Have you ever been to a wonderland? If you visit Lisbon, don’t miss the chance to go to Sintra to experience the wonderland of Portugal.
Sintra is a long time royal destination, with lush forests and magical palaces. Just 40 mins by train from Lisbon, the now Unesco World Heritage Site offers the perfect haven for a Lisbon day trip.
Because any journey in wonderland should involve food, we put together the perfect guide on where to eat in Sintra in one day!
How to Get to Sintra from Lisbon
First thing, the best and easiest way to go from Lisbon to Sintra is to take the train.
You can catch a direct train departing from the Rossio train station in Lisbon.
There is a train departing every 10 to 20 minutes during the week or every 30 minutes during the weekends from 6:00 am to 1:00 pm.
For more information about the schedule, check the Portugal train website here.
You can buy your ticket directly at the train station and it only cost €2.25 for the 40 minute ride.
You will need to get a Lisboa card which you can pick up at the same time as for an additional 50 cents.
Sintra Map: Where to Eat – Things to Do – Where to Stay
Start your day at Cafe Saudade
Start the day with a delicious cup of Portuguese coffee at Cafe Saudade which is located close to the Sintra train station.
This cozy restaurant offers a variety of coffee drinks, including the signature Portuguese style Galão coffee, which is similar to a latte or cappuccino.
Served in a tall glass, it made with half milk and half coffee, perfect for breakfast or with a sweet pastry on the side.
Once fueled up, you can start your exploration including where to eat in Sintra.
Things to Do in Sintra – Morning Visit at Palacio Nacional de Sintra
Once fueled up, make your way to the Palacio Nacional de Sintra and be impressed by the two unusual enormous large chimneys.
Located in the center of Sintra, the Palace is an easy 10- 15 mins walk from Cafe Saudade. You can also take the tourist bus 434 that departs from the train station from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, with four departures per hour.
We recommend getting the Hop-on Hop-off ticket for €6.90 per ticket.
With this ticket, you can take a loop from Sintra train station to the main sites and get on and off the bus on your way to the Pena Palace.
You find more information about rates and schedule on the bus website here.
Palacio Nacional de Sintra was built on a site that was once a Moorish castle.
New parts were added over time and it was a favorite with the Portuguese nobility from the early 15th to the late 19th century.
The palace is lavishly decorated with richly decorated rooms, galleries, and corridors.
You will be dazzled by the eclectic blend of Moorish, Gothic, and Manueline architectural styles.
Don’t forget to stop by the kitchen and look up the 33 meter high massive chimneys. This is also where royal banquets were prepared and on display are the original roasting spits and various copper and iron kitchenware.
Recommended Sintra Tour For Food Lovers
If you don’t feel like organizing your trip to Sintra, consider a day trip from Lisbon to Sintra with a local guide. This full day, 8-hour tour will take you on a guided Sintra Palaces tour. And, you’ll also stop at Cabo da Roca and Cascais. This is a fun excursion for food lovers who also love history and culture.
Gourmet Lunch at a Steal – Incomum: The Best restaurant in Sintra
The kitchen visit at the Palacio Nacional de Sintra will leave you hungry.
You’ll be eager to lunch in Sintra and taste the local Portuguese delicacies unique to the region.
For lunch, don’t bother weighing any other options, the menu executivo at Incomum is a no-brainer.
At the best restaurant in Sintra, chef Luis Santos offers a creative cuisine with local products at a defying price of only €11 euros.
Lunch Menu at Incomum
The lunch menu includes the choice of soup or salad, fish or meat, a dessert and a drink. A Portuguese wine, of course is highly recommended.
The price includes the famous “couvert” which is bread, olives and olive oil, that is typically paid for.
You can also choose your meal from the menu or opt for the tasting menu.
Rosemary chose the Bacalhau a bras, one of our favorite ways to eat the famous Portuguese codfish style. I was tempted by the all inclusive menu executivo.
The restaurant is upscale yet accessible with tasteful decor and soft lighting. This one of the hidden gems for where to eat in Sintra.
We very much enjoyed the thoughtful touch from the waiter. He brought Rosemary a complimentary tasting of the local specialty, “pig’s ear with polenta”, while I was enjoying my chickpea soup, the starter on the menu.
The Bacalhau a bras, revisited by Chef Luis Santos, was very fresh and tender, prepared with delicious vegetables and the eggs, lightly battered and fried.
With the menu executivo, I had the Portuguese pork also called Iberian pork served with beans, vegetables, and sausages. It was hearty and full of flavor.
We shared the menu executivo dessert, a pie made of almonds with a raspberry jam. Rich and tasty but a tad sweet. It was the perfect size for sharing.
For wines, Rosemary chose a fresh and fruity Vinho Verde, while I had a nice red from the Alentejo region. Both were a great pairing for our Sintra food.
Things to Do in Sintra – An Afternoon in Wonderland
Perched on the hills is one of Portugal’s fairytale castles. This whimsical building is the magical realization of King Don Fernando II, in the 19th century, also known as the “Artist King”.
Work your lunch off as you make your way up the hills to the Palacio Nacional da Pena.
Stop for Queijada de Sintra at Fábrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa
On your way up to the Palace, stop by Fábrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa. Since 1756, this is where to eat in Sintra, the famous pastries called queijada de Sintra.
These small sweet cakes are made of a thin shell filled with soft cheese, eggs, sugar, milk and flour. Order at least one of each kind of queijada de Sintra: almond, milk and orange for less than €4 each.
You can also get coffee at this shop where you can admire the view of Sintra in the tea room at the back of the store.
These pastries will make for your reward after the 45 minute hike up. We promise the combination of breathtaking views and delicious pastries to be sublime.
Hiking Up To Palacio Nacional da Pena
The hike to Palacio Nacional da Pena will take about 45 minutes. It is a pleasant gradual hike to admire the views of the city and its region.
To do so, follow the signs to the Villa Sassetti. You will walk through the Parque de Sintra up to the base of the Palacio Nacional da Pena.
If your time is limited or your legs need a rest, hop on the 434 bus back at the train station or across the Sintra Palace.
Visit Palacio Nacional da Pena
The Palacio Nacional da Pena is a remarkable example of Portuguese Romanticism architecture.
The fanciful architecture includes a mix of Manueline and Moorish styles.
After your visit, walk around the 85-hectare park, which surrounds the palace. Waterfalls, ponds, pavilions, and exotic plants and trees make this an exceptional place to explore.
Touring Moors Castle
After visiting the Palacio de Pena, head to the Castelo dos Mouros or Moors Castle.
This Castle is reminiscent of the Moors era in the Iberian Peninsula during the 8th and 9th centuries.
Although the castle was fortified in the 14th century, it was slowly abandoned until 1840. That’s when King Don Fernando II set out to rebuild the castle and make it what it is today.
Surrounded by the forest, the castle stands 412 m above the sea level. The views from Sintra to the Atlantic are breathtaking.
From the castle, the well marked path leads you back to the center of town via the rampa do Castelo and the Calçada dos Clérigos. It takes about 25 mins for the 1.5 miles or 2.4 km descent.
A Sweet Finish With Sintra Must Eat Desserts at Casa Piriquita
Finish the day at Casa Piriquita and have the two delicious and famous desserts of Sintra. This pastry shop has been “fattening up” royalty and visitors alike since 1862. For where to eat in Sintra, this is one of the most tempting local gems.
The famous Queijada de Sintra (if you didn’t try it at the Fábrica) is what got this pastry shop started, and was propelled to success by King Carlos I.
These delicious little pies have a crusty exterior and a soft inner batter made with cheese, sugar, eggs, flour and a little cinnamon. They are not too sweet and have a hint of a fresh cheese taste. Delectable!
Our absolute favorite and another signature dessert from Sintra and also created at Casa Piriquita is the Travesseiro.
This dough based pastry, which is long and slender like a “pillow” absolutely melts in the mouth.
We ordered one to share and after the first bite, knew we made a mistake. We quickly ordered a second one because we couldn’t share.
This light pastry filled with almond cream and other secret ingredients is heavenly. As you eat your way through Sintra, don’t miss the Travesseiro dessert.
Keep in mind this is one dessert you cannot share.
More Things To Do in Sintra – Quinta da Regaleira
There are many monuments and parks to see in Sintra.
To complete your tour of this wonderland destination, we recommend visiting Quinta da Regaleira.
Located on the outskirts of the city center, Quinta Regaleira was first built at the end of the 19th century.
The romantic property was then acquired by Carvalho Monteiro nicknamed Monteiro dos Milhões or Monteiro the Millionaire due to his vast fortune.
The construction of the Palace as we know it started in 1904 and was completed for the most part in 1910.
Quinta da Regaleira is an amazing romantic palace to explore. Don’t miss the Initiation Well, the surprising caves and the many winding path through the gardens.
It is easy to spend two hours wandering through this vast magical estate.
Recommended Sintra Tour For Monuments Visits
If you would like to explore the four main monuments in Sintra in one day without having to take care of the logistics, consider a Sintra tour with a local guide.
We recommend the Full-Day Private Monuments Tour from Lisbon that gets you to visit the main four main monuments in Sintra.
Consider a Hotel in Sintra To Prolong Your Stay
You’ll be surprised how a day in Sintra can go by so fast. If time isn’t a concern, you should definitely plan on spending at least two days or more at this wonderland.
Explore at your own pace including all the local specialties we’ve highlighted for where to eat in Sintra.
Sintra Boutique Hotel
For a hotel stay consider Sintra 1012 Boutique Hotel.
Located in the historical center of Sintra at walking distance from the train station and the National Palace, you will feel at home in this charming Guest House.
The breakfast included is copious and freshly made every morning.
Prices start at $84 a night for a standard queen room breakfast included.
Airbnb in Sintra
There are some fabulous properties on Airbnb for Sintra. We are big fans of Airbnb as it allows to choose different accommodation styles and have your own kitchen.
This charming stone cottage a short walk from the historical center caught our eyes.
With a private garden overlooking the city, you get to relax after a day exploring the historical sites.
In the morning, help yourself to a wonderful breakfast with fresh farm eggs, fruits, and more for your day of sightseeing.
Prices start at $124 a night for the entire cottage.
Have you been to Sintra before? In the comments below, please tell us your favorite part about the visit?
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Claire, ex-engineer, is a digital nomad and content creator at Authentic Food Quest. Since 2015, with her partner, Rosemary, they travel the world in search of the best local food experiences. Their mission is to help you enjoy the best local specialties on your travels or via recipes in your home kitchen. Favorite country for food: Vietnam. Favorite local dish: Hainanese Chicken Rice. Favorite way to keep fit: Cycling. Claire is responsible for the website and the fun food & travel videos on Youtube. She is also co-author of Authentic Food Quest Argentina and Authentic Food Quest Peru, available on Amazon.