Sintra is is resort town in the foothills of Sintra Mountain in Portugal, it is a UNESCO site with hilltop castles and exotic gardens. It is so easy to get to Sintra from Lisbon by simply taking a 40 minute train ride, which is why it is easy to include it in things to do in Lisbon. You can spend half a day in Sintra and it would be enough, but if you want to stay for more time there are accommodation available there, you can easily find restaurants as well as transport to the castles and palaces there. It is better to buy tickets prior to going there as the ticket booths will be busy, you can either buy tickets for each palace or castle separately or you can simply book a day tour with a guide. You can buy tickets or book a tour through GetYourGuide.
Cascais is a coastal resort town near Lisbon, it is filled with beautiful white houses, flower filled streets, and amazing beaches. It is Lisbon's residents weekend or holiday escape. Cascais is connected to both Lisbon and Sintra, so it is easy to go on a day trip from any of them. It is easy to spend 24 hours in both Sintra & Cascais, but if you want to stay longer, then you can do that.
1. How to Get Your Visa for Portugal
5. Best Time to Visit Sintra & Cascais
2. How to Get to Sintra & Cascais
6. Accommodations in Sintra & Cascais
3. How to Move Around Sintra & Cascais
7. Best Cafes & Restaurants in Sintra & Cascais
4. 9 Things to do in 24 Hours in Sintra & Cascais
How to Get Your Visa for Portugal
You can get the visa by going to the embassy, or visiting the official website, or getting it with an agency like iVisa. iVisa provides 100% online travel documents such as: Visas, health declaration forms, embassy registrations, passport photos, passport renewals, tourist cards, and other travel documents. It is the simplest solution to process your travel visa.
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How to Get to Sintra & Cascais
To get to Sintra you can take a train from Lisbon's Rossio station, you can find a train that departs every 20 minutes from there, and the train ride only takes 40 minutes. Keep in mind that on Sundays the train leave every 1 hour instead. A one-way ticket from Lisbon to Sintra costs 2.25€ and it can be easily bought from a machine or a ticket booth or counter.
To get to Cascais you can take the train from Lisbon which takes around 30 minutes. Train leaves every 10 minutes so make sure to book your ticket at the station and hop-on as there is no seat reservation.
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How to Move Around Sintra & Cascais
Once you arrive in Sintra, there are two bus lines that pass by the palaces and castles, these are line 434 and line 435. You will need to decide which bus line to take prior based on the sites you want to visit. If you are going on a day trip from Lisbon where you will spend half a day, then chose one bus line, but if you plan on staying longer then you can take both to explore more sites.
You can buy bus tickets at the bus itself or at the train station, buses run every 15-20 minutes starting from 9:15 am. You can return on a hop-on hop-off bus which would cost 6.90€.
Train Station - National Palace – Moorish Castle – Natural History Museum – Pena Palace
Train Station – National Palace – Quinta Da Regaleira – Seteais Palace – Monserrate Palace
Once you reach Cascais you can explore on foot, there is no need for transportation inside Cascais, but if you love cycling then you can explore Cascais cycling. If you are arriving in Cascais by car then you will easily find a lot of suitable parking spots and continue exploring on foot.
9 Things to do in 24 Hours in Sintra & Cascais
1. Cabo da Roca (Cape Roca)
Cabo da Roca forms the westernmost point of the Sintra Mountain range as well as Portugal and Europe. There is a lighthouse at this edge that watches over the cliffs and the rough ocean. Take a walk and be prepared for a panoramic view over the Atlantic ocean. Cabo da Roca is a great place to visit whether in Cascais or Sintra, you can reach Cabo da Roca by taking bus line 403. This should take you between 15 and 30 minutes.
2. Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth)
Boca do Inferno or Hell's Mouth; is sensational location. There was a cave at that location before but it fell through which left behind a big hole in the cliffs. Because of that hole, the water nowadays hit under the arch and then explodes out of the hole, which is similar to a volcano and it's the reason it is called Hell's Mouth. It takes 20 minute to walk from the town centre to it, the best time to visit this spot is at sunset. This should take you between 15 and 30 minutes.
3. Farol Museu de Santa Marta (Lighthouse Museum Santa Marta)
The Santa Marta Lighthouse looks stunning as it is a white lighthouse decorated with blue strips, it was build on the grounds of an old fort which is now a small lighthouse museum. Opening hours varies, it is closed on Mondays, but then on the Weekend it is open from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 14:00 to 17:00, also it is open from Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 to 17:00. This should take you less than 30 minutes.
4. Palácio da Pena (Pena Palace)
Palácio da Pena is located at the highest point overlooking the entire region, it is red and yellow and was designed back in 1854. Trees from all over the world have been imported to it to make it look exotic with the mixture of the beautiful architecture there. Since Palacio de Pena is the most famous destination in Sintra, it will be the busiest one there of course, so arriving there early is key to avoid the crowd. Entrance ticket to the park and castle cost 13.30€, the tickets can be bought at the door but it is best to buy them in advance. This should take you at least 45 minutes.
5. Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors)
Castelo dos Mouros is a hilltop medieval castle, it was once a military fort. Taking the stairs up to the top for an impressive view is a must, the entrance ticket to the castle cost 7.60€. This should take you between 1 and 1.5 hours.
6. Museu de História Natural de Sintra (Sintra Natural History Museum)
The Sintra Natural History Museum is located in the historic centre of Sintra, the museum is known for the quality and rarity of its exhibits. Admission is free for the museum, and besides the permanent exhibits there, you will find a room for temporary exhibits that is equipped to host different types of shows and events. This should take you at least 1 hour.
7. Palácio Nacional de Sintra (Sintra National Palace)
Palácio Nacional de Sintra or Sintra National Palace, which is also called Town Palace is a present day historic house museum. This palace is in the heart of Sintra with two huge chimneys which became the iconic view of the town. You can buy an entrance ticket to visit the rooms inside the palace for 9.50€. This should take you at least 45 minutes.
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8. Quinta da Regaleira
Quinta da Regaleira is classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO within the cultural landscape of Sintra. It was essentially designed to hide network of tunnels, passageways, and even towers. The inverted tours there look like a well which is accessible by a spiral stair which goes down to one of the tunnels. Entrance tickets cost 8€ which can be either bought at the door or online. This should take you between 1.5 and 2 hours.
9. Palácio de Monserrate (Monserrate Palace)
The Monserrate Palace is a palatial villa, which is gothic, Arabic, and Indian in design with an exotic garden. People who visit Sintra often skips it as it is slightly off the route so it is not as crowded as other locations in Sintra. An entrance ticket cost 6.80€. This should take between 15 and 30 minutes.
Best Time to Visit Sintra & Cascais
In comparison to Lisbon, Sintra is a little bit cooler as it has its own microclimate. The best times to visit is from April to June, and from September to November, but keep in mind that Sintra will always be busy and crowded as it one of the best places to visit in Portugal.
Cascais is very busy during the summer times, which is why the best times to visit is during Spring specifically late spring, as well as early summer, before the holidays begin. During this time the weather will be warm and nice but the water will be cold all the time as Cascais sits at the mouth of river Tagus which is the opening of the Atlantic sea.
Accommodations in Sintra & Cascais
If you are planning to spend more than one day in Sintra, you can stay in Sintra if you want or you can simply stay in Lisbon as it would be the cheaper option and as mentioned it is easy to get from Lisbon to Sintra.
As mentioned, it only takes 30 minutes to get from Lisbon to Cascais you can easily go on a day trip from Lisbon if you are there and then go back in the afternoon. If you want to spend more that a day in Cascais then choose a hotel that is on the coastline or an Airbnb.
Best Cafes & Restaurants in Sintra & Cascais
Saudade (Gluten-free options, vegan friendly cafe)
Espaco Edla (Vegan friendly cafe)
A Praca (Gluten-free options, vegan friendly)
Bacalhau Na Vila (Gluten-free options, vegan friendly, Portuguese cuisine)
Roots Cafe (Gluten-free options, vegan friendly)
Bubbles & Bites (Gluten-free options, vegan friendly)
Cafe Galeria House of Wonders (Vegan friendly)
Tanah Vegan Fun Food (Vegan friendly)