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A quaint town picturesquely perched on the mountains near Lisbon, Sintra is one of the seven wonders of Portugal and quite naturally a tourist magnet. So beautiful is this former royal summer residence town that Lord Byron has waxed eloquence about it's blessed beauty in his famous poem - Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. In this UNESCO Heritage town stands the famous Palacio Nacional da Pena, commonly known as the Pena Palace Sintra.
The Palacio Nacional da Pena, a 19th century castle is is one of the finest tourist attractions of Portugal and flaunts a hedonistic mix of vividly painted terraces, decorative battlements and mythological statues, all of which stand at stark contrast to the lush greens Parques de Sintra that encircles the Pena Palace.
To know all about visiting the Sintra Pena Palace and Parks, here's your all inclusive guide. Plan your visit efficiently with Tripindicator!
The Pena Palace we see today is an adaptation of a 16th-century monastery and partly an imitation of a medieval fortress, that was built for Queen Maria II by her young German consort, Ferdinand II. King Ferdinand II was completely blown by the stunning views from the Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria he wished to build a similar flamboyant complex in Sintra. His only design input was that the palace should reflect an opera with a magical feather palace aura, and so it was!
To further enhance the beauty of the Palace, Ferdinand II commissioned the Parque da Pena, a series of gardens and walking paths that incorporated more than 2,000 species of flora, hidden pathways, ornate features and stunning view points.
High season ( summer) - 9:30 AM to 8:00 PM | Low season ( winter) : 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Summers see the maximum crowd in Portugal, hence expect massive tourist hordes in the Pena Palace Sintra. Weekends are busy throughout the year, so schedule your visit for a weekday to enjoy a visit with less shoulder-rubbing.
The best time of the day would ideally be around the opening time, 9:30 or so. This is because tourist groups start arriving around 11 AM after which it is complete mayhem. There is dip in crowds around 5:00 PM as most people leave around this time to explore the rest of Sintra. A smart move would be exploring Sintra for the first half of the day and spending the last leg of your day in Pena Palace. That way, you can roam around the gardens without the sun right above your head and even watch the sunset from up the hills.
To get your instagram worthy view of the Pena Palace and its breathtaking surrounding,s climb up to the e Cruz Alta (High Cross) and let you heart skip a beat! Located at the highest point of the Sintra Hills at 529 meters, you can get to the cross after an easy ascent in the forest. A well-marked path will lead your way to the most scenic panorama in Sintra, from where you can see as far as Lisbon on clear days. Don't miss this one during your Pena Palace Sintra visit.
Parques de sintra, also known as the Pena Park Sintra is what the phrase right out of fairytale truly means. With magical forests, hidden lakes fluttering with white swans, black swans, muddy winding paths, gorgeous waterfalls, archway bridges, rare species of flowers, trees and more ; Parques de Sintra seems an Enid Blyton book setting. There's lots to walk and explore, so make sure you keep an hour and a half of your schedule to aimlessly wander through this magical park.
The most interesting part of the Parques de Sintra is the Queen's Fern Garden (Feteira da Rainha). It is a collection of trees brought in from different parts of the world - Magnolias, Japanese Cryptomeria, Chinese Ginko, American Sequoia, Cypress, Red Cedar and many others. Walking around this part of the garden is simply surreal!
From Estacao do Rossio, Estacao de Entrecampo or Estacao do Oriente you can take a train to Sintra Station. Buying round trip tickets for the train works out cheaper. From the station, you can hop onto Scotturb Bus 434 which will take you the Pena Palace.,
Take the IC19 from Lisbon. When you arrive Sintra's historic centre, you'll see a signboard showing the way to Pena (3.5 km). The GPS coordinates are: 38º 47' 16.45” N 9º 23' 15.35” W.
The Park & National Palace of Pena has two entrances, the main gate to the palace and a second gate to the park. You can reach these entrances by either walking uphill, taking a carriage horse, a bus or by driving up yourself.
The walk from the footpath of Casa do Valle should take you about 45 minutes and the route takes you to the Park gates. From here you can grab a combo ticket for both, or simply redeem your online ticket. You can roam around the park and then a 15 minute walk lands you in front of the Palace gates.
While the horse and carriage way is the most romantic mode of transport, we do not support animal cruelty in any form and would not recommend this unless you have mobility issues. Better still, for those with mobility issues, hiring a taxi or taking the bus is still a better option. The Horse carriage also happens to be the most expensive mode of transport.
Bus number 434 will take you up the hills of Serra de Sintra for 5 Euros ( round trip) , but be warned it is for those with a strong stomach and great nerves. If you get motion sickness, you should skip the winding bus ride. Also, in the summers, even if there are 3 buses an hour, you may have to wait a long while for the bus. You can catch this bus from the Sintra train station or from the foothills.
If you choose to drive up in your own car, there are free parking places both before and after both the gates. Follow the buses uphill and you'll reach the parking spot. The roads are winding and steep, so make sure you have a skilled driver taking you uphill
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