A visit to the amazing UNESCO World Heritage site of Sintra

Sintra is a romantic town located in the Serra da Sintra (Sintra Mountains) halfway between Ericeira and Lisbon. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is not only famous for its historic buildings and 19th century architecture, but also for its beautiful nature (the Sintra-Cascais natural park). Sintra is the perfect destination for a day trip if you want to have a break from surfing and or if you just want to be part of a fairy tale!

What to see in Sintra?

The Pena Palace:
Palácio da Pena is definitely a must-see if you are visiting Sintra. This beautiful palace was built in 1838 as a summer palace for the royal family of Portugal. It’s a great example of the 19th century Romanticism style of architecture. It’s amazing how colourful and full of details this place is! Since the Pena Palace is located on top of a 480-meter high hill, the views on a clear day are amazing. The Pena Palace is a national monument and one of the seven wonders of Portugal. With the Pena Palace now being one of the most well known tourist attractions of Portugal, expect it to be very busy during your visit, especially in the peak season.

There are two different entrance fees. The cheaper one (€7,5/adult) gives entrance to the Parque de Pena, the battlements and the terraces of the Palace. The more expensive one (€14/adult) also enables you to enter the staterooms. All tickets also include the entrance to the Chalet of the Countess of Edla.

Palácio Nacional de Sintra

The Castelo dos Mouros:
The Castelo dos Mouros, better known as the Moorish Castle, is located in the lush gardens of the Pena Palace. It was built in the 8th and 9th century by North African Moors to defend Sintra, Lisbon and its surroundings. The castle was restored in the 19th century by King Ferdinand II who transformed it into a romantic ruin.  The Moors castle is a classic ruined castle with high walls (over 450 meter long) and massive battlements. From the castle, you have spectacular views over the hills of Sintra all the way towards Lisbon.

The entrance to the Moorish Castle is less than 200m from the entrance to the Pena Palace so these two attractions can be easily combined. The entrance fee to the Castelo dos Mouros is €8.00/adult. Special prices apply for kids and seniors.

The Quinta da Regaleira:
The Quinta da Regaleira is a 20th century romantic mansion located a 15-minute walk from the center of Sintra. The house, as we currently know it, was built between 1904 and 1910 by the wealthy Portuguese businessman Carvalho Monteiro. Although the 5-story building with its gothic façade is worth a visit by itself, the fascinating gardens surrounding the property are the real highlight. The grounds, which cover 4 hectares, were inspired by the owner’s mystic ideologies. Here you’ll find many hidden tunnels and an impressive well. The well symbolises the initiation ceremony for the Knights Templar.

The entrance fee for the Quinta da Regaleira is €6.00/adult and this includes entrance to the mansion and garden. Special prices apply for kids, seniors and families.

The Initiation Well – Quinta da Regaleira

The Palacio de Monserrate:
The Monserrate Palace is located 4 km from the historic center of Sintra. It combines multiple architectural styles (Arabic, gothic and Indian) and shouldn’t be overlooked when visiting Sintra. The palace itself is not very big, but the rooms themselves are worth exploring. And it’s not just the palace that makes this place worth a visit! The botanical garden surrounding the palace is one of the most beautiful Romantic landscapes ever created in Portugal with plant species from all over the world, lakes and waterfalls. In 2013, the Park of Monserrate was distinguished with a European Garden Award for “Best Development of a Historic Park or Garden”.

But maybe the best thing about the Monserrate palace is the fact that it’s so much less touristic than the ones closer to the center of Sintra!

The price to visit the park and palace of Monserrate is €8.00/adult. Special prices apply for kids and seniors.

How to get to Sintra from Ericeira Surf House?

Sintra is located 25 km from our house and can be easily reached by car or bus. If you are planning to go by car you have to take into account that driving to the center of town in high season is not advised since it gets extremely crowded. You have to park the car outside the center, for example at Portela bus station or in the neighbouring town São Pedro de Penaferrim. It’s often a better option to take an Uber or taxi, especially if you are with multiple people (around €20-30 one way). If you are planning to go by bus, you can just walk down to any of the bus stops at the coastline (750 meter from the house). The bus departs at least once an hour, costs around €4 and will take you to Portela station, just outside of Sintra. From there you can either walk or take a shuttle bus to the center. Here you can find the exact timetable for the bus connection between Ericeira and Sintra.