The best independent guide to Sintra
The best independent guide to Sintra
Sintra is one of the finest tourist destinations in Portugal and must be included during your trip to Lisbon.
Found within the cooling hills of Sintra are whimsical 19th-century villas, a delightful historic centre and the extravagant Palácio da Pena. These fascinating attractions combine to make a fantastic day trip, which can be easily visited from Lisbon.
The best way to travel from Lisbon to Sintra is by train, and there are two regular and inexpensive rail services. This article will explain in depth about these train services, helping you to get the most from your trip to Sintra.
Related articles: Sintra introduction - Day trip to Sintra - Day trips from Lisbon
The beautiful Palácio Nacional da Pena is always a highlight of a day trip to Sintra
Sintra lies within the Serra de Sintra hills, 25km to the west of Lisbon. The recommended means of travel from Lisbon to Sintra is by train, and there are two different rail services - both of which are equally useful for tourists. They are:
1) Rossio station to Sintra
2) Oriente station to Sintra, via Areeiro, Entrecampos, and Sete Rios stations
The Rossio-Sintra route (1) is typically used by most visitors, as it departs from the historic centre of Lisbon, and is close to the popular tourist districts of Baixa, Alfama and Bairro Alto.
The Oriente-Sintra route (2) is generally used by those visitors travelling to Sintra from the airport, the Sete Rios bus station or from a train connection. Oriente train station is the main intercity train station of Lisbon, with all express train services into Lisbon stopping here.
Insight: There are bus services connecting Lisbon to Sintra, but the journey times are longer than the train. For most visitors, the locations of the bus stations are not as convenient as the train stations.
The train to Sintra, waiting in Rossio train station
The trains to Sintra are part of the Lisbon urban train network. They are operated by Comboios de Portugal (CP), the national train company of Portugal.
Both of the train services to Sintra are important commuter routes, and there are multiple hourly departures - with services continuing late into the night. The Oriente-Sintra route has a journey time of 47 minutes, while the Rossio-Sintra train takes 40 minutes.
For the latest timetable, please see the CP website:
(the link opens a PDF, and may download on certain phones)
As the Lisbon to Sintra railway is an urban route, tickets and seats cannot be pre-booked. However there is no real need, as there are usually plenty of free seats.
Advice: Due to the popularity of Sintra, there can be long queues at Rossio station for tickets. Our advice is to always start a trip to Sintra as early in the day as possible.
The Estação do Oriente train station is situated in the east of Lisbon
All of the train stations in Lisbon are in the same fare zone, so prices are the same no matter which station you depart from.
A single from Lisbon to Sintra passes through four fare zones and costs €2.30/€1.15 (adult/child). There are no reductions for a return ticket, so the return fare is the price of two singles - €4.60. The entire pricing policy can be found on the CP website:
(The link opens a PDF)
The train fare is charged to the reusable ‘Navegante’ public transport ticket, which is used for Lisbon’s buses, metro and trams. The initial purchase price for this card is €0.50. The train fare must be charged to an empty Navegante card; if there are any unused metro or tram fares still remaining on the card, a new card must be purchased. The Navegante ticket holds the fare for one person, meaning each traveller in a group will need their own card.
There is a 24-hour unlimited use of CP Lisbon urban trains for €6. This provides no savings unless you are using the train for more than three journeys.
Advice: The 24-hour unlimited Lisbon public transport ticket (which excludes the urban trains) costs €6.40 and is exceptional value when exploring Lisbon.
Sintra train station
Sintra is a destination where an organised tour can be useful; there are steep hills separating the main attractions and a large portion of the day can be wasted waiting for public transport.
Over the last seven years we have worked with GetYourGuide.com, and a selection of their best tours of Sintra includes:
Note: An organised tour is essential if you plan to visit both Sintra and Cascais in one day; this route by public transport leaves almost no time for sightseeing. Only consider combining Cascais and Sintra if you are really limited for time, as both towns deserve a day each.
The train journey between Lisbon and Sintra is safe, but always use the same common sense you would back at home, as the route passes through some of Lisbon’s most deprived suburbs.
If you are travelling late at night, always sit with other passengers - and stay away from dodgy-looking people. Also, never show off expensive items.
You should never drive to Sintra. The narrow hill roads are not designed for the heavy tourist traffic, and there is very limited car parking. During the summer season, there is a permanent traffic jam around the historic centre, as frustrated drivers hunt out the few parking spaces available.
Warning: The historic centre of Sintra is closed to traffic, and at peak times the road up to the Palácio da Pena is also closed.
Rossio train station (Estação Ferroviária do Rossio) lies just to the north of Rossio plaza in the centre of the Baixa district. The train station is served by Rossio metro station on the green metro line, but you have to exit the metro and cross Rossio Plaza to get to the station.
The station is small and easy to navigate, with all departures from Rossio station heading to Sintra. During peak times (10am to 12pm), Rossio station can get very busy with tourists, with long queues for the ticket office and ticket machines.
Related articles: Rossio station
The ornate façade of Rossio station
The Estação do Oriente is to the northeast of Lisbon and lies within the Parque das Nações district. This station is just 2.5km from the airport and is connected to the red metro line.
As the main intercity train station of Lisbon, Oriente station is part of a larger transport interchange containing a major bus station and a metro station. The entire complex is always busy, but it is well organised and often easier to travel from than Rossio.
The train platforms are on the top level, with the train ticket offices on the level below the platforms. Across from the station is the Vasco da Gama shopping centre, which has an excellent food court.
Related articles: Estação do Oriente - Parque das Nações
Oriente station is ultra-modern and was constructed for Expo ‘98
Both train services to Sintra terminate at Sintra train station, which is 1.5km to the east of the historic centre. It is a scenic walk from the station to the historic centre, or if you wish to head up to the Palácio da Pena then the best option is to catch the 434 tourist bus.
Warning: On exiting the train station, you will be bombarded with tour guides and salespeople trying to sell all manner of tours and different ways to explore Sintra. The 434-bus is the cheapest and best way to travel to the Pena Palace. If you want a guided tour of Sintra, it is much better to choose one that includes a pick-up from Lisbon, which avoids the hassle of public transport.
Advice: After the train journey and before you start sightseeing, you may want a coffee and a quick snack. The Cintia café, opposite the train station, is the perfect place for sensibly priced drinks and food.
There is a secondary train station in Sintra, ‘Portela de Sintra’, this station is further away from the historic centre, so it is of little importance for visitors. The only reason to consider it, is that a secondary 434-bus departs from here, and this departure point is always much quieter.
Sintra train station
Palácio da Pena and Castelo dos Mouros are the two finest attractions of Sintra, but they are situated at the top of a very steep hill. There is a demanding 55-minute uphill footpath (the Caminho de Santa Maria), but for most visitors the best way of reaching these is to catch the 434 tourist bus.
This bus provides a one-directional loop, which connects the station and the historic centre before climbing the hill where the Palácio da Pena and Castelo dos Mouros are located. The 434 bus departs from outside the train station, with up to four departures every hour.
Related articles: 434-tourist bus
The 434 bus waiting outside the train station
It is a scenic walk from Sintra train station to the historic centre of the town.
The route passes the decorative Câmara Municipal (town hall), the Queijadas da Sapa (traditional pastry shop of Sintra) and the Fonte Mourisca fountain, and is lined with stalls selling tourist gifts. There is no need for a taxi or bus for this 10-minute walk, and there are no hills along the way.
The walking route to the centre of Sintra from the station isn’t particularly well-signed. From the far end of the train station, take the road to the right (Avenida Dr. Miguel Bombarda), which leads downhill to the Câmara Municipal.
The whimsical styled Câmara Municipal
Lisbon airport to Sintra
The journey from Lisbon airport to Sintra is very easy when using public transport. The first stage is to take the metro (red line) from the airport to the Oriente metro station (only three stops). This metro station is connected to the Oriente train station, and from here there is a direct train to Sintra.
A single metro ticket from the airport to Estação do Oriente costs €1.50 and is charged to the Navegante ticket. The journey from the airport to Oriente train station is short (2.5km), and you may wish to take a taxi for convenience (€7-10). In the Estação do Oriente, the metro is on the lower level, with the train station on the upper level.
Related articles: Travel from Lisbon airport
Lisbon intercity train service to Sintra
Portugal has an excellent express train network connecting Porto, central Portugal and the Algarve to Lisbon. All intercity and express trains to Lisbon stop at the Estação do Oriente, where you can catch a connecting train to Sintra.
The other intercity train station of Lisbon is Santa Apolónia, but from here you will need to catch the green metro to Rossio and then walk to Rossio train station. This connection is much more involved - the Estação do Oriente is the recommended station for the connection to Sintra.
Lisbon intercity bus service to Sintra
In Lisbon, there are two main intercity bus terminals; Oriente and Sete Rios.
Oriente bus station handles all international bus services, as well as services by private coach companies This bus station is part of the Oriente train station complex, and onward travel to Sintra would be via the Oriente-Sintra train service.
Sete Rios bus station handles all arrivals and departures for Rede Expressos, the main intercity bus company of Portugal. The best means of onward travel to Sintra from Sete Rios bus station is via Sete Rios train station, which is served by the Oriente-Sintra train service. It is a short walk from the bus station to the train station and the route is well signed.
Related articles: Sete Rios bus station
The main road from Lisbon to Sintra is the A37 highway, which can get very busy at rush hour. The best free car parking is Portela de Sintra (GPS 38.800722, -9.381328). From here you can catch the 434 bus that departs from the Portela de Sintra train station.
Warning: There have been reports of theft from here so never leave any valuables in your car.
There is a very small car park near Sintra train station, and there is parking on the Volta do Duche – but realistically there is no car parking in Sintra during the high season.
Note for visitors from the USA: Lisbon is notoriously challenging for driving, with crowded roads, erratic drivers and virtually no parking. For a holiday to Lisbon, we strongly recommend not hiring a car. Also, public transport in Portugal does contain the same social stigma as in the US, and is used by all.
Our most popular guides to Sintra
If you've enjoyed our content, we kindly ask a favour from you.
The internet isn't as free and open as it once was; small independent publishers like us, are under increasing pressure.
Search engines are providing us with less traffic, focusing more on advertising, while AI is ceaselessly plagiarizing our content.
To support us, please bookmark our website to easily find us again. If you find an article useful, we encourage you to share it with your friends, or on social media.
Equally, if you discover something outdated, incorrect, or in need of updating, kindly send us a message so we can address it promptly.
Maintaining a network of websites with over 1,600 pages demands significant time and effort.
Additionally, if you are a brand, blogger, or SEO/PR agency, we relish opportunities to collaborate with creative independents!
Please contact us at: Hello_Portugal@yahoo.com