Why Sintra is definitely NOT a day trip

Some things are just too good to have in small doses. Here’s why Sintra is most definitely NOT a day trip!

‘The most popular day trip from Lisbon’

Depending on what type of traveller you are this could mean two very different things

  1. Wow, this place is going to be incredible
  2. Wow, this place is going to be incredibly touristy

Whatever your reaction, there are some places in the world you arrive and immediately understand why they’re so popular. Places where you barely even notice the crowds as you become absorbed by the beauty around you. Sintra is definitely one of those places. By no means is this a hidden ‘off the beaten track’ location. There is no way such an incredible site could be kept secret especially as it’s 30 minutes from Lisbon.

Why Sintra is NOT a day trip?
Great views from the Pena Palace
Why Sintra is NOT a Day Trip
Conservatories in the Pena Park

Whether you’re visiting Southern Portugal, Northern Portugal, Western Europe… basically, if you want to do any form of travelling Sintra should be on your list. This picturesque Portuguese town has more than enough to dazzle any type of traveller. It’s crammed full of breathtaking places all a beautiful walk away from each other.

BUT

During our travels we were blown away when we discovered that most people visit Sintra on a day trip. A day trip! There is no way that 24 hours can do Sintra justice. We don’t want any future travellers to make that mistake. It’s like going to a buffet and only having a starter! Craziness! We can understand the lure, an easy 30 minute connection from Lisbon and Portugal having so many other great places to visit – this is no excuse though, Sintra should be prioritised!

Here’s why Sintra is definitely NOT a day trip

The Hassle

For popular sites it’s no new information that getting there early is the way forward. Although the sites in Sintra will be quieter in the morning if your travelling from Lisbon before 9 am then expect craziness at the station. The train station will be heaving, the ticket machines will be heaving and yes, you guessed it, the trains will be heaving. A 30 minute journey will suddenly seem a lot longer when your standing, crammed in with thousands of other map checking, camera snapping tourists. Depending on your speed you’ll be able to make it to one or two of the Sintra’s main sites during peak times. Rush there, rush around, take a photo, eat some lunch and then get back on a busy train. I don’t know about you but that definitely isn’t my idea of travelling!

Why Sintra is NOT a day trip
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Too Much To See In One Day

You’ll be amazed how many magnificent locations are perfectly fitted into the small town (you can find out more about them in our guide to Sintra). All beautifully individual and unique with architecture you won’t find anywhere else in the world. If you’re only going to visit Sintra once in your lifetime, why would you want to miss out?

From small museums and galleries which can be comfortably absorbed in a few hours, to grand palaces and majestic gardens that require the whole day to properly appreciate. These sites are spread across town and there’s also many great places to discover outside of Sintra. To be blunt, there is no way to see Sintra’s full potential within 24 hours.

Why Sintra is NOT a Day Trip
Standing on top of the world, Sintra

You’d Be Crazy To Not Explore The Town

“Oh, I heard it’s like a fairy tale?”

You’re bloody right it is! Even without stepping foot in any of the famous parks and gardens, Sintra itself does feel like a fairy tale. Sitting in the foothills of the Sintra mountains the UNESCO area has become famous for it’s 19th century romantic architecture and unbelievably quaint atmosphere. You can wonder around the cobbled streets for hours and the neolithic castles and royal palaces will have every history buff excited. Local artists and craftspeople exhibit their work outdoors and are incredibly hospitable so it’s easy to make friends. Don’t be that person declining a dinner invitation from a local because you’re in a rush to catch a train!

Don’t Make Compromises Because You’re in a Rush

If you’re in a rush it’s always more difficult to travel sustainably. Trying to cram too much into one day means you’re probably going to be taking many of the overpriced transport options. Save the fumes by sticking to walking! You’ll take in much more of the town and enjoy your time more than being carted around in tourist wagons (it’s also good for you).

Portuguese food is also notoriously meaty so take the opportunity to scope out some ethical eateries! Don’t be rushed into eating in a meaty eatery with limited options out of convenience.

Why Sintra is NOT a Day Trip
Chalet Da Condessa D’Edla

Did Somebody Mention Vegan Food?

Yes, you heard it right, considering the size of the tiny town there’s a great choice of vegan eateries if you know where to find them. It would be such a shame to miss out, right? Why visit one when you can eat in them ALL!

Click here to find out ethical eating map of Sintra

Some nice organic fruit and vegetables, Sintra

Save Some Money!

Now we’ve got your attention.

Who doesn’t want to save money? It’s a proven fact that travelling slower will save you a ton of cash. When you rush you end up overspending as you don’t know the right prices and don’t have time to seek alternatives. General costs in Sintra can be a lot cheaper than Lisbon, particularly for accommodation, so it’s definitely worth staying the night… or five. Find a hostel, get down to the supermarket and make a feast in the kitchen to save the costs of eating out.

Why Sintra is NOT a Day Trip
Local buskers playing some beautiful blues, Sintra
Why Sintra is NOT a Day Trip
A crackin’ view from Cruz Alta, Sintra

Take in the Nature and Atmosphere

For the outdoors traveller you’re going to want to take your time in Sintra. Sintra has a baffling amount of parks, gardens and peaks which would take days to properly explore. There’s also hiking and camping opportunities along with mountain climbing and cycling! This is all set within a haven of dense woodland and rich botanical diversity, encouraged by Sintra’s micro climate. Put a few days aside, take a book and a picnic and spend the day outdoors! Whether you prefer cities or the countryside spending time outdoors is physically and mentally great for you. Why rush back to the big city when you can unwind in the woods?

What Now?

So, now you’ve decided that a day trip would be crazy, take a look at our Visitor’s Guide to Sintra and start planning your adventure!

Why Sintra is NOT a Day Trip
There are so many reasons why
Why Sintra is NOT a Day Trip
Sintra is not a day trip!

Have you been to Sintra and agree it’s definitely not a day trip? Tell us in the comments box below!

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30 Responses

  • I am in, what a great adventure! Okay, we really need to consider exploring Lisbon, and then – Sintra – not in just 1-day, but longer to be able to absorb its all beauty properly. We hate crowded places but at the same time, usually these touristy spots are awesome. And you have to visit them no matter what. This place looks like one of them for sure. Love the name of your blog, too!

    • Glad you like the name! Yes Sintra is very touristy but if you go to the right places at the right time I think it can be avoided!

  • Thank you for the advice on making Sintra a multi-day stop! We’ve been wanting to get to Lisbon for awhile and when we finally plan the trip, we’ll make sure to add Sintra to the itinerary. Also, love your suggestions on the visitor’s guide!

    • If you’re visiting Lisbon then you should definitely go! Actually, even if you’re not visiting Lisbon you should check out Sintra!

  • This place looks so neat! I would definitely do more than a day trip to one place, otherwise I feel rushed! Your pictures are amazing!

  • I definitely want to get to Portugal and road trip through cities like Sintra. Good to know that there is more to do there than meets the eye and a day just won’t cut it. I’m against trying to cram in too much anyway. What’s the point of being somewhere if you are just rushing through it? Happy Travels.

  • 24 hours are not sufficient to see and experience the beauty of any place.. Sintra looks an amazing destination and I see there’s many things to explore. Very well written post. Thanks !

  • I have not actually heard of Sintra before but it looks like a relaxing (at least the views) place. Plus when all the day trippers leave it probably gets a bit calmer again. You could argue that Lisbon should be a day trip from Sintra 😉

    • You’re right, the architecture around the whole town was amazing. We spent hours just wondering around the backstreets!

  • Lovely architecture. Portugal and Spain keep motifs from the arabic/islamic geometrical patterns and it is amazing how they are integrated in their own style

  • Great post! I haven’t been to Portugal since I was a young child but I’ve always fancied going back, I just couldn’t decide where to go. When I eventually get around to visiting Portugal I’ll definitely put a few days in Sintra on my list!

    • Are you thinking of going to Portugal anytime soon? Give us a message if you plan to and we can give you some great suggestions!

  • I was only in Portugal for a day on a cruise and loved Sintra best of all. I figure I will go back on a land trip there and stay at one of those fabulous luxury hotels. So nice. Did you try the homemade cheeses and wine? Yum! Great suggestion. A day trip is not enough time there.

  • I went to Sintra two years ago for my birthday and I agree with you, you can’t do it in a day. I was surprised at how much there was to do there and I wished we could of stayed at least two days. I love how to describe it ‘It’s like going to a buffet and only having a starter!’ that is a good way of putting it. Unfortunately, I never had time to explore Pena Park but it is on my list for next time.
    Mel Butler recently posted…Hiking & Camping in Snowdonia Wales with MINI CountrymanMy Profile

    • You should definitely go back, the Pena Park was really amazing. We spent all day wondering around and then only headed towards to palace at about 4pm!

  • It’s great to know there is more to do here. I guess it just depends on how long people have but certainly the more time we can spend getting to see more of a place rather than just the “sights” the better.

    • Hey Nic, yes I completely agree! I definitely think it would be better to see, say 3 places well than 5 in a rush. Have you been to Portugal?

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