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Best way to travel from Lisbon to Sintra

We are going to be staying in Lisbon for 3-1/2 days the second week of June, and I'd like to take a day trip to Sintra.
I've seen that the train and subway systems both go there, but what would be the best choice? There is a subway station a block from our hotel so I think that might be better than going to the train station.

Thoughts? I appreciate everyone's insight! you are all so helpful!

Posted by
3845 posts

How many is "we"? Depending on how many and on how far you are from the Rossio station (or others on the line), Uber (or similar) could be worth it. €25 or so.

Posted by
106 posts

The Lisbon subway does NOT go to Sintra.
The train goes to Sintra.
The subway and the train are two separate companies.
It's important info to know when planning your trip.
Happy travels

Posted by
791 posts

My reading of the Rick Steve's guidebook is to take the train from Rossio station then take the Sintra 434 bus from the train station that loops around the main sites. The Lisbon subway does have a stop at Rossio.

Ricks recommendation is to get a Viva Viagem reloadable card (0.50 euros) which you can use on the Lisbon metro, trams, buses plus the train to Sintra. It doesn't work on the Sintra bus though ( different system). The card saves on per ride costs. I believe that it's about 10 euros round trip on the train and 11 for the bus.

Posted by
184 posts

I did the train from Rossio described by cj-traveler following directions in the RS book. It was very easy. Current websites show the price is less than 5 euros round trip. One reason for using the via viagem card, loaded in advance, is to avoid lines in the Rossio train station. Depending on where you are staying, there is also another rain line to Sintra through Oriente station.

Posted by
791 posts

The more I read on this the more I'm confused. This is from the Single tourism website:

Single tickets for both Rossio-Sintra and Oriente-Sintra cost €2.30, and can be bought at the ticket counters or machines. The tickets are magnetic cards called “Viva Viagem,” which you need to purchase the first time you take the train in Lisbon. In future journeys you just have to recharge it. It costs €0.50, so if your trip to Sintra is the first time you’re taking the train in Lisbon, the total cost will be €2.80, and for your return to Lisbon you just need to add a single trip ticket to the card (for €2.30). There are no return tickets, so to go and return you’ll have to buy two single tickets.
It’s important to note that if you previously acquired a “Viva Viagem” card to use on the metro or trams, it can only be used for the train if it has no fares left. Your balance has to be zero, otherwise you must buy a new card for the train. The card is valid for just one person, meaning everyone in your group will need their own.

It wasn't clear in other reading that you couldn't use the same card. I'd planned to get one and add enough on it to cover planned bus, tram and metro rides plus the train. Guess not.

Posted by
4933 posts

I seem to recall I had two different Viva Viagem cards in Lisbon, perhaps for this reason.

Posted by
359 posts

It wasn't clear in other reading that you couldn't use the same card. I'd planned to get one and add enough on it to cover planned bus, tram and metro rides plus the train. Guess not.

Actually yes, that's exactly what we did. We got a card, pre-loaded it with a certain amount of funds. It is good for metro, bus, train, tram and ferry. We used it for the trams, metro, and local trains (sintra, cascais).

I saw the same language that you did, which didn't make sense to me. I went to the ticket counter and made sure that the Viva Viagem card would also work for local trains.

Our Viva Viagem are mostly white, with some green with all 4 icons on the back. When we ran out of funds, we just went to a machine and loaded the additional amount that we needed. When you tap to use the metro, the machine will tell you your balance.

Just to note, they are not good for all trains. For example, when we traveled to Evora, we needed to buy separate tickets.

Edit to add: I'm thinking they are referencing when tourists commonly buy 24 hour passes for the metro, etc. In that case, you can't add a different fare type (zapping) until the 24 hours have passed.

Posted by
791 posts

I did some more reading and it seems to depend on what you initially load on the Viva Viagem card. If you loaded single tickets or a 24 hour pass then you can't use it for "zapping". If you set it up for zapping (3 euro minimum with additional amounts in 5 euro increments up to 40) then it will work for both Lisbon public transport and the train to Sintra. Zapping reduces the per trip costs but you can't get a refund on any remaining amount.

In Sintra, you will need to buy another Viva Viagem for 50 cents if you want to use the 434 bus to hop on hop off.

Posted by
14930 posts

Take Uber or a taxi. They aren't expensive and they are faster. If you take the train to Sintra, you still have a 10 minute walk to the historic center and then you will want transportation to one or more of the sights.

I took the train from Oriente (2017) and it was very confusing to find the kiosk to buy tickets to Sintra. I was sent from one to another - they were scattered and each one sold tickets to different destinations.