Accommodation in Sintra is definitely more expensive than in Lisbon. That is why I recommend you find accommodation in Lisbon and go to Sintra by public transport. You can spend the night in Lisbon in a youth hostel, where you will get a 10% discount per night as a member of Hostelling International.
If you’re staying in Lisbon and planning to visit Sintra, the best option is taking the train. The tickets are affordable and the train station is near the centre, next to the bus station. Some of the attractions are best visited on foot from the train station, for example; the Quinta de Regaleira and the National Palace of Sintra, as the route will take you through the heart of the city, where you can enjoy the famous “Queijadas” dessert in a local restaurant. If you are planning to visit the Pena Palace or Castelo dos Mouros Castle, I recommend buying a hop-on hop-off day bus ticket. I paid just over €12 for a day ticket, but it’s worth it if you plan to visit more than one attraction. The bus also has lines to Cascais and Cabo da Rocha, the westernmost point of continental Europe.
My TOP attractions
Sintra is a very popular destination for tourists, so I recommend buying tickets online. I visited Sintra in the month of October and did not expect to find long waiting queues to get into the palace.
1. Palace of Pena aka Palácio da Pena
If you type the word Sintra online, the first thing will definitely be the Palace of Pena. Once a summer residence for the royal family, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old part of the palace is painted red, while the new part is painted yellow. The colours have faded a little over the years, giving the palace a mystical, distinctive look.
Of all the interior spaces, I was most impressed with the kitchen. It was the largest kitchen in the palace, as can be seen by the huge number of pots, pans, plates and the two original stoves that still remain.
Don’t forget to take time to visit their gardens. Most people buy the ticket and only end up taking a quick tour of the palace. The gardens are worth the visit and the ticket costs the same whether you see them or not.
2. Quinta de Regaleira
Also known as the Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire. Monteiro was not the initial owner, but together with the Italian architect Luigi Manini, designed a 4-hectare estate in Renaissance, Gothic and Manueline styles.
Quinta de Regaleira is more than just another beautiful mansion in Sintra. In addition to the castle, the property also contains a small chapel, two fountains and many underground tunnels connecting the buildings to each other. Even if you’re not a history enthusiast, I would recommend a visit. Searching for ”hidden” underground tunnels is not only fun for children.
3. Bear Beach and Cape Rocha
Bear Beach (Praia da Ursa) is known as one of Portugal’s most beautiful beaches. The beach is accessible only on foot in appropriate footwear (flip-flops do not fall under this category), where your starting point could be Cape Rocha (Cabo da Rocha). Cape Rocha is the westernmost point of continental Europe and offers beautiful views of the cliffs and beaches nearby.