Portugal

Day trip from Lisbon to Sintra and Cabo da Roca

daytrip to Cabo da Roca
(Last Updated On: 09/09/2018)

I like when the city I visit has much more to offer than its beauty and cool vibe. When the great attractions wait outside of it too. And such is Lisbon. The capital of Portugal is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and exploring it properly takes at least few days.

But despite all the awesomeness that the city has to offer no one can leave it without a trip to visit Sintra, a nearby town that has been a beloved destination for kings and now is a favorite place for numerous tourists. No surprise as this little gem makes a perfect getaway for the day trip from Lisbon to Sintra!

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day trip from Lisbon to Sintra


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How to get from Lisbon to Sintra

I could have taken a train to Sintra, it departs right from the train station where my hostel was located (Lisbon Destination Hostel, highly recommended! Click here to read more about it and book the place!). But I’ve learnt along the way that even if I really enjoy the independent travels sometimes an organized day trip is just the best option. Not only I don’t need to worry about the public transport, that usually is pretty limited off season, but I can see and learn more that way.

I did it few times before (in Israel or in South Africa) and I figured it’s just not worth to be a smart pants sometimes, the one I know it all and can do it better.

Below you can find a write up of my Sintra day trip. Click here to see the details and availability of the tour I took (and highly recommend!)

However if you’re wondering how to get from Lisbon to Sintra independently the best option is the train. It departs from the Rossio station, right in the center, and the journey time is 40 minutes. You can find the schedule here.

daytrip to Sintra

What to see in Sintra

It was my second visit to Sintra but this time I fully understood why over the centuries so many people has fallen for this little town.  Even if it’s so close from Lisbon, just some 30 kms away, the place feels completely different.

Lush forests on the surrounding hills and incredibly beautiful mansions make Sintra look kind of mysterious and unreal. And so incredibly charming! Even the climate is different here! While it was warm and sunny day in Lisbon, Sintra was much colder and kind of gloomy.

daytrip to Sintra

It’s incredible how many amazing monuments can be found in such a small town, making your Sintra itinerary packed. Every second house and mansion brings your attention with the unique details and certain beauty. On top of that there are palaces, so magnificent they take a breath away.

The Palacio Nacional de Sintra, the royal palace dating back to the 11th century, stands proudly in the heart of the town, impressing all the visitors with its weird chimneys.

The unique Palace of Pena is hidden high in the hills and with its colorful and fairy-tale-alike look it could easily play in Disney movies.

The ruins of the Moorish castle protect Sintra from above and the quirky Quinta da Regaleira is one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited (but more on that later). No wonder Sintra has made it to the UNESCO World Heritage List!

daytrip to Sintra

My day trip from Lisbon to Sintra

After getting to Sintra we started our tour with a short walk through Parque da Liberdade – romantic garden full of trees, flowers and plants from all over the world. It took us right to the center of the town, where Palacio Nacional de Sintra stands.

And even if it was a random Monday morning at the end of March the place was bustling with tourists. I didn’t expect to see that many of them there, I remember when I was in Sintra 10 years ago in July there was hardly anyone around.

Still the crowds didn’t really bother us with seeing the place. And it was just as pretty as I remembered!

daytrip to Sintra

We wandered the narrow cobbled lanes up to the view point from where we could admire red rooftops and Palacio Nacional de Sintra in its full glory. It was best seen from here how the palace was growing bigger and bigger over the years and each part was built in a different style.

Further walk took us to the local shop where we could try some Port wine, local jams and cheese (so good!). I’m always a little bit hesitant when it comes to this kind of tastings but this one was really ok, no one pushed us to buy things and we were free to try everything we wanted to. And actually if I didn’t travel with a carry-on only I’d definitely have bought some goodies to bring back home!

daytrip to Sintra

The highlight of Sintra

It was time for the highlight of our one day in Sintra – visiting one of the palaces. We were free to choose from Palace of Pena, Moorish Castle and Quinta da Regaleira. While most of the people head to the first one I went for the last option. And it was a perfect choice!

Quinta de Regaleira lies within a walking distance from the town’s center and it just felt like the most underrated of Sintra’s attractions. The fairly large property is not only the home to a fancy romantic palace and a small yet beautiful chapel but also a maze of paths, tunnels, wells and underground passages. It’s a perfect area to play hide and seek!

The whole place was the idea of an eccentric owner Antonio Augusto Carvalho Monteiro who hid here lots of symbols related to alchemy, Masonry or the Knights Templar. I felt like in some sort of amusement park, wandering around and discovering all the hidden spots!

I immediately thought of “Goonies”, one of my favorite childhood movies, as Quinta de Regaleira felt really similar to what was shown in this Hollywood production! I wouldn’t be surprised if some treasure is somewhere in there, still not discovered!

It was really hard to believe that this whole bizarre place was the idea of one guy who just wanted to have an original summer house…

daytrip to Sintra

daytrip to Sintra

One of the most beautiful places in Portugal

We had two hours to explore Quinta da Regaleira and it was enough to look inside every corner of the property. Once we were done it was time to head to another destination of our Lisbon to Sintra day trip. I was actually looking forward the most to that one – Cabo da Roca!

I remember very well this westernmost point of continental Europe from my previous trip to Portugal, it was the place that left me speechless the most. Dramatic landscape with high cliffs going steep into the Atlantic Ocean, the sound of crashing waves mixed with whistling wind trembling in my ears.

Over these 10 years nothing has changed there and Cabo da Roca again took my breath away! I could easily stand there for hours, staring perplexed at the view – too bad the wind was so strong it was impossible to be outside for more than 15 minutes! Even when I was trying to walk straight I couldn’t, it was that intense.

daytrip to Cabo da Roca

The last stop before returning to Lisbon

We were slowly heading back to Lisbon. On the way we stopped first at the Devil’s Mouth near Cascais. This unobtrusive point along the coast took many lives away due to the strong currents. The place looked really beautiful and it was really disturbing to think of its tragic faith.

Later on we also had a quick break in Cascais – a fisherman town that became an extremely popular holiday destination. Even if it’s super wealthy now the place still has the old times charm and seeing fatigued boats used for fishing is not an uncommon view there.

Cascais

Day trip from Lisbon to Sintra

After 8 hours we got back to Lisbon Destination Hostel. I was super tired, mostly because of the wind, but also really glad about the best Sintra tour.

There were only 5 of us and the driver/tour guide – a really cool guy who know everything about the places we’ve visited and answered all of my questions (and I had a lot of them!).We’ve made a really nice group, mix of Polish, Australian, Korean and Portuguese and got along well very quickly.

For the whole day I didn’t feel like I have not enough time for one of the attractions, we weren’t pushed to do anything (that sometimes happens on daytours) and I really think we got the most from that day out! I also assume I wouldn’t be able to see all these places if I had to rely on public transport only.

I had such a blast on this day trip from Lisbon to Sintra and I can easily recommend it to everyone visiting capital of Portugal!

Click here to read more details on the tour and check the availability!

daytrip to Cabo da Roca


PLAN YOUR TRIP TO PORTUGAL

With over 15 years of independent travelling I’ve learnt which websites and services are the best when planning a trip. I always use and trust following websites:

Flights – I search for the best deals on either Momondo or SkyScanner. Both search numerous sites to find the best offers. I also really like the “everywhere” option when searching for the flights as it often gives me the inspiration, if not for this trip then for the next time.

Accommodation – I always book my accommodation thgrough Booking.com. They have really good deals (especially with their “Genius” program that you become a member of after few reservations) and in most of the cases, if you plans change, you can cancel the reservation without any extra costs. I also value them for a really good customer service that I had to use few times. Check the best deals on accommodation in Lisbon here

Insurance – I never travel without the insurance as you never know what might happen on the road (I’ve learnt my lesson). I can recommend World Nomads that offer the insurance dedicated to travelers just like you and me. Check the insurance options for your trip here!

Guide books – I do like reading a guide book before and during the trip. Depending on the destination I usually buy either Lonely Planet or Bradt. You can get your guidebooks for Portugal here.

Day tours in Lisbon – I do go for a day trips when I travel as often they are the most convenient way to see the place that save you time and money. Click here to see and book the best day tours in Lisbon


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43 Comments

  • Reply
    KasiaN
    07/04/2015 at 07:51

    Fabolous place!!!

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 16:50

      it really was!

  • Reply
    Alli
    07/04/2015 at 14:10

    I can definitely see why you had such a blast on this trip! Sounds like you met a great bunch of people, too! :)

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 16:52

      I did, it was a perfect bonus to a great day anyway :)

  • Reply
    Sam
    07/04/2015 at 20:14

    This sounds lovely, and I totally agree with you abut how sometimes it’s just so much nicer to take an organised trip so you don’t have to worry about working out all the train timetables and so on! Can you believe that even after being in Lisbon for a whole month, we still didn’t manage to visit Sintra! Shame on us! Next time, right?!

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 16:53

      I really don’t believe! Sintra is like a must when being in Lisbon! but at least you have a reason to go back (not that you need any ;))

  • Reply
    Mateusz
    08/04/2015 at 07:46

    Sounds like briliant idea to hava a trip there :) Any tips on the best season to visit?

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 16:54

      I’d say spring or autumn – summer might be way too hot!

  • Reply
    Sammi Wanderlustin'
    08/04/2015 at 11:19

    I actually am thinking of going to Portugal somewhen soon, not sure exactly when, just that I need to travel some time soon!

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 16:56

      Definitely go – Portugal is amazing!!! One of my fave countries in Western Europe!

  • Reply
    My
    08/04/2015 at 12:54

    Excellent photo , the views even more beautiful …

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 16:56

      thank you!

  • Reply
    Jowita
    08/04/2015 at 15:29

    Your post made me want to go to Portugal. I love this country although I spent only one week there! Since I haven’t been to Sintra nor Cabo da Roca I have a reason to come back :)

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 17:10

      you definitely need to go back! both Sintra and Cabo da Roca are pretty great!

  • Reply
    Marcin Wesołowski
    08/04/2015 at 21:52

    Kamila, I have been to Sintra, but skipped Cabo de Roca and now, well, I regret it! By the way, have they improved security after the accident with Polish couple?

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 17:12

      there’s a fence around the cliff but it’s really easy to go over it… you definitely need to visit Cabo da Roca next time you’re in Portugal! it’s even better than Sintra!

  • Reply
    Tresvodka_Chile
    08/04/2015 at 22:07

    I regret not visiting Portugal while still living in Europe. Now even more! Thanks Kami! :P

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 17:13

      you’re very welcome :D but seriously, when you get back to Europe you definitely should go there!

  • Reply
    Ron | Active Planet Travels
    08/04/2015 at 23:22

    Such a cute little side attraction from Lisbon. I love the rocky cliffside dropping into the ocean…I bet one could sit out there for hours enjoying the fresh ocean air and views! :-)

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 17:13

      definitely! I did that when I visited Cabo da Roca for the first time, I just couldn’t stop staring at the view!

  • Reply
    Hannah
    08/04/2015 at 23:58

    Sintra looks straight from a fairytale! I can’t wait for visit one day- love your photos :)

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 17:14

      thank you! I really hope you will get there one day!

  • Reply
    Lauren
    09/04/2015 at 01:02

    Ah! Goonies was one of my favorite childhood movies, too! I’d love exploring this place. And that view is amaaazing. Thank you so much for sharing your lovely photos and information with us!

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 17:16

      thank you for your lovely comment Lauren! Now you really made me rewatch Goonies! I will do that as soon as I get back to Poland! :D

  • Reply
    antonette - we12travel
    09/04/2015 at 06:27

    When seeing this, I feel kinda sorry we didn’t get around to visiting Sintra when we were in Lisbon a couple of weeks ago. Did you make it to Belem? Really nice place, too!

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 17:16

      I was in Belem during my first visit in Lisbon 10 years ago, now I was just passing by. It’s such a lovely area I really regret not having time to go there this time…

  • Reply
    Monika
    09/04/2015 at 19:02

    Lovely places. I don’t remember much and my holiday in Portugal was ages ago – I need to go back one day!

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 17:17

      you definitely should go back! Portugal is still pretty amazing!

  • Reply
    Rouven
    10/04/2015 at 12:00

    Sintra is a great day trip from Lisbon. I went there last October and it was a nice break from Lisboa. I recommend it to everyone who visits Portugal’s capital.

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 17:21

      exactly, there couldn’t be a better daytrip!

  • Reply
    Meg Jerrard
    11/04/2015 at 00:48

    Really does look like the perfect day trip from Lisbon – thanks for sharing Kami! Have wanted to get to Portugal for the longest time now so hopefully it’ll happen soon!!

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 17:22

      I really keep my fingers crossed you will get there soon! Portugal is sooooo amazing, I’m sure you’d love it there!

  • Reply
    Poradnik Turystycznego Myślenia
    15/04/2015 at 18:26

    Piękny blog! I wielki podziw za to, że piszesz po angielsku! Profil na FB zalajkowany, więc będę śledzić co u Ciebie nowego! Pozdrawiam!

    • Reply
      kami
      03/05/2015 at 17:22

      dziękuję! :) pozdrawiam z Iranu!

  • Reply
    Paulo
    04/05/2015 at 09:02

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      kami
      08/05/2015 at 17:45

      Thank you!

  • Reply
    Ruth Rogge
    29/09/2015 at 18:42

    We are here in Lisboa for a month and will do this on our own with the train/bus connection. Live your pictures and can’t wait to go!

    • Reply
      kami
      29/09/2015 at 22:28

      Thanks! I’m sure it’s doable with public transport, I did it once too! This time however I was off season and my itinerary was tight so the organized tour seemed like the best option – and it was! Have fun, you will love it for sure!

  • Reply
    A perfect day trip from Lisbon and the best way to see Sintra – Sintra Day Trips
    29/03/2016 at 11:18

    […] Source: A perfect day trip from Lisbon – Sintra and Cabo da Roca […]

  • Reply
    Marta
    10/04/2017 at 23:07

    Your photos are beautiful! I am going to Lisbon next week and would love to visit Sintra too. Like you, I usually prefer independent trips, but this time I am considering a day tour (I’ll have my 2 kids and my 2 parents with me, ages from 5 to 74!) This company seems great, thank you for the recommendation, I’ll look them up!

    • Reply
      kami
      17/04/2017 at 21:12

      Thank you! I hope you will have a great time in Lisbon and enjoy it as much as I did!

  • Reply
    vincent perez
    05/10/2018 at 02:55

    portugal looks glorious are you still travelling?

    • Reply
      kami
      19/10/2018 at 09:22

      not there, I visited Portugal a while ago. It’s a beautiful country

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