Planning a trip to Portugal and looking for cities to add to your travel itinerary? You can consider Sintra, one of the most delightful cities in Portugal. This 24-hour suggested itinerary will lead you to Sintra’s famous tourist attractions and will help you make the most of your trip. Depending on your traveling priorities, you can certainly fine tune this itinerary to suit your needs.
Things to know before traveling to Portugal:
Language – The official language of Portugal is Portuguese. Foreign travelers should not be discouraged from traveling in Portugal if one does not speak Portuguese because the Portuguese have a good understanding of English. Language should not be a concern while traveling on public transport as most signs have an English translation and all tourist attractions provide leaflets in English. Like most countries in the world, attempting to say a few basic words in Portuguese are always appreciated by the locals.
Money and costs – Portugal uses the euro, the same currency now used by most European Union countries with the exception of Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Prior to travelling, you can buy some euros (enough for one day or whatever your preference) and then exchange your money in the banks and bureaux de change to get the best rates.
Etiquette – The Portuguese are modest, traditional and conservative people. They are reserved and they value privacy. In Portuguese society rank is very important, and those senior to you must always be treated with respect. In social meetings, people shake hands with everyone present. Always greet with titles unless you’re on familiar terms with them or until your Portuguese friend suggests otherwise. In Portugal, men are addressed as Senhor (Mr.) and women as Senhora (Mrs./Ms.).
Getting around – Portugal features an extensive public transport network consisting of buses and ferry networks. In Sintra, you can get around using local buses, taxis, bicycle and tourist buses. The center of the city is a fairly compact area which can be explored on foot. Since you will only stay overnight, we recommend taking the Sintra Tourist Bus Route 434, which connects the train station to various tourist attractions. If you are on a luxury vacation, consider hiring a driver to take you around Sintra. This option is expensive but will give you complete control of the trip.
Where to stay – There are many types of holiday accommodation in Sintra, from luxury hotels to cheaper accommodation like youth hostels and bed and breakfast. There are also plenty of apartment rentals if you prefer the comfort and convenience of having your own place with cooking facilities. For first time visitors, we would recommend accommodation options in the historic center and Palacio Nacional de Sintra as these areas are centrally located and close to restaurants and bars.
Hotels to consider in Sintra:
Sintra Boutique Hotel (Rua Visconde de Monserrate)
Tivoli Palacio de Seteais (Rua Barbosa du Bocage, 8)
Sintra Bliss House (Rua Doutor Alfredo da Costa 15 17)
Ibis Lisboa Sintra (23-23a Avenida Raul Solnado | Estrada Nacional 249 – Mem Martins)
Hotel Tivoli Sintra (Praca da Republica)
Detailed Itinerary: 24 Hours in Sintra, Portugal – a great add-on to any trip to Lisbon
On your first day, take in a few of Sintra’s most famous attractions and get an introduction to its rich history. Getting to Sintra from major cities in Portugal like Lisbon is easy. Its excellent infrastructures and location make it a place easy to reach by various transportation options. By regular trains from Rossio Train Station in Central Baixa (Lisbon), the average travel time is approximately 50 minutes. A single-trip ticket from Lisbon to Sintra costs 2.15 EUR (2.30 USD). The fare is charged to the reusable “Viva Viagem” public transport card, which can be used for buses, metro and trams. Depending on your time of arrival, you can either take it easy and soak up the atmosphere in Sintra or you can begin your tour of its famous attractions.
There is no better way to get to know the city than visiting the historic center of Sintra. This part of the city steeped in history is a classic example of a Portugal town filled with traditional buildings and cobbled streets. The most famous attraction in the historic center is the Gothic-styled Palacio Nacional de Sintra, the former residence of Lisbon’s Moorish rulers. Your next destination is Castelo dos Mouros (Moors Castle), an ancient fortress established by the Moors to defend the city from Christian crusaders. Just a short walk from the castle is Pena Palace Sintra, one of the most iconic tourist attractions of Portugal. Spend the afternoon at Pena Park, the forested walkways that surround the Pena Palace. End your day at Cruz Alta located at the highest point of Serra de Sintra. This is a perfect place for sunset viewing where you can get a stunning panoramic view of Sintra and beyond. After your historic tour, make your way back to your hotel and get a good night sleep.
It’s time to say good bye to Sintra! If you still have time, fit in an amazing breakfast or lunch in the city. You could even squeeze in some souvenir shopping before you travel back to Lisbon or the beach towns of Portugal (or fly to Madeira for a couple of days on the beach). You may continue traveling independently, or extend your stay in the area. The decision is all yours!
This is the end of our 24-hour suggested itinerary. Remember, this is just a guide for planning and is in no way, shape or form, the only way to travel the city. There are several alternative routes of travel within Sintra and it will depend on your intended length of stay. Enjoy Portugal!
Have you been to Sintra or anywhere else in Portugal? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Sintra’s Old Town and National Palace (Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com)