Sintra is an extraordinary 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 castles and palaces, but also for its 19th century architecture and the 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.
What to see in Sintra?
The Pena Palace:
Palácio da Pena is definitely a must-see when 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. It is one of the most well-known tourist attractions of Portugal, so you can 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’ park, the battlements and the terraces outside of the palace. The more expensive ticket (€14/adult) also gives access to the rooms inside the palace. All tickets include the entrance to the Chalet of the Countess of Edla. Special prices apply for kids, seniors and families.
The Castelo dos Mouros:
The Castelo dos Mouros, better known as the Moorish Castle, is located opposite of the 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 Moorish castle is a classic castle ruin 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/adult. Special prices apply for kids, seniors and families.
Palácio Nacional de Sintra:
The National Palace of Sintra is the most distinctive building and the main attraction in the center of the town. In this palace you can find much of the history of Portugal. The current Palace of Sintra is basically a set of buildings that were constructed, added and adapted over many centuries. The decoration is impressive, with a combination of various artistic styles based on the tastes of the kings that lived there. The highlights in the palace are the Sala dos Cisnes (Swans Room), the Sala das Pegas (Magpie or Reading Room), the Sala dos Brasões (Armoury Room) and the beautiful chapel.
The entrance fee for the National Palace of Sintra is €10/adult. Special prices apply for kids, seniors and families.
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. You can walk the stairs in the well all the way to the bottom to enter the hidden tunnel network.
The entrance fee for the Quinta da Regaleira is €6/adult and this includes entrance to the mansion and garden. Special prices apply for kids, seniors and families.
The Palácio 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 it, 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/adult. Special prices apply for kids, seniors and families.
How to get to Sintra from Ericeira Surf House?
Sintra is located 25 km from the surf 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 €25-30 one way).
If you are planning to go by bus, you can just walk down to any of the bus stops at the coastline of Ericeira (750 meters from the house). The bus departs 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.
For more information, tickets and opening times visit the website of Parques de Sintra.