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Pena Palace

Standing boldly atop a hill above Sintra, this beautiful palace can be seen all the way from Lisbon on a clear day.

TravelCurious Tip

Sintra, and especially Pena Palace, are extremely popular during the summer season. If you can’t visit off-season, try to go early in the day!

Pena Palace is the crown jewel of Sintra, a town twenty five kilometres west of Lisbon’s centre. It is frankly extraordinary, and gives Mad King Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein in Bavaria a run for its money as the most outlandish castle in Europe, and possibly the world. It looks like something from Alice in Wonderland, or like it must be made of marzipan and gingerbread and candy cane, such is its stylistic exuberance.


Rising from a thickly wooded peak, its pink and lemon crenellated towers are often wreathed in mists, like whipped cream. The palace was a wild dream of Ferdinand of Saxe Coburg-Gotha, the artist-husband of Queen Maria, who commissioned the Bavarian-Manueline epic, complete with an armoured statute of himself on a nearby peak.


The statue looks over both the palace and its extensive gardens. The mystical Pena Park is full of trees and exotic plants from the former colonies of the Portuguese empire, along with ponds, fountains and sinister-looking black swans. Twenty minutes from the palace by foot there is the Cruz Alta viewpoint, the highest peak in Serra de Sinta, from which you can catch marvellous views of the palace, the Tagus estuary and the ocean beyond.


The interior of the palace is just as wacky and extravagant as you would expect, and has been restored to how it would have been before the fall of the Portuguese monarchy in 1910. It is packed with precious porcelain, trompe l’oeil murals and nude sculptures of buxom nymphs, all set among late Victorian and Edwardian furnishings. The effect is gloriously kitsch.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Lisbon
Sintra
This municipality is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its vast 19th century Romanic monuments.
Sintra City Hall
An unusually flamboyant town hall, and one of the most prominent landmarks in the town of Sintra.
Castle of the Moors
Built between the 8th and 9th centuries, this military outpost in Sintra played a key role in the Reconquista against Arab rule.
Sintra National Palace
A striking and eclectic mix of architectural styles, this is most likely the best preserved medieval palace in all of Portugal.
Monserrate Palace
The traditional summer resort of the Portuguese Royal Family.
Quinta da Regaleira
This romantic UNESCO World Heritage Site displays the wealth and extravagance of the Portuguese elite.

Related Tours

Discover the Wonders of Sintra with skip the line tickets from Lisbon
Visit Sintra, one of Portugal’s most magical UNESCO World Heritage Sites, for hilltop castles and fairytale palaces set in the forested hills near Lisbon.
 
  • Tour the turreted, Romanticist Pena Palace, perched on a dramatic hilltop
  • Visit a Moorish castle which served as a military outpost in the 9th century Reconquista
  • Stroll around the lake-dotted secret gardens at the Quinta da Regaleira Palace
  • Explore Queluz National Palace, the last official residence of the Portuguese Royal Family
  • Take in spectacular sea views from Cabo da Roca (Cape Rock), the westernmost point of mainland Europe
Fairytale Sintra
 
The ancient city of Sintra may lie just half an hour from Lisbon, but its forest-covered mountains feel a world away from the frenetic capital. A cooler climate and lush landscapes have drawn Portugal’s rich and powerful here for over a thousand years and it even served as a summer retreat for the Royal Family. Hence, the hills are dotted with extravagant Moorish castles, fortresses and Romanticist palaces, which you’ll explore the very best of on this guided tour.
 
Royal Pleasure and Military Might
 
Take guided tours of some of Sintra’s most famous monuments. You’ll start at Pena Palace, a yellow and orange Romanticist wonder complete with domes and turrets, watchtowers and drawbridge. The Castle of the Moors, a 9th century military outpost, was a key site during the Reconquista and today, you can wander the remains of its walls for incredible views of the region and Pena Palace.
 
Tour the Regaleira Ranch, a grand house built by a wealthy resident in 1892, which is most famous for its quirky garden structures, from fountains to sculptures and the inverted tower. This spirals down 27 metres to spectacular underground tunnels. You’ll also get the chance to visit the Queluz National Palace, which presents one of Europe’s finest examples of Rococo architecture and was the last official residence of the Portuguese Royal Family before the French invasion of 1807, when they fled to Brazil.
 
To marvel at one of Sintra’s most spectacular viewpoints, you’ll visitCape Rock, the westernmost point of both Portugal and continental Europe. From this dramatic cape, you’ll get panoramic sea views from windswept cliffs. Before leaving the magical hills of Sintra, you’ll make final photo stops at both Monserrate Palace.

You could spend weeks exploring Sintra’s hilltop treasures but if you haven’t got time for that, this tour showcases the best of its castles, viewpoints and decorative palaces. 
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