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1 Day in Sintra, Portugal: A Travel Guide

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

Hi Everyone! Ryan and I didn't go back to Portugal this week but I've had a few friends ask for recommendations, so I thought.. why not make a post about it!? Let's travel to Sintra, Portugal.

Portugal holds a special place in my heart. We got married in Sintra and after honeymooning in Spain for a month, Ryan and I were so happy to spend our last few days back in Lisbon before returning to the US. It just feels like home! The food and wine are great, the culture is rich, and the people are incredible! We have never felt so welcome in another country.

Most flights to Portugal will land in Lisbon - Lisbon is full of history and culture and I do recommend spending some time here even if it isn't your final destination.

Lisbon Recommendations:

  • Sign up for a walking tour on AirBnB with a local - like this foodie tour. Ryan and I always enjoy these experiences more than booking tours with big companies because they are more intimate and you get amazing recommendations from the guide. Plus you can make friends in the group which is always fun!

  • Don't want to walk? We did this awesome sailing cruise at sunset and got to see much of Lisbon from the sea during sunset.

  • I highly recommend Sr. Fado. They make local Portuguese cuisine and end the night with an incredible Fado show. Fado is traditional Portuguese music with one singer and fado guitar player. It's emotional and moving, and if you enjoy music, I promise you will love this show. *Reservations and a deposit are required and be prepared for a long dining/show experience. We were absolutely blown away!

Now we have to get into my favorite part of Portugal.... SINTRA!

One Day in Sintra, Portugal

Anyone visiting Portugal should take at least one day to visit the town of Sintra. This is where the old nobility went on vacation... to their castles. It's about a 30 minute car ride from Lisbon and so worth it! Ryan and I have spent a lot of time in Sintra, so if you only have one day to spend there, this is what I recommend:

First, wear your sneakers and bring your apple watch because you are definitely going to get your steps in!!

Take a taxi from Lisbon to Sintra (30 min) into the center of town. If you need breakfast, there are a ton of cute restaurants and cafes in the town center. They are a bit touristy, but I found all the food to be good. The National Palace of Sintra is right there, and might be worth walking through if you go quickly. I didn't find this palace to be as impressive as the others I'll mention, so if your time is limited, I think you could skip it.

Then, walk up the hill to Quinta da Regaleira. This is a replica castle, but it's still beautiful. There is a cute little cafe on the grounds. Once again, I would move quickly through this one & it's skippable if needed.

Palacio de Setais, Destination Wedding, Palace wedding, Sintra wedding, Portugal Wedding
Palacio de Seteais (You know I was going to sneak a wedding photo in here)

Keep walking up the hill to Palacio de Seteais. This is a 5-star hotel with incredible views and an ambiance I've never experienced before. I know I'm biased, but please grab some lunch or a drink and walk in the gardens. If you want to spend more time in Sintra, this is where you should stay. I would call before you arrive and make sure there isn't a wedding the day you go.

After lunch, walk back down to the center of town to catch a taxi or tuktuk and head to Pena Palace. I recommend getting a ride because the castle is at the top of a massive hill and still requires a lot of walking after the entrance. Pena Palace requires public transportation or transportation with a guided tour. We made the mistake of trying to drive our rental car here, but they don't allow private vehicles to the palace due to limited parking. Pena Palace is where you should spend some time. The castle is ornate and interesting, as well as the grounds around it. It is a hodge-podge of architectural styles. There is a small cafe in the castle (it's crowded) if you need a snack or water. Don't forget to walk the skinny path on the walls! Plan to book tickets ahead of time if you want to skip the lines.

Then, Castelo Dos Mouros is just a short walk from Pena Palace. The views are incredible and the austere landscape contrasts Pena Palace. You can catch a taxi or tuktuk to bring you back to town, or you can walk if you want to get more steps in! The center of town is below the castle and visible in the picture above. Be prepared for a lot of walking and stairs for Castle of the Moors.

Finally, head to dinner at Incomum. I recommend trying the chef's tasting menu. We've been here a few times and have always had a delicious meal! You will need to make a reservation. You should be able to catch a taxi back to Lisbon at the end of the night.

Let me know if you have any questions about traveling to Sintra or Lisbon in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them! Thanks for reading!!

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