Sintra is a little village close to Lisbon, and it houses one of the most beautiful castles in Europe. The Pena Palace or Palacio de Pena is known for its bright red and yellow colors and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1995. The castle is a real treat because of the many view-terraces and statues. The Pena Palace stands out in the Pena park as it is located on one of the highest mountains in the Sintra area. Palacio de Pena was built in the 19th century in the Romanticism style. Because this castle is so unique, it makes a great day-trip from Lisbon.
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Buying tickets to the Pena Palace
You can buy tickets to the Pena Palace both online and at the door. The Pena Palace is a top-rated destination in Sintra these days, and therefore I would recommend you to buy your tickets online. On the website https://www.parquesdesintra.pt/en, you can buy the tickets for the palace itself or a combination ticket with other castles in the Sintra area.
A ticket to Pena Palace and the Pena park costs 14 euros for an adult (5% discount when you book online). When you’ve ordered and paid your tickets on the website, you will receive an email containing your tickets. Download them, and you can scan them at the entrance of the palace. The palace opens at 9:30 in the morning and closes at 19:00.
A great day trip in Sintra would be to combine visiting the Pena Palace with a Moorish castle trip.
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How to get to the Pena Palace
The easiest way to get to the Pena Palace is by train. There is a direct train line from Lisbon to Sintra. This train ride takes about 50 minutes, and you can buy your train ticket at any metro or train station. At a ticket machine, you can buy a day-pass for the entire public transport system for €10.55. This day pass includes the use of trains, metros, and busses. (p.s. you can recharge your ticket, so don’t throw it away).
When you arrive at the train station in Sintra, you can do 2 things. You can either catch the 434-bus. Which starts its shift at 9:15 in the morning, and a ticket back and forth costs €6.90 for an adult. On the other hand, you can order an Uber taxi to take you up to the palace entrance.
On Google Maps the distance between the Sintra train station and the Pena Palace looks very small. However, this is a steep 50-minute hike up the hill. Do not underestimate this distance and for your own sake, just take the bus or a taxi up.
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The Pena Palace and Sintra on itself have become more and more popular in the past years. Therefore, it gets crowded very quickly from the moment the doors are opened in the morning. My advice to you would be to make sure you arrive at the palace doors at 9 a.m. When you take the train from Lisbon between 7:30 – 8:00 AM, you will arrive at Sintra around 8:30 and 8:45. From here, I would recommend you to book an Uber taxi, as the bus does not go yet until 9:15. At 9 a.m., you are already allowed to enter the Pena Park area. Download your tickets on your phone in advance so that you can show them at the gate. From the entrance, it is a 5-minute hike up to the palace. And tadaaaa! You are here!
If you cannot walk well, a van is waiting to bring people up from the park entrance to the palace entrance. If you can walk properly, this bus trip is not worth it. It’s only a 2 minutes drive up, and it’ll cost you 3 euros. When you order your tickets online, pay attention to tick OFF this bus ride.
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You can, of course, also sleep in Sintra and make it a weekend trip! I’ve found the most beautiful hotel in Sintra, super close to all the castles!
What to expect from the Palace
When you enter Pena Park, you will arrive in a lush green oasis. This calm and beautiful park area makes you feel like you are in a huge forest that has been there for thousands of years. The sun peers through the leaves and highlights the Pena Palace up the hill. The Pena Palace was built on an abandoned monastery, on one of the highest hills in Sintra. Because of its location, you can see the palace from everywhere in the park. From the castle itself, you can even see some other palaces in the area like the Moorish Palace.
When you arrive at the Pena Palace in Sintra, you will be overwhelmed by bright and beautiful colors. This park and castle were the fruits of King Ferdinand II’s. The Pena Palace shows how the 19th-century romanticism in Portugal has been derived from the Moorish and Manueline architecture styles. A German architect design the Pena place, taking inspiration from the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany, the Belem tower in Belem, and the Alfama area in Lisbon.
Fun fact: The park is filled with hundreds of different tree species from all over the world.
What makes the Pena Palace and the parking area so special in Sintra is the abundant nature in combination with a very rare and outstanding castle.