in Portugal and at the Teatro São Carlos snatched the heart of D. Fernando II. taking refuge in Sintra, between Pena and this strategically built chalet to the west of the palace. 

Chalet and Garden of the Countess d'Edla
Hours: 09 :00 am to 6:00 pm (last entry at 5:30 pm)
Entrance: Included in the visit to Pena Park and pena National Park and Palace

7. Seteais Palace

Built in 1783 by Consul Daniel Gildemeestre, it was owned by the fifth Marquis of Marialva and other nobles until in the 40s of the last century it became the property of the Portuguese. It is an architectural reference point, having gathered more than two thousand pieces of decoration.

Currently she is part of the Tivoli luxury hotel chain and many illustrious names have passed through here, including the British writer Agatha Christie. Its gardens are famous for the care that is reserved for them, the view it provides is magnificent and the tranquility that we find there absolutely remarkable.

Tivoli Palace of Seteais Sintra Hotel
Rua Barbosa du Bocage, 8
2710-517, Sintra
Tel. 21.9233400

Sintra of the beaches

There are so many and so good! One of the best things to do in Sintra is to certainly enjoy its beaches.  From Praia GrandePraia das MaçãsPraia das Azenhas do Mar and, for the more adventurous, Ursa Beach, or Magoito Beach, Adraga  or São Julião, are located here some of the best beaches in Portugal, offering you an excellent diversity of spaces, landscapes and also sports that you can practice in them, such as surfing, very popular for example in Praia Grande.

Sintra on the move

In this region you can indulge in a series of activities that explore the fabulous Sintra mountain range, which is integrated in a fabulous natural park  but not only. It is true that an afternoon to walk the hiking trails located there will not be enough, but when it comes to sports practices, count on many more things you can do in Sintra.

The city hall itself offers several offers, trying to meet the most demanding tastes , so you are fond of hiking, mountain biking,  climbingrappelling in the mountains and even bodyboard.  will be on the right page to take advantage of a number of sports. 

Sintra: experiences not to be missed

If you like to walk, nothing better than to take the tram that establishes the connection between Sintra and Praia das Maçãs, in Colares. It only works during the summer season, but it's really worth waiting to take this route. In Colares, don't miss a walk to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of the European continent, and enjoy a magnificent view.

Already in the middle of the Sintra mountain range, take a leap to the Capuchin Convent, former convent of the Order of St. Francis, which makes known the simplicity in which the Franciscan friars lived. Nearby, in the Tapada de D. Fernando II, you can make a big surprise to the little ones, taking them on a donkey ride (children from three to 12 years old and adults driving).

The initiative is the responsibility of the Donkey Reserve - Association for the Valorization and Preservation of Donkey. Do not miss yet a trip to the Park of Monserrate, which, like the Palace was designed by the English industrialist of the nineteenth century, Francis Cook, thus giving rise to lush gardens with species from all over the world and also a palace that pays homage to romantic architecture.

At the summit of the Sintra mountain range, the route to the Peninha Sanctuary, a hermitage and a romantic mansion from the early 20th century, from where you can see Cabo Espichel, the Arrábida mountain range and, on clear days, to Cape Carvoeiro and berlengas. And if you're a lover of history and mysteries, there's nothing better than integrating an evening tour of the village and even the mountains. Finally, nothing will beat a relaxed walk through the streets of the village, which at every corner surprise.

Sintra at the table

What to do in Sintra to resist gaining a few more pounds? Nothing! If it is true that a visit to Sintra will lead you to forget diets and to taste snacks and especially sweets absolutely irresistible, it is also clear that all the action that the offer of activities and routes, points to visit and places you will not want to miss will maintain your good physical shape because it is obvious that will walk a lot and with taste!

Unhome, then, and start by visiting the Café da Natália, in São Pedro de Sintra, and bet on the Portuguese traditional cuisine and cakes, which here are to lose your head. Head to the village and stop at the famous Piriquita.

And because it makes no sense to enter the Piriquita House without eating a pillow from Sintra, there will have to delight ... In the House of Black, are the queijadas that will try it ...  There will still be room to pass in the Pastry Gregory  and to at least acquire breads from Sintra. The manufacture is its own and we assure you that you will return to buy many more...

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