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Advice re Sintra Palaces

We plan to go to Sintra on the train from Rossio for a day trip either Wed or Thurs at the end of January.
I was wondering which one or two places would be best to visit. We enjoy hiking and wondered if it would be worth hiking half way up to see Pena and the Moors Castle closer and then do the National Palace and/or Quinta da Regaleira. I would really appreciate advice on which ones to see.

Posted by
561 posts

All three are nice and worthwhile. The National Palace is "downtown" Sintra, while the Moorish Castle and Pena Palace are best reached via the bus - pick-up point around the corner from the train station in Sintra. The train from Rossio station to Sintra takes about 40 minutes - don't worry about the stops in between - Sintra and Rossio are the endpoints of the rail line.
I had a "better time" at the Moorish Castle - it is potentially a workout, climbing up and down rugged steps - it is more of an exploration and hike while the Pena Palace is an interior visit - sorta like Hearst Castle - although there are gardens to explore as well. If time is a factor, I suppose eliminating the National Palace makes more sense as the other two are near each other and are connected by the same bus (and the bus pass) - but I liked the National Palace more than Pena.
Sintra is a delightful town - hopefully your day won't be rushed - and you can just relax and see all the sites.

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you very much for your reply, Would be grateful if someone could give me their ranking of the Sintra palaces.

Posted by
2118 posts

fdesson, I enjoyed Sintra for 2 days and 2 nights, but my trip was in May, no doubt weather and perhaps natural scenery may be somewhat different in January. I would rank Pena Palace and Quinta da Regaleira on top. At Pena, after the palace I happened on a young staff member offering a tour of the grounds in a large golf cart type vehicle, which I took for 3 euros I think. I was the only one, so we bopped around exploring and stopping here and there for considerably longer than the tour was supposed to be. The grounds, gardens, stable and horse ring, views and outbuildings were beautiful, so I consider that tour very worthwhile. Quinta da Regaleira was mostly unusual gardens, forest, walls, a deep well you could descend by steps, and the building was pretty much an empty semi-ruin. Unique stop, but not really a palace today. It is a healthy uphill walk from the center of Sintra. I was all around the outside of the National Palace in town, but never went in, but some others have said it was also an excellent visit. The castle is mostly a large old wall you can climb around on, no longer a real castle, with some views that I found nice, but not extraordinary. With just one day, I personally would skip it, There are some nice shops in Sintra, also both old style and very modern street art, and excellent bakeries and restaurants. I recommend a restaurant called Incomum for lunch, it is a short way from the train station on the way into town. Enjoy beautiful Sintra, I'd love to return.

Posted by
1830 posts

Hard to rank the three palaces. The National Palace would be #1 though for easy access, aesthethic merit, and historical importance. Pena Palace and Moorish Castle are both wonderful. I would probably choose the Pena if hard pressed to choose #2. They have botanical gardens too which are very nice. Sintra is one of those places that just resonated with me out of the gate, like "this is the place".