I loved the one day trip to Pena Palace in Sintra, Portugal! I greatly admired the architecture and the vibrant colors of the castle perched on the rocks, and the beauty of nature around Lisbon.
And I’m not exaggerating when I say a day. You have to arm yourself with a lot of patience when you visit Pena Palace because it’s the most visited palace in Portugal and the queues at the entrance confirm this. Half a day in Sintra will be busy visiting the castle. You can spend the other half visiting other sights in Sintra or reaching the Cascais area.
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Where to stay in Lisbon
You can stay in any of the following neighborhoods: Barrio Alto, Alfama, Baixa, or Chiado. These are some of the best areas in Lisbon to stay in.
There are hotels to suit every budget. The cost of living varies substantially depending on the season. You may consider my selections for each budget:
- Low-budget: Hotel Riverside Alfama – excellent location, downtown, very good breakfast, friendly staff
- Mid-Budget: Be Poet Baixa Hotel – perfect location, delicious breakfast, airport transfer, private balcony
- Luxury: Hotel da Baixa – central location, very nice design, buffet breakfast
One day trip to Pena Palace,
the most visited palace in Portugal
Why is Pena Palace famous?
Pena Palace has gained international fame mainly due to the architectural styles approached in its construction. It can be easily seen that it is not a classic palace but stands out through the combination of intense red, yellow and purple colors and the Neo-Gothic, Neo-Manueline architecture, with oriental elements in places.
It’s an atypical and daring construction, which you will love, or you will think it’s too much. In general, people tend to love it. The green of the surrounding forests beautifully contrasts the vivid colors of the palace. You must go on a Pena Palace tour from Lisbon to find out on which side you stand.
Pena Palace in Sintra has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995, but also of the Seven Wonders of Portugal, along with:
- Belém Tower
- Hieronymites Monastery
- Óbidos Castle
- Alcobaça Monastery
- Batalha Monastery
- Guimarães Castle
Pena Palace location – How to get to Pena Palace from Lisbon
Sintra is the city where you will find this architectural wonder. It’s located just 30 km, N-W of Lisbon, and is the ideal day trip you should not miss when visiting Portugal.
The city of Sintra covers the Serra de Sintra hills with several palaces and gardens, so I can say that it is a kind of Disneyland, the authentic version.
There are a lot of tourist attractions worth visiting here, next to the Pena Palace, and they deserve to have a place on your Sintra itinerary. If I had to list a few, I would first think of Quinta da Regaleira, the Moorish Castle, the Sintra National Palace, and the Monserrate Palace.
How to get to Pena Palace | One day trip to Pena Palace
In case you are wondering how to get to Pena Palace by car, I must tell you it’s the easiest thing to do. We rented a car for the whole trip in Portugal, especially since we included Spain and Morocco in the itinerary. So, just put Pena Palace on Google Maps and make sure you find parking in one of the parking lots along the foresty route or next to the palace.
However, you can get to Sintra, by default Pena Palace, without a car if you use public transport. The train and the bus are the two options you have to get here.
How to get to Pena Palace by train:
- You have to get on the train from Rossio station in Lisbon. There is a train every 10-20 minutes
- How to get from Sintra train station to Pena Palace? Well, once you reach the train station in Sintra, you can walk to Pena Palace, but the road is very long, almost 6 km
- a second, and the best option, is to get on bus 434, which will get you much closer to the Palace
How to get to Pena Palace by bus:
- Go to the Lisbon metro station called Marquês de Pombal
- from there, get on the bus no. 35 and expect to travel for about 30 minutes
- the bus will drop you off in Sintra, near the train station and from here you can take the bus 434
From Lisbon to Sintra by car:
I’ve already talked about how to get to Pena Palace by car but there is something you should know. Although it is probably the most comfortable way to get to the palace, you should know that the crowd there will make it challenging to find a parking space.
There are two parking lots available at Pena Palace in Sintra, one next to it and one much farther. From here you will have to walk for maybe half an hour.
Another option would be to park in Sintra and take a bus from there. Whatever you choose, you need a lot of patience when visiting this tourist attraction in Portugal. And, if possible, choose a working day, early in the morning, to get here.
One day trip to Pena Palace from Lisbon:
There is also the option of a guided tour for a day trip to Sintra from Lisbon, and it is probably the one that will save you from any hassle. You will be picked up from Lisbon and taken directly to Pena Palace. You don’t have to look for transportation, parking, bus stops, Pena Palace tickets and anything like that.
Moreover, such a tour also includes a visit to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Europe, and Cascais. ⇒ Book your tour here
Things to know about the Pena Palace
The palace’s history is fascinating, especially since it’s built on the site of a former chapel dedicated to Senhora da Pena. Later, it continued to retain its role as a religious shrine, and it became a monastery at the orders of King Manuel I. But nature had other plans for this land, so a significant earthquake in 1755 demolished much of the sanctuary.
Only almost 100 years later, King Ferdinand II, who fell in love with these hills, decided to buy the property and begin constructing the palace that we can admire today during the Pena Palace hours.
Therefore, he hired Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege to take care of all the architectural details. The latter had several occupations. He was an engineer, geologist, mineralogist, geographer, and he liked to travel a lot.
The architecture of Pena Palace
The travels of Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege left their mark on the palace because today, we can see some details that, as I said above, belong to several architectural styles of those times. One of the first things to do at Pena Palace is to search for details.
It is said that the main access gate, the Alhambra Gate, was inspired by the fortress of Granada, a Spanish city full of Islamic architecture. The terraces, the Arabic arches, the statue of Triton, the mythological creature that refers to the terrestrial world and the aquatic world, all seem to have nothing to do with each other.
And yet, Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege has managed to create a work of art that breaks patterns and manages to gather over 10 million visitors annually. Sintra Tours are top-rated, and almost everyone who comes to Lisbon decides to pay a visit to Pena Palace.
Is Pena Palace worth going inside?
Although you will have to wait in a very long queue, which seems endless, I consider it a must-see tourist destination in Portugal. Pena Palace is one of the most beautiful and unique buildings of its kind in the world, and you will certainly not regret the effort to get here.
From my point of view, a significant disadvantage is how they organized the visits inside the palace. You have to sit in line and walk behind other people through all the rooms. I don’t know if I got there at the peak season or it’s always like that, but this affected my mood and pleasure to admire the beautiful details inside.
Another thing to keep in mind is that photos and filming are not allowed in the rooms. This rule may be a deal-breaker for some.
Otherwise, visiting the palace was a beautiful experience, part of my Sintra day trip itinerary, especially as its grand terraces offer enchanting views. You can see from here even Lisbon if you are lucky for a clear day, and you can easily spot the Castle of the Moors, located on a nearby hill.
The most beautiful places at Pena Palace | One day trip to Pena Palace
- The interiors
The rooms inside the Palace are elegant and sumptuous. The ones that caught my attention, in particular, were the dining room, the huge kitchen, the back chapel, and the bedrooms. Each interior is decorated differently and has something that attracts the viewer’s attention. The only regret is that photography is not allowed.
- The terraces
To have access to the palace terraces, you will have to pay the full entrance fee. The terraces are as majestic as the interiors and offer a splendid panorama over the gardens.
The highest terrace of the palace is the Queen’s Terrace. But the one that will give you the best views I was talking about earlier is the one at the back of the palace.
Pena Palace Park
Since you came all the way here to have your amazing one-day trip to Pena Palace, you should also visit the park. It’s beautiful, and you can tell King Ferdinand took his time to decorate it.
He also brought plant species from all over the world to diversify the vegetation. Australia, China, and America are just some places where the trees and plants you can admire in the park came from.
Besides, the park is full of surprises everywhere. Its design includes small lakes, footbridges, pavilions, secret passages, and ponds where several ducks roam.
Tips for visiting Pena Palace
Pena Palace opening hours
When you go to Pena Palace, you have two options. You can only visit the palace itself, or you can add the park to the program. But seeing the park will prolong your visit a lot because it is enormous—about 200 hectares of land.
The Pena Palace hours are between 9.30 am and 6.30 pm; the last entry is at 6 pm. While the park is open from 9 am to 7 pm, the last entrance is at 6 pm.
How much does it cost to visit Pena Palace?
One day trip to Pena Palace will cost you less than €30, with train tickets, bus and entrance fee. Pena Palace tickets include a visit to the Pena Palace and the park and cost € 14 per person, with certain discounts for children, families, and seniors.
If you want to visit only the park and admire the palace exclusively from the outside, then you have to pay € 7.5.
How much time do you need to visit Sintra and Pena Palace on a one-day trip?
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, you need a whole day to visit Pena Palace, as many people are waiting at its gates. If you have time, go to some sights near Lisbon. Cabo da Roca, Praia da Ursa and Boca do Inferno are my suggestions.
One of the best tips for visiting Pena Palace is to go there as early as possible, not only to avoid the crowd but also to have time to go visit other places on the same day.
Half day in Sintra, followed by the other half in other gorgeous places around, like the ones mentioned earlier should make a perfect day trip from Lisbon.