Sintra is a place from a fairy tale reached from Lisbon by a short train ride. It is magical but it is also very busy and seems to be designed for tourism and not all that much else.
The cheapest and most leg friendly way to get to the castle and to the Palace of Pena is to catch the hop on hop off bus. The bus starts just outside the main entrance to the train station and costs 5 euros. The bus goes in one direction around the sites of Sintra, you can get on and off the bus as many times as you like but can only do one round trip.
We got off at the Palace of Sintra which is impressive and gives a nice view of the valley and surrounding area, we did not pay to go in, but jumped back on the bus and headed up to the castle.
The castle of the Moors sits up on top of the one of the peaks of Sintra. It’s a meandering walk once of the bus to reach the entrance but lovely cool gardens and stunning views. There is not much inside the castle but the walls, but we spent a good hour clambering over all of the walks and following them up to the highest peaks. A lot of time, energy and money has been put into the restoration of the castle and taming the forest.
Next we head up to the Palace of Pena which perches like a set of colourful building blocks on the second peak in Sintra. The Palace has been renovated throughout so don’t expect an old world feel. The outside walls are bright colours and against the beautiful blue sky it is something wonderful. The rooms inside are set out as the Royal family had them in the beginning of the 1900. It really is lovely and not to be missed.
Elf’s tip: Save some money by buying a tickets to the monuments that you want to enter at the same time.