Sintra is the best choice if you want to go on a day trip while staying in Lisbon. It is located just about 30 kilometers west, and the trip is very easy to take – if you know how!
In this brief guide, we will share the best ways to get from Lisbon to Sintra and back again, regardless of whether you are staying for a few hours or for several days.
Train from Lisbon to Sintra
Most tourists take the train from Lisbon to Sintra when they make their trip. It is very easy and affordable.
You simply have to go to the Rossio train station in central Lisbon. From here, there are frequent connections between Lisbon and Sintra. You have to go to the furthest station in Sintra, not the Sintra-Portela station. Sometimes there can even be several trains per hour. You can stay updated on the schedule here.
The trip from Rossio to Sintra takes about 40 minutes and it’s a fairly comfortable ride. In the peak of the tourist season, the trains are usually full so you might have to stand up, but for about three quarters of the year, the trains are not overcrowded.
The price is 4.50€ if you already have a Viva Viagem card – you simply have to charge it at the vending machine at the station. The staff can also help you with it. If you don’t already have the Viagem card, it will be 0.50€ extra, so a full price of 5.00€. Not too bad – especially not when considering it is a return ticket!
An alternative is to go to the Oriente station where trains also go to Sintra. But this is less common since most tourists are staying in the centre, and that makes the Rossio-connection easier and cheaper.
From Lisbon to Sintra by car
If you have access to a car, that is also an option. We advise against driving by car since it can be hard to find parking in Sintra, and there can sometimes be a bit of traffic on the way.
The route itself is simple though – take the IC19 highway and the A16 motorway. It should be a quick trip.
There will probably not be any parking space in the old part of Sintra where all the attractions are. You’re better off by trying to park your car in some parking space in the modern town centre of Sintra.
Car rental is easy all over Lisbon. You can rent a car at the airport, or at many rental agencies around the city.
We will again point out that driving from Lisbon to Sintra (and vice versa) can be stressful due to parking and traffic, so taking the train is the best option. But you do get freedom and privacy when driving yourself, so that is worth mentioning as well.
To Sintra with a guided tour
The most pleasant way to get to Sintra might be by joining a group tour or by hiring a private guide to take you there.
Basically you will get picked up somewhere in Lisbon, and a guide will take you to Sintra and you will be taken right to the best attractions while getting to hear the stories as well. Most tours start in Lisbon and go to Sintra as the first stop – before continuing to Cabo da Roca (Europe’s westernmost point) and Cascais, then returning to Lisbon again.
We recommend booking this tour of 7 hours where you get to see Pena, Sintra, Cabo da Roca, Boca do Inferno and Cascais while starting and ending in Lisbon. You will get a local tour guide, and you will be part of just a small group (maximum 8 people) with airconditioning in the vehicle. Entry fee to the Pena Palace is included, as is personal insurance for the 7 hour trip. It does require you to put an entire day aside, but you will get an experience like no other, and you won’t have to worry about train schedules and roads. Definitely the best way to go from Lisbon to Sintra, as long as you are willing to pay the 75€ for the tour.
There are other tours that you can also book in advance, and some that you can book upon arrival in either Lisbon or Sintra. Portugal has a big tourist industry and they are very accommodating to their visitors.
How to get around Sintra
A guided tour is best. Join a group or hire a tour guide who can show you around. There can be a bit of distance between the attractions in Sintra, so it is easiest to have a local expert drive you around. You will typically be in a group with other travelers but it is worth it. In Sintra, there are also drivers offering to take you around to all the big sites in private for around 150€. If you are traveling 2 or 3 persons together, it is an option you can consider. They are usually parked near the train station in Sintra and the main restaurant/tourist shop area, so you can approach them upon arrival if you take the train to Sintra.
Otherwise, you can get a bus pass. There is a special hop-on hop-off 24 hour pass for a sightseeing bus, and this is a great opportunity to get around once you have arrived in Sintra. As you would expect, this bus mainly focuses on taking people to the big tourist attractions. If you want to get into Sintra’s modern town, you have to take one of the normal buses to get around.
Walking can be a bit tough since Sintra is very hilly and many of the attractions are far from each other. So you should definitely join a tour or get a bus pass since it will make everything so much easier.
You can take the train to Sintra from Lisbon’s very central Rossio station. The price is 5€ for a return ticket. You can also drive – it will be more private, but it can also be a little stressful.
The best option is to join a guided tour. It obviously costs way more than taking the train, but you can comfortably get to Sintra and back again, and you will be shown all the top attractions by a local expert.
Have a great trip to Lisbon and Sintra!